Itineraries: Which ‘Trusted Traveler’ Program Is Right for You?

by admin February 21, 2017 at 12:34 am

Clear

Cost: $179 a year

Best for: Baseball fans, and frequent fliers who fly out of one of Clear’s airport locations

What you get: A quick cut to the front of the security line

Clear is a private trusted-traveler program, sanctioned by the Transportation Security Administration. Instead of waiting for an officer to review your ID and boarding pass, members go to Clear’s lane to have their identity verified by fingerprint or iris scan, then move directly to the metal detectors and bag scanners at the security checkpoint. Those without T.S.A. PreCheck will still have to take off their shoes, pull out their laptops and submit to the usual drill. Clear has lanes at only 20 airports, including major international hubs like San Francisco, Miami and Kennedy in New York. But it is moving into more airports, including Los Angeles and Minneapolis-St. Paul, by the end of the first quarter. Clear is also used at several baseball stadiums, including New York’s Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, to help fans move more quickly through security lines.

Clear promises that the sign-up process, which involves digitally authenticating your driver’s license or passport, confirming your identity and creating your biometric account, takes just five minutes and can be completed on the spot at the airport so new members can skip to the front of the security line immediately. Children under 18 can use the Clear lane free when traveling with an enrolled family member, and a spouse or partner can sign up for an extra $50. Delta, which took a 5 percent stake in Clear last year, reimburses the $179 annual fee for its top-tier fliers and offers reduced rates for other loyalty members. Some 800,000 travelers have signed up so far.

Bottom line: With a limited number of airports and a price of $179 a year, Clear doesn’t make a lot of sense for the occasional traveler. But road warriors who regularly fly in and out of airports with Clear can expect to shave down their wait time.

Nexus

Cost: $50 for five years

Best for: Canadians and Americans who live near the northern border

What you get: Expedited processing at airports and land borders when entering the United States and Canada, plus enrollment in Global Entry and T.S.A. PreCheck. Applicants must schedule an interview at a Nexus enrollment center. The centers are only in Canadian and American cities near the northern border. Once registered, members can use dedicated processing lanes when crossing the northern border, including Nexus kiosks when entering Canada by air and Global Entry kiosks when entering the United States via Canadian preclearance airports. Members also receive expedited processing at marine reporting locations.

Bottom line: If you are paying out of pocket, this is the best deal since Nexus members enjoy the benefits of T.S.A. PreCheck and Global Entry at no additional cost. But it doesn’t make sense to enroll unless you live near a Nexus enrollment center.

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