By now you’ve heard about my recent trip to Ireland, and in this column I want to give a shout out to TSA. I haven’t always been supportive of TSA as the shakedown of grannies and five year old kiddies seemed a bit much, but my experience with TSA over recent months has been nothing but positive. They’ve really sped up the process at Hotlanta’s airport.
TSA is something that you might get for “free” with certain airline privileges, or you can make sure by paying $85 for a TSA Pre-Check certification. Then there is something called Global Entry. It’s not TSA Pre-Check, but it gets you that as a result.
TSA created Pre-Check as a way of moving people faster. It’s sort of a pre-qualification application. They fingerprint you, do some basic background and charge you a fee of $85 for a five year TSA card. Once cleared by TSA, getting TSA Pre-Check moves you through security far faster than those normal folks who don’t have Pre-Check.
Pre-check usually, but not always, means that you don’t have to take off your shoes, or light jacket, you can leave your computer in your bag, you can wear your hat, etc. as you go through security checkpoints. It’s just a lot faster.
Global Entry cost $100, takes a couple of months to obtain, and requires an interview at the Atlanta airport. It’s good for five years, but it does a lot of good things. If you are leaving the country, Global Entry comes in real handy when you get expedited processing at the customs entry office of the country you are entering, or leaving. You don’t need to file out that silly little customs form on the plane, you get to bypass the lines and with a simple finger swipe, and you’re admitted through customs. Plus, you’ve got a card that makes you feel special, and since few have heard of it, it makes others think you are special. We all want to be special.
Now, to get a Global Entry, you have to have a passport. You can get one of those at the good ol’ United States Post Office and some other places, including in some cases libraries. The cost is $110 and is good for 10 years. Certain documents are required to get a passport, like birth certificates, government issued identification and a passport photo. Y’all are pretty smart and can figure all this out yourself, but just a reminder that you now need a passport to leave and enter the U.S., even on most cruise lines now.
One last thing, even with Global Entry, a passport and TSA Pre-Check, they frown upon bringing back a pretty rock from Ireland, especially when it is in carry-on baggage.