The Global Entry Program
We travel quite a bit, and my husband travels even more than the rest of the family. Since he has a Muslim name, he used to have trouble getting through security. It nearly caused us to miss flights more than a few times. When they started the global entry program, he was one of the first to sign up. He's found that it saves time in most cases and has been happy with his $100 investment.
The only problem for him is that Omar and I didn't have our names on the program, so every time he travels with us, he can't use the global entry line, and he has to wait in a long line with us to go through customs. Finally it became a hassle this summer, so I applied for the program and can say happily that Omar and I are on the program as of today.
It's fairly easy if you already have a passport. There's a global entry website where you create an account and then answer some questions. You have to pay $100 whether they approve you or not. They review your information and update the website, notifying you by e-mail that you have to set up an interview. In Wisconsin, there is no interview location, so we had to go to O'Hare airport's international terminal today for an interview. It was really easy to do. We showed up with passports in hand. He scanned our fingerprints and took a photo. It took maybe 20 minutes for both of us. Now we each have a "trusted traveler number" that we can use when making an airline reservation so the airline will know we are already prescreened. It should make things go faster. Then when we go to security within the US, we can go in a line that is reserved for people on the program. Again, it should save time. And finally when we've been flying internationally, upon our return to a US airport, we enter a line with machines (they call them kiosks) where you can scan your passport and fingerprints, then you declare any goods you might have and walk through.
Of course, it's not a perfect system. More and more people are coming on board so the lines aren't as short as they used to be. Traveling and the additional security measures that go along with it are a hassle for sure. We are just hoping that this makes it a bit easier for all of us. If you travel more than 3 times in a year, this may be worth it for you too. Go check out the FAQs for more information.