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Global Entry tips: How to avoid waiting for an interview and get TSA PreCheck on your boarding passes

April 08, 2022
5 min read
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As we wrote about earlier this week, travelers should expect to continue to see airports booked and busy as we head into the start of the summer travel season.

This is an inevitable conundrum for travelers, which is why I am dedicating this week to answering your questions about the practical ways we can ease the pain points you experience at airports.

One option is to consider using TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, two expedited security programs administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, ie the government.

If you've been reading this column since its origin last year, you know that I've covered this subject before and if you are new here, start by reading my previous columns on these and the other Trusted Traveler Programs:

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Known Traveler Number

KTNs are used for TSA PreCheck only

When booking an online airline reservation, you'll see a field asking for your Known Traveler Number.

This number is provided to all individuals who have been approved to use TSA PreCheck, which is an expedited screening lane available at 200-plus U.S. airports for so-called "low-risk" travelers.

The only way to get access to the TSA Pre lane is by providing your KTN to your airline at the time of booking.

How to enter your KTN

"The KTN must be added in the KTN field when booking airline travel reservations to have the TSA PreCheck® indicator appear on your boarding pass," per DHS.

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It seems simple enough but some airlines, such as Southwest, hide the request for your KTN under "Secure traveler information," as indicated below.

(Screenshot courtesy of Southwest Airlines)

Other carriers, such as American, ask for it in plain sight.

(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines)

To make sure you are entering the correct KTN when requested, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) says to verify it has the following:

  • 9 digits.
  • A combination of numbers and letters.
  • Begins with TT.

Look for the green checkmark

Once you check in for your flight, don't assume you automatically have TSA Pre just because you are a member. You need to make sure the green TSA Pre checkmark is displayed on your boarding pass, like I've shown below.

(Screenshot courtesy of Caroline Tanner/The Points Guy)

Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck

Applying for Global Entry automatically extends PreCheck membership

Many travelers, such as myself, heard about TSA PreCheck for the first time long before learning about Global Entry, which means I was unaware that a Global Entry membership includes access to TSA PreCheck.

As a result, current TSA Pre holders who apply for Global Entry can assume that their TSA Pre membership will be extended for another five years from the date they obtain Global Entry.

A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) PreCheck sign is displayed as travelers carry baggage through a security checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Backlog of Global Entry applicants

Consider Enrollment on Arrival

If you have been conditionally approved for Global Entry but still need to complete the interview portion of the application/renewal process, you, unfortunately, cannot use the Global Entry kiosk at the airport until doing so.

Delays in processing for TTPs across the board have resulted from the TTP enrollment centers being closed at various times throughout the past two years, including for Global Entry renewals and new applicants.

There is good news though for GE applicants specifically, as this group may complete the interview portion via something called Enrollment on Arrival, which allows you to interview when you come back to the U.S. from abroad. This service is available at 66 airports and is done as part of the immigration and customs process.

Scheduling an appointment this way will yield the fastest results for conditionally approved travelers hoping to complete the GE application process.

Unlike passport services, there is no extra fee you can pay to expedite your application.

(Screenshot courtesy of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security)

Have a question for next week? Email me at caroline.tanner@thepointsguy.com or tips@thepointsguy.com.

Featured image by AFP via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023