Weekly column: Answering your questions about expedited airport security programs

Dec 31, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

For the past six weeks, I’ve devoted this column to answering your questions about TSA Precheck, Global Entry, Clear, Nexus and Sentri. These are programs that ease the experience of travel, from airport security to customs and border patrol, both within the United States and trips originating abroad.

Even so, I’ve still got many unanswered questions in my inbox that I will use this week to answer your remaining Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) questions.

If you need to get caught up to speed on how TTPs and Clear work, here’s where to begin:

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Here are this week’s top five questions:

In This Post

1. DO TTPs automatically reenroll you?

No, travelers are responsible for re-enrolling in any Trusted Traveler Program they wish to continue using and can do so up to one year prior to a program’s expiration date.

“If you submit a renewal application before your membership expires, you will be able to continue to use benefits up to 24 months after your membership expiration date,” says the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which provides the below instructions on how to renew your membership for Global Entry, Nexus or Sentri.

(Screenshot from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security)

2. How will we be notified that we need to renew our TTP membership?

All TTPs administered by the Department of Homeland Security are valid for five years.

Log into your TTP account (the one you created when you first applied for a specific program) and search for a field indicating the program’s expiration date.

For TSA PreCheck specifically, members should receive an email reminder of an upcoming expiration at six months, three months, one month and two weeks prior to expiration, via a “Universal Enroll” account.

TSA screening passengers at O’Hare International Airport on Nov. 8. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

3. I have Global Entry but don’t always get TSA PreCheck. What gives?

Although in theory a membership to Global Entry also guarantees a green checkmark on your boarding pass denoting access to TSA PreCheck, that does not always happen, as evidenced by the numerous emails lamenting this issue.

Sometimes it’s due to the airline making a mistake or sometimes it’s a result of traveler error. You may have failed to attach your Known Traveler Number to your airline reservation; the name on your government-issued ID might not match your boarding pass; or your TSA PreCheck could be expired (see question 1 and 2).

The worst-case scenario is that you’ve been selected for an extra security search (you’ll know when you see SSSS on your boarding pass), which means you won’t be able to go through the normal TSA security line like everyone else.

If you’ve double-checked the above scenarios and are still without the green checkmark, contact TSA directly.

A TSA officer watches people go through the security checkpoint at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Nov. 24. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

4. I’ve been conditionally approved for Global Entry and have been trying for months to secure an appointment to no avail. What should I do?

All TTP applications must complete enrollment for a specific program within 730 days of receiving conditional approval and “not scheduling and completing the interview will result in cancelation of the application and no refunds will be granted,” warns DHS.

While two years may seem like more than enough time to schedule and complete the TTP application process, it can literally take months to secure an interview slot, as this person noted, due to a high application volume and enormous backlog with TTPs, as we’ve seen with U.S. passport applications as well.

If you try and consistently are unable to find an appointment at the closest or most convenient Global Entry enrollment center, remember that you can enroll upon arrival back to the U.S. from an international trip.

“Proceed to an Enrollment on Arrival (EoA) lane and the CBP Officer will conduct your interview as part of your entry back into the United States,” says DHS.

This service is offered at airports across 29 states and six countries, where you can complete your interview as part of the immigration and customs process when traveling abroad. See here for a list of EoA locations.

A passenger walks through a TSA security checkpoint at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Nov. 24. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

5. How do I choose the right program for me?

As with anything in life, with choice there comes freedom, and sometimes a lack of confidence in one’s own decision-making. DHS actually provides a handy tool online to help potential members determine the program that best suits their travel needs.

Remember TSA PreCheck helps with departures from U.S. airports; Global Entry aids with entry into the U.S. from abroad; Nexus eases entry by land/air/sea into the U.S. from Canada; and Sentri is for travelers coming to the U.S. from Mexico via air/land and Global Entry includes access to TSA PreCheck lanes.

And don’t forget about Clear, which further expedites TSA security by enabling users to skip the two-step security process biometrically by verifying your identity in a Clear-only line at 39 U.S. airports. If you have Clear and also have TSA PreCheck, you are escorted to the front of the TSA PreCheck line for your final security screening.

Finally, many credit cards reimburse or provide credits for TSA PreCheck, Global Entry and Clear.

(Screenshot from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security)

Have a question for next week? Email me at caroline.tanner@thepointsguy.com or tips@thepointsguy.com.

Featured image of San Francisco International Airport (SFO) on May 11 by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.