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Getting through the airport is about up there with packing as the most hated and stressful part of traveling for many people, but I am here to tell you; it is truly getting better, and there are ways to avoid some of that headache! (You can always go for that cocktail at the airport lounge relieve the rest of the headache—am I right??)
I’m sure most of you have heard of TSA Pre-Check for getting through security lines quicker—it’s starting to become very popular—but how many of you know about Global Entry?
Note: Read all the way to the end for a BONUS way to get through security faster!
It’s crazy to think about how early airports tell you to arrive for your flight—but they’re right! (Especially after you think about how much TIME you spend, parking the car, gathering all your stuff, checking in, going through security, taking off all your clothes, waiting for the person in front of you to take off all their clothes, get the screaming kid, and then get on the tram to get to your gate—ok just thinking about it, is making me a little sick.) Yeah, two or three hours early sounds about right.
…. But what about those international trips?
TSA Pre-Check is great, don’t get me wrong, it means one less pat down, but if you are flying back from your trip abroad, knowing you can skip the customs lines too is an even better feeling. (I left hubby standing there a couple of weeks ago but the tradeoff was I had to go get the car!)
While TSA Pre-Check might be the way to go if you do not do too much traveling outside of the U.S., if you are planning on vacationing in the islands or the vineyards in Tuscany even twice a year, the smart choice is Global Entry—which ultimately gives you a bigger bang for your buck.
What is Global Entry?
Global Entry is great for those who travel outside the US.
According to CBp.gov, Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members enter the United States through automatic kiosks at several airports around the country.
What are the benefits of Global Entry?
With Global Entry, you get:
Expedited entry in other countries,
Reduced wait lines,
And, it doubles as TSA Pre-Check!
Who’s eligible for Global Entry?
All US citizens (kids, as well, with consent from parents) are eligible.
But wait, not only US citizens but also the following:
Those who live in India,
Keep in mind there may be additional requirements depending on the country.
How do I apply for Global Entry? What’s the Process?
Login to the cbp.gov website and create a Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) account.
Pay a $100 nonrefundable fee with your application (it’s good for 5 years).
Then the CBP will review. Once conditionally approved, then you can go into your GOES account and set up an interview at a GOES Center (usually, at your local airport).
Note: Bring your ID and passport.
It’s really that simple! I was in and out in less than 10 mins. The hardest part was making the drive from Gainesville to Orlando—luckily, I was headed out the next morning so it worked out perfectly.
So, as a comparison, let’s just look quickly at TSA Pre-Check for those of you who prefer to keep it stateside.
What is TSA Pre-Check?
TSA Pre-Check allows you to go through airport security quicker. If you have TSA Pre-Check, you don’t have to remove your shoes, belt, light outerwear, laptop and bag with liquids. There is often a separate TSA Pre-Check line, which is usually shorter and faster than regular lines. TSA Pre-Check is currently available at 200 airports nationwide, including most major cities, with 37 participating airlines.
Note: Keep in mind, the TSA always incorporates random security measures so TSA Pre-Check and is not guaranteed on every flight.
You will know if you are eligible for TSA Pre✓ as it will be printed on your boarding pass near your name.
The real benefit: Never take your shoes off again, or have to unload your laptop, belt or jacket.
Who is eligible for TSA Pre-Check?
The TSA requires you to be a US Citizen. But, unlike Global Entry, no passport is required.
How much does TSA Pre-Check cost?
The cost is $85.00 for 5 years.
Note: Some credit card companies and loyalty programs offer their customers rebates on the TSA membership fee, so that’s one money-saving option worth checking out.
How are Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check similar?
Both have pre-enrollment online. From there, you will have to visit an enrollment center for both to provide fingerprints and verify id.
The biggest thing to take away from comparing the two is Global Entry INCLUDES TSA Pre-Check, whereas TSA Pre-Check only covers the expedited screening at participating airports.
I mean, at the end of the day, Global Entry only costs $15.00 more than Pre-Check, but your Global Entry includes the TSA perks so it is well worth it even if you aren’t an international traveler…you never know when you could start traveling internationally, and it lasts 5 years—so what the heck?
Let me know if any of you have Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check, and tell me what you like about each! You know I love hearing a good travel story!
Eat, Drink and Be Carried Away
BONUS TRAVEL TIP: CLEAR
Who’s heard of it?? It’s one of the newest programs and is owned by a private company. CLEAR is still not at every airport, but they are in a lot of places—including some sporting arenas!
I looked over at the TSA Pre-Check line the other day, and it seemed to be longer than usual. I saw a man who just skipped right through the Pre-Check and I thought I am the Travel Queen, why am I am in this line, well, that man was using CLEAR.
CLEAR uses biometrics – a fingerprint or scan of the eye – to verify a flyer’s identification. At participating airports, passengers go to the CLEAR kiosk where they tap their finger on a pad or blink to verify their identities and then scan their boarding pass. A CLEAR representative escorts them to the front of the TSA Pre-Check lane, basically. The program is available at two-dozen airports nationwide, and there’s an annual membership fee of $179.
For those who travel and go to sporting events often, it’s worth taking a look.