So what if you’re flying coach.
You can still get treated like a VIP at airport security and U.S. Customs. Did I mention you can get whisked through security without taking of your shoes or belt and avoid interminable lines returning to the country?
All you have to do is sign up for Global Entry, the trusted traveler network that allows you to make your way quickly through special TSA Pre✓™ security lanes at one hundred U.S. Airports. At customs, instead of waiting in line, you head to automated kiosks at 97 domestic airports. Nice!
You don’t have to take off your shoes, belt, jacket, take out your laptop or liquids and gels. And when I returned from South America, I was through customs at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in just a few minutes.
That’s because Global Entry reduces wait times more than 70 percent with more than 75 percent of travelers processed in less than five minutes, U. S. Customs and Border Protection officials report. There are even partnerships with certain foreign countries to speed you through lines overseas.
More than a million people, including more than 33,000 kids and teens, have signed up. How do you do it? Fill out an online application, make an appointment to go to the airport to get fingerprinted and pay the $100 fee, which gets you in the program for five years. Well worth the hassle and cost, I think.
If you don’t travel overseas but would love to skip those security lines when you’re flying, you can if you have Global Entry. By the end of the year, there will be 100 airports with designated TSA Pre✓™ lanes. So far 18 million passengers have experienced the program since it was launched in 2011. A plus to TSA Pre-check is that kids 12 and under can go through the expedited lanes with you without paying the fee. Children have to apply individually for Global Entry.
Travelers can now begin the application online for TSA Pre✓and make an appointment to visit an enrollment center to finish the process. The first enrollment center will be located in Indianapolis International Airport. TSA plans to open additional enrollment centers in the New York City area, the Washington, D.C. metro area and in Los Angeles. By the spring of 2014, the TSA plans to have more than 300 enrollment centers open around the country.
Check the Transportation Security Administration website for details. The cost will be $85 for five years.
Don’t you love being treated like a VIP?
Eileen Ogintz is a nationally syndicated columnist and creator of TakingtheKids.com. Her new Kids Guide to Boston is available online and from major booksellers, along with the Kids Guides to NYC, Washington, DC, Orlando, LA and Chicago. Coming later this year: San Diego, San Francisco and Denver.