Trusted Traveler Programs

Let’s face it, unless you are a toddler obsessed with planes or you’re flying business class, airplane travel is NOT the fun part of vacationing. One of the biggest travel tips I can offer people to make the flying process easier is to register for one of the US Department of Homeland Security Trusted Traveler Programs—either TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry.

I am reminded of the beauty of TSA Pre✓® every time I look over at those snaking long lines of people pulling out ziplock baggies of tiny toiletries, fiddling to get their laptops out of their carry-ons and nearly disrobing in public. TSA Pre✓® has short, if any, lines at security and you can leave all that stuff in your baggage where it belongs. You don’t have to mess with taking your shoes off—jackets and belts are usually ok, too. 

TSA Pre✓® costs $85 for 5 years but if you do any international travel, Global Entry is really a better choice for only $15 more.  With Global Entry you get TSA Pre✓® benefits plus expedited processing when you return to the US from traveling abroad.

For either program you need to submit an application online and schedule an in-person appointment that includes a background check and fingerprinting at an enrollment center. This part can be a bit of a hassle since these are usually at the airport but I think you will be happy to have done it in the long run.

Here are a few other important things to know about the two programs: 

  • While kids 12 and under can go through TSA Pre✓® with their parents who possess designated boarding passes, every member of the family, children and adults, will need his or her own Global Entry card in order to go through expedited immigration lines.
  • Once approved for either program you will be issued a Known Traveler Number (KTN). Make sure you enter your KTN in your airline reservation. If you don’t, and it isn’t already saved into your airline profile, you won’t get TSA Pre✓® on your boarding pass and won’t be able to use the expedited security line.
  • Several credit card companies will automatically reimburse you on your statement for the expense of either program once per year. 
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