My most frustratingly enlightening travel moment ever…

I damn near lost it a few a minutes ago. I’m traveling with a friend that’s on exactly the same routing. As we approach the TSA checkpoint at JFK my friend gets selected for TSA Pre-Check, while I don’t.

Let’s step back for a second. I was thrilled when TSA announced the Pre-Check program a while back, whereby certain travelers could use a special lane where they don’t have to take their shoes off, don’t have to remove the liquids and laptops from their bags, and go through a metal detector instead of a full body scanner. Basically it’s the opportunity to experience pre-9/11 security once again. My frustration has been that in over a dozen transits at Pre-Check airports I haven’t once been selected for the Pre-Check line.

I chalked it up to bad luck, strange itineraries, etc. But today after going through security with a friend on the same itinerary and seeing him selected for Pre-Check while I wasn’t, I nearly lost it. Actually, I think there was cartoon style steam coming out of my ears as he stood on the other side of the checkpoint taunting me.

So when we got to the Flagship Lounge he suggested he look at my profile to make sure I had my info loaded in there correctly. I responded with “how stupid do I look?” though I reluctantly agreed.

He logged into my profile and saw everything looked correct, though asked to see my Global Entry card just to make sure the number looked correct. Again, I responded with “how stupid do I look?”

Well, as it turns out I had the wrong Global Entry number in my profile all along. Instead of using the number on the left side of the card, I had entered the number on the top right of the card.

At least I rest well knowing this is the same friend that lost his passport on a trip… twice. Makes me feel just a little bit less stupid (or at least makes me feel like I’m in good company).

Comments

  1. Is getting a Global Entry card standard? I’m in Global Entry but don’t remember getting any type of card. I got a sticker on the back of my passport, but even that is “optional” from what I was told.

  2. @ Mark — I have several friends I travel with.

    @ Scott — Yep, you should get it in the mail a few weeks after you’re accepted, to the best of my knowledge.

  3. @Scott: I didn’t get a sticker at all when I passed my GOES interview a couple of weeks ago. I did get the card in the mail though.

    It seems like there isn’t much of a pattern to who gets what!

  4. Ya, I wonder if something changed. I enrolled in Global Entry Aug/2011, so it may have changed before that. I went the the site and the card is an extra $15 fee. I ended up paying with my AmEx Plat just to see if the fee gets reimbursed. 🙂

  5. They didn’t used to issue a Global Entry card, but in July 2011 they began issuing them to all newly approved members. If you were approved for GE before that point you can order one online, unless you have NEXUS. If you have NEXUS you cannot order a GE card and don’t need one, as GE cards are basically NEXUS-lite, including the American benefits but not the Canadian benefits.

  6. are you talking about the 9 digit Customs and Border Protection ID in the AA.com profile? I dont seem to see anywhere that has the TSA expedited screening program (known passenger) graphic you’re referring to

  7. This has confused me too. My Global Entry card has no number on the front, but two on the back: one in the upper left and one in the upper right. The one in the upper left is called “PASSID” and is nine digits, plus, following a space, two capital letters and three more digits.

    Is the number that needs to be submitted? Is it the full number (including the two capital letters and three digits after the space) or just the first nine digits?

    AA’s TSA Pre-Check website is of zero help in figuring this out.

  8. @ Jeff — It only displays that once you’ve entered the number.

    @ Ryan — It’s the number on the back at the top left you want to enter.

  9. If you are a NEXUS member you can update your GOES user account to use the GE kiosk. The only difference is you have to answer all the questions at a GE kiosk, no iris scan and you have to scan your passport. But at least having NEXUS is much cheaper than a GE account. 😉

  10. “Basically it’s the opportunity to experience pre-9/11 security once again.” – Lucky

    Does anybody who was traveling on a commercial airline as part of the general public before 9-11 remember being invited to hand over all sorts of personal security clearance information in exchange for a card that may (or may not) allow you to avoid mandatory x-rays or groping?

    Because I sure don’t.

  11. I have GE – but there is nowhere on the site to update it with my new passport number and trying to follow the instructions from Scott above, nowhere to request a Global Entry card.

    When I try to call GE – they tell me I need to appear in person to change my passport number which is false.

  12. Lucky:
    is there a delay before that Known Passenger graphic shows up? I’m not getting it either…

  13. I hear you on this, Lucky. For a long time, there was NOWHERE online that indicated which GE number you needed to use. There are four different numbers on the back of the GE card. I played trial and error until I got it right (on the third try). Pretty annoying at the time.
    At this point the info on the TSA site, but it still isn’t even *that* clear; yeah, it says use your PASSID, but do I include those five characters to the right of my PASSID?
    Pretty sad that I think the only place I’ve seen it spelled out definitively (i.e. “enter your nine-digit PASSID”) is actually on US’s website.

  14. @BrewerSEA
    You don’t know what you’re talking about.
    Get your facts correct beforehand.

  15. Situation doesn’t apply to me, but its a nice made-me-laugh post. Thanks for being candid in your posts.

  16. @Sam

    Please feel free to correct any inaccuracies you think I’ve posted. I feel I am quite well informed about this subject.

  17. Good to know.

    Just got approved for Global Entry and I have my card coming in the mail soon. Will make sure to keep that in mind.

  18. But remember, PreCheck still has random times that you are stuck going thru the crappy big line just to make sure you are still not a crazy person. The little machine chooses you about 1 from every 1o times. From the TSA site:
    TSA will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures throughout the airport and no individual will be guaranteed expedited screening in order to retain a certain element of randomness to prevent terrorists from gaming the system.

  19. Thank for this little tale. I have been wondering why I kept having problems with getting the expedited TSA line. I had the wrong number in my AA profile. Hopefully this will have me whizzing through security the next time I fly.

  20. @Sam
    The GE Card program was officially launched in July 2011. Not sure it you’re misremembering or they sent a small number out as a pilot program.

    “Global Entry members who were approved for the program prior to July 12, 2011 and wish to obtain a RFID card may request one via their Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) account for a $15 fee.”

  21. I didn’t know about the card. My wife is going for her interview about 5 days before we leave. I heard approval happened right at the end of the interview.

    Will she be able to use it without the card?

  22. @beachfan – Nope you don’t need the card (never had it this entire time and never had an issue with Immigration or Pre-Entry checks). Not sure if I’ll even keep the GE card in my wallet, but figured I would order it nonetheless. My approval was instant, although for TSA pre-check you will need to register with your airline, because the code to access pre-check must be embedded within the bar code of the boarding pass.

  23. Does anyone know if US Airways or United have the TSA pre-check yet? Is this only for Delta and AA only???

  24. Wow, I placed the order for the Global Entry card on 5/21, and received it in the mail today on 5/24! Talk about a quick turnaround! 🙂

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