As with so many things these days, we’re often faced with an array of choices, with no clear-cut answer on which is the right decision for our needs. For travelers, one of these issues is how to speed through the airport with ease, simplicity, and speed, so we can get through security and on to our destination (and vacation!) in the quickest possible manner.
We’ve researched the various methods and offer you a primer on what’s available and how it may pertain to your travel, whether you’re visiting family a few states over or jaunting off to the farthest corners of the globe.
If you live in an urban area, have online access, and like to cross things off your list and forget about them, Global Entry is a no-brainer. It’s $100 for five years and includes TSA PreCheck. You’ll register online and undergo an interview at a designated Global Entry interview location, wherever there is a US Customs office.
This is a fantastic option for international travelers. You’ll simply walk up to the airport kiosks when you arrive for your flight, scan your fingerprints and passport, answer a few questions, and have your photo taken. Grab the printout and you’re on your way—look for the priority lines for Global Entry members. And, even easier if you haven’t checked any bags!
That being said, this is not the best choice if you live in a city with no custom/immigration office. And remember, don’t even think about bringing an undeclared item—you risk losing your Global Entry privileges for life!
Although it’s the best value at $50 for five years, NEXUS is best for those who live at the Canadian/US border or in Seattle, Detroit, or Buffalo. You’ll be able to enter Canada with the swipe of a card at the NEXUS kiosk, and receive Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. However, you should enjoy interviewing! You’ll have to be interviewed by both the Canadian and US authorities, and scheduling the interview can be a challenge unless you live in the regions mentioned above.
For $85, interviews for TSA PreCheck are a bit easier to come by as they’re held at all mid-sized and larger airports. Keep in mind that this only gains you TSA privileges—expediting your passage through screening at TSA security checkpoints. So if you’re traveling internationally, you’ll want to pay $15 more and go for Global Entry.
Don’t Sweat the Interview
The interview process is a formality and according to almost everyone who has gone through it, the officers are friendly and will walk you quickly through the questions, which mainly pertain to your past and upcoming travel plans. When they ask why you’re seeking access to one of these programs, it’s perfectly acceptable to honestly say that you’d like to make your travels quicker and less stressful.
For all options, you can easily apply for and request your interview online.