2012: The Year of Trip Cancellation?
A Perfect Merger for Trip Delay?

Avoiding Trip Delay at the Security Checkpoint

Something we would all like to see more of: taxi to runway. Assuming, of course, we're not stuck behind a trip delay.Time flies when you’re incredibly busy. I’ve learned that the hard way at the end of this year, while working with our team to increase the benefits of our products: Study USA-HealthCare, Visit USA-HealthCare, InterMedical Insurance, and WorldMed Insurance. It seems like just yesterday, I was writing about my own travel goals for 2013, and how avoiding trip delay was one of the major ones. One month later, I’ve made movement on each of those resolutions – except for the one about avoiding trip delay.

Granted, there are many times where trip delay is completely out of my hands. Due to mechanical failure, irregular operations, or general obstinance, I’m not always guaranteed to get to where I want to go on time. But the one place where it is in my hands is during the TSA Checkpoint at every airport in America.

To begin with, there are plenty of things that I do already in order to make sure that my pathway through is simple and efficient, and not have security be the cause of my trip delay.

  1. Arrive at the airport with plenty of time.
  2. Have my shoes off before I get to the conveyor belt.
  3. Adhere to the 3-1-1 rule when taking liquids in my carry-on bags.
  4. Empty all my pockets and place all loose items together in a small bin. 

One of the apps that stays on my smartphone is the My TSA Mobile App – which can help navigate what I can and can’t take, and give a general idea of how fast security is moving at any airport in America.  Even with the assistance of the application, I know that it’s going to be between a 10 to 45-minute process getting through the security lane.

So my speed and timing are good now. But there has to be a better way to get through and avoid the danger of trip delay, right? In fact, there are a couple of ways to do just that.

At many major airports in the United States and around the world, most air carriers have special lines dedicated to their status-holding frequent flyers. It’s a subtle way to say “Thank you” for flying their airlines. But what they don’t tell you is that many of those are also open to their partner’s frequent flyers as well. For instance: at the US Airways terminal in Cleveland, a dedicated line is setup for Dividend Miles Preferred flyers, as well as Star Alliance Gold members. Once I have that status, I plan on making that my exclusive security line.

Additionally, many airports now have dedicated lines for TSA Pre-Check trusted travelers. Last year, I wrote about the Pre-Check system, and how I was hesitant about it until it was more widely adopted. This year, I’m planning on getting my NEXUS Card which will allow me easier border passage from the United States to Canada. Both NEXUS and Global Entry (the trusted traveler program for international travelers) provide you with a trusted traveler number that gives you access to the TSA Pre-Check program. Using Pre-Check seems to be much less trouble than going through the standard security line since you get to keep your shoes, belt, and jacket on, thus potentially preventing a trip delay. But, that’s not an easy process either. Both NEXUS and Global Entry require travelers to have an in-person interview for approval, which involves additional drive and appointment time.

That being said, it is possible to get Pre-Check status through your airline. The only downside through that route is that the Pre-Check status is seemingly assigned on a random basis, unlike the trusted traveler program.

If the drive is out of the question for you and you want a consistent security experience, another option would be CLEAR. For a nominal fee you can enroll in CLEAR, which requires nothing more than your passport and several questions. CLEAR lanes are available in several different major airports across the United States. The only difficulty is that, once again, you have to enroll in-person and wait 7-10 business days before you can get your CLEAR card and use the lanes. This is great if you live near a supporting airport, and can enroll and receive your next card before your next trip, and a great way to skip trip delay.

By some combination of those three strategies, I’m hoping to eliminate trip delays at TSA Checkpoints this year. What are your strategies to make the security checkpoint a lesser obstacle this year? I’d love to hear in the comments below and, perhaps, adopt a few!

(Ed. Note: No incentive was given to mention any product or service in this blog. Travel Insurance Services and its affiliated companies do not endorse nor guarantee any product or service mentioned in this or any blog. However, we sure would love to hear about your experiences with them!)

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