Everyone knows the drill; arrive at the airport, hope the lines aren’t too long, snake through the cattle line as frustration begins to build. Stand impatiently as travelers take out their laptops, toiletries and iPads, take off their belts, jackets and shoes and place everything in a bin, all while thinking, there has to be a better way. Now there is; TSA Pre-check.
The TSA has been testing a pilot program with frequent flyers of Delta and American Airlines, known as TSA Pre-check. Currently, Pre-check participants are selected based on medallion membership, low-risk status and travel frequency. Boarding passes that scan Pre-check enable travelers to proceed to a dedicated security line. There is not usually a wait in the Pre-check line and travelers are not required to remove shoes, laptops or toiletries. All items are scanned through the same screening process; however the need to unpack your suitcase and strip down is no longer necessary. The status significantly expedites the screening process and gets travelers on their way much faster.
Traveling internationally can be even more frustrating. In addition to doing everything listed above, travelers must also clear customs. Many times the wait time is in excess of 30 minutes, and at the end of a long trip that seems like an eternity. There is a solution, however, and it is a little-known program called Global Entry. Global Entry is a “known traveler” recognition program that enables travelers to voluntarily provide detailed background information to the TSA (prior to travel) in return for having expedited customs clearance during the international travel process. Once a known traveler enters the customs area and scans their passport on the Global Entry kiosk, a card similar to that of a boarding pass is printed, enabling the passenger to proceed to the next available customs agent and be processed immediately. Becoming part of the TSA Pre-check and the Global Entry Programs is surprisingly simple. The Global Entry website contains easy to follow instructions and the cost is a mere 100 dollars for the five-year program. The TSA expects to have the Pre-check program in place in more than 35 airports by the end of 2012.
Although extremely necessary, airport security continues to be a very sore topic with travelers. Everyone understands the need to keep our skies safe but the amount of time spent going through the process is painstaking. It appears the TSA has found a way to maintain the same level of security screening while also creating a more flyer friendly process. Thank you TSA for bringing us Global Entry and Pre-check.
To determine if you qualify for either of these programs visit www.globalentry.gov