Our First Experience Using The CLEAR Checkpoint

We’ve had access to TSA PreCheck lanes at the airport thru our Global Entry membership for over five years and it is one of the most wonderful things we’ve ever signed up for. It  transforms the procedure of going through the security checkpoints from a cattle call to something closer to just a minor inconvenience. However we’ve noticed that while there never used to be any line at the PreCheck lanes, there now can be quite a wait just to get to the point to verify your ID. In Orlando, this is partially because of more people having PreCheck as well as people who don’t belong in the line (usually foreign tourists) waiting and then being told they’re in the wrong line and they have to go wait again in the standard line. At other airports, like LaGuardia in New York and O’Hare in Chicago, we’ve had to wait 10-15 minutes in the PreCheck line just because of the number of travelers and a limited number of check in lines available.

I’ve been going back and forth about enrolling in CLEAR. It’s a third party program that bypasses the normal check of your ID and Boarding Pass. You know, the part where you walk up to a TSA agent and hand them your ID and Boarding Pass and you awkwardly stand there while they look at the paper and look at you.

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You Might Soon Be Able To Drop Off Or Meet Your Family & Friends At The Airport Gate Again!

Ah, the good ol’ pre-9/11 days of air travel, when you could go through security with a baseball bat and without taking your shoes off. You could even stay with your loved ones before they got onto the plane or meet them at the gate when they arrived!

Well, the first one isn’t happening any time soon, and the second one won’t happen unless you pay for TSA Pre-Check. But the third and fourth ones COULD become a possibility in the not-too-distant future, if a certain TSA experiment works out well.

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Stop Falling In Love With Travel Credit Cards!!

I’m finally willing to admit I’ve had an irrational attachment to certain travel credit cards. You know, the cards that I’ve had for a while and kept paying the annual fee even though the benefits aren’t worth what the card cost me every year. I tried to rationalize why paying for the card made sense. My arguments were convincing but eventually I took a step back and gave a long and hard look at the money I was spending. I realized that I was giving way too much value to the “possible uses” for the card instead of looking at the actual value I was getting.

I give the credit card companies credit; they were able to make me think I was winning at this game. I had all these perks, got statement credits for expenses and my out of pocket cost whittled down to almost nothing. It’s like they were paying me to keep the card. Wait, I know that’s not true. No bank is going to pay you to keep a card for the long term. They’d eventually go out of business.

So how’d the person who is so proud of not being loyal to any airline, hotel or rental car company end up in a unhealthy relationship with some credit cards? Here are just a few of the traps that I fell into that lead to making irrational decisions.

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Why Did I Need To Take Off My Shoes?

Going through the TSA checkpoint in Orlando can be miserable. Lines get really long, and that’s just to get TO the checkpoint. Once you have your ID inspected, you need to wait for the security check of your baggage and possibly your person as well.

Our experiences aren’t nearly as bad as they used to be, since we get access to the TSA Precheck lanes by having Global Entry. The lines aren’t usually very long and we’re typically through security in less than 15 minutes.

Unfortunately, last Saturday, I went through my first major traffic jam in the TSA Precheck lane.  Continue reading “Why Did I Need To Take Off My Shoes?”

TSA PreCheck Lines May Soon Be Getting Shorter. Here’s Why.

I’ve lost track of how many times Joe and I have recommended getting TSA PreCheck to help you save time at the TSA checkpoint. At Orlando International Airport, which is our “home” airport, seeing waits of 30-45 minutes is usually the norm for the regular lines, while waits at PreCheck are usually 5 or 10 minutes.

In the past few years, the waits have actually been closer to 10 minutes moreso than 5. Not that an extra 5 minutes is a huge deal, and with more people enrolled in Pre-Check, that would make perfect sense if they don’t increase the number of dedicated TSA PreCheck queues. It turns out there’s another reason that line has been slower recently, but it sounds like the TSA may eliminate that problem soon.

Continue reading “TSA PreCheck Lines May Soon Be Getting Shorter. Here’s Why.”