If you don’t have an up-to-date passport, TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, now is the time to sign up—unless you love hanging out in lines of all kinds. Some changes on the horizon are likely to make flying more frustrating, but having the right tools could help prevent delays and headaches.
TSA PreCheck lines, which are meant to speed passengers through security, are now only accessible to travelers who have paid $85 and completed the application process. The TSA had been filtering “low-risk” non-members into these lines, but you can no longer rely on luck to get out of removing your shoes and belt.
A record 68.3 million Americans traveled abroad in 2014, a 10 percent increase over 2013, according to the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office. More flyers equal longer lines at immigration and customs, which is why it may be a good idea to have Global Entry, which lets you skip those queues when returning to the U.S. (and comes with PreCheck status).
On the domestic front, residents from New York, Louisiana, Minnesota, and New Hampshire will no longer be able to use a standard driver’s license to board domestic flights. Starting sometime in 2016, the federal government is implementing new standards for identification—and licenses from these states, and the American Samoa, don’t make the grade. Travelers from those states will need an enhanced license, permanent resident card, U.S. military ID, passport, or Global Entry card for commercial flights.
With that in mind, prudent travelers without a passport (or those whose passports expire within the next year) should consider taking care of that sooner rather than later. Passport requests are expected to ramp up as the new rules go into effect.