Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Travel: Global Entry

For the last few months I've been on business travel. It sucks. 

I think it's bearable when you're away for a week but lately I've been jet setting from the West Coast to the East twice a month and staying for 24 hours. During that time, I learned how to sleep upright and knocking out within minutes of the plane taking off. It may be just jet lag but this month, it got to me. I needed a better way to travel.

A few months ago, the TSA announced a program for TSA-pre checking. The screening program allows travelers to leave their shoes on, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bag in a carry-on, in select screening lanes. So far the application process has been implemented at one airport, Indianapolis International Airport (IND). Rather than waiting for my local airport to implement the process, I decided to take matters in my own hands. I applied for the Global Entry program. 

Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Not only will I qualify for TSA-pre checking, I can enter the U.S. with ease by proceeding to the Global Entry kiosks, present my passport, get a fingerprint scan and make a customs declaration. The kiosk will issue me a transaction receipt and then I'm off to baggage claim. That's it. No waiting in line at the Customs counter.

So how long does it take to apply? Well, I applied on the GOES website on December 1, 2013. I got pre-approved on December 10, 2013 and my interview is scheduled for January 2, 2014. The earliest interview date was December 27th but I didn't want to travel all the way to the San Diego/Mexico border. 

Once you submit your application on the GOES website and are pre-approved (meaning you're not an at-risk traveler), you will receive the above message on the GOES website. An interview with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer follows and once you present the necessary paperwork (passport and pre-approved letter), the officer will take a full set of fingerprints, explain the terms and conditions of the Global Entry program and take your photo. That's it.

I will update this post with additional details after my interview.