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 U.S. government (and some foreign governments as well, like Holland) has introduced the Global Entry Program. U.S. 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 website:
<a href=”https://goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov/” target=”_blank”>https://goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov/</a>
After the completion of the process, there will be a one-time CBP interview.
However, once it’s 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 kiosks, and zoom down to luggage claim.
Similarly, in Houston IAH, international travelers who are U.S. citizens and have no checked luggage can go through the lines used by pilots and flight attendants for faster processing.
This process can be used by anyone, but because of the lengthy process to get into the program, it is probably feasible for frequent business travelers only. The travelers also get expedited check-in kiosks at other participating countries, as well. As more countries sign on, the price may come down.
There is a chance that 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 Southwest airlines are 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?
Annie Banerjee, J.D.