I remember our plane bumping down on a US runway after one of our trips abroad. Our flight had been delayed and we only had 15 minutes until our next flight boarded. Our next flight happened to be in another terminal, and before we could get there, we had to go through immigration and security.
I almost didn’t even want to try to make the plane. Running through the airport seemed like a waste of time since going through immigration alone could take much longer than 15 minutes. After finding out, though, that the flight we were trying to make was the last flight back home for that day, we decided to try our best to make the flight.
When we got to immigration, there was a fairly long line people were having to wait through. If we had to wait in that line, I really doubt we would have caught the plane! Thankfully though, Josh and I both have Global Entry.
What is Global Entry?
Global Entry is a US Customs and Border Protection Program that gives pre-approved, low-risk travelers a quicker way to go through immigration. It can save you a lot of time!
Instead of having to stand in line to talk to an immigration officer, we get to use automatic kiosks where we scan our passport, answer a few questions on the screen, and have our fingers scanned. Then we get to go pick up any checked bags we have and leave the airport, or carry on to our next flight.
Back to when we were trying to make our flight, thanks to Global Entry we got through immigration in about five minutes. I was still doubtful we’d make our flight, but we were trying!
After immigration, we made our way to the security line where we showed our boarding passes that were marked with TSA Precheck.
What is TSA Precheck?
TSA Precheck allows you to go through security with less hassle than normal. You typically get to leave your liquids and electronics in your bag, and you don’t have to take your shoes off or lightweight jackets.
That day we were rushing to our plane, we made our way through the security line without any problems at all. We just set our bags down to go through the scanner, hurried through the body scanner, then grabbed our bags and were on our way. We caught a bus to the next terminal, then slipped in line to board our plane as the last few people were making their way on board.
I still can’t believe we made it! There’s no way we would have made our flight, though if we didn’t have Global Entry and TSA Precheck.
How Do You Get Global Entry and TSA Precheck?
First, TSA Precheck is super simple since you get it automatically when you get Global Entry. Once you have Global Entry, you just take your membership number they give you and enter it into your frequent flyer profile with the airline you’re flying with. Just doing that will mark your boarding pass with the little TSA Precheck mark.
It has to be a participating airline for you to get TSA Precheck, and you aren’t guaranteed to always get it, but when you do it makes things easier!
Global entry is a bit more complicated, but it’s well worth it!
How to Apply for Global Entry
- You need to create a Trusted Traveler Program account. Everyone has to do this, no matter their age. You can go here to create yours.
- Log into your Trusted Traveler Program account and complete the application for Global Entry. When you complete the application, you’ll need to pay a $100 non-refundable fee.
- Your application will be reviewed. If you are conditionally approved, you will be instructed to schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. If you and a family member have both applied, you both will need to have separate interviews. Make sure to bring a valid passport as well as one other form of ID to the interview. If you are a lawful permanent resident you’ll need to make sure to bring your permanent resident card.
That’s all there is to it! I had my interview at our local airport. I honestly don’t remember what they asked me, but it was painless! After we talked for a short bit, they took my picture and scanned my fingers.
For us, the $100 application fee is well worth the shorter lines since it has been the difference between us missing flights or not. Also, once you have it it’s good for five years so that’s like paying just $20 each year to go through the airport way faster and easier.
But, if you have credit cards, check what their benefits are. We both were able to get Global Entry for free because we had credit cards that offered free Global Entry applications as a part of their benefits.