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Global Entry: Tips for those seeking Trusted Traveler status

June 03, 2013|By Catharine M. Hamm
  • You need a passport to apply for Global Entry (of course), but it also allows you, if you're accepted, to get through domestic security at select airports more easily.
You need a passport to apply for Global Entry (of course), but it also allows… (Catharine M. Hamm / Los Angeles…)

The interview for admittance into the Global Entry program was Monday (today) at the LAX Customs and Border Protection office. I learned some things that might help you if you hope to become a Trusted Traveler, especially about where, exactly, that Customs and Border office is, so keep reading.

Previous blog posts have detailed some of the steps to getting into the program, which allows you to whisk through the Customs process when you return to the country. My goal, though, is to speed through airport security, which is a related benefit.

The Customs officer asked about my understanding of the program. I told her of my primary goal — faster trips through airport security. That’s the Transportation Security Administration, she reminded me, not Customs, noting that TSA had piggybacked on the Global Entry program. 

She also reminded me that having that Trusted Traveler status doesn’t automatically get you through security faster, just as being a PreCheck member doesn’t guarantee it. The unpredictability is part of security.

She gave me a bookmark-size info sheet that also alerted me to what reader Sarah Patterson, who has had Global Entry for some time, told me in an email: You aren’t done with the process when the process is done--at least, when it comes to the PreCheck-like benefits. 

“You have to register with each individual airline too, or it doesn't appear on your boarding pass,” Patterson said.

Here’s what the Global Entry info sheet says: “Global Entry members who want to participate in TSA PreCheck will need to provide their nine-digital Trusted Traveler member number (PASS ID) when booking travel. The PASS ID can be found on the back of your Global Entry membership card (in the top left corner of your card) or in your Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) account.”

The Customs officer took my fingerprints, asked me some questions (whether I’ve been arrested—haven’t — whether I’ve ever had something agricultural seized coming back into the country — haven’t — and so on) and showed me how the kiosk works. (It wasn’t working right, but I got the idea).

She pointed out something I also didn't know: A little pamphlet (the one with the yellow highlighter in the above photo) says the Global Entry cards “serve as valid documents for land and sea travel between the
U.S., Canada and Mexico.” It allows you to use “the SENTRI lanes at land-border crossing with Mexico” and  "NEXUS lanes with U.S.-Canada land border crossings.”

That’s a bonus.

Finally, she reminded me that Global Entry would be revoked if I were arrested. “So just don’t get arrested,” she said with a smile. I’m not planning on it.

The card is supposed to arrive in a week. I’m unclear whether I can retroactively input that number for an upcoming trip so I can speed through security. I’ll let you know.

One final note, and this is important if you are planning to enroll in Global Entry and have an interview scheduled at LAX: The Customs and Border office is, according to the letter that told me I had been conditionally approved, at 380 World Way.

Answer this quickly: Do you know where that is? I didn’t. It’s the Tom Bradley International Terminal. Go in the door for departures. My confusion over that plus traffic helped make me late, but Customs was understanding and kind: “Things happen,” the officer told me. “We understand that.” Bless their socks.

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