Sunday, September 23, 2012

TSA Pre and CBP Global Entry

A Little Bit of Sanity and Dignity Returns

About a year ago I got a note from my favorite airline telling me they had nominated me for acceptance in TSA's new Pre program. I had no real idea what that was. So I googled it.

I found out that TSA was introducing a trusted traveler program. Since, I once belonged to the short lived "Clear" program in the US and have observed the efficient trusted traveler programs in other countries (like the fully automated walk-through one at Narita Airport), it was welcome news.

Well Pre has arrived at Sky Harbor!

Here is my new screening process:
1. No sir, leave your shoes on. Awesome!
2. No sir, leave your laptop in the bag. Huh?
3. Rapiscan? No sir, no Rapiscan for you. Just walk through the old fashioned metal detecter. Yes!
4. Have a great flight! I will!

Let me count the ways I love Pre: 1, 2, 3, 4.

I especially like the avoidance of the backscatter since I'm one of those dweebs who "opts out."

Yep, I'd prefer to have someone touch my junk than be x-rayed by a Rapiscan backscatter device.

Here's why..... 

Next time you go to your favorite airport notice that airline and airport staff (who pass through security checkpoints frequently) are ALWAYS waived around the backscatters by TSA. Similarly, notice that children and their moms are ALWAYS waived around the backscatters by TSA.

If these devices are so safe why don't pilots, fight attendants, baggage handlers, kids and moms go through them too?

To make the situation worse, it sure seems like recent air related problems have frequently been the product of disgruntled employees.....

Who were waived past the Rapiscans. 

And while we are at it, another factoid. Rapiscan type backscatters could not win approval for use in the European Union.

An finally (the best part!) the decision to use Rapsican products was made largely by the emphatic endorsement of former Homeland Safety Director Michael Chertoff.

Since Mr. Chertoff "retired" as Director of Homeland Safety he became the Rapiscan Corporation's highest paid DC lobbyist!

So, I opt out.

Where is Pre?
Pre is only available in certain airports and at certain checkpoints. And, properly, Pre members may still be randomly selected for full screening (I'm totally cool with that).

Frankly, I'd prefer to see those increasingly cranky flight crews get sent more often to full screening.

Either way, a little measure of Roadboy's self esteem and dignity have been returned.

CBP Global Entry
Well, I was so impressed with Pre I decided to apply for the similar program offered by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) called Global Entry. Once approved for Global Entry, you by-pass customs lines instead going to a kiosk that verifies your status and allows for expedited re-entry.

But, after going through the inane application process I concluded that unless you travel internationally a lot Global Entry may not worth the effort.

Here's why....

The on-line application process is a minor nightmare. First, you set up an account with CBP. Then you proceed to answer a very detailed (and unnecessarily confusing) questionnaire (make sure you have your passport handy when you complete the questionnaire.)

The CBP website is annoyingly cluttered and very confusing. Actually, it is beyond confusing, it is downright cryptic. Whoever created it should be sent to Singapore for caning.

Here's the best part. Only after you successfully complete the tedious questionnaire, are you informed of the $100 "application fee" and requirement to schedule an in-person interview with CBP.

Anyway, I'm trying to decide if it is worth it for the four or five times a year I re-enter the US. I understand it is good for 5 years.  Hmmmm. Do I get the pass or keep my $100 and wait in line?

Roadboy's Travels © 2012

No comments: