In the United States we have great options for skipping long security and passport lines.
The shortcut for security lines is called PreCheck. If your printed boarding pass has “PRE” or something similar, you qualify for the short and fast PreCheck line. You can leave your shoes on and your laptop in the bag, but you will need to “de-magnetize” yourself by removing metal so you can pass through the metal detector.
The best shortcut for passport lines when returning to the United States from overseas is Global Entry, although the government is slowly rolling out a smartphone app that may work as well.
How can you get PreCheck or Global Entry? Some airlines can bestow PreCheck to their premium passengers. If you don’t fall into that category, your best options are either buy PreCheck ($85 for 5 years) or buy Global Entry ($100 for 5 years, includes PreCheck). Unless you are certain that you will not be traveling internationally in the next 5 years, Global Entry is the better option.
Google “Global Entry” to find the U.S. government website that explains how to get started and to schedule an interview. The interview is quick and easy for most people.
It happened to me in February…I checked into a Hilton Hotel and they would not give me (a Diamond) an upgrade…said they were Full.
Available this Spring and Fall. Fly Delta from United Airlines’ hubs (Chicago, Denver, Houston, Newark, San Francisco, Washington DC), fly United from Delta’s hubs (Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis, Seattle).
Best of all, the card has no annual fee. That means it’s a keeper, and if you use it for some small purchase from time to time it will give you a few HHonors points which will preserve the rest of your points.
Just having the card gives you automatic Silver status at Hilton, which isn’t terribly valuable but at least gives you a little leverage. If you spend $20,000 in a year your Hilton HHonors status will jump to Gold and you will have earned at least 60,000 more HHonors points.
Virgin America has Elevate Silver and Elevate Gold levels, and will match you into one of them if you have status on American, Delta, Southwest or United.
The Southwest Airlines rule is peculiar…VAm will match you into Elevate Gold if you have a Companion Pass on SWA. Many of us don’t think of the Companion Pass as a status level, but evidently VAm does.