If you’re looking to speed through security on your next business trip, the U.S. government has implemented a few ideas that could save you time, paperwork and stress – and, you can keep your shoes on.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection implemented the Global Entry program in 2008, a pass that expedites the customs declarations process, as well as security screening. It’s proved popular among leisure and business travelers alike. But what effect does Global Entry have on globetrotting road warriors, and is the program too good to be true?
How Global Entry works
The Global Entry program is most beneficial for business travelers who travel internationally several times per year. Applicants must apply online and, once approved, the program automatically rolls you into TSA PreCheck – a Trusted Traveler program that speeds you through security, but only if you’re flying American or Delta (more carriers are in the works to join the club).
“In my experience, Global Entry is most helpful when you’re returning to the United States and you need to make a domestic connection,” says Chris Juneau, Concur’s senior director for marketing in the Asia-Pacific region. “I appreciate zipping through immigration, picking up my bags and heading home quicker than anyone else on the flight.”
For the Global Entry pass, simply pay a $100 fee, submit to background checks, and offer up a slew of personal data: your address, employment status, driver’s license, passport and travel history, and possibly your birth certificate. Once your application is approved, you’ll have an in-person interview with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent, who will take your photo and fingerprints.
Sound like a lot to share?
Apprehension about privacy
There’s been some concern from travelers and public interest groups that sharing so much personal information with the government compromises travelers’ civil liberties. Washington, D.C.’s Electronic Privacy Information Center, a research organization, worries about who has access to the information, and whether Global Entry satisfies fair information practices.
The New York Times also reported the group was worried “criminals with records could potentially collaborate with Trusted Travelers who do not have previous ties to terrorism.” They are valid concerns, despite the rigor that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has built into the screening process.
Incentives on the rise
It’s worth noting that Global Entry’s popularity isn’t tied to the terminal. In September, Loews Hotels & Resorts announced it would pay the $100 Global Entry application fee for its platinum level YouFirst Platinum loyalty rewards members (about 2,500) – if they applied by November 23.
“We are doing everything we can to partner up with as many of these entities that will facilitate our growth of this very important program,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection deputy commissioner David Aguilar told Business Travel News. “We have our officers going out and recruiting within the travel industry – not only the hotels, but anything affiliated in the travel industry.”
Loews is the first hotel company in the United States to do so – but given the efforts of the government to incentivize Global Entry, it’s probably not the last.
While the concerns about privacy may linger, the overall benefits to Global Entry remain strong. Frequent overseas road warriors applaud the program for its efficiency and convenience at international hubs around the United States, and the positive buzz is likely to attract thousands more business travelers to participate.
What do you think of the Global Entry program? Let us know about your experience below, or Tweet us @Concur.