Don’t you hate it when you watch other people breeze through those TSA Pre-check lines when you are waiting (not so) patiently holding your shoes and bag of tiny shampoo bottles? I always want to be one of the “chosen ones”…special enough to keep their shoes on. For our next trip, I had wanted to apply for this pre-screening program, and so I started doing some research this Spring. I actually read a recommendation that applying for the Global Entry program might be a better deal.
Global Entry is part of the Trusted Traveler Programs administered through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). It allows for expedited ENTRY into the United States whereby you can bypass normal customs lines, swipe your authorized card at a kiosk and be on your merry way. Samantha Brown, from Travel Channel fame, recommended this service on her blog because she said that it also provided TSA Pre-check benefits. I was so grateful to read that because NOWHERE on the Global Entry enrollment site (see below) did it mention TSA Pre-check. However, in the FAQs on the TSA website, it states that Global Entry provides a CBP PASSID that serves the same purpose as the TSA Pre-check “known traveler number” (KTN). The KTN must be part of the airline reservation and printed on the boarding pass. So, it seems, if this CBP PASSID is submitted in place of the KTN, then the holder would be allowed in the Pre-check line. Confused yet? We will be the guinea pigs on this and see how it works! Here is the TSA site for your reference: https://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck/faq
GOES stands for Global Online Enrollment System and it’s where you can apply for Global Entry (https://goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov/main/goes). The website is HORRIBLE. It provides very little information and everything is in nine-point font. Hence my statement below that I learned more about Global Entry on the TSA site (GOES is run by CBP and TSA is run by Department of Homeland Security). To start the process, you must fill out an application. EACH person, including children, must have a separate application which includes a separate user ID and password. I did not read/realize this, so now I actually need to fill out two more applications for my kids. Do as I say, not as I do! Once the application is submitted, then it sits in “Pending Review” which is where mine currently sits (I applied about 10 days ago). They don’t notify you when you move from one status to another; you just have to keep checking back. Again, it’s a terrible website. For the second step, you are to schedule an on-site interview. You can schedule an interview as a family, which is convenient and necessary if your kids are applying. The locations are mostly at airports, which makes the entire experience that much more exciting and enjoyable (note sarcasm). Stay tuned to see how we fare!