Friday, April 24, 2015

Simplifying Flying

Earlier this month, I found myself airside at Japan's Fukuoka Airport. 13 minutes earlier I was boarding the subway downtown.

In those 13 minutes I rode the train two stations to the airport, walked up two levels to Departures, and cleared Security. I had almost an hour before boarding the plane, plenty time for a relaxed breakfast.

Security was efficient. Travelers ahead of me had their phones out for the boarding pass scanner, and they placed their bags on the belt without fuss. With domestic flights in Japan there's no need to unpack liquids, or remove shoes or jackets.

This rapid process contrasted with the snaking Border Control line later that day at Chicago's O'Hare.

When I got home I took steps to replicate the Fukuoka Airport Security experience here in the USA. As a bonus, I no longer need to stand in USA Border Control lines.

I applied online for Global Entry. Yesterday, a Customs Border Protection officer asked me reasonable questions and captured some biometrics.

In future, when entering the USA, I will head to an automated Global Entry kiosk, and bypass the Border Control line.

Global Entry also entitles me to TSA Pre which speeds up the domestic airport security process. I won't have to extricate a bag of liquids from my pack, and I won't have to remove my shoes, belt and jacket. Plus, many airports have dedicated lines and screening equipment.

I can't always avoid queuing. The picture at the top of this post shows my flight from Tokyo Narita to Chicago O'Hare earlier this month. Blame the flight path on a thunderstorm and the vagaries of a congested airport.

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