See you on the other side: Traveling with a partner who doesn’t have expedited security screening

Jan 4, 2020

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You know what they say: You don’t truly know someone until you’ve traveled with them.

Okay, okay. Maybe that’s not a common phrase, but it’s definitely a thought that crosses frequent travelers’ minds when planning a trip with a partner.

You see, traveling with a potential lifelong partner can be the ultimate relationship test. It gives you insight into how the person deals with stress, the unfamiliar, decision making… the list could go on.

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But before the trip even begins, there’s one hot topic that always sparks debate, as Slate recently reported on: What do you do if you have TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, or Clear and your partner doesn’t?

CLEAR machines (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
CLEAR machines (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

TPG Executive News Director and frequent flyer Scott Mayerowitz shared his thoughts on the topic: “I become a different person at an airport. While many folks are lost or confused, I’m in my element, dodging past suitcases, strollers and the ever-dangerous Cinnabon kiosks. That efficient, speedy mindset starts at the curb. The last thing I want to slow me — or anybody traveling with me — down is the security checkpoint. My wife and I both had Global Entry before we started dating. It was one of many signs that this was a match made in heaven. But then a few years ago I got Clear. And the equation changed. Suddenly, I was faced with waiting an extra minute or two (I know, the horror) at security or ditching my wife for the faster Clear lane and dealing with the much-longer consequences. As a Delta Diamond Medallion member, I get my Clear membership for free. I can add family members for $50 extra per person. So I quickly enrolled my wife and we now breeze through security together. And yes, our daughter can use Clear for free with us.”

While paying the $50 to add an extra person seems like a simple fix (53% of readers responded that they would nag their partner until they submitted their clearance application), it’s not always quite that easy. Some people’s partners are hesitant and even resistant to the expedited services. We reached out to TPG readers for their take on the security clearance debate.

Kasheik P. shared, “My husband refuses to get Global Entry because he thinks the process is annoying…He calls me selfish for not waiting with him. Nope. He can do it and refuses to. Why should I suffer for someone’s refusal to do something? Not going to dim my light.”

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Sherry R. made the point that, “…waiting around for them just negates your paying for one for yourself!”

And then came the responses to the great debate: What do you do if you have an expedited service and your partner doesn’t? This is where the answers got funny and even a bit savage.

No PreCheck? We’re done.

Is that even a question? Well, for many TPG readers this was a no-questions-asked kind of thing. You’ve either both got it or you’re just not meant to be (3% of readers responded they would flat out find a new partner in this situation).

David F. bluntly said, “Leave them at the airport.”

Brian P. was already looking ahead with the advice to, “Find a new partner.”

See ya on the other side

Emily B. showed her partner the value of saving time by, “[meeting] him at the priority pass lounge where I was already drinking my free beer.”

Charmaine G. showed off her Global Entry pass by having food waiting on the other side, “My husband has TSA Pre through work but not Global Entry! When we went to the Bahamas, the line was sooooooooo long and I totally skipped it with Global Entry. I got his food and waited for close to an hour for him to get through the line!”

Who needs anymore convincing than that? In fact, 18% of readers responded they would carry on as they normally would, leaving their partner to fend for themselves.

Meanwhile, you can find TPG points and miles reporter Vikkie Walker “wait[ing] in the lounge while contemplating a new relationship.”

Watch and learn

Larry S. was hopeful that “they will eventually see the error in their ways and apply.”

Being a true traveler, Rory L. posed the question: “Why wouldn’t my partner have it?”

Credit cards editor Benét Wilson shared, “My daughter and I have Global Entry and Clear. Her father refused to get it for quite awhile. We would leave him at the gate and chill in the lounge. It took him almost missing an international flight to see the light. Don’t nag. Just do you. They’ll figure it out — or not.”

I’ll wait…

Said no one ever. Well, practically no one. A measly 2% of readers admitted they would join their clearance-less partner in the regular security line.

Bottom line

TSA PreCheck and Global Entry is an included perk with many travel rewards credit cards. If you already have the expedited service yourself, consider gifting the credit to a loved one and save yourself the frustration of waiting on them. If it’s a matter of your partner not seeing the value in the expedited service, don’t worry — they’ll eventually catch on… hopefully.

Some responses have been edited for clarity and/or length.

So what side of the debate are you on? Sound off in the comments below.

Featured photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

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