TSA PreCheck vs Global Entry
By now, you may have witnessed (and hopefully experienced) the beauty of being in a TSA PreCheck lane at airport security. In blissful pre-9/11 fashion, passengers in the PreCheck line don't remove shoes, belts, or jackets, and have the luxury of keeping their liquids and laptops inside their bags. The standard metal detector is used instead of the invasive full-body scanner. On average, security agents can process twice as many passengers in PreCheck line than the normal lines.
Originally launched in October 2011, the program has expanded to 118 of the approximately 450 commercial airports in the US. New TSA centers are opening around the country to process applications at a cost of $85 for a five-year pass. In April, Air Canada was the first international carrier to sign on to the program. Of course, getting to your gate faster sounds great until you realize that being enrolled in PreCheck doesn't guarantee you'll always get to go through the coveted lane, since this is American bureaucracy you’re dealing with. Even after signing on to the program, you still might not be deemed trustworthy enough to get on every other flight.
Enter Global Entry, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows you to swiftly pass the lines at Customs when re-entering the U.S., and now other countries like New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, and South Korea are also giving preferential treatment to Global Entry users when entering their respective countries. Pay the $100 fee (also good for a five-year span), fill out the application online, and wait for an interview at one of their airport locations (which can take up to six months at places like Boston’s Logan Airport). Once approved, you simply proceed to a Global Entry kiosk, scan your passport, verify your fingerprint, and off you go.
Here’s the kicker: Enrolling in Global Entry also qualifies you for TSA PreCheck as a “Trusted Traveler.” Once you receive your new Global Entry ID card, enter your Trusted Traveler number into your frequent flyer accounts. Look for the listing called “Known Traveler ID” and be sure your name on the Global Entry ID matches your airline profile. Do this correctly and, according to Ross Feinstein, Press Security for the TSA, you’re more apt to be chosen for the TSA PreCheck line. Indeed, strike up a conversation with Global Entry users at the airport bar and they’ll tell you they’re chosen almost 100 percent of the time for the PreCheck lane. Isn’t that worth the extra 15 bucks?