Get Up in the Air Faster with Global Entry


Get Up in the Air Faster with Global Entry

In the movie Up in the Air, George Clooney’s frequent flying character introduces himself through an inner monologue as he moves through the airport as easily and fluidly as Michael Phelps moves through water. “To know me is to fly with me,” the master traveler says.

With a high tempo drumbeat playing in the background, the debonair Clooney approaches the airline kiosk and swipes his credit card, pausing for a moment to exchange a knowing smile with the pretty desk clerk. With ticket in hand, he heads toward security, where he slips off his shoes in a kind of moonwalking way and sends them down the conveyor belt along with his laptop, belt and jacket, his movements as precise and efficient as a Swiss watch. He walks carefully but confidently through the metal detector, collects his things and proceeds to his gate. The airport, he remarks, is his home.

In reality, the stress and chaos of airline travel can make you feel less like Clooney and more like a guy with gum stuck to the bottom of his shoe who has no idea where he’s going. Luckily, you don’t have to be from Hollywood to travel like a pro. All you need is Global Entry.

Global Entry by U.S. Customs and Border Control

While standing in the airport security line stuck between the teenager too busy playing Pokemon Go to notice the TSA agent waving at him and the woman on her cell phone talking loud enough for the whole airport to hear all about last night, you may have noticed TSA’s other security line. Over there, passengers speed through the security checkpoint, never having to take off their shoes or belts, or remove their laptops from their bags. Rub your eyes but that’s no mirage. That’s the TSA Precheck line.

The TSA Precheck line is available to all members of the U.S. Customs and Border Control program called Global Entry, as well as to members of the Transportation Security Administration’s own program named TSA Precheck. However, only Global Entry members have the added benefit of using U.S. Customs dedicated kiosks upon re-entry into the U.S. from abroad, sparing them the hassle of having to fill out the normal customs form and wait in line for an agent to review it. With Global Entry, you are required to answer a few on-screen questions at the kiosk, scan your fingerprints and passport, and you’re done. The whole process takes only minutes to complete.

Like TSA Precheck, Global Entry membership lasts for five years. However, applicants pay a $100 non-refundable fee when applying, while TSA Precheck applicants pay only $80. But with the added benefit of expedited re-entry into the United States, Global Entry is a much better buy for travelers.

Apply Online on the U.S. Customs Website GOES

The first step to becoming a member of Global Entry is to apply through the U.S. Customs and Border Control website known as the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES). Filling out the online form is a little cumbersome, requiring about 30 minutes to complete, and asks, amongst other questions, for all your home addresses and places of employment for the past five years.

Answer all questions honestly since any discrepancy between your answers and those uncovered by U.S. Customs during its background check may delay the processing of your application. Once submitted, processing can take four to six weeks to complete. Oftentimes, though, it takes less than two weeks. Upon being conditionally approved you’re ready for the final step, the interview with a customs agent.

The prospect of an interview with a government agent would make anyone squeamish. Under a fluorescent light and a slow moving ceiling fan, a skeptical bureaucrat with thick glasses and a hard grimace sits behind a metal desk and pours over your application while–. C’mon, you’ve seen too many movies.

For Global Entry, the interview process is very low pressure. It’s quick and professional and usually consists of a few questions to verify your identity. After the agent scans your fingerprints, you’ll find yourself in front of a camera and–click–you’re done!

But don’t expect balloons to start falling from the ceiling. The whole process can be a little underwhelming, especially at the end when you’re handed a pocket sized pamphlet containing a nine-digit number called a Known Traveler Number (KTN). But make no mistake, those are powerful digits. You can use them immediately to book flights online and access all the benefits that Global Entry has to offer.

So whether you’re flying to Havana in search of the perfect mojito or Aspen in search of a black diamond to ski with a GoPro strapped to your head, with Global Entry you’ll be up in the air in no time.

Blog Posting Written by Matthew Allabastro