Showing posts with label Global Entry program. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Global Entry program. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Travel Tuesday: ‘Trusted Travelers’ Down Under

The United State’s Trusted Travelers Program* just got better!

(*aka Global Entry/PreCheck that we've told you about in earlier posts – click the blue link above) 

KOandSeattle 041First, I must tell you that we used the Trusted Traveler fast-track Pre-check lines at Seatac and  Honolulu airports in January.
And what a snap!

Laptop and our quart-sized bag of liquids stayed in the carry-on bag; we wore our shoes and jackets. There was no one else in line . . . were through security in less than five minutes! 

Trusted Travelers  ‘Down Under’

Note: The following information is from an email we received last week from the Department of Homeland Security:

KOandSeattle 046“Visiting Australia is now easier than ever for U.S. Trusted Travelers. Late last year, Australian Customs and Border Protection opened up access to its automated border processing system, SmartGate, to U.S. Trusted Travelers. Now when you arrive in Australia, you can bypass the passport processing queues and self-process using an ePassport¹.

How does it work?

SmartGate uses facial recognition technology and biometric data to perform the customs and immigration checks usually conducted by an Australian Customs and Border Protection officer. You can still choose to talk to an Australian Customs and Border Protection officer if you prefer, but as long as you have a U.S. ePassport¹, you have the option to use SmartGate.

Can I use SmartGate?
You can use SmartGate provided you are:
  • flying into Australia;
  • 16 years or older; and
  • traveling on a valid U.S. ePassport¹.
There is no additional enrollment process to participate in SmartGate and it is open to all U.S. citizen Trusted Traveler members enrolled in the Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI programs.
Tips on using SmartGate in Australia

Australian Customs and Border Protection has produced a new fact sheet to help US Trusted Travelers use SmartGate with confidence. The fact sheet is available at:

Australian Customs and Border Protection would like to hear from you

Have you tried SmartGate in Australia? Australian Customs and Border Protection would like to hear about your experience. Please email your comments, suggestions or any questions about SmartGate to
For more information on using SmartGate in Australia, visit
¹ For more information on ePassports, please visit

And TravelnWrite wants to know if you’ve tried Global Entry yet?  What have been your experiences? If you are a subscriber and want to leave a comment, click the blue TravelnWrite link or the headline on the article to reach the blog's comment section.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

TSA ‘Trusted Travelers’ . . . maybe yes, . . .maybe no

It seemed appropriate to board a plane displaying Disney’s Goofy and Mickey Mouse after our first experience with TSA’s PreCheck ‘Trusted Travelers’ program at SeaTac Airport.

Arizona2012pt1 008

Weeks ago I told you about our application, fee payment and screening (both on paper and in person) and our ultimate acceptance into the United State’s international travelers’ Global Entry program. Global Entry participants automatically qualify for TSA’s Precheck, and its ‘trusted travelers’ faster security lanes (which had just opened at SeaTac when I wrote about the programs).

In fact, our recent introduction to ‘fast track’ on our Alaska Airlines flight to Arizona was so “Goofy"  that I wasn’t even going to tell you about it.  I figured somehow we – or Alaska – had goofed up.
Welcome to “Trusted Traveler”

I was the only passenger using the  fast track lane being manned by three TSA agents (who watched me closely) as I sailed through – wearing jacket and shoes, with computer and the quart-sized plastic bag of liquids tucked in the carryon. It went through the x-ray machine, I walked through the metal detector.  One minute max.

Joel, on the other hand, was sent to the slow – take-off-shoes-coats-belt-empty-pockets line – because the TSA agent said his ‘trusted traveler’ number didn’t appear in the boarding pass bar code.  He couldn’t ‘fast track’.  Twenty minutes later after his lane snaked its way through the screening we were off to the gate.

"We must have done something wrong. . ."

Agreeing that we’d done something wrong, Joel talked with Alaska mileage plan representatives who offered some possible reasons that the number which shows clearly on his computer profile didn’t print. Seemed odd, since mine did.

 Mystery solved

It was recent media articles that cleared up the mystery for us.  It wasn’t us.  Others in the program are having the same experiences and what’s more. . .

Arizona2012pt1 008It is supposed to work that way!

You see a  ‘trusted traveler’ really isn’t trusted – not all the time, anyway.

We’d been told there’s always a chance of ‘random and unpredictable security measures’.  And what that means is that a certain number of ‘trusted’ travelers don’t know until their boarding pass is scanned whether they will be allowed to use the ‘fast track’ line or not. 

Good for security but bad for streamlining that process when one of a traveling duo is ‘trusted’ and the other one is not.

Now we read in  the Seattle Times that the TSA is expanding its ‘trusted traveler’ program at SeaTac to allow participation by passengers of other airlines (those who’ve passed the additional background and security screens, that is).

We’ll keep you posted on our future ‘trusted traveler’experiences, but for now taking a road trip in our car, riding an Amtrak train or sailing across Puget Sound on a ferry sounds mighty inviting!

Note:  The TSA PreCheck is a pilot program being tested among a small number of airports and travelers.  By the end of the year it is scheduled to be operating at 35 U.S. airports and involve passengers of six airlines. If you want more information about eligibility and participation visit: and for Global Entry

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Global Entry and Pre Check: Ready, Set, Go!

DSCF2425Remember me? I’m the one on whom ‘explosives [were] detected’ during a random check at SeaTac Airport in January.

It was my hand lotion’s glycerin, we think. I now fly high, but dry!

And remember us being held in that ‘secure area’ of Iceland’s Airport after I passed with flying colors the the ‘random security check’ for which, by lucky draw, I’d been selected?

We weren’t alone; nearly three dozen other bewildered passengers bound for the U.S. were not ‘allowed to mingle’ until the plane boarded.

With both those experiences fresh in mind, I was a bit hesitant to apply for the U. S. Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry Program, for international traveler; the one that, in turn, qualifies participants for the T.S.A.’s PreCheck, domestic trusted travelers program.

 ‘Trusted Traveler’  programs

Global Entry is a program that requires completion of an extensive on-line application and payment of $100 application fee. If, following a background check, conditional approval is given, then an in-person interview at a local CBP office is conducted. Fingerprints are taken and processed and photos taken during that interview.

If approved, you use a kiosk when re-entering the United States, rather than waiting in those long lines to get the passport stamped and go through Customs inspection.

PreCheck allows approved passengers, whose backgrounds have been checked, or those in Global Entry, to use check-in security lanes that no longer require removing shoes, belts or jackets and allows leaving laptops and liquids in the bags. Instead of the controversial x-ray machine, travelers walk through a metal detector (like the early days of security).

Pre-Check is being introduced by a select number of airlines, including Alaska Air, the one we regularly fly. A select number of airports are participating in this early stages of the program and many more are slated to participate.

Our story

DSCF1003We completed the application form in early March, paid our fee and waited. By the end of March we’d  received notice of ‘conditional approval’ and set up in-person interviews with CBP officials. In our case, the closest office was at SeaTac Airport. 

In early April we were interviewed; each asked a series of questions, were finger-printed and had photos taken that would appear on an identification card we’d be issued if approved.

The finger prints were apparently ‘run’ while we were there as approval was given to each of us before the meeting was over. We were taught how to use the kiosk. Our ID cards arrived two weeks later.

Does it work?

washington wednesdays 005We used the Global Entry kiosk at San Francisco’s airport when we returned from Mexico. It was a snap – no lines, no wait time. In and done.

We’ll experience PreCheck at SeaTac next week when we head to Phoenix.  For the first time in many years I am looking forward to  check-in.

A Note to Naysayers

There’s been a  lot of critical comments added at the end of on-line media articles about this program. Critics call it a program for the ‘elite’ who can pay for a speedy security experience.  The cost, was $100, good for five years. That’s $20 a year. If you can afford to buy the ticket and other trip costs you likely can shell out an additional $20 a year for ease of check-in.
Some claimed the streamlined check in security isn’t thorough enough.  I can tell you that based on the questionnaire and interviews, our government knows far more about Joel and me now than they did when simply examining our bare feet in the airport x-ray machine. 

The program guidelines also make it clear:  random security checks will be done in this new speedy program just as is done in all check in lines. 

Sigh. We know my luck in being drawn for those random selections. . .

Note:  I’ve included links above that take you to the Global Entry and TSA PreCheck sites if you want to know more about either of these programs.  Are you already participating? Leave a comment and let us know how it is working.


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