Don’t Have TSA PreCheck? These Airports Let You Make Reservations For The Security Lines
If Memorial Day weekend is any sign of what’s ahead for the rest of the summer travel season, it’s bound to be a busy — perhaps even record-breaking — few months at airports across the country. More than 2.57 million travelers passed through security on the Monday of Memorial Day weekend, which surpasses pre-pandemic travel figures from the same holiday in 2019.
Busier airports, of course, tend to mean longer security wait times. But did you know that a growing number of airports are allowing general screening passengers to reserve spots in the security lines to help cut down on wait times and prevent bottlenecks during busy travel periods?
The reservation system is akin to theme park fast passes, except making a security screening appointment is completely free to travelers and doesn’t require any kind of membership programs. By comparison, TSA PreCheck is $78 for a five-year membership and Clear is $189 a year for the expedited biometric screening process, though the private company offers several discounts and your credit card benefits or airline loyalty program may unlock a free, or deeply discounted, membership for you.
Clear powers the Reserve system, which is now available at 19 airports across North America and Europe.
Denver International Airport, which is the third busiest airport in the world, is the latest airport to adopt the reservation system.
Those traveling out of the Mile High City can find all kinds of better ways to kill time they would have spent waiting in security lines, including playing yard games at the Park on the Plaza, which is located pre-security. Or, explore some conspiracy theories (the airport flaunts them on their construction signs, quipping that building all those underground tunnels can get messy). Another option? Get a taste of the Mile High City’s food scene at chef-driven spots like newly opened Mercantile Dining & Provision airport outpost.
How far in advance you can reserve your security screening spot varies by airport. But at DEN, for instance, users can book their spots three days ahead of their flights.
The reservation system prompts you to enter information about where they’re flying, how many people are in your group, which airline you’re flying as well as your departure date and time. From there, you’ll get a QR code to show airport staff when you show up for your appointment.
While travelers are generally given a 20-minute grace period, those using the reservation system are asked to show up as close as possible to their scheduled time to help keep things flowing smoothly.
Here are the airports that participate in Reserve powered by Clear:
Los Angeles (LAX Fast Lane)
New York (JFK)
Seattle (SEA Spot Saver)
Amsterdam (AMS) *pilot location
Berlin (BER Runway)
The reservation system is for general screening passengers.
While TSA PreCheck passengers can access it, they won’t be able to use their expedited screening perks with the reservation — meaning they’ll need to remove their shoes and take their laptops out of their bags.
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