Airport Screening

New York, NY–It looks as if airport shortcuts are here to stay.

Word is spreading fast among travelers — simply scan a finger print, and viola! You’re approved to return to the country. Global Entry allows qualified United States citizens returning from an international trip to check in customs via a kiosk rather than waiting in line with the masses, which, notoriously, can take hours. So far, kiosks are located at 30 large U.S. airports as well as airports in Canada and Ireland that have U.S. Customs pre-clearing lines.

The program passengers are probably more familiar with is the TSA PreCheck program, which serves as an “E-ZPass” in airport security, enabling qualified travelers to keep their shoes on their feet, keep their laptops packed and keep out of the path of slower, more frustrated (and less fortunate) travelers.

But how do you qualify?

For those not lucky enough to attain premier frequent flier status, enrollment into trusted traveler networks, like Global Entry, must suffice. Once the application, which has a $100 fee, has been approved, the passenger heads to the nearest customs center for a personal interview and fingerprint recording. Enrollment centers are located at major international airports, select urban locations and officers in northern and southern borders.

Global Entry previously received 15,000 applications per month, but that number has since increased to 50,000 applications per month. Currently, about 1.5 million U.S. citizens have Global Entry clearance.

The TSA is working to expand eligibility for its PreCheck program, which at present time only applies to frequent fliers and trusted travelers, such as children under age 12 and seniors older than 75.

It used to be that expedited service at airports was reserved solely for the most frequent of fliers and government officials.

“In the future, government goals should include consolidating trusted traveler networks into one recognizable program and increasing efforts to recruit eligible passengers. Until then, long airport lines will remain an ominous reality,” said Carlos Armasan, Cook Travel employee.

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