Global Entry kiosks seen at HOU’s international terminal unveiling in 2014
The State of New York has recently reminded all of us that it is time to either get or renew your Global Entry… and a bit at their expense. No, this isn’t a call to be opportunistic. Well, maybe a little. Hear me out…
Recently, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that New York residents are being cut off from Global Entry (both applications and renewals). “New York residents will no longer be eligible to apply for or renew membership in CBP Trusted Traveler Programs and CBP will cancel all pending Trusted Traveler Program applications submitted by residents of New York,”according to a February 6th CBP press release. “New York residents who are currently enrolled in Trusted Travel Programs will retain their benefits until their memberships expire.”
The CBP will not comment on the volume of enrollments by state, but it is safe to assume that the most populated city in the U.S., which also happens to be the world’s financial center, makes up a sizable chunk. With New York enrollment activity being placed on pause, due to political nonsense, now is the time to take advantage of short lines. Yes, this is an advantage to the rest of us. But by shifting our applications forward, we can clear the way for when New York is again approved. Short lines for us now, and a slightly better experience for our New York friends, when their pent-up demand rolls in. Win-win for everyone! Sort of… given the situation anyhow.
As a known-traveler you won’t need to use the recombobulation area just past the TSA checkpoint at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell airport. – Photo: Lynn Friedman (Creative Commons)
Why Global Entry? It’s better than TSA Pre✓™
Global Entry (GE) is one of a few trusted/known traveler programs which offers perks such as TSA Pre✓™. “But I already regularly get Pre✓™ without applying!” This is a totally valid argument: Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? In 2014, I wrote about why applying for Pre✓™ is a waste of time and money. And I stand by that to this day. Pre✓™ is $85 for a five-year membership. GE is an extra $15 (just $3 more per year) and you get Pre✓™ plus expedited passage through U.S. customs. This expedited entry works not just at airports, but also border crossings, and sea ports of entry… if boats are your sort of thing (#BoatReporter).
Even if you don’t have plans to travel abroad, wouldn’t it be nice to have Global Entry setup in the event an opportunity presented itself? I mentioned above that Global Entry works for border crossings as well. I was surprised how often I ended up using my membership to re-enter the U.S. from quick trips to Canada and Mexico. For me, I’d pay $15 to skip the line with just one crossing, so the extra cost has more than paid for itself in my first four years of membership.
T4-TBIT connector at LAX: Overlooking the ramp between TBIT and T4 at LAX
A couple of weeks ago, I was one of the first to report on the opening of the new Connector facility between Terminal 4 (T4) and the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). While this is exciting news in my world, I will admit that sometimes I forget that not everyone is a frequent-flying fanatic or even an #AvGeek. So here I am, to make the case to the everyday person on the street on just why the new T4 Connector is so monumental to the improvement to the passenger experience at LAX.
A bit overly dramatic? You be the judge…
The TSA PreCheck area at LAX Terminal 2
Let’s make one thing clear: TSA PreCheck is great. If you’ve flown anytime in the past few years, you’ve seen (or perhaps even been the beneficiaries of) the “PreCheck” lanes that some passengers use to zip past the general security lines, or even the premium lanes. Those who see others scoot all the way out of sight and/or get to keep their shoes on are envious; those who randomly received PreCheck access once are even more so.
For the low low price of $85, the Transportation Security Administration will grant a passenger the privilege of getting PreCheck most (not all) of the time. They’re in charge of keeping the flying public safe, and they’re not a for-profit institution, so we can trust them at their word, right?
NO! What they don’t tell you is that there are other ways to enroll in TSA’s PreCheck program without a) writing a check to TSA and b) paying less, or at least getting more out of what you pay.
I was recently invited to sit down with a local news outlet to discuss TSA’s Pre ✓™ program from the perspective of a frequent flyer who hadn’t signed up, and questions its utility as the program stands today. To be clear, I do not see the program as a threat to security. Instead, the program’s benefits simply aren’t compelling enough for me to part with $85 and take the time to be interviewed and fingerprinted.
$85 isn’t unreasonable, and there is even an interview site here in my Kansas City suburb. The idea of fingerprinting and background checks don’t bother me either since I’ve been through both as a basis for employment.
Instead, the “gotcha” for me is the fact that while having never signed up for TSA Pre✓™ I have experienced it first-hand many, many times, and I’m just not convinced on its utility to me as a semi-frequent traveler. But why? It comes down to what I like to call the “TSA Pre✓™ dilemma.”