Track services

It’s a great time to invest in airport “Fast Track” subscriptions

It’s summer, which usually means its amateur hour at the airport. But add two years of pent-up demand, even non-hobbyists with no practice, and airlines and airport facilities struggling to recruit staff…and you have a particular kind of travel hell.

And that’s why now is a particularly good time to indulge in one of those airport expedited passes, like TSA PreCheck, CLEAR, Global Entry, or something even more exotic.

Every second counts more than ever, and with unprecedented overhead passenger aisles, a quick zip alternative is absolutely phenomenal. Here are some choices, depending on what you’re looking for and where you are.

TSA PreCheck: the most basic, but good

If you are going to get TSA pre-check and traveling abroad, might as well go the extra mile and apply for GlobalEntry. For those of you who don’t travel overseas, it’s perfect.

Who should get it: People who travel almost entirely within the United States. TSA PreCheck is limited to US citizens, nationals, and long-time permanent residents.

Why should you get it: It’s easy application, reasonable fee and you can keep your shoes and belt, laptops in bags and liquids too. Lines are often considerably shorter than general security and this saves a lot of time. Combined with CLEAR, it’s even better.

Annual fees: The application fee for TSA pre-check is $85 for a 5-year subscription, or $17 per year. TSA PreCheck charges an $85 transaction and renews after 5 years for $70.

CLEAR: an incredible TSA companion

VSLEAR is essentially skipping the line privileges, but when you combine it with TSA PreCheck, it’s both hassle-free and time-saving. CLEAR is a separate non-governmental service that works with the TSA to verify the identity of travelers.

CLEAR users are then directed to the front of their respective general traffic lane, or PreCheck lane. So yes, even if PreCheck is crowded, you should still be very quick. It should be noted that sometimes there is no queue at TSA PreCheck, so in these cases the benefits are not as felt.

Who should get it: People who have TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. Members without a separate subscription to either will still need to remove liquids, laptops, belts and shoes to go through security. It’s often good enough as it is, but jumping to the start of PreCheck makes it really fast.

Why should you get it: Frequent travelers who find themselves frequenting airports during peak security hours, or who appreciate TSA security’s reliable wait time windows. So basically anyone who likes to get airside really fast.

Annual fees: Until May 19, CLEAR subscriptions are available for $179 per year, or $15 per month. If you join Delta SkyMiles, it is less expensive. Some credit cards offer CLEAR credit as a benefit, and loyalty programs such as Delta SkyMiles also offer it as an elite member benefit.

Global Entry: phenomenal travel value

Global Entry requires a little more hassle than other services, as applications are more vetted and an in-person interview is required, but that’s wonderful.

Global entry offers the benefits of TSA PreCheck, but for an additional $15 over 5 years, you get expedited arrivals through US CBP immigration. Once approved, automated machines process arrivals to the United States in seconds, potentially saving hours.

Who should get it: People who want TSAPreCheck, but for $100, versus $85, would also prefer to take advantage of the faster screening through US immigration. If you travel out of the country at least once a year, I’d say it’s 100% worth it.

Why should you get it: Prompt processing through immigration upon arrival in the United States. Hours saved in queues, over time. And you automatically get PreCheck.

Annual fees: Global Entry is a $100 sign-up fee for a 5-year subscription, or $20 per month. Many credit cards cover the full Global Entry registration fee.

American Airlines Five Star: Niche and Nice!

American Airlines offers VIP treatment at the airport as a paid service, which anyone traveling on American Airlines can enjoy. Prices vary and promotions are frequent. The service can help speed people through many airport pain points.

Who should get it: People who are traveling soon and who are too late for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck applications to be validated before their flight. People who want a “unique” fun experience by getting the VIP/Celeb treatment at an airport.

Why should you get it: Celebrities and VIPs use the Five Star service to avoid escorts at key checkpoints. At some airports where American has a big flex, this can help with arrivals and departures. It’s a niche, but it’s good to know.

Expenses: You can book and browse American Airlines Five Star Packages on the official website and see if there are any that make sense for your trip. Prices range from around $140 to $350 and up. Five-star service is a highly personal decision based on unique individual circumstances.

PS @ LAX: fly private, almost!

For big ballers and people who can’t take another selfie request. [email protected] offers two distinct opportunities to avoid the airport terminal altogether. They have their own private terminal and drive you to your aircraft door.

Who should get it: People with an American Express Black Card, or anyone willing to pay $695 pp for fully private lounge access and drive to plane with private security clearance, or $4350 for a suite Fully private VIP to rest before the flight.

Why should you get it: Because it’s ridiculously amazing. You skip the public terminal and are treated to ridiculous levels of luxury. The [email protected] team coordinates to get you to your flight at the perfect time and even checks bags for you.

Annual fees: It’s $4350 for a group of up to (4) non-members to reserve a private suite, or $695 per person for Lounge access at PS @ LAX. [email protected] membership significantly reduces cost per use. Even if it’s not for you right now, it’s good to dream, isn’t it?

Credit cards make many airport services free

Whether you have a $95 annual fee credit card or a $5,000 annual fee card, chances are your rewards card will cover the application fee for at least one or more of these services. .

Capital One Venture, Chase Sapphire Cards, Amex Green, Gold And Platinum, among others, all offer a fee credit covering Global Entry. Amex Centurion “Black Card” holders also receive a free visit to PS @ LAX.

There are plenty more, so before you pass up these opportunities because you don’t want to pay for them, see if any of your credit cards have been ready to cover it for you the whole time!