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The two innovations of the past several years which have made the US travel experience substantially more pleasant have been TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry. As a reminder, TSA Pre-Check allows eligible travelers expedited security screening, where they don’t have to take off their shoes, or take their liquids or laptops out of their bags.
Meanwhile Global Entry allows for expedited customs & immigration, where eligible travelers can just use kiosks at immigration, rather than having to queue for an agent.
While Global Entry is valid regardless of which airline you’re flying, TSA Pre-Check requires flying certain airlines which are enrolled in the program. As of now there are 16 airlines enrolled in TSA Pre-Check, including the following (Aeromexico, Cape Air, Etihad Airways, and Seaborne Airlines were added last month):
Aeromexico, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, Allegiant, American Airlines, Cape Air, Delta Air Lines, Etihad Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Seaborne Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, United Airlines, Virgin America and WestJet
It’s great to see the TSA adding international airlines to TSA Pre-Check, though there are still some US airlines which don’t even have TSA Pre-Check. The good news is that Frontier and Spirit will soon be joining TSA Pre-Check, meaning that eligible travelers on those airlines will be able to benefit from expedited security screening.
Denver-based Frontier Airlines now says it plans to participate in PreCheck by the end of August, while Miramar, Fla.-based Spirit Airlines is planning to join sometime this fall.
Combined, Frontier and Spirit carry only about 5% of domestic air traffic, but their passenger totals have been growing fast as both airlines expand to new markets.
This is great news, and it really is a shame it took these carriers so long to join (then again, Spirit doesn’t exactly count on their travel experience or a loyal following to fill planes).
Once these carriers are fully integrated into the program, make sure you enter your Known Traveler Number in your reservation before you check-in.
Keep in mind that while you can pay to register for TSA Pre-Check directly, you’re much better off registering for Global Entry, as it also comes with TSA Pre-Check (TSA Pre-Check, on the other hand, doesn’t come with Global Entry).
I registered for Global Entry for the first time in mid-2011, and wrote about my experience at the time. Global Entry is valid for five years, and I just renewed my membership a couple of weeks ago.
Keep in mind that several credit cards offer Global Entry fee credits, where they’ll reimburse you for the $100 fee to join Global Entry. Those cards include the following:
- Citi Prestige® Card
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express
The very best way to get TSA Pre-Check is through NEXUS, which costs just $50 and gets you expedited immigration in the US and Canada, Global Entry, and TSA Pre-Check. You pay half the price and get the most privileges. But that’s not as practical for everyone, since there aren’t as many centers where you can enroll for NEXUS, since it’s primarily intended for those traveling frequently between the US and Canada.
Here’s to hoping that TSA Pre-Check expands to even more airlines, especially international ones.
(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)