$100 to Fly Through the Airport
Now this is really useful. Susan and I signed up a couple of years ago for Global Entry, which allows you to bypass the immigration line whenever you fly into the U.S. (at all major airports anyway). We've skipped very long lines (often after very long, tiring flights) on many occasions. You just go up to a kiosk, put your fingers on it, touch a few buttons, in less than 30 seconds it spits out a card, and you're on your way to baggage claim. Even if you only fly internationally once or twice a year, it's worth it (it's only $100 for five years; if you have a platinum Amex, it covers this cost). The only downside is that kids can't get it, so if you're traveling with any, it doesn't help (though it might be useful for one adult to sail through to pick up bags or a car).
Now, TSA has created a program to zoom through regular security as well, whether you're flying domestically or internationally – and if you're a Global Entry member, you're automatically enrolled, so this makes it a no-brainer to sign up for Global Entry… You get to go through a special, shorter line, can keep your shoes, belt and jacket on, leave laptops and liquids in carry-on bags, and walk through a metal detector rather than a full-body scan. For more details, see the WSJ article below.
It's only at two airports each for American and Delta right now (none NYC; see http://blog.tsa.gov/2011/10/how-to-sign-up-to-participate-in-tsa.html), but it's rolling out quickly – and it takes a while to get approved for Global Entry (you can apply at: https://goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov/main/goes; if they approve you, you must do a 20-min in-person interview at an airport).
- THE MIDDLE SEAT
- Updated March 15, 2012, 9:30 a.m. ET