In today’s environment of increased security, longer lines and full planes, travel can be an adventure. Smart travelers find ways to make sure the adventure comes when you plan it as opposed to random road blocks along the way. Two of the best ways to guarantee a positive airport experience are Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check.
TSA Pre-Check is a program in the domestic US that allows for expedited security screening. Due to recent expansion, you can find it at most sizable airports in the US. You can qualify for TSA Pre-Check by invitation from one of the major airlines (they generally invite their frequent travelers). Global Entry members also receive a pass into the Pre-Check program. What’s Global Entry?
Global Entry is a program for expedited screening when returning to the US from overseas. It’s available at a number of airports now almost to the point of ubiquity at international gateway cities. I’ve stood in a regular customs line as a returning US citizen for two hours while I watched fellow travelers swipe their Global Entry card and be on their way in less than a minute. It costs $100 to apply and membership is valid for 5 years. I’m a member of Global Entry and so is Mickie.
And, now, so are both of our kids. I completed their applications a number of months ago and they were both conditionally approved. But, there was a pretty hefty backup at Washington Dulles, our home airport, to schedule their in-person interview.
I heard from a fellow frequent traveler that the Global Entry process doesn’t require interviews of minors (makes sense) and that most offices will process children as a “walk-in” appointment. I called the local office and confirmed as such. We set off Sunday morning to get the process finished for both kids.
We waited a short time and then an agent brought us back to take care of both kids. He was engaging, asking Catherine how she was enjoying school and whether she played any sports. I told her to tell him some of the countries she’s traveled to. She answered, “Canada, Panama, Italy…..New York!”
We all got a good chuckle out of that one. She flipped to one of the pages of her passport as he was finishing up her application. She showed us a picture of the Statue of Liberty one of her passport pages and declared she wanted to go to New York to see it.
A few minutes later we were back outside, our little girl holding her passport with its shiny new CBP sticker inside. Yup, things look merry and bright! 🙂