Sky Harbor Airport program shortens wait time
by Emily Gersema on Mar. 11, 2012, under Arizona Republic News
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has been added to a
federal program that allows passengers who volunteer for extensive
background checks to zip through security screenings.
An exclusive group of travelers is qualified to apply for federal
approval to pass through the shortest security line under the “trusted
traveler” program, Global Entry.
Sky Harbor is among 24 airports with the designation.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the Global Entry
program, has restricted it to international travelers — much to the
dismay of routine domestic travelers such as Louanne Rohe, a
Gilbert-based representative for Dillards.
“We would love that program for domestic flights,” Rohe said. “We fly
so frequently. It would make sense for them to create that program for
Most applicants who pay the $100 fee and fill out the application for
Global Entry are cleared to go through the shorter and faster security
line, federal reports show.
As of last summer, an estimated 148,000 people had been allowed into
the program. They can hustle through security about 7 to 20 minutes
faster than the average traveler, federal records show.
However, around 25 percent of applicants, or around 50,000 people,
were rejected for the program, sending them to the longer lines where
most U.S. travelers await security screening.
Customs officials launched Global Entry to move people through
security more efficiently when they arrive in the United States and
accomplish the agency’s “strategic goal of facilitating legitimate trade
and travel while securing the homeland,” agency officials wrote in
Customs, under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, intends to
create a single passenger processing system that would enable federal
authorities to focus their security concerns on passengers who pose a
threat, such as those who have failed federal background checks.
Customs had limited the program to anyone 14 and older, and required
anyone 14 to 17 years old to have written consent from a parent or
guardian on the application. But it has expanded the program to include
The application is online at www.globalentry.gov
. An applicant also has to pay, through the secure online website, a non-refundable $100 fee with the application form.
Customs will review the application and schedule an interview where
agents collect and scan fingerprints and an identification card such as a
driver’s license or passport, verify any other travel documents, take a
photo of the applicant and collect other biometric information —
characteristics of the person’s appearance.
Authorities then check the applicant’s information against criminal
and government antiterrorism databases with the FBI and other agencies.
Customs sends the applicant an e-mail once its agents have decided to
approve or reject the application.
Even after a traveler is approved for Global Entry, customs officials
said they run periodic checks to ensure nothing has changed in the
traveler’s background that would force them to suspend or remove the
traveler from the program.
Customs said a traveler who is suspended or ousted from the program can contest the decision within 30 days.
Global Entry is meant for international travelers, including U.S.
residents and citizens who frequently fly abroad. Customs also has
negotiated with Mexico an agreement that ensures any traveler approved
for Global Entry can participate in Mexico’s version of the program as
soon as it is in place.
Mexican nationals also can participate in Global Entry. In addition
to undergoing a U.S. background check, they are subject to a background
check by Mexican authorities.