B. at the Met.
The last time I flew back into the U.S.A. from outside the country was in 2017. I drove back in from Mexico earlier this year but the border crossing in a car wasn't anywhere near the ordeal that coming back home on a plane was.
In the airport in Toronto there were long lines to clear customs and many delays. It seemed unusual to me since I was definitely not traveling during a peak travel season.
I've also noticed many more delays and clogs when going through security for domestic flights as well. I usually get the TSA PreCheck on my tickets though I've never signed up for the program and that's a great help but often my kid will barely make a plane because of the regular lines for airport security and that's even if he arrives an hour or two before his flight. It may be that Austin-Bergstrom airport is just getting relentlessly busier and this is part of the overall growth pains of living in a bursting city.
At any rate, I seem to be racking up travel commitments left and right. I have the workshop in Iceland coming up in late October thru early November, followed by another workshop in the U.K. the first week and a half of December. Before I go off on those fun trips though I have four or five travel days to the east coast in the last two weeks of October. That's a lot of climbing on an off planes but it's also potentially a lot of standing in TSA security lines and taking shoes off and putting them back on again.
I can't complain because the work is great and the workshops have the promise of being incredibly fun. But I've decided that I need to make the airport/Kirk interface more efficient so, after much research I decided to apply for a program called Global Entry that's run by the Customs and Boarder Security Agency. Once you sign up, have a background check and a face to face interview, turn over your fingerprints, Oh, and pre-pay a non-refundable $100 application fee you might get approved. The agency is very clear that there's no guarantee and if you don't get approved you aren't getting your $100 back. Tough love.
But...if you do pass the background check and all the screening you become a member of this program called Global Entry which makes you a "trusted traveler" and allows you to skirt customs and get into the country in an express lane at immigration. The bonus is that the same program and fee also provides the TSA PreCheck benefit. You get to go through the short line and forgo the privilege of taking off your belt and your shoes!
So, I started the process online and filled in all the blanks. I've had the same job for 32 years with the same employer (that would be me...) and I've lived in the same house for 22 years. I have never been arrested or investigated or implicated. I'm like a darn Boy Scout. I thought the whole thing would be a slam dunk but there's always a catch. The catch here is the backlog. It's either a very popular program or one supplied with meager resources.
I'm told by the website that I should have a conditional answer within 3-4 weeks and then I'll need to schedule the face to face interview, for which there are no more open slots anywhere in the Southwest U.S. for the rest of the year. Interesting conundrum, yes? As a person with an overwhelming sense of entitlement I immediately queried whether or not I could expedite the process by paying more but that doesn't seem to be an option.
I guess I'll just have to wait out the process and use the new privileges when, and if, they become available.
I'm writing this to ask if you have applied or used the program and to hear/read your responses about it. Can you please share your actual experiences with me? It would be much appreciated. In the interim I'll head over to the DMV to practice my waiting skills.........