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You're ready to go on your next adventure, but you're dreading the long lines and hassles at the airport. You just wish there was some way to make the experience a little less stressful. Well ... there is!

Trusted Traveler programs, which were designed to expedite passenger processing at exit and entry points of the United States, have grown and expanded over the past several years.


We have compiled a list of the various options available to make it easier for you to decide which one, if any, is right for you.


TSA Pre✓

As the name suggests, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) manages this option.


What are the benefits?

  • Get access to designated expedited security screening lanes at airports within the U.S. and U.S territories.

  • You don't have to remove your shoes, laptop, 3-1-1 liquids, belt or light jacket.


What does it cost?

  • $85 for a 5-year membership


Is it right for me?
If you frequently travel domestically and rarely travel internationally, this might be the best choice for you.

Things to consider:
While this program's reach continues to grow, not all airports or airlines offer PreCheck benefits.
Find out if the airports and airlines you use most frequently participate in the program.

You should also know that some airports shut down the PreCheck line at various times of the day, so even though your boarding pass says TSA Pre✓, you may not get it.

Insider Tip:
If you're at a participating airport but don't see a PreCheck line, or you see one, but it looks closed, don't assume it's not available. Be sure to ask an airport employee where you might find the nearest open PreCheck line. Sometimes they are simply at a different security entrance.

Be aware:
From our own personal experience, we know that it's possible to get PreCheck even if you're not enrolled in the program. It seems to have something to do with age and/or airline loyalty status, and sometimes, whether or not you are traveling on the same reservation as someone who has PreCheck. That being said, we weren't able to find any information to confirm the official procedure for assigning PreCheck benefits to passengers not enrolled in the program.


We did, however, discover that several credit cards would sponsor your membership in some way.


Global Entry

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) manages this option.


What are the benefits?

  • Use a kiosk to clear immigration, customs, and agricultural processing

  • No paper arrival forms to fill out when you travel (i.e., Customs declaration)

  • Includes TSA Pre✓

  • Expedited vehicle/pedestrian entrance into the U.S. from Canada and Mexico


What does it cost?

  • $100 for a 5-year membership


Is it right for me?
If you travel at least a few times a year (domestically or internationally) and plan to fly internationally at least twice within the five years of your membership, this option is probably worth the investment. For some people, it improves their experience so much that it pays for itself in just one trip.

Things to consider:
This option requires an extensive background check and an in-person interview. Not all cities have an enrollment office, and some cities have extremely long wait times for interview appointments. For example, when we applied, the next appointments at our home airport (PDX) were more than six months away. Instead of waiting, we scheduled our appointments in Seattle—and took a day to drive there and back. In other words, it can require some serious effort.

Be aware:

Not all airports have Global Entry kiosks. Check this list to see if your home airport participates. Also, if you have a high-end/travel-related credit card, check to see if it will cover the cost of your Global Entry application.


These programs, which are also managed by CBP, are designed for people who frequently travel between the U.S. and Canada, or the U.S. and Mexico, or are commercial truck drivers. The Department of Homeland Security’s web site has more information.


NOTE: If you live near Canada, NEXUS may be the best option for you. Before you enroll, confirm that your U.S. passport will be valid for the entire length of your membership to avoid any issues.

Mobile Passport

Mobile Passport is an app that allows you to share your customs and immigration information with CBP electronically via your smartphone so you can avoid the in-person exchange of information.

What are the benefits?

  • Expedited processing through U.S Customs and Border Protection


What does it cost?

  • Free


Be aware:
Currently, Mobile Passport is only available in a
limited number of airports.


Is it right for me?

If you live near one of the participating airports and you don’t want TSA PreCheck privileges, this could be the perfect choice.

It’s important to realize ...

The included benefits are only good in the United States (except NEXUS, which provides benefits when entering Canada).


This means two things:

  1. When you arrive in a foreign destination, you will have to go through the regular border control process, i.e., no special kiosks or lanes.

  2. You will also have to go through the normal security lines at foreign airports, which among other things, means you will likely have to remove all electronics and camera equipment from your carry-ons.


For official, up-to-date information about all of these options, please visit the TSA and CBP websites.


Remember this ...

With all of the options, except Mobile Passport, you will be assigned a Known Traveler Number (KTA). Be sure to add this number to all of your airline reservations BEFORE you check in for your flights to ensure that you get TSA PreCheck each time.


No matter which option you choose …

We wish you many years of low-stress —and dare we say FUN?—airport experiences!

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