You couldn’t find your suitcase. There was an accident on the highway. You spilled coffee on yourself getting out of the car. You finally get to the airport security line and…you haven’t seen this many people in one place since that ill-advised Black Friday trip to Target. Maybe I should consider one of those security fast passes that let me skip the line, you think. If you fly fairly frequently, you probably should. Here are the differences between two of the most popular options, old faithful TSA Pre-Check and a newer option, Clear.
How do they work? The point of both Pre-Check and Clear is to get you to your gate (for domestic flights) a lot faster. With TSA PreCheck, you can leave your shoes on, keep your laptop in your bag and get through security through a metal detector alone. Clear tries to speed up the process of the ID-check line, so instead of showing someone your ID and boarding pass, you scan your finger or eye in a Clear kiosk and skip right to security.
Where can I use them? Pre-Check is currently available at more than 180 airports around the country, with 37 participating airlines. Clear, on the other hand, is available at 19 major airports.
How much do they cost? Pre-Check costs $85 and is good for five years. Clear costs a bit more, at $179, and is only valid for one year.
How do I apply? For both programs, you have to fill out a form on their websites, followed by an in-person appointment at an application center (for Pre-Check) or an airport enrollment center (for Clear).
So…which one should I do? If you travel fairly frequently, we’d say go for Pre-Check. It’s less expensive, available at a lot more airports and you don’t have to renew it every year. If you’re a very frequent flyer, however, and Clear is available at your home airport, you might want to consider splurging for that as well.
Happy travels, friends.