WHAT THE HELL IS GLOBAL ENTRY?
Updated: Jan 2, 2019
So you finally did it! You clicked the “purchase” button on the bottom of the screen of your iPad/phone/computer screen and you are officially on your way! You imagine a magical timer counting down the months, years, days, hours, minutes, and seconds to hopping on a plane and being whisked away to the lands of relaxation and/or adventure of your wildest dreams! You read some online social media posts and you ask yourself ”Did I really just book this trip? How can I prepare for my trip?”
If you have not heard of TSA (Transportation Security Administration) pre-check or Global Entry, you are not alone. I learned about it a few years ago by word-of-mouth from my previous partner who, herself, heard about it from someone at her job. I enrolled in TSA pre-check first not knowing that Global Entry is better for those who plan to travel internationally for the next five years, which would be me!! I also informed one of my friends to enroll in at least TSA pre-check, as we waited for her at the departure gate as she sat at the security checkpoint to put back on her shoes, belt, and earrings as well as grab her carryon duffle bag after stuffing her ID and boarding pass back in her pocket. After that, she quickly enrolled in Global Entry for our upcoming group trip to Indonesia after landing back in Atlanta that same day. After reading the above scenario about my dear friend, you are probably already convinced about some of the benefits of TSA pre-check/Global Entry.
Departing from all airports in the United States involves a security check. There are two to three different options to speed through the security checkpoint at the airport. There is TSA pre-check, Global Entry, and CLEAR. I do not have much knowledge about CLEAR, except it is way more expensive than the two other options, so I will not be discussing it. The goal of my blog is to only discuss information and share my own personal experiences traveling abroad :-)
It allows passengers to access the security line without removing your shoes, jewelry, belt, liquids in your carryon luggage, or light jackets. Yes! You no longer have to strip off your clothes before moving through airport security. Some airports I've departed from have asked me to take down my hair, which is typically pulled into a tight braided bun in the center my head, but many do not. Pre-check makes traveling a breeze because it is easy and super fast! This is the cheapest option and it costs about $85.00 but it is redeemable for five consecutive years of travel! When you apply for TSA pre-check, you are provided with a number, which is commonly known as a "known traveler number", by most airlines and this number is needed in order to use your TSA pre-check status at the airport. The application is super easy to complete online and you schedule an interview for a background check and fingerprinting. Make sure to bring a valid driver's license! The website even provides a list of enrollment centers all over the United States. You are typically notified within a week or two and provided your enrollment status. Once enrolled, you can add your "known traveller number" to any airline tickets you book in the future. You can also return to any previous reservations and add the redress number prior to your flight. When you download and/or print your boarding pass, it should have the TSA Pre✓® symbol. If the symbol is not present, you must visit the airline's customer service desk at the airport before your flight and they will manually enter the number and reprint your boarding pass with the symbol.
Before you log onto the site listed above and complete the application for TSA pre-check, I highly recommend opting for Global Entry instead. For just $15 additional dollars ($100 total), you will have access to all of the benefits of TSA pre-check as well as quicker access back into the United States after traveling internationally. Picture this...you just arrived back to the United States from a 15-hour flight and you are exhausted. You managed to deplane and walk the countless steps to U. S Border and Customs where you see tons of people waiting and weaving through designated lines. You think about how long you will have to wait on the line, whether you have the necessary forms completed correctly, and how soon can you retrieve your luggage and make your way to your final destination. With Global Entry, you can skip the countless long lines at customs, grab your belongings, and G-O! Global entry only requires the user to stop at one of the many designated kiosks located in the lobby, place your passport atop of the scanner, answer the questions on the screen, place your four fingers on the kiosk scanner, take a picture, and retrieve the information printed from the kiosk. You then skip the super long line and head onto the line designated for passengers with Global Entry. Give the printed information to the customs agent. You do not need your Global Entry card but I always carry it just in case...
Global Entry is has an easy enrollment process but requires a few additional steps. You must create a Trusted Traveler Programs account online and complete the online application. Only after your application is approved can you schedule at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. There are several located in the city of Atlanta, even in the actual airport. Due to my anxiety about the interview and not wishing to pay for parking, I opted for a location on the grounds of the airport but not in the actual airport. You complete the interview, your fingerprints are scanned into the computer, and your photo is taken. I was actually having a horrible hair day on the day of my interview and was unaware that my photo would be taken lol. You will be required to bring your passport and another form of identification for the interview. It can take from a few days to a few weeks before you are issued a Global Entry card, which they advise you to keep it in the designated sleeve at all times because it has a high frequency radio chip. You must activate the card online before use. The information from your Global Entry card was embedded in your passport once you've been approved for the program. Therefore, you do not need to worry about carrying the card or remembering a known traveler number if you are returning to the United States by air. I only carry the card overseas because I am a worry-worm and like to be prepared for any and everything, especially when traveling solo :-)