If you’ve been following the news lately, it’s plain to see that travel is back in a big way, and with it, long lines and crowds at the airports. Reports of hours-long waits in airport check-in and security lines likely have many travelers looking into trusted traveler programs and security expediting services such as TSA PreCheck (which costs $85 for a five-year membership, and $70 to renew) and Clear (which costs $189 per year).
While we believe whole-heartedly in the investment and value of these services (the time and stress saved alone are priceless), there is another option at some U.S. airports that is absolutely free.
Enter Whyline, a virtual queuing company that has partnered with several airports to allow travelers to reserve a security line time slot and jump to the front of the line. Whyline was acquired by Clear earlier this year; despite the fact that Clear charges for membership in its security expediting services, the Whyline fast pass system is free.
The service is currently available at the following U.S. airports:
- Charleston International Airport (CHS) in South Carolina
- Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
- John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York (JFK)
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
- New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
- Orlando International Airport (MCO)
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
So, how does it work? Here’s how to skip the TSA line for free at participating airports.
Charleston International Airport
If you’re flying out of Charleston International Airport, you can head to chs.whyline.com to make an advance reservation to pass through the TSA security lanes at a designated time and skip the lines.
Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport
In December, Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport introduced a new DFW Security Fast Pass program that allows travelers to make a Fast Pass reservation to bypass the general screening line at the Terminal D checkpoint. “Fast Pass travelers arrive at designated time and will be escorted to the front of the line,” the airport stated in a release about the new program.
The DFW Fast Pass program is free and there are a limited number of reservations available. Reservations for up to 10 people can be made up to one week before travel, and the airport encourages travelers to take advantage of the long lead time to secure a slot. Reservations can be made at dfwairport.com/security.
John F. Kennedy International Airport
Terminal 4 at New York’s JFK is one of the most recent hubs to adopt a TSA security line advance reservation system. Launched on May 25, the new program, called JFK T4 Reserve powered by Clear, allows travelers to make an online reservation up to 72 hours before their flight between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., when the security checkpoint is busiest, according to Clear. Once they arrive at the airport, travelers should look for signs that read “Reserve powered by Clear lane” in the TSA screening area. There, they will scan the QR code they received in the reservation confirmation email and can enter the expedited lane through TSA security.
Los Angeles International Airport
If you’re flying out of Terminal 7 or 8 at LAX, you’re in luck. As of this past fall, these terminals are hosting a free LAX Fast Lane pilot program. Travelers can make advance reservations or walk-in appointments for TSA security screening daily from 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (it’s currently not available after 1 p.m.). There are a limited number of appointments, which can be made up to three days in advance at lax.whyline.com.
Newark Liberty International Airport
Now available at Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport, fliers can make online reservations for the TSA security screening line up to 72 hours prior to departure. Reservations and walk-in appointments are available daily from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. and spots are limited so the earlier travelers book, the better. Once at the airport, those with an appointment look for the VirtuaLine queue logo and will be escorted to the front of the line. Reservations can be made at newark.whyline.com.
Orlando International Airport
Orlando International Airport was one of the first U.S. airports to implement the advance reservation system last fall as part of a new program launched by Clear. The airport’s “Reservation Lane powered by CLEAR” allows travelers to reserve a TSA security check time slot by visiting mco.whyline.com at no cost to travelers. A limited number of reservation slots are available daily from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
Travelers flying out of Terminal 3 and Terminal 4 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport can reserve a time that they want to head through the TSA screening area through a program called PHX Reserve. Reservations are available in Terminal 3 from 4 a.m. to 3 p.m. and in Terminal 4 from 5:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reservations can be made up to three days prior to travel at phx.whyline.com.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
The recently introduced SEA Spot Saver program at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport allows travelers to skip the TSA security line from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. Travelers can make a reservation online up to 72 hours before their flight or can try for one at the airport for TSA checkpoints 2, 3, and 5.
Will more airports join?
In addition to the above U.S. airports, there is also a reservation option available through Whyline at Calgary International Airport in Alberta, Canada. As for whether Whyline will expand its virtual queuing program to additional airports (and which ones) remains to be seen, as many of these fast pass programs are still in a pilot phase. But when Clear acquired Whyline in January, the company said that the acquisition will, among other things, “bring the Clear experience to new industries . . . while simultaneously expanding virtual queuing in existing industries like airports.”
And, of course, if your regular departure airport doesn’t have a TSA security line reservation program, there is always the option to enroll in TSA PreCheck, Global Entry (which includes TSA Precheck), and/or Clear.