Travelers can apply to become pre-approved through programs such as TSAPre✓, CLEAR, and Global Entry. Here’s how.

Confused about why some passengers at airports wait in long lines at security checkpoints while others breeze through? Travelers can apply to become pre-approved through programs such as TSAPre✓, CLEAR, and Global Entry. Here’s how:

TSA Pre✓– tsa.gov explains that a 5-year, $85 membership, based on an approved application process, means there is no need to remove shoes, belts, light jackets, laptops, or liquids. “In October 2018, 93 percent of TSA Pre✓ passengers waited less than 5 minutes.” Submit an online application for TSA Pre✓, specifically for domestic travel, and schedule an appointment at any of the 380-plus enrollment centers. The appointment includes a background check and fingerprinting.

Global Entry – according to cbp.gov, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. As with TSA Pre✓, applicants of Global Entry must undergo a thorough background check and in-person interview before enrollment is approved. With clearance, members enter the U.S. through automated kiosks. Cost is $100 for a 5-year membership.

CLEAR – at an airport kiosk, using biometrics – eyes and fingertips – to determine identity, passengers can avoid one stage of long lines. Businessinsider.com in October shared: “The first security checkpoint at the airport involves standing in line to get your boarding pass and ID scanned by a TSA agent. With CLEAR, you’ll skip this part, have your own lane, and be escorted directly to the physical screening.” TSA Pre✓ or Global Entry are still necessary to skip the general security checkpoints. Cost for CLEAR is $179 annually with children 18 and under free.

Unable to enter the fast lane? There are strategies to help speed things along. An August cheatsheet.com offers:
- get in the far left lane rather than the right since statistically more people head right versus left;
- pack only what is allowed and needed;
- empty that water bottle;
- wear slip-on shoes; and,
- fly during off hours.

FORBES in March also suggested downloading the TripIt app, which monitors airport security wait times.