Tired of unpacking your carry-on at airport security??
By now, many of you may have had a chance to be randomly selected for TSA Pre Check when you have flown on a domestic flight. You didn’t have to take off your shoes, your jacket, unpack your computer, and take out your baggies of liquids. Then you walk through a metal detector, not the new machines with radiation exposure. The line moves quickly and you are off to your gate. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could do that all the time?
Well you can for a relatively small price (depends on how frequently you fly) and 1 minor inconvenience. It’s the US Global Entry program. If you apply for US Global Entry you are then automatically approved for TSA Pre Check and you have the added benefit of quickly going through customs when you return from an international flight.
It was super easy coming back from Canada, landing at JFK from London and recently at SFO from Mexico. No line to wait on at all. There is a TSA Pre Check only program, but it has restrictions and you don’t get the international return benefit that comes with Global Entry.
So what’s the deal and how does it work?
1) First you must be an honest and upstanding U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, Dutch citizen, South Korean citizen or Mexican national. Canadian citizens and residents may enjoy Global Entry benefits through membership in the NEXUS program.
2) You apply online at http://www.cbp.gov/global-entry/how-to-apply. You must pay a $100 nonrefundable application fee (and be sure you meet the criteria in #1. If you are approved, the fee is applied to your 5 year membership ($20 a year for all these benefits!!! This is the relatively small price).
3) Now this is the inconvenient part. Once your application is reviewed, you will receive a message in your GOES account instructing you to schedule an interview at one of the enrollment centers. The centers are located at an international airport. There are many all over the country. SFO has one.
4) The interview is easy; you have an appointment, so no waiting a long time. You answer a few questions, get your picture taken and get fingerprinted. Your card will arrive shorty after that.
Now you have a Global Entry number and are a known traveler. The next time you book a flight online, you can put that Global Entry number in the known traveler box and you are TSA Pre Check for your flights. The Global Entry link above does explain the program in more details. However if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
This post was written by Stitch Travel Expert Sandy Lipkowitz. If you have travel questions for Sandy, ask them in the comments section below and she will respond in her next post!
Sandy Lipkowitz is a travel expert and consultant. She has traveled to nearly every continent and was voted Reader’s Choice: Best Travel Agent (in San Francisco) by the “J” Weekly. While Sandy currently resides in San Francisco, she is very eager to help any and all travelers across the globe.
Stitch readers can submit their travel questions to Sandy in the comments section of our blogs. She will try to answer as many as possible in an upcoming ‘Dear Sandy’ post!
To read Sandy’s travel blog from last week, click here.