Over the years, the Department of Homeland Security has introduced a couple of programs to make waiting in queues at U.S. airports a little less painful. No real need to go into their details because if you’re reading this piece, I’ll assume you’re already familiar with both. But suffice to say that Global Entry and TSA PreCheck have been, if not lifesavers, at least time savers for millions of weary travelers.
Getting TSA PreCheck is a relatively simple process:
- Fill out the application online and pay the $78 application fee (I still can’t believe the price actually WENT DOWN!)
- Schedule your appointment for in-person enrollment
- Do said enrollment (it’s mainly just fingerprinting for a background check)
- Get your Known Traveler Number (KTN)
And BOOM, you have TSA PreCheck! According to the TSA, most applicants receive their KTN in 3-5 days after their fingerprinting (TSA admits some applications can take up to 60 days but that appears to be the exception, not the rule).
Global Entry is a more complicated process:
- Create a Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) account online
- Log in to your TTP account, complete the application and pay $100
- Wait for your application to be conditionally approved
- Once conditionally approved, set up an interview
- Find out if you’ve been approved or not
Global Entry takes more time (much, much more time) to complete because it can be difficult to find an interview appointment time (although there are all sorts of ways to expedite that). They are MAJORLY backlogged. They were backlogged before the pandemic, and now, between so many more people applying, and fewer people working at DHS, it’s just that much worse since.
Remember though, that one of the perks of Global Entry status is that you also get TSA PreCheck status for free. It makes sense – they’re already doing the heavy-duty vetting for Global Entry, which is just as applicable for TSA PreCheck. So instead of having to pay $100 for Global Entry and $78 for PreCheck, you got both for $100. Good deal.
And that leads to the big question:
If you already have conditional approval for Global Entry, is that “good enough” to be able to go on the PreCheck queue?
You would think so, since TSA PreCheck doesn’t require an interview. Unfortunately, the answer is a solid NO.
Remember, in order to go on the TSA PreCheck queue, you have to have a KTN. You have to give the airlines your KTN at some point before you fly, in order for “PreCheck” to be marked on your boarding pass (that number is your golden ticket to the PreCheck line). And unfortunately, you won’t get a KTN via Global Entry until the whole process – including your interview – is complete.
So I have to just sit and WAIT?
As we mentioned earlier, there are ways to expedite getting an interview.
And if you’re that interested in getting TSA PreCheck in the interim of waiting for your Global Entry application/interview to be completed, you can always apply for PreChek separately. But it’ll still cost you that extra $78.
I know…the whole situation stinks. But it is what it is. Good luck!
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