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Saving Yourself Some Hassle at the Airport


No one that I know likes to stand in lines. Especially lines at the airport. If you travel by air a couple of times a year, chances are it may be worth your while to invest in an expedited way of getting through security as painlessly as possible. But figuring out what suits your travel needs best and how to acquire it can be intimidating. Here’s what you need to know:

TSA pre-check is a program run by the Transportation Security Administration. It is ideal for domestic air travelers as you have a dedicated security line for members and do not need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts or light jackets. If you have ever tried to wrestle 4 or 5 bins that hold one item each on a conveyer belt, you can see the appeal. The cost of this program is $85 for a 5-year membership.

Global Entry is a program run by the Department of Homeland Security. It is ideal for arriving into the US from international destinations. You can use the kiosk to scan your passport and fingerprints, get a receipt, head over to the dedicated line for customs and you are out the door in minutes. The cost of this program is $100 for a 5-year membership. But, here’s the great part, with this membership you automatically get TSA pre-check included. For $15 more you have both domestic and international arrival benefits.

So, you’ve decided that Global Entry is something you would like to do, now what?

  • Start with the website https://ttp.cbp.dhs.gov, the Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP). From here you will need to create an account through the shared government platform, login.gov. It will direct you here when you select Get Started.

  • Be prepared to provide the following information: Personal information (name, email address, gender, eye color, height, language preference)

  • Other names used

  • Date and place of birth

  • Contact information (home, mobile and work phone number)

  • Citizenship information (passport number, date of issue and expiration date)

  • Driver’s license (number and expiration date)

  • Current address

  • Address history (other addresses in past five years)

  • Current employment status (employer name, employment period, occupation, street address of employer and phone)

  • Employment history (other employers in past five years)

  • Travel history (list any countries other than the US, Canada and Mexico traveled to within the past 5 years)

  • Additional information: Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offense in the United States or any other country? Have you ever received a waiver of inadmissibility to the U.S. from a U.S. government agency? Have you ever been found in violation of customs laws? Have you ever been found in violation of immigration laws?

-You will receive an email when your application is reviewed and will need to log back into TTP to read the message. If everything went well, it will say that you have been conditionally approved, pending an in-person interview.

  • Pick from the designated interview sites, most always the nearby airport, from the online options for dates and times when you receive the confirmation email. The wait for appointment availability can be days or weeks.

  • At the interview you will need to show your passport, answer a few questions such as why you are applying, and if you are approved the enrollment officer will take your finger prints. The wait is not normally long once you are there and the interview process goes quickly.

  • You will receive your Known Traveler Number shortly after. This is what gets you through TSA pre-check (remember to add this to your airline profiles, or they will not have it on record). A passport is all that is needed for Global Entry when you enter return to the US. In the mail you will also receive a card with your picture. This is only used for land travel into the US from Canada and Mexico.

And that’s it. I recently completed this process for myself and can’t wait to get to the airport for my next flight! If you have other helpful tips leave a comment below.

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