Set a Land-Speed Record Getting Through an Airport
The trick is to be an elite-status frequent-flier, says travel expert Randy Petersen, publisher of Inside Flyer magazine and WebFlyer.com. "Elite-status lines at the airport security counter can cut an hour of waiting," he says. "And you don't have to be Mr. Titanium or Mr. Diamond to get in." Two good choices are US Airways and Frontier Airlines, where it's easier to obtain elite status.
Another antidote to the dreaded security line is Clear (clearme.com). Prescreened applicants pay an annual fee of $179 and complete the registration process at an enrollment station, where their fingerprints and iris scans are taken. Members then breeze through a dedicated security line. "Clear cards" are only accepted at Orlando International Airport and Denver International Airport, but the company is working to expand to major airports nationwide.
Once you land, Petersen has devised a strategy for the rental car lot. All companies, he says, feature perks for loyal costumers, but National Car Rental's Emerald Club offers the Emerald Club Aisle, he says. "When you get off the bus, there are two aisles with 30 or 40 cars each, and you choose any car you want." The paperwork is waiting in each car. Members show a club card on the way out, and off they go. "I've gotten off the bus and through the exit in fewer than 35 seconds," says Petersen. "I scared a few people and burned a little rubber, but I did it."