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Best ways to skip the TSA security line

Posted: 11:36 PM, May 11, 2016
Updated: 2016-05-12 02:13:31-04

With officials urging passengers to get to the airport three hours early because of long TSA lines this summer , we looked into the best ways to avoid the wait.

1. TSA PreCheck or Global Entry . The long screening lines may finally make the hassle and cost of these "Trusted Traveler" programs worth it.

TSA Precheck gives passengers access to shorter lines and an expedited screening process.  It costs $85 for five years and requires travelers go in person to an application center and provide required information, documentation and fingerprints.

But if you travel internationally, Global Entry gives you the perks of TSA PreCheck and allows you faster entry into the U.S. from other countries. It costs $100, and requires you to schedule a more cumbersome interview, but it also lasts for five years. 

Some credit cards will reimburse travelers for the Global Entry and TSA PreCheck fees.

2. Clear.  Clear is a private company that contracts with airports to allow passengers to go through a shorter line, using your fingerprint and boarding pass for identification. (The company promises less than 5 minutes.)  It is $179 per year, and you can add family members for $50.  However, unless you have TSA PreCheck in addition to Clear, you still have to go through the same screening process as everyone else.

3. Upgrade. Sort of. Many airlines offer shorter security line perks for first class and business travelers, but some allow passengers to pay a little extra only for the shorter security line.

"Most airlines offer expedited security lines," said George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com. "JetBlue calls it 'Even More Speed.' United sells them, Delta and American. They’re not terribly expensive, but they’re certainly better than missing your flight."

4. Choose your dates and times carefully. Hobica says booking flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and during off-peak times, such as 7 a.m. can save you a long wait. "The most important thing is don't miss your flight, because the real problem is if you do, when are you going to get the next flight out? In some cases, it might be tomorrow or even the next day," said Hobica.