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  • Starr Wlodarski

Why You Need Global Entry

It is no secret that my wife fully utilized Global Entry during a trip to Europe. While driving to Detroit Metro Airport for a flight to Rome, because of a major traffic accident, a normal 45 minutes drive to the airport grew to 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Instead of worrying she would miss her flight, as she stood for 20 to 30 minutes in a security line ready to take her shoes off and unpack her laptop: she was able to breeze through security- shoes staying on and laptop staying packed and relaxed she would not miss her flight.

On the return home from Istanbul, a tight 1 hour 50 minute connection at JFK in New York City, did not give her a moment of worry. She knew the secret, that while most of the passengers had to stand in long queues for US Immigration, she could quickly walk to an automated kiosk, that scanned her fingerprints and passport, and confirmed her ID. After getting her luggage, she quickly walked through a dedicated lane for users of the kiosks to Customs, was she was able to just show her passport and ID confirmation before she was on her way to the other terminal.

Another walk through a expedited security lane resulted in her having time to buy a latte and call home before boarding, while other people on the flight from Istanbul barely made the flight. The secret that my wife knew and utilized, and that routinely saves us 15 to 30 minutes or more as we check into an airport; is that the US government wishes that millions of more Americans know about and use when they travel by air. The Department of Homeland Security, under a mandate to minimize the amount of time it takes to allow people to enter our legally enter the US at the borders and the airports while still keeping up the security, developed a number of programs under the "Trusted Traveler" banner where low risk US travelers, after a background check would be allowed expedited security checks when entering the country at the border or entering an airport.

The two biggest programs, PreCheck and Global Entry could benefit millions of US citizens who fly each year. The most direct program that the government wants American fliers to take advantage of is the PreCheck program, administered by the TSA. The program allows approved passengers a dedicated security line of at most major US airports where they will almost always be allowed to quickly go through airport security without the need to wait in a queue, take off various pieces of clothing and your shoes, and take your computer or liquids out of your bag.

The US Customs and Border Patrol administers the Global Entry program. Global Entry includes the ability to use the PreCheck system at major airports but expands on it for certified US citizens return on an international flight. The system will allow you to skip the long lines at Immigration an instead go to an automated kiosk which will scan your passport and fingerprints, for verification. After you retrieve you checked bags, a dedicated line at the Customs area will finish quickly getting through the process. PreCheck has an $85 application fee, while the Global Entry has a $100 fee, (which includes the PreCheck service) . Both programs require a background check, you will need to attend an verification interview. Both programs are good for 5 years with no additional costs, as long as all your personnel information remains the same. On a personnel basis, I can't say enough about the benefits about the Global Entry/PreCheck programs. I registered my entire family for the program in 2012 and have benefited every time we have flown. For us, it is not just the time savings that were important, but also the peace of mind of having a little dignity returned to my flying experience by not have to go through the entire dehumanizing airport security process every time. When I take my family on a vacation, the ability to take a little stress out of the entire travel process just makes our vacation that much better.

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