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Trusted Traveler Programs: 3 Great Ways to Beat the Lines

Trusted traveler programs

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go.

But no matter, the road is life.”

-Jack Kerouac

Booking and managing travel is often a major part of being an assistant. Additionally, I'm sure many of you feel the same way I do in that we feel bad for how much time our executives spend on the road.

If the person you support isn't enrolled in a trusted traveler program and they are a frequent traveler, it is worth taking the time to present them with an overview of the facts. Even if they end up saving 10 minutes here or 20 minutes there, it all adds up over time and it makes the whole experience of being in line a lot less stressful. Plus, it helps to give them back a little bit of time that they can spend on something other than travel.

Having TSA PreCheck should be the minimum program for any frequent traveler. Shortened lines aside, not having to take off your shoes, belt, jacket, laptop, baggie of liquids, and then repacking all of that in a hurry after it all goes through screening is priceless.

The process starts with an online application. Next, is an in-person appointment at an enrollment center, which includes a background check and fingerprinting. Once you are enrolled, you will receive a known traveler number (KTN). The KTN is what you will enter whenever booking flights so you can get access to the PreCheck lines.

One tip is that some cities have long PreCheck lines. It is becoming more popular, especially since some credit cards reimburse the fee. I noticed this the last time I flew out of SFO, even though it was 4:30 am. I thought I would breeze through PreCheck like I usually do in other cities, but it ended up feeling like a typical long security line. If you live in a city with long PreCheck lines, I recommend checking out CLEAR (see below).

$85 (valid for 5 years)

CLEAR is an independent company that works with the TSA. You start by pre-enrolling online and then stop by one of their locations to complete the process. No appointment is required as a machine completes the process, which includes registering your biometrics. After you are enrolled, you will have the ability to scan your fingerprint at a machine to get expedited through lines when traveling (either through the PreCheck line or regular line).

Because this service hasn't been established at all US airports, I recommend checking the list on their website to make sure it's available where you need it. Also, this service has been extended outside of airports to locations such as stadiums and arenas, so that's an added to bonus to keep in mind.

$179/year for adults; free for kids under 18 years old

After spending hours and hours on an international flight, the last thing anyone wants to do is stand in line. Global Entry gives you access to automatic kiosks, which expedites the entry process. In addition, Global Entry gives you a KTN, so there's no need to sign up for TSA PreCheck if you sign up for Global Entry.

The process starts with an online application. The next step is to schedule an in-person interview at an enrollment center, which can be tricky. Sometimes you need to schedule interviews several months out since some locations get booked up. You could also schedule interviews in other cities if travel plans are bringing you there anyway. The in-person interview is quick and involves answering general questions and being fingerprinted. After you get accepted into the program, you will receive a Global Entry card and a KTN.

The kiosks are only available at certain locations, so I recommend checking out that list in advance. Also, some credit cards reimburse this fee, so you might want to check if you already have this as a benefit.

$100 (valid for 5 years)

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