Clear… is it worth it?

Ever wanted to totally bypass the line waiting to get checked by the TSA agent? Who doesn’t! Well you’re in luck, there are a couple of options available to you, TSA Pre√, Global Entry and now Clear. Let’s looks at each of these, “ease of access” options to your TSA Gate check.

The Transportation and Security Administration is a fairly young government agency. Formed on November 19th, 2001 as a direct response to the September 11 attacks, it is in place to keep us and our airways safe. Although I understand the function of the agency and appreciate it, I still look for ways to work around that necessary gate check. For those of us who use air travel frequently, we try to streamline our TSA experience to spend as little time in that line as possible. We organize our bags so we can whip out our liquids, laptops and scoot out of our shoes in record time. So any way that we can bypass any of those actions, is worth a look.

The TSA Pre√ allows you to bypass the long TSA gate check lines. You are also able to keep your shoes, belts and jackets on, and you can keep your laptops and liquids packed. The service costs $85 for 5 years but is only good in the US. You can use it for international flights in the US but not in other countries coming to the US. The process takes anywhere from 1-2 weeks from the time you apply to the time you go for your interview, depending on where you live, so pretty quick turn around time.

If you are going to travel abroad even once this year, get the Global Entry. For an additional $15 you can enjoy all of the perks of the TSA Pre√ but on a global scale. The Global Entry pass is also good for 5 years. The process is a bit more lengthily. I applied for my Global Entry card and was approved in September, the earliest I could get an appointment for the interview, which is where I get my fingerprints done, was the last week of January, and I live in a major city. Make sure you provide an ample amount of time to obtain this card before your travels, it’s well worth it.

Which brings me to Clear. As I walked to my gate last night I noticed a group of sliver and gray kiosks set up before the TSA Pre√ gate. A gentleman named Brian asked me if I wanted to sign up for Clear. I listened to his pitch. Basically they take your information and your fingerprints, electronically, and this allows you to bypass the long TSA gate line. Now that being said you have to be walked through by a Clear agent and you still have to go through the regular screening line, taking off your shoes, jackets and belts, taking out your laptops and liquids. The first month of the service is free, during their launch, and $175 per year after. You also have the opportunity to add a family member for $50. Value for your buck isn’t with this service. In reality they cannot offer you what TSA or Global Entry for half the price.

If you are a frequent visitor between the US and Canada you can apply for Nexus. For $50 US or Canadian you can have the same perks as TSA Pre√ except that it is only good for travel between these two countries.

I hope I’ve provided some insight into these available travel programs. In my opinion if you travel by air more than twice a year it’s in your best interest to obtain a Global Entry card. It’s only going to make your travel easier and you doesn’t want less stress in their lives? For more information on Trusted Traveler Programs you can click on the link below. As for me I’ll at my parent’s house for the next two weeks and they live in communication Siberia so I’ll won’t be posting next week. Look for my travel vlog I’ll be starting on YouTube in 2017. Until next time, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year everyone!

For more information on Trusted Traveler Programs: https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs

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