Flying Over The Holidays? There Are Ways To Get Through Security Fast — But You Need To Act Now
The holidays are a busy time to travel at LAX. Getting through security can be one of the most time-consuming (and infuriating) parts, but the airport has programs that can speed you up. Some require appointments that you should consider setting up now.
There are three that can make domestic travel faster: TSA PreCheck, CLEAR and (locally) LAX Fast Lane. For international travel there are ones like Global Entry and NEXUS. Keep in mind, all of these programs have specific eligibility requirements.
TSA PreCheck is one of the most widely used (you won’t have to take off your shoes). The program costs $78 for five years. You’ll apply online and make an appointment to do fingerprinting for a background check. There are plenty of appointment locations, but Staples stores are very common picks. Approval is where you need leeway. Most applicants get what’s called a Known Traveler Number in three to five days (this is your way into the shorter lines), but it can take up to 60 days if there are issues with your paperwork.
Some programs don't need appointments, like CLEAR Plus, which uses your eyes or fingerprints to confirm who you are. The $189 annual cost gives you two benefits: It’s essentially a fast pass to the front of the general security line because a CLEAR employee escorts you up, and it expedites the travel document check process on departing flights. It’s not uncommon for people to have both CLEAR and TSA PreCheck. You can start the process online or at the airport, but you’ll eventually have to complete it in-person the next time you fly. This is a private company — not a government agency like TSA.
LAX Fast Lane
LAX Fast Lane takes walk-ins and appointments. This is a free pilot program for general screening passengers, flying through Terminals 1, 7 or 8, that lets you reserve a specific time at TSA to go through security. You should schedule three days in advance during normal travel times, but the holidays are never normal. Set this up at least a couple weeks early. This can’t be used with CLEAR or TSA PreCheck.