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Choosing an Express Airport Screening Program

Jordan Garner

October 01, 2018

Busy executives don’t have a moment to waste, whether that means staying productive while traveling on the ground or navigating through commercial airports more efficiently.

Fortunately, there are several expedited “trusted traveler” security programs that can help them significantly cut down on time spent going through airport security and border control. Here’s a brief summary of the most popular programs for business travelers, as well as guidance on how to help your executive choose the best option for their needs.


Quick Reference

Program Cost Access
TSA PreCheck $85 5 years
Global Entry $100 5 years
CLEAR $179 1 year
NEXUS $50 5 years
SENTRI $122.50 5 years

Read on for more detail on each of the programs listed above.


TSA PreCheck

Cost: $85 for five years

TSA’s popular PreCheck program makes it easy for executives with primarily U.S.-based travel calendars to speed through airport security checkpoints without having to remove their shoes, belts or jackets, or take electronic items out of their carry-on bags.

How to Apply:
  • Fill out an online application at
  • After the initial background check is complete, schedule an appointment at one of the program’s 400 enrollment centers (which are typically located at airports, as well as in some major cities).
  • If your executive is approved, they will receive a Known Traveler Number (or “KTN”) within a few weeks of the appointment.
  • Attach their KTN to their frequent flyer profiles or existing reservations. If possible, confirm that the TSA PreCheck logo is printed on their boarding passes to ensure they have access.

If you have one of the following credit cards, use it to pay the application fee and you will receive the fee credit:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • Chase United Explorer Card
  • The Platinum Card from American Express
  • The Business Platinum Card from American Express
  • Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card

If you are an Orbitz Platinum member (12 or more nights a year booked on, Orbitz will reimburse you the $85 fee.

TSA PreCheck status can be used at participating airports, on participating airlines only. PreCheck lines are typically shorter than standard security lines, though the popularity of the program means that wait times have increased from when it was first launched.

The TSA PreCheck program offers no benefits for international travel, so if your executive visits (or plans to visit) destinations outside of the U.S., a program like Global Entry may be a better choice.


Global Entry

Cost: $100 for five years

Think of the Global Entry program as TSA PreCheck with international benefits.

In fact, Global Entry includes PreCheck status, so if your executive is planning both domestic and international travel, this is the program they’ll prefer. The application fee can be covered by one of the credit cards mentioned above (with the exception of Orbitz, which will not cover the Global Entry fee).

How to Apply:
  • As with TSA PreCheck, the application can be completed online:
  • Once travelers are conditionally approved, they can schedule an appointment at a one of the program’s screening centers.
  • After giving their fingerprints and participating in a short interview, they will be given a Global Entry Known Traveler Number (KTN).

Global Entry kiosks are available at many international airports across the US. When your executives are departing, they can access the TSA PreCheck lines for faster screenings. When they return to the U.S., they can go directly to the Global Entry kiosk with their machine readable passport, scan their fingerprints and complete on-screen customs declaration. After they receive your transaction receipt, they can head directly to the baggage claim section or be on their way—quickly and efficiently.

Whether your executive chooses TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, be sure to register their KTN with each of their airline accounts. Without this information submitted ahead of time and visible on each boarding pass, they will not be able to use their benefits.



Cost: $50 for five years

The NEXUS program is designed for travelers making frequent air and vehicle crossings into the US or Canada, and allows pre-screened travelers to access expedited processing when they enter USA and Canada.

For example, NEXUS members can use dedicated lanes at several northern border crossings, as well as NEXUS kiosks when entering Canada by air and Global Entry Kiosks when entering the US via Canadian preclearance airports. NEXUS also facilitates expedited marine entry from Canada, should that be of interest to your executive.

How to Apply:
  • Apply for NEXUS here:
  • Once the application is completed, your executive will need to schedule and complete an in-person interview at one of the program’s enrollment centers.
  • NEXUS status is conferred once the application is successfully processed, following the enrollment appointment.
  • As a note, the Detroit Free Press suggests that NEXUS applications take the longest to process out of all the trusted traveler programs. Expect that your executive will need to wait several months for approval.

Successfully enrolling in the NEXUS program includes TSA PreCheck status. Be advised, however, that the program’s enrollment centers are all located on the U.S.-Canada border. While enrolling in NEXUS may seem like a workaround for getting PreCheck access at a discount, this is only the case if your executive lives or travels near that border.



Cost: $122.50 for five years

Similar to NEXUS, the SENTRI program offers expedited crossing opportunities between the U.S.-Mexico border. Like NEXUS, successful enrollment into the SENTRI program also confers TSA PreCheck privileges (though it does not include access to Global Entry lanes, as does NEXUS).

How to Apply:
  • Complete the online application here:
  • Schedule an interview at a designated enrollment center for review of your executive’s documents: “Proof of Citizenship (i.e. passport, U.S. I-551 Lawful Permanent Resident Card, birth certificate, etc) and any applicable documentation or visas necessary for entry into the U.S.”
  • Following a successful in-person interview, access to SENTRI will be granted for a period of five years.

A related program—FAST—exists for commercial drivers who regularly cross either the U.S.-Canada or U.S.-Mexico borders. More information on the program can be found here, should it be of interest to your executive.



Cost: $179 per year

Finally, there’s CLEAR—a privately run program that’s currently available at more than 35 U.S. airports. The main advantage of CLEAR is that it grants your executive the right to skip the ID check line at the TSA checkpoint (which is why CLEAR claims to be able to speed its members through security in less than five minutes.

How to Apply:
  • Apply for CLEAR here:
  • Once approved, pre-screened travelers can access one of CLEAR’s fingerprint scanners, located at TSA screening checkpoints
  • Upon scanning their fingerprints or retinas, they can proceed directly to the TSA physical screening, where CLEAR staff member will escort them to the front of the line.

CLEAR also promises “exclusive member-only discounts,” and makes corporate plans available to organizations with multiple participating executives. If you know someone else with a current membership, they may be able to get your executive a free three-month trial. Other discounts exist, so search online for current promotional codes before registering.


Choosing a Trusted Traveler Program

Asking your executive the following questions can help you suggest the most appropriate expedited security program option:

  • Will you be traveling domestically, internationally, or both?
    If they plan to travel internationally, Global Entry makes the most sense, as it offers the most comprehensive screening options, as well as all the benefits of TSA PreCheck.
  • Will you travel frequently to Canada or Mexico?
    If so, are you able to get to the appropriate NEXUS or SENTRI enrollment centers? Global Entry members can typically use their cards to access expedited NEXUS or SENTRI vehicle entry lanes, but must often register ahead of time or take other steps to qualify for access. If your executive will travel frequently to one country or the other, the more targeted NEXUS and SENTRI programs may be more appropriate.
  • Do you have a criminal record?
    Though this question is a sensitive one to ask, most trusted traveler programs will reject applicants who have a criminal background—and they’ll keep the application fee submitted. Save your executives money by suggesting they forgo applying if they’re unlikely to qualify.
  • What is your comfort sharing personal data with a trusted traveler program?
    Some travelers have privacy concerns regarding the tracking of personal data by expedited screening programs. This notification in the Federal Register describes the specific type of information collected by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and Department of Homeland Security trusted traveler programs. CLEAR’s privacy policy describes the specific types of information it collects, for reference by your executive.
  • Does your executive ever travel with family?
    It’s common for executives to combine business and personal travel into “bleisure” trips. If it’s likely that your executive will take such trips, make them aware of whether or not their trusted traveler program covers family members. TSA PreCheck, for example, allows children 12 and under who are traveling with a parent whose boarding pass shows the PreCheck logo to access PreCheck screening lanes. Spouses or older children will need to apply separately or use the standard screening lanes.

If your executive travels internationally at all, Global Entry is likely to be their best choice. But take these and other questions into consideration in order to help your executive to choose the express screening program that’ll best help them speed through security.

Have you helped your executive enroll in one of these trusted traveler programs? If so, share which program they chose and why by leaving us a comment below.

Jordan Garner
Jordan Garner

Jordan Garner is an Executive Assistant. Mrs. Garner studied at the University of Texas at Tyler, and previously supported multiple Regional Directors and Account Executives at Estee Lauder.