Winter isn’t coming; it has arrived, and that means the busy holiday travel season is upon us.
Since global air travel demand has increased by 7.2 percent year over year, according to the International Air Transportation Association’s findings in October, there is sure to be more travelers at the airport this holiday season than ever before.
Plus, 2017 brought new restrictions and security procedures. Although these new changes promote safety, they also have the less-desired effect of extending those already long and time-consuming security lines. We know, those lines can be excruciating even when it’s not a particularly busy time of year.
So, what’s a frequent traveler to do? As a travel manager or procurement officer, how can you improve the traveler experience all year long without it negatively impacting your bottom line?
Of all the trusted traveler programs out there, how do you know which one best fits your needs or the needs of your travelers?
Let’s look at the options.
5 Ways to Speed Through the Airport
1. Mobile Passport
Let’s start with the cheapest option, and by “cheapest,” I mean free. Mobile Passport is an application for mobile devices that allows travelers to pre-fill their forms before entering the U.S. Although it’s not an official trusted traveler program, it can slightly reduce wait times.
2. TSA PreCheck
5-year membership fee: $85 USD
TSA PreCheck provides expedited security screening benefits for flights departing from U.S. airports, which makes this program ideal for domestic air travel.
At the security checkpoint, program members are usually directed to a separate line and don’t need to remove their shoes, laptops, liquids, belts, or light jackets.
TSA PreCheck is currently available (as of December 13, 2017) at 200 airports with 42 participating airlines nationwide. To see which airports honor this program, click here.
3. Global Entry
5-year membership fee: $100 USD
Global Entry combines the benefits of TSA PreCheck with expedited Customs and Border Protection processing into the U.S. following an international flight.
Program members can use a Global Entry kiosk to clear immigration, customs, and agricultural processing. Plus, they don’t need to fill out any paper arrival forms (i.e. Customs declaration).
If your travelers enjoy the benefits of TSA PreCheck, Global Entry may be worth considering, especially if they do a lot of international air travel.
5-year membership fee: $50 USD
NEXUS expedites processing into the U.S. or Canada following an international flight or when traveling by vehicle. It even expedites marine entry to the United States from Canada.
When traveling by air, program members have access to self-report custom forms. Plus, NEXUS also includes the benefits of TSA PreCheck.
5-year membership fee: $122.50 USD
SENTRI is ideal for frequent travel between the U.S. and Mexico, as it allows program members to use expedited lanes for quicker vehicle or pedestrian entry into the United States.
It provides expedited processing for U.S. citizens and LPRs (Legal Permanent Residents) into the U.S. following an international flight, and yes, it too includes the benefits of TSA PreCheck.
Still not sure which of these programs to go with? The decision between these five options, or to forego them altogether, depends heavily on the details of your travel program.
Please also keep in mind that eligibility requirements vary. Some of these options require U.S. Citizenship or LPR status, while others are open to citizens of any nationality. To learn about the requirements or details on how to apply, check out the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website here.
Let us know. We’re happy to help you determine which of these options best fits your needs.
Better yet, are you already a member of a trusted traveler program you’re happy with? Or, do your travelers utilize these programs? Please share your thoughts below!
Banner image by Oliver Wendel via Unsplash