Traveling can become exhausting at times, but these apps and tools help mitigate the stress of long lines and more.
Airport lines, long-haul flights, and layovers can be taxing, not only physically but mentally. At times, they can even sway your desire to travel in general. As the busiest travel season of the year approaches, and travelers prepare vacation plans for the new year, there are a few things you'll want to equip yourself with to make your future flight and airport experiences a breeze.
From a free passport app that is still the best kept secret for the frequent international traveler to investing in a global business lounge pass subscription—here are the apps and tools that all expert globetrotters stand by.
TSA Pre-Check and CLEAR
If you ask the average traveler, they'll likely say the best investment they've made when it comes to flying is TSA Pre-Check or CLEAR. Both programs allow you to bypass the often insane TSA security lanes in U.S. airports. With TSA Pre-Check, you'll first need to complete the application and interview for approval. Your membership must be renewed every 5 years by application (no additional interview needed). The cost of the program is $78 for 5 years, and some travel credit cards will waive the fee for its cardholders.
CLEAR uses fingerprints and eye scanners instead of traditional documentation to allow its members access to expedited security lines in the airport. The cost is $189 per year, and is only available to US citizens over the age of 18. If your home airport is usually very busy— especially the TSA Pre-Check lanes—CLEAR may be the better option to minimize your wait time.
Mobile passport is still somewhat of a secret to travelers, and that's what makes this app golden. As you re-enter the United States from an international destination, you'll likely have to clear customs. On average, multiple flights arrive at the same time, making the lines longer than normal. While Global Entry is certainly a way to bypass this, Mobile Passport is even better because it is free to download and use.
Simply download the Mobile Passport and Border Control app to your smartphone and fill out the required information, as well as scan your U.S. passport. Once you arrive from an international flight, open the app, select the airport you're arriving into, and the app will generate a time-sensitive QR code that the border patrol agent will scan to clear you. Find the designated lane for Mobile Passport users and watch how quickly you breeze through. The only downside of this app is that not all airports have mobile passport lanes at the moment, but additional ones are being added often. Also note, this app is only for US passport holders clearing customs in designated US airports.
Priority Pass or similar lounge subscriptions
No one likes layovers, but having access to an airport's business lounges can make the experience less draining. Priority Pass is one of the most popular business lounge access services in the world. It offers a three-tiered subscription plan, so you only pay for what you think you'll use over a year.
There are currently more than 1,300 lounges and experiences offered to travelers in the Priority Pass network, and most offer free food—including a hot and cold bar—alcoholic drinks and coffee, showers, clean restrooms, business centers, as well as showers. The brand often runs special promotions on membership, and the unlimited lounge access plan can be found for as low as $350/ year.