If TSA lines aren’t enough, there’s another summer travel delay to worry about. According to a recent study of Federal data, June and July are the worst months of the year for passport checkpoint waits returning to the U.S.
Some airports have average wait times of over 30 minutes, and maximum wait times often top out at around an hour or more.
But there are new ways around this and other airport delays that can save you aggravation.
Get Mobile Passport Control. This is an app officially authorized by the Department of Customs and Border Protection, which lets you use special passport checkpoint lanes with no paperwork involved. This is the simplest, and sometimes most effective way to cut down on passport checkpoint waits. It’s free, there’s no advance registration needed, and everyone in your family can use it. Download it and you’ll be able to skip the congested passport and customs lines at some of the busiest airports.
If you fly a lot, consider Global Entry. Global Entry, a trusted traveler program, is more involved than Mobile Passport Control because it requires an in-person interview and a $ 100 application fee. The benefit is it gets you both priority at passport checkpoints and regular domestic security lines via TSA Pre Check. It’s also available at more airports than Mobile Passport Control.
Some credit cards will reimburse you the cost of TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fees. You probably don’t want to get a card just to offset the fee, because most of the cards that offer the benefit have annual fees of their own. Better to pick a travel credit card based on your spending habits.
Pay up for priority once. Some airlines let you pay a fee to get access to priority security and boarding lanes. And you can buy it right up until check-in via mobile apps, kiosks, or online checkin. So if you get to the airport, and lines look hopeless, the fee might help you make your flight.
Become a SkyMiles member. Delta SkyMiles members get discounted membership to CLEAR, which is a private service that offers expedited biometric security clearance at several airports. Instead of paying $ 179 a year, SkyMiles members pay $ 99, and anyone can become a SkyMiles member for free.
Try a different terminal. If lines are really bad at one terminal, consider another in the same airport. Many big airports let you clear security in a different terminal than the one you’re departing. Some terminals are connected behind security, while others have shuttles running in between, If you’re facing an hour plus wait at your terminal, it may be worth the walk to a terminal with little or no wait.
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