Waiting in airport security lines isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time.
Luckily, there are numerous ways to expedite your airport security screening—in this article, we’ll explore two of them, TSA PreCheck and Clear. Both frequent flyer services shorten wait times for airport security procedures, but they have a few crucial and clear membership differences you’ll want to keep in mind.
While only one of the two frequent flyer programs may be right for you, there’s a potential third option in the TSA PreCheck vs Clear debate: you can combine the two services to reap the benefits of both. Before we explore the hybrid option, let’s break down some crucial and clear membership information about TSA PreCheck and Clear first.
On an average day in November of 2021, over 1.9 million passengers boarded flights around the United States. Each and every one of them—plus airport and airline staff—had to proceed through the airport security line.
You might be wondering what does TSA PreCheck do? TSA PreCheck line doesn’t completely bypass airport security, but it reduces your time spent in the physical screening process. After enrolling in a TSA PreCheck membership, you can skip the following time-consuming procedures in the airport security line:
It’s easy to enroll in TSA PreCheck—simply apply online, complete an additional screening process at an in-person enrollment center, and receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN). The $85 fee enrolls travelers for five years, and the TSA PreCheck renewal process fees are $70.
An important difference between Clear and TSA Pre is which parts of the security process they expedite. While TSA PreCheck shortens the physical security checkpoint screening (placing carry-on items onto a conveyor belt, walking through a metal detector, and receiving a physical pat-down), Clear speeds up the document screening phase.
Typically, travelers proceed through three steps during airport security:
With the Clear lane, travelers skip the long line, scan their boarding pass at a digital global entry kiosk called a Clear pod, and confirm their identities with a retina scan or their fingerprints before proceeding to the physical expedited security screening phase.
A Clear member can also bypass long security lines at sports or concert venues. However, Clear pods aren’t yet available in every major arena, and fans will still have to complete any compulsory physical screening processes.
To sign up for the Clear lane, complete the short online Clear member application, enroll at a Clear pod in a participating Global Entry airport, and pay a $179 Global Entry member yearly fee.
Both TSA PreCheck members and Clear shave down your time spent in the most frustrating phase of air travel. But, which one is right for you? Don’t forget the third contender in the Clear vs. PreCheck debate: using both expedited security services.
Clear offers numerous advantages to frequent travelers, sports fans, and digital gurus alike:
Although it’s significantly more expensive than TSA PreCheck, Clear provides completely different services. If you’re a frequent traveler or simply hate waiting in lines, Clear will save you time and potentially keep you from missing a flight during peak travel dates.
TSA PreCheck, while a more limited service, is an inexpensive way to reduce your physical screening time. Since the average traveler proceeds through standard TSA security checkpoints, PreCheck members also experience shorter lines on their way to the document screening phase.
TSA PreCheck is perfect for:
For only $85 for a five-year enrollment, and only $70 per renewal, the convenience of TSA PreCheck is, for even infrequent travelers, worth every penny.
While it requires a more-than-nominal financial commitment, using both services is an excellent way for travelers to reap the benefits of both services and expedite the entire airport security process.
For travelers enrolled in both Clear and TSA PreCheck, the airport security process is significantly different than the standard procedure:
If you’re a very frequent flier—for business or pleasure—using Clear in combination with the TSA PreCheck will significantly cut down on your airport stress.
To avoid the hustle and bustle of getting a TSA PreCheck in person, simply fill out this form to apply for TSA PreCheck online right now.