"It's a beautiful thing," says the 50-year-old frequent flier, who
writes the AviationQueen.com blog.
Earlier in June, Wilson was traveling back to Washington Dulles
International Airport from a conference in Qatar, and walked right
past an enormous customs line that had a wait time of nearly an
Instead, she was in a car on her way home about 40 minutes after her
plane touched down.
The value of spending $100 for Global Entry comes down to how often
you fly. Adding $100 per person plus the application time and
in-person interviews probably is not worth it for a one-time family
vacation to Europe.
But those who frequently travel abroad say participation pays off.
As an added benefit, participants also have a better chance to
minimize security delays on domestic flights.
HOW IT WORKS
The Global Entry program's automated kiosks require users to answer
a couple of on-screen questions, scan passports, place their
fingertips on a screen and get a printout to present at the exit.
The process takes a couple of minutes.
Kiosks are now available at 44 airports (including 10 in Canada and
The time savings can be significant. This year, the average wait
time for customs has been about 20 minutes at six major U.S.
airports. Yet a Reuters analysis indicates that waits of well over
two hours are not unusual.
Wilson raved about the program, which she said she has participated
in since it was a pilot project in 2008. It became permanent in
"This is one of the best $100 I've spent on travel," she said.
It can take time to get approved. There is a wait time for some
applications for Global Entry (https://goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov/main/).
The process involves an in-person interview and fingerprinting. An
applicant needs to provide basic personal information, plus passport
number, driver's license number, employment history, addresses going
back five years and five years of international travel history.
Fewer than 5 percent of applicants for Global Entry are denied.
Issues that could disqualify an applicant include: criminal charges,
customs violations and ongoing investigations by law enforcement.
The government could also deny approval if it is unable to document
where an applicant has lived, worked, or whether he or she has
committed a crime.
Joe Sobin, 47, a travel consultant who works in Denver and New York,
said he was on a three-month wait list for an interview in Denver
and instead went to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, where he
quickly got an appointment.
Global Entry is one of several U.S. Trusted Traveler programs. There
are also programs for expedited passage between the United States
and Canada and the United States and Mexico.
One obvious hitch with Global Entry comes when a person who is
approved travels with others who do not have the same status.
Children 12 or under need their own Global Entry identification.
[to top of second column]
And while the program allows travelers to zip through customs, those
who bring luggage on an international flight still have to wait at
the baggage claim with everyone else.
FOR DOMESTIC TRAVELERS
In December, the Transportation Security Administration added its
own $85 program aimed at domestic travelers called TSA PreCheck. It
now has more than 300,000 members and is enrolling about 3,500
people a day, spokesman Ross Feinstein says. Anyone with Global
Entry automatically qualifies.
PreCheck gives participants access to boarding passes which give
them a chance to skip the main security line and bypass some
screening procedures such as taking off their shoes.
But PreCheck does not guarantee a line-skip. Participants must wait
until they receive a boarding pass to find out whether they have
made the cut for that flight. If the program status is not noted on
the boarding pass, a PreCheck participant must wait with everyone
One upside: Children who are 12 under may zip through lines with a
parent who has PreCheck approval.
PreCheck has the same value proposition as Global Entry. If someone
travels enough, it could be worth spending the time to apply and
paying $85 for a chance to bypass the main security lines. Some
frequent travelers lament that even the "special lines" get bogged
down, because other travelers are selected at random to go through,
PreCheck participants must enter a Known Traveler Number when making
reservations, or have it saved as part of a profile with the
Applicants for TSA PreCheck (http://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck) must
schedule interviews 45 days in advance. PreCheck can be used at 118
U.S. airports on the following 11 airlines: Air Canada, Alaska
Airlines [ALKAIR.UL], American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian
Airlines [HAII.UL], JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Sun Country
Airlines, United Airlines [UALCO.UL], US Airways [LCCUA.UL] and
(Follow us @ReutersMoney or at http://www.reuters.com/finance/personal-finance
Editing by Beth Pinsker, Lauren Young and David Gregorio)
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