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Monday, February 03, 2014

how to make the most of Global Entry

About 25% of the passengers who pass through airport security checkpoints have begun to use expedited forms of screening in order to expedite their immigration and security check processes. However, the Global Entry program that offers this expedited screening still has a long way to go as it has only managed to cater to 25 million passenger trips out of the 740 million passenger trips which take place per year.

Any traveller who flies about 3 – 4 times per year should always have Global Entry. The program has fast become one of the most sought after tools for travellers due to the number of advantages that it provides. It is essentially a Customs and Border protection program which conducts thorough background checks for all applicants and empowers them to skip the long immigration and customs queues by using separate kiosks to reenter their home countries. Obviously, the requirements and background checks required to allow access to such a program shall take a bit of time as well as a few in person interviews. However, once you manage to complete the process and become a trusted traveller with Global Entry, you can simply ignore those poor passengers who are stranded in those long immigration lines and brisk through airport security.

Another reason why the global entry program is so special is that you simply need to get into a special line, get checked by standard metal detectors and happily be on your way. Most travellers who have become a part of the Global Entry program can vouch for the fact that they can complete the entire security process in just 2 - 5 minutes. Yes, that’s right. That’s all the time one needs to clear airport security if they are members of the Global Entry program.

The TSA might ask some members of the program to go through random screenings from time to time such as swabs for explosives, but these incidents are far apart and few in number. Moreover, even if you do get tested for some additional screening, it will only add a couple of minutes to the total time taken to clear immigrations and security checks.

The Global Entry program started off with a few airports only. However, it has expanded to more than 102 airports with further expansions projected to take place all through 2014. The TSA eventually plans to expand its PreCheck points to about 350 airports – something which literally covers all destinations that one would want to fly to.

However, there are still a few drawbacks that the Global Entry program faces. While these issues are being worked out upon, you can still expect a few glitches until the program gains speed. Firstly, not all checkpoints at all airports have designated PreCheck lanes. Secondly, those that might have a PreCheck lane might be closed during off peak hours. Therefore, members are advised to re-check the airports which have PreCheck lanes from the TSA website.

Some of the airlines that participate in this Global Entry program include AA, Delta, JetBlue, Hawaiian, US Airways, Virgin America, Alaska Airlines and Southwest.

The Global Entry program costs just $100 for a period of 5 years after which it can be renewed for a fee. There are a few ways by which one can get the $100 fee waived as well. Firstly, American Express refunds $100 to platinum card holders when they use their credit cards to apply for the Global Entry Program, thereby making the program free. United is also known to offer its Premier Platinum and Premier flyers, Global Services and 1K flyers with a code which can be used upon enrolment to get the fee waived off.

Another program that costs $85 is being rolled out to join the PreCheck facility only. However, we would advise readers to shell out that extra $15 and enjoy the benefits at customs and immigration lines as well.

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