Are You A Trusted Traveler?

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Are You a Trusted Traveler?

Medjet Travel Assistance Tip – There have been some changes in how the TSA is handling “trusted travelers” to help make the security screening process a little more efficient — especially if you happen to be a frequent flier.

The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol finalized the Global Entry program this year, which is great news in both concept and — for a change — in execution. This is a voluntary initiative that gets you easier access across the border when you return home to the U.S. by skipping the long lines and instead using touch-screen kiosks in the arrivals area.

There are now more than 30 airports in the U.S. with Global Entry points. To get access, you have to pay a $100 fee and undergo a pretty thorough background check before determining if you’re eligible for a 5-year membership.

But Global Entry membership also comes with a potential TSA bonus: You may also be eligible for the new PreCheck program. The TSA and Department of Homeland Security have already tested it out in seven airports, and are rolling it out to 28 more by the end of 2012. Qualified fliers go through an expedited security line, without having to remove their shoes, belts, coats and laptops.

If you’re a serious frequent flier who has accrued elite status on a loyalty program, you may also be eligible.

One caution: there is, however, a catch:  You won’t know if you’ve been approved until you get to the airport and the TSA checks your boarding pass and I.D. And if you get the green light, then you’re sent to that very desired PreCheck lane. And you also have to remember that even those who are approved may still be subject to random screening.

Now here’s my take: I’m a fan of anything that expedites the screening process and these are steps in the right direction. It’s using common sense in the screening process and letting frequent fliers save time and energy. But the real challenge lies ahead: at what point are there too many “trusted travelers” in this growing and popular program, when the lines for PreCheck will actually be longer than for everyone else?