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Fast-Track Travel: TSA PreCheck vs. Global Entry

Managing airport security can be a demanding task, yet there are programs designed to enhance efficiency and save on money, such as TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. These trusted traveler initiatives provide expedited security screening, each with distinct features. This comprehensive guide will assist you in deciding between TSA PreCheck and Global Entry.

The Difference Between Global Entry and TSA PreCheck:

TSA PreCheck:

  • Cost: $78 for a five-year membership.
  • Benefits: Expedited security screening for U.S. domestic flights.
  • Features: Keep your shoes, belt, and light jacket on during screening. Leave your laptop and 3-1-1 liquids in your bag.
  • Renewal: $70 after the initial membership period.

Global Entry:

  • Cost: $100 for a five-year membership.
  • Benefits: Includes TSA PreCheck benefits, expedited U.S. customs screening for international travelers, and faster processing at land borders with Mexico and Canada.
  • Features: Expedited customs processing using airport kiosks when entering the U.S.
  • Renewal: $100 after the initial membership period.

Note: Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck benefits, so you don’t need both programs. If you’re eligible and considering the cost, Global Entry might be a more comprehensive option.

How TSA PreCheck Works:

  1. Application: Apply for TSA PreCheck and undergo a background check to determine low-risk traveler status.
  1. Known Traveler Number (KTN): Receive a Known Traveler Number upon approval, which should be added to airline reservations.
  1. Boarding Pass: A PreCheck indicator on your boarding pass grants access to expedited security lanes.
  1. Screening Benefits: Enjoy lighter security screening, without taking your belts and shoes, off, and leaving laptops and liquids in your bag.
  1. Waiting Time: As of March 2023, 89% of PreCheck passengers waited less than five minutes in line.

Global Entry vs. TSA PreCheck Cost:

Global Entry: $100 (includes TSA PreCheck benefits).

TSA PreCheck: $78 (expedited security screening for domestic flights).

Considerations for Choosing:

Frequent International Travel: If you travel internationally frequently, Global Entry provides additional benefits, including expedited customs processing.

Cost Difference: Global Entry is $22 more expensive than TSA PreCheck for a five-year membership. Consider whether the added benefits justify the cost difference.

Application Hassle: Global Entry requires a valid passport, an interview, and has fewer enrollment locations, making the application process more involved compared to TSA PreCheck.

Companions: If traveling with others who don’t have the same status, you may need to wait for them on the other side of security or customs.

Privacy Concerns: Consider the personal information required for both programs, including fingerprints and photos, and evaluate your comfort level with sharing this data.

Ultimately, the choice between TSA PreCheck and Global Entry depends on your travel habits, preferences, and willingness to invest in a more comprehensive program. Whether you opt for faster domestic security screening or desire additional international travel benefits, both programs aim to enhance your airport experience.

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