Homeland security contemplates merger of precheck and global entry

The DHS is considering merging two of their trusted-traveler programs, unifying PreCheck and Global Entry. The voluntary vetting programs allow travelers to get through security checkpoints more quickly. By allowing security services more time to perform checks and provide passengers with expedited entry to airports, the programs can give everyone something they want. This has seen enrolments skyrocket over the years, with more and more travelers joining up, particularly frequent business travelers.

That popularity is exactly what may make the merger attractive. Under the current system, the TSA manages PreCheck while Customs oversees Global Entry.   But the two combined have more than 12 million members, making it quite an administrative undertaking and meaning that many services are duplicated, often within the same airports.

It is hoped that combining the two programs would make it easier to become a member, boosting uptake and making travel more efficient and safer, while also saving money on administrative costs by reducing duplication.

This would also unify initiatives towards incorporating biometrics and other technology into the security apparatus, which is currently being pursued by Customs and the TSA independently of one another. 

"Having two trusted-traveler programs with similar costs, benefits and application procedures has proved to be, at times, confusing and frustrating for travelers," said Eben Peck, executive VP for advocacy at ASTA. "A single program allowing travelers to get through the airport-screening process quickly would be a welcome development and we urge DHS to move this concept forward."

Unification could have other practical benefits, such as allowing airports to allocate resources more effectively. TSA PReCheck is sometimes a victim of its own success, with so many registered travelers arriving, the lines start to become as long as the general entry. Joining the two programs would allow more staff to be put on a single, faster-moving line, rather than the airport staffing two different ones, making the process more efficient and cutting down wait times even further.