Precheck: TSA’s PreCheck allows participants to use a dedicated security line without needing to remove shoes, jackets, laptops, or liquids. Fourteen major airports are being added to the program this year, bringing the total to 35 nationwide. To join, you need to take part in one of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Trusted Traveler programs (Global Entry, SENTRI, NEXUS, or FAST) or be invited via an airline as a frequent flier (so far, Alaska, Delta, US Airways, American, and United are on board). Is it worth it? Gary Leff, cofounder of the frequent-flier community milepoint.com, says there’s hardly ever a line, since the program is exclusive. But since PreCheck privileges aren’t ubiquitous, he can’t bank on having them every time he flies.
Global Entry: For Edward Pizzarello, a D.C.-based entrepreneur who logs around 200,000 miles a year, the real game changer is Global Entry, which enables returning U.S. citizens who have submitted to a background check to bypass customs lines and swipe their passports at a kiosk. Pizzarello enrolled after spending close to two hours in line at O’Hare. He’s since been able to make connections he would have missed otherwise: “The variables are so wide on international travel. With Global Entry, it’s more predictable.” The program just expanded to Europe, including Ireland’s two biggest airports, where passengers must clear U.S. customs prior to departure.