The Problem:

Let's face it: airport security sucks.  You wait in a long line (sometimes long enough to start to wonder if you'll make your flight) to get searched and felt up in the name of national security.  Is it necessary? Probably.  Fun? Not in the slightest.  You'd think after decades of air travel in America, the TSA would have gotten the hang of managing the large number of travelers.  This doesn't seem to be the case, however, as the lines are only getting longer. The problem has been in the news quite a bit recently as hundreds of people are missing flights because of the lines, and TSA leaders blame a lack of avilable staff for peak times due to a decreased operating budget.

Whatever the reason for the lines, the bottom line (ha, pun) is that the more one can do to avoid them, the better.  For this, I have two words: Global Entry.

 

The Solution

The U.S. Global Entry Program, offered by United States Customs and Border protection, has two major benefits:

  • For international travel, most major U.S. airports have special “Global Entry” kiosks at customs.  These offer the benefit of both shorter lines and less paperwork when re-entering the country.
  • For both domestic and international flights originating in the United States, membership in this program gives you automatic access to the “TSA Pre-Check” line at almost every airport in the country. Not only do you get to SKIP THE LONG LINES, you also don’t have to take off your shoes and belt or take your laptop out of your bag like in the normal line.

Sound great? Go to the CPB’S SITE for more info and the application.

If you don’t feel like looking around the website for all the deets, though, here are the basics:

PRICE: If this sounds too good to be free, well, it is. The cost to apply is $100, due at the time the application is submitted. That being said, once someone is accepted to the program, they don’t have to renew membership for a FULL 5 YEARS. If you do the math (which I did), that’s 1/5 the price of an Amazon Prime membership for that amount of time, so even if you fly only semi-regularly it’s not bad.

ELIGIBILITY: Essentially, if you’re a United States Citizen with no criminal record, you’re good to go.  U.S. citizens aren’t the only ones who are eligible, though: citizens of the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands, Panama, South Korea, and Mexico can also apply.  There is also no age requirement for the program, so if you take 11-year-old Timmy on a lot of trips, he’s good to go as long as a parent signs off.  PROCESS: There are really two main steps (Go HERE for a detailed list provided by the agency)

  1. Submit and online application and payment, and they will review it and get back to you.
  2. If and when you’re approved, you’ll need to go to an Enrollment Center at your local airport.  Bring along your passport and “another form of I.D.” (A.K.A. your driver’s license) and you’ll be good to go.

In Action:

The U.S. Global Entry program is a great (and cost-effective if you are a semi-regular traveler) way to beat the security lines when you go to the airport.  It can take away quite a bit of stress from your trips, as your lines will go from looking like this:

….To looking like this: 

Pretty sweet, huh? Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions, just contact me at the link in my bio!

Published by Austin Rodgers