Cutting the Line: Which Trusted Traveler Program is Right for You?

By Jeremy Del Nero on 28 February 2017
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Curious about airport security at the dawn of the jet age? There wasn’t any. Indeed, just watch great movies such as “Airport”, and you’ll see anyone could stroll up to a departure gate. Indeed, it wasn’t until 1972, when a group of hijackers threatened to fly Southern Airways Flight 49 into a nuclear reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, that the Federal Aviation Administration ordered airlines to screen passengers and carry-on baggage starting January 5, 1973.

Today, some travelers make it from curbside to gate almost as fast as in the earlier days (including FBT Editorial Director Jonathan Spira) by enrolling in so-called “Trusted Traveler” programs, which provide expedited screenings to known travelers. Other trusted-traveler programs exist to speed up reentry into the United States after international travel.

Here’s a look at three programs that will zip you through security and passport control in the United States.

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GLOBAL ENTRY

Global Entry, which costs $100 for a five-year membership, is a trusted-traveler program from U.S. Customs and Border Protection that expedites passport control and customs clearance in the United States.

It replaced INSPass in the mid 2000s and was originally rolled out at a limited number of airports including John F. Kennedy International, Washington Dulles International, and Houston-Intercontinental. Following a trial period, the program was expanded to Los Angeles International, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International, Chicago O’Hare, and Miami International airports.

To join, travelers simply complete an online application with Customs and Border Protection. Once a background check has been completed, all that is required is an in-person interview that, based on first-hand reports by FBT staffers, is more like an orientation than a vetting session. The agency says it rejects approximately 5% of applicants, typically for either a criminal conviction or a past transgression such as having a prohibited or undeclared item at a port of entry.

Click here to continue to Page 2TSA PreCheck, Clear, and Reduced Wait Times

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