Although I am not going anywhere, as summer rolls along, visions of distant lands dance in my head. However, that vision is marred by long lines at the airports— getting your luggage checked, getting into a plane with carry on bags and no overhead place, and finally the immigration and customs line ups.
This year, for a fee, the Government and even some airlines are helping to ease that pain.
The US Government, (and some foreign Government as well like Holland) has introduced the Global Entry Program. US Citizens over the age of 14 can pay a fee of $100/- (valid for 5 years) and enroll in the program. They have to enter their data in the following web site:
After the completion of the process, there will be a one time only CBP interview.
However, once its complete, you do not need to stand in any immigration line. There are kiosks in most major airports. The traveler has to scan in their passport at airport kisoks, and zoom down to luggage claim.
Similarly, in Houston IAH, international travelers who are US Citizens and has no checked luggage, can go through the lines used by pilots and air hostesses for faster processing.
This process can be used by anyone, but because of the lengthy process to get into the program, its probably feasible for frequent business travelers only. The travelers also get expedited check in in kiosks of other participating countries as well. As more countries sign on, the price may come down. Or this may simply become a requirement for foreign travel in the future. It will save money on personnel for countries participating in this program.
Additionally, some airlines are also letting passengers cut in line for boarding the plane or for checking in for a fee. Both American and South West is going to be offering this perk for a fee ranging from $10/- to $50/- per ticket.
This will be the future of travel, in a world increasingly short for time. But then, in this world, will there even be time for vacations?