Travel: USA Security (TSA) and Customs

This email is for USA citizens who do some traveling abroad—and the USA—based upon my recent trip to Israel.

Because we travel a bit overseas and upon reentry, to the USA we often face long lines for Passport Control and then USA Customs and then (sometimes) TSA Security before boarding a connecting flight, I thought I would share my impressions.

Because of long lines (see above) we decided to apply for Global Entry (it includes TSA PreCheck).  The online application was straight forward but because the next (required) interview here in Minneapolis was SEVEN months in the future we actually had our interview in Milwaukee while on a visit to relatives there.

Departure from the USA.  At the Minneapolis airport (MSP) the TSA PreCheck went fine (did not need to open my bags, but did need to empty pockets and remove jacket).  For my transfer in Newark (ERW) departing for Israel, there was no extra security check.

On the way back home this is where it became interesting.  At Newark, using Global Entry at passport control (entry to the USA) was a breeze.  There was no waiting, a machine scanned my face to see that it was really me, and then printed out an entry/customs pass.  This was checked by a person as I exited.  I walked directly to the baggage claim.  BUT by the time that the baggage arrived the people who did not have Global Entry were already there as well—and so I don’t know what I really gained timewise with Global Entry.

With my customs pass in hand, I walked out of the baggage claim area in a special Global Entry line, but it did not seem much quicker than the normal exit line.

After rechecking my luggage to MSP I began the TSA Security check.  Based upon the signs at Newark, the TSA PreCheck line that I was in, had a 10 t0 15-minute wait—a lot of people evidently have TSA PreCheck!  The normal TSA Security line was 15 to 20 minutes.  This did not seem like a big time-saver to me.

BUT, the “Clear” line for the Security Check was almost empty!

Based upon one experience, it almost seems to me that it might be better to get a “Clear” pass rather than a Global Entry one.  If I were traveling more in the USA and making many connections, I think the “Clear Pass” would be the way to go (but it really looks pricey)

The Global Entry pass costs $100 for 5 years.

The CLEAR pass costs $179 for 12 months (pricey).

4 responses to “Travel: USA Security (TSA) and Customs

  1. margaretlouisereeder

    Thanks for update. AARP had a website to go to for Global Entry. After completing forms they wanted $179 plus there would be the interview and another $100 so I decided not to do it. But I don’t mind $100. What site did you use?

    Margaret Reeder Sent from my iPhone


  2. Thanks for this practical post, Carl. We’ve used and enjoyed Global Entry for a few years, and especially the TSA Pre-Check that comes with it for domestic travel. As far as the Clear cost, if you have a Delta or United frequent flier membership, there is a discount that brings the cost for two people under $200 total. I wish all airports used Clear, but they don’t– and the airports that do use it don’t offer it at all security checkpoints and terminals. Thanks again.

  3. David Maltsberger

    I’ve used GOES for 5 years now, returning to my ports from Israel, Jordan, Turkey, and various sites in Europe. It all depends on where you enter the US. At JFK, for example, it really helps to speed you through. Same for Chicago and DFW. Other locations, it doesn’t help that much. The advent of the new self-serve kiosks for all travelers (GOES or not) at some ports of entry will speed up all arrivals. I just renewed my GOES since I feel it helps in most instances.

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