Forget PreCheck or Clear, this is the fastest way to clear security at JFK
Terminal 1 at JFK may just be the airport’s worst terminal. There are lines everywhere, especially when traveling during the afternoon and evening rush hour. The airside food options are limited, and the airline lounges aren’t great. Clearing security can take forever, and forget about skipping lines with Clear or PreCheck. The terminal doesn’t have Clear, and there's no dedicated PreCheck lane.
What if I told you there's a new VIP service that'll let you completely skip the security line for just $35? Read on to learn more about my experience with VIP One.
The VIP One experience
After I checked in for my Brussels Airlines flight, I headed to the main security checkpoint to observe what was going on. Unsurprisingly, there were lines everywhere. Security screeners were loudly shouting at passengers to remove liquids and laptops from carry-on baggage. I'd definitely made the right choice to pay for VIP One.
On my way to the VIP One security lounge, I couldn't help but laugh at this horribly misleading sign.
Instead of entering the main security checkpoint, I went off to the southeast side of the main security area and found a nondescript entrance to VIP One’s security lounge between check-in Rows E and F.
There was a gentleman guarding the entrance to the lounge, who quickly welcomed me after confirming that I’d indeed paid for the service.
There were a few seats in the lounge, but the main feature was the two credenzas in the center of the room.
RELATED: Sign up for TPG's email newsletter to learn more tips to maximizing your travel
Once inside, the agent placed some security bins atop of the credenzas and asked me to remove the items in my pockets as well as my laptop and jacket.
I quickly obliged, and then magic happened.
The agent took the bins and my carry-on and opened a side door, where I then found myself right at the front of the TSA line. There was an agent waiting there to check my passport, and within seconds I was whisked right to the front of the X-ray machine.
The VIP One agent placed my belongings into the machine and then wished me a safe flight after I walked through the metal detector.
What would’ve been a 30 or more minute wait for security was a painless 60-second process.
Buying VIP One packages
If you’re interested in bypassing the craziness that is Terminal 1 security, VIP One offers two packages: a Silver and Platinum package. I purchased the Silver package which only includes VIP fast-track security. The service cost $35 before tax and coded as professional services on my credit card. Children below the age of 12 are included in a single service fee.
Purchasing the service was quite simple. After navigating to the VIP One website, I simply chose my desired package and entered my name and credit card information. Moments after completing my purchase, an employee called me with details about where to go once I got to Terminal 1.
If you’re flying in first-class on Air France, Japan Airlines, Korean Air or Lufthansa, you’ll get access to the Silver package for free.
VIP One also offers a Platinum service that includes VIP fast-track security as well as a personal escort from arrival at the airport all the way to the gate. This person greets you at your car, takes you to check-in, clears you through security, walks you to the lounge (if you have access) and finally helps you pre-board your flight.
Since airports are my second home, I found the $200 price tag to be a bit outrageous, though it could certainly make sense for first-time travelers from Terminal 1.
VIP One also offers a membership model available for purchase at the airport. The annual membership for VIP One Silver is $275 and includes access to the priority security lounge for you and one additional person. If you're a frequent traveler through Terminal 1, this membership is a no-brainer.
If you're traveling with a group or family, you should call VIP One at (718)-751-1151 to arrange a group discount.
I’ve always dreaded the ground experience for flights departing from JFK’s Terminal 1. In general, the terminal is overcrowded and security can take forever.
However, with VIP One’s new packages, the security process is a breeze. Considering that airlines typically sell priority boarding and fast track security packages for $15 or more, I don't think that $35 is unreasonable for a VIP security experience that's better than both PreCheck and Clear and perhaps will make you even look forward to clearing security at T1.
All photos by the author