Published On: Mon, Apr 3rd, 2017

No Pain Ways to the Plane: The Benefits of Being a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry Member

If you are a frequent traveler, you may have heard of the Global Entry Program, a program that the United States government designed to help trustworthy travelers re-enter the country more easily. This program eliminates the need to wait in long lines and allows you — if you qualify — to move quickly through U.S. customs in airports as well as other points of entry. The TSA PreCheck allows you to skip normal security lines.

If you qualify, it may well be worth the time and money to apply for the Global Entry Program or the TSA PreCheck: the benefits are numerous and can make your international travels much easier. There aren’t a lot of things you need to do to qualify, but you should be aware of them. Here’s a quick guide to the programs so you can speed your way through the airport.

The Benefits of TSA PreCheck

The TSA PreCheck is a program headed by the Transportation Safety Administration and is designed to help you get through security lines at United States airports more quickly. The program deems “trusted travelers” may skip the regular security lines — which can back up for hours — and get through the security check faster.

Image from the backscatter advanced imaging technology (AIT) machine used by the TSA to screen passengers. This is what the remote TSA agent would see on their screen. 2010 photo supplied by US Transportation Security Administration part of U.S. Department of Homeland Security

They do this by having a separate security line. If you have been approved, you can get into this line, which is rarely longer than a few people at a time, and show your ID and boarding pass as normal. You won’t, however, be required to take off your shoes, jackets or belts as the passengers in the regular security line will. While you will have to have your bags scanned, you will not be required to remove any items, such as laptops.

Perhaps the best part of the PreCheck program is that if you are a member, you can bring non-members through the line with you, as long as they are traveling with you.

How to Qualify for PreCheck

You must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful resident to qualify, and you may not have any criminal convictions on record. This can include offenses like DUIs, so make sure you are willing to be denied before you apply if you have anything in your past you may be wary of.

To apply, you simply fill out this form. If you are accepted, you will be required to submit your fingerprints and hold an interview to qualify. If you qualify, you then pay a fee of $85 and you will receive a “Known Traveler Number.” This qualifies you for the PreCheck, which will last five years before you must do the process again.

The Benefits of the Global Entry Program

The global Entry Program is a little more involved and exclusive, but the benefits are worth it. If you travel internationally frequently, the program will allow you to whiz through customs upon your return, where you just have to fill out an electronic claims form.

There are other benefits as well. You will also be accepted into four other such programs that other countries use, meaning that if you fly into a participating country, you will receive the same expedited serves as well. The best benefit may be that once you are accepted, you are also automatically enrolled in the TSA PreCheck program, giving you all of the privileges — skipping long security lines, moving quickly through the security area — that PreCheck does. So joining the Global Entry Program covers all of your bases, going to and from your plane.

How to Qualify for the Global Entry Program

Qualifying for the program is a little tougher than the TSA PreCheck.

You will automatically be disqualified if you have been convicted of a crime (again, including DUIs) or if you have any pending charges against you. Not only that, you will also be denied if you are the subject of an ongoing investigation or if you’ve ever violated any agricultural or immigration laws.

The reason that this program is so much tougher to be accepted into is because it involves the acceptance of numerous countries so they must be much more throughout. There are currently two million members and over 50,000 applications are submitted every month.

To apply, you will need to fill out a form for the Global Online Enrollment System.

Both of these programs will help you move through the airport faster, so it may be well worth checking out if you think you qualify.

Guest Author :

Samuel Lewis is an airport worker and writes about travel in his articles. He doesn’t (often) write destination pieces though, he writes the detailed pieces about visa’s, global entry and other must-knows pieces of information.

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  1. Ed Pate says:

    “Perhaps the best part of the PreCheck program is that if you are a member, you can bring non-members through the line with you, as long as they are traveling with you.”–Incorrect; only if under 12 can a non-PreCheck passenger go with a PreCheck passenger. Also the image of ‘Backscatter AIT” is obsolete. Not in use at larger airports for years.

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