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Four ways to zip through airport security on your next trip

Planning to skip town this summer? You may already be dreading your airport experience. It's no secret that airport lines have been getting longer due to a perfect storm of factors: more crowded flights, cuts to the Transportation Security Administration's budget, subpar staffing plans for security personnel, nonsensical tax incentives that encourage airlines to charge baggage fees, and more.

In some cases, getting through airport security takes passengers longer than their flights take to reach their destinations. In May, transit officials told the TSA that the "public has reached a breaking point" with airport security.

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However, there are a few ways to lessen the aggravation before your next flight. They'll cost some money and require planning ahead, but could save you a lot of time and frustration. If you have the cash, consider one of the following solutions to zip through the airport on your next trip:

Get an airline security pass

If you want to clear the lines for just one particular trip -- like this hectic coming holiday weekend -- some airlines offer one-off add-ons when purchasing your ticket. For instance, JetBlue Airways offers a $10 add-on called "Even More Speed." It only applies at 62 airports across the country, so you'll need to double check if it's available for your flight.

At some airports, "Even More Speed" lanes will be clearly marked at security; at others, "Even More Speed" passengers are directed to use the priority, premium or business/first class lanes. This add-on is cheap, but potentially confusing if you're at an airport without clearly marked lanes. And it's not so efficient if you're a frequent flier.

To sign up: purchase when buying your ticket.

Sign up for TSA PreCheck

Perhaps the easiest and best-known way to cut the line -- not to mention skip the hassle of removing your shoes, laptops, liquids, etc. -- is through the TSA's own trusted traveler program, PreCheck. Registering costs $85 and lasts for five years, and new registrants have to apply in person. Appointments are not mandatory but are highly recommended.

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Passengers at O'Hare International Airport wait in line to be screened at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint on May 16, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson/Getty Images


PreCheck works for travel at 160 airports across the country and for international travel departing from U.S. airports, so this is your best bet for speedy check-in on the vast majority of trips. PreCheck also works on a number of international airlines, including Etihad Airways, Aeromexico and Alaska Airlines.

If you're one of JetBlue's most frequent fliers, you're in luck: the airline announced it will cover the cost of PreCheck enrollment for all "TrueBlue Mosaic" members. Southwest Airlines also announced a limited-time offer allowing customers to use their Rapid Rewards points to pay for TSA PreCheck.

To sign up: register for an in-person appointment here.

Sign up for Global Entry

If you're traveling abroad, considering paying a little extra for the TSA's Global Entry program, which provides fast lane access for U.S. citizens returning to U.S. airports after overseas trips. It requires an in-person appointment to register, and can be obtained along with TSA PreCheck for an additional $15.

To sign up: either register alongside PreCheck or register for an in-person appointment just for Global Entry here. The program requires a $100 application fee.

Try your luck with a private program

Clear, a private program that's been green-lighted by the TSA, allows passengers to bypass even PreCheck members and first-class passengers and head straight to the X-ray machines. To sign up, you have to visit an enrollment center in person and fork over an annual fee (which comes out to $15/month). Once enrolled, head straight to the Clear kiosks at participating airports, where a simple fingerprint or iris scan will let you breeze past security straight to screening.

The downside? Right now, the biometric service is available at only 14 U.S. airports. But more are in the pipeline: earlier this year, Clear announced a partnership with Delta Airlines, which will help it to expand to more locations, particularly Delta airport hubs. Heads up: if you already have Delta's highest frequent flier status -- "Diamond Medallion" -- you have Clear membership for free.

To sign up: register for an in-person appointment here.

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