Traveling with Global Entry and TSA Precheck

plane3Even though I am British by birth, I am not found of queues, aka standing in line. So when I heard about Global Entry, the preclearance program that sends you to the front of the U.S. Customs line when you return from abroad, I signed up right away. And now that you can use your Global Entry Trusted Traveler number to join the TSA Precheck program, I couldn’t be happier.

Signing up for Global Entry requires a little effort and $100, but it’s worth it. You start by going to this website, filling out an application and paying the nonrefundable $100 fee. Your application is reviewed and if everything looks right, you get an email prompting you to go to the nearest Global Entry Enrollment Centers, usually at your local airport. You go in, chat with a customs officer briefly, give them your fingerprints and get your photograph taken. A week or so later your card is mailed to you and it’s good for five years.

For international travel, having the card means you don’t have to fill out the customs form on the airplane or wait in the often long line at U.S. Customs. Instead, you head straight for one of the Global Entry kiosks, insert your passport, picture page open, into the reader and follow the instructions on the screen. You’ll be asked the same questions that are on the printed form, but just have to touch the screen to answer yes or no. This is timed, so don’t take all day about it. Not all airports have Global Entry kiosks, but most of the big hubs are getting them, which is where lines tend to be a problem anyway.

Pro tip: You have to place your fingers on a glass panel to prove you are the owner of the correct set of fingerprints. Try laying your fingers flat rather than pushing down on the tips; that can warp the sworls. (Sometimes the machines act up, as machines are wont to do. In this case, you have the right to go to the head of a line, although make eye contact and wait for the officer to wave you on if you don’t want to start a small riot.) When things work right, you get a printed receipt which you show to whoever’s monitoring the exit line at passport control, get it checked, and then either pick up your bags at Baggage Claim, or, if you have just carry-on luggage, proceed to Customs, following the “Nothing to Declare,” sign, unless of course you do. There’s usually a dedicated line marked “Global Entry,” you go there and hand your printed receipt to the officer and that’s it.

For the TSA Precheck advantage,  you need to enter your Trusted Traveler number when making reservations. This number is on your Global Entry card. Also check your frequent flier programs, many will let you enter this number into your profile which is convenient. Make sure your boarding pass has the designation “TSA Precheck” on it and when you present this and your ID to the control officer at the front of the security line you’ll be directed to the Precheck line. Having this clearance means you can keep on most shoes, light coat, belt, and you don’t have to take your laptop and 3-ounce liquids out of your carry-on. I did this for the first time recently and it is so, so much less hassle than having to half-strip and then hurriedly get dressed at the other end, all the while keeping an eye on your iPad to make sure it doesn’t go, shall we say, astray.

If you don’t have a Global Entry number you can apply directly to the TSA here.

A few other countries are accepting Global Entry as a Customs shortcut including New Zealand. You can also apply for expedited entry through the Dutch Privium program, the Korean SES program, and the Mexican Viajero Confiable.

I suppose ultimately, everyone will be in the Trusted Traveler line, which will kind of cut into the whole shortcut thing. Don’t know what will happen then. But for now, being in these programs is as much fun as zipping across the Bay Bridge in the carpool lane at 8:30 a.m.

The only hard part is keeping that smug look off your face. I recommend thinking about the fact that airline seats have now shrunk to about 17 inches across.

Coke’s glass act

Source: Riedel
Source: Riedel

When I was in daily news I sometimes worked on stories so big they were sent out as a bulletin series — two or three short sentences that moved on high priority. So, Twitter without the snark, basically. I mention this only because I wish I had something like that to highlight today’s big, big news which is that Riedel, Continue reading “Coke’s glass act”

Duck Dynasty Wine

vcsPRAsset_521319_81228_4e1911a6-bad8-481c-9795-fabcac3e3733_0The Trinchero Family Estates – Duck Dynasty wine collaboration has ruffled some feathers.

Shanken News Daily is reporting that Duckhorn Wine Company is suing over the name, claiming trademark infringement. A Trinchero spokeswoman declined comment on the suit, saying the company does not talk about pending litigation as a matter of policy.

Earlier, Willie Robertson of the family behind the popular A&E reality show “Duck Dynasty,” was disinvited as a speaker at a church event because of the family’s association with wine.

Meanwhile, what of Duck Commander patriarch Phil Robertson’s controversial comments about gay rights and race relations to GQ Magazine? That earned him a suspension from the show, which triggered backlash from supporters, which was followed by A&E announcing it would resume filming this spring with the whole family.

Trinchero did not comment on that either, but referred us to the family statement on the issue and noted that Duck Commander wines has a no-discrimination policy.

The partnership between the Trincheros and the Robertson family was launched with a celebratory dinner in mid-November.

“There are some natural synergies between the Trinchero family and Robertson family businesses.  Both companies were built on family values with a mission to provide consumers with quality products.  This has helped us both establish customer loyalty which continues on from one generation to the next,” Roger Trinchero, principal, vice chairman and CEO of Trinchero Family Estates, said in a statement at the time. 

Duck Commander CEO Willie Robertson said his family “decided to create Duck Commander Robertson Family wines because we know that many of our customers and our viewers choose to celebrate family moments with wine.  We knew we needed to find a family company in the heart of wine country that could produce authentic, quality wines. The Trinchero family is the right fit, and the wines are delicious.”

The first vintage included Triple Threat 2011 Red BlendWood Duck 2012 Chardonnay, and Miss Priss 2012 Pink Moscato, all produced from California vineyards.


Porto Portfolio


Douro overviewIt’s in the high 80s here in Porto, which is warm for anyone, but for someone whose blood has been thinned by the anemic San Francisco sun positively a blazing inferno. While strolling the quay alongside the Douro River I had to restrain myself from going full-on Margaret Hamilton, “I’m melting! I’m melting!”

I persevered, however, and was glad I did because there is some excellent walking to be done here.

I’m staying on the Vila Nova de Gaia side of the river, which is where all the port houses are and is a a little bit quieter than the Porto side. So, first I walked across the Dom Luis bridge which is a very cool iron arch with two levels, both accessible to pedestrians. The top level carries the Metro yellow line and has great views, dropping you off about halfway up the hill that Porto sprawls over. The lower level, open to regular traffic connects directly with the Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia quays.


Does it look a little bit familiar? It should. It was engineered by Teophile Seyrig, former business partner of the famous Gustav Eiffel.

I took the high way over and the low way back and then collapsed by the hotel pool for the rest of the afternoon.

The next day, I followed the Gaia riverfront trail to the sea, about a four-mile trek. There’s a wooden boardwalk for much of the way and lots of shady benches to sit on so it’s not too strenuous. Along the way I passed some intriguing ruins.


And I walked past a marina with an eclectic group of boats that ranged from sleek yachts to “can that thing really float?”


When I finally reached the sea it reminded me of a Northern California beach where you look at the waves and craggy rock formations but only an idiot (sorry surfers) would actually dive in.


I also learned a little Portuguese hiking etiquette. The whole California, slight smile and dip of the head which connotes, “Hello, friend. I am not the trail side strangler,” just got me some blank looks and even a few hard stares. I tried a couple, “Hi’s.” Ditto. I was about to give up when an old guy pedaling by at a pretty good clip called out “Bom dia!” Portuguese for “Good morning.” Aha. I looked straight in the eye of the next walker I saw and caroled, “Bom dia!”

“Hello,” he said.

Well, it’s a start.

Cheers, peripatetically.