U.S. Department of Homeland Security offers five different risk-based programs under their Trusted Traveler Programs: TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST. For the purpose of this blog post, I will only be writing about TSA PreCheck and Global Entry – I have both programs.
TSA PreCheck is for departures from U.S. airports for U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents. Benefits include but is not limited to, no longer needing to remove shoes, laptops, 3-1-1 liquids, belts, or light jackets when going through airport security allowing for an expedited security screening. If you are traveling with a child under the age of 12, they may accompany a parent or guardian with TSA PreCheck on their boarding pass. It currently cost $85 to enroll and if approved, it lasts 5 years.
- Apply: Submit an online application, which should take no more than 5-7 minutes and schedule an appointment at any enrollment center.
- Enroll: Attend the in-person interview that you scheduled in step 1. At this interview you will provide finger prints, supply citizenship and identity documents.
- Enjoy: The perks of having TSA PreCheck once you are approved.
Global Entry (Trusted Traveler Network) is for travel by air, land, and sea for U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, and select foreign nationals. Benefits include reduced wait times with self-service kiosks, no paperwork to be filled out by passengers upon entry, and TSA PreCheck. It currently cost $100 to enroll and if approved, it lasts 5 years.
- Apply: Submit application online.
- Enroll: Once you enroll and are conditionally approved, you can complete your in-person interview upon arrival to the United States from an international country (this process is called Enrollment on Arrival). If you are not traveling anytime soon, you can also schedule an appointment at an Enrollment Center.
- Membership: Once approved, enjoy the benefits for 5 years.
Why You Should Get It
I went with the Global Entry option because I know I travel outside of the United States at least three times a year and I am constantly traveling domestically by air almost every other month. Applying for Global Entry just made the most sense for me. I originally applied in January of 2020. However, I did not hear back from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security until November 2020. Applications were really backed up. I assume because of the pandemic. I wasn’t able to schedule my appointment at an Enrollment Center until the end of January 2021. The day of the interview was smooth and easy. At my appointment the individual working there asked me a few questions and then snapped my photo. Then I was provided with my Known Traveler Number and bam! I was in and out in about 15 minutes.
The Known Traveler Number is the number you enter when purchasing flights. By entering this number, the airline will automatically flag you as a traveler with TSA PreCheck and it will be reflected on your boarding pass – mobile and printed.
Two words: Life Saver!
just right on time before the close the gates. More times than I would want, I am the latter. I don’t know if it’s the rush or cause I simply tend to leave things, such as packing, to the very last minute. Having TSA PreCheck has saved my life a number of times this past year. While the regular security line is super long, the TSA PreCheck line has been short – saving me time!
One TSA PreCheck benefit I appreciate so much is not having to take off my shoes, belt, light jackets and not having to take my laptop out of my bag. This makes the process go by super quickly. I will admit though, there was one time I was flying out the Washington Ronald Regan Airport and the TSA PreCheck line was longer than the regular line and I started to panic. I started off in the regular line and when the TSA Officer noticed that I was TSA PreCheck she allowed me to move forward to the conveyor belt as a TSA PreCheck traveler. I am not sure if that will always happen, but I do appreciate that she allowed it that one time.
I have had the opportunity to use Global Entry a few times this year – traveling back to the United States from Aruba, Turks & Caicos, Colombia, and Peru. Going through Global Entry also saves you a lot of time. Not a lot of people have Global Entry, which makes the line much shorter compared to the regular lines.
All in all, I highly recommend enrolling in either of these programs. The cost of each program, the benefits that come with each program and the duration of the program makes it completely worth it.
For more information on both programs, visit the Homeland Security website here.