The 411 on the TSA 3-1-1: Are TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry Right For You?

(Part 4 of 4)

The 411 on the TSA 3-1-1:  Are TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry Right For You?

(Financial Disclosure – I have no financial associations with TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry.)

This is the fourth article in my Blog series: “The 411 on the TSA 3-1-1.”  In this segment, I will review Trusted Traveler programs and whether they may be right for you.

First, a couple TSA screening tips:

Travel Tip #16:  Wear comfortable, easy-to-remove shoes for your flight.  You should be able to walk – or possibly run to your next gate to catch a tight connecting flight – in these shoes through the airport if necessary.

 Travel Tip #17: Going through airport security, keep shoelaces somewhat loosened for easy slip-off shoe removal at X-ray.

Travel Tip #18: Trusted Traveler programs such as TSA Pre✓® and Global Entry may benefit frequent travelers by streamlining the security line process.

There are several Trusted Traveler programs that may benefit frequent travelers.  They require applying in advance with a membership fee, and an accompanying security background screening process to qualify.  Not all people who apply may qualify.

Two of the most popular Trusted Traveler programs in the United States are TSA Pre✓® and Global Entry.

  • TSA Pre✓® is recognized within the U.S. and has membership fee of $85, which is valid for 5 years.
  • Global Entry is recognized among other countries as well, and has a membership fee of $100, and is valid for 5 years.
  • Biometrics such as fingerprints or retina scans may be collected
  • There are some credit cards that may reimburse you for application to Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®

Other programs include NEXUS for travel between the U.S. and Canada, and SENTRI for land travel between the U.S. and Mexico.

TSA Trusted Traveler Comparison Chart

TSA Pre✓® expedited screening

To review, TSA Pre✓®  is a great benefit for travelers who have passed a high level of screening and are found to pose a lower security threat.

Only certain U.S. major airlines participate, and not all airports offer TSA Pre✓®.  Current participating airlines include Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, and Virgin America.

In addition, enrolled passengers are randomized each flight to receive TSA Pre✓® access, or not, for that flight (it is not always guaranteed).  I had been randomized – sometimes several times in a row – to not receive TSA Pre✓® access. Off with the shoes!

TSA Pre✓® travelers:

  • are allowed to keep on their shoes and belts
  • do not need to remove laptops from carry-on luggage
  • do not need to remove the 3-1-1 bag from carry-on luggage
  • do not need to remove light jackets
  • may be allowed to go through the metal detector instead of the imaging scanner

Certain frequent travelers may have opted in to participate in TSA Pre✓® through their airline frequent flier program.  These passengers are allowed to use the TSA Pre✓® lines, but may not have a TSA Pre✓® number.

Travel Tip #19: According to the TSA, frequent flier passengers who opted in with their airlines may not receive TSA Pre✓® access as often as a member who has fully passed the security clearance screening with an official TSA Pre✓® number.

This Tip I learned from personal experience, after a pleasant call with a friendly TSA agent.  (No, seriously.)

There are definite advantages to membership in a Trusted Traveler program such as TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry.  These advantages must be weighed against the fees – and how frequently you travel – to determine if these programs are worth it for you.

What are your thoughts?  Please leave a comment below!

Until next time, wishing you safe and happy travels!

In Part 1 of this Blog article, I shared tips on the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule, including exemptions such as medical liquids, breast milk / infant formula, and juice.

In Part 2 of this Blog article, I shared additional tips on traveling with children, and traveling with a medical disability.
In Part 3 of this Blog article, I shared tips for military and Wounded Warrior travel.
This was Part 4 of this Blog article, wrapping up with Trusted Traveler Programs including TSA Pre✓® and Global Entry.
All information is up to date as of the date of publishing of this article, January 2015.

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