Returning home, for most, after a memorable international vacation is sometimes greeted by long lines in your home country. Even though you go through the "citizen" queue, you're often not the only one who is returning from traveling abroad. Whether you've completed the US Customs form on the flight back or using the kiosks upon arrival, queues can make a long flight even longer.
You have 2 options. Wait (longer) or use one of two "get through faster" methods.
Yes, there's an app for that! Just download it to your iOS or Android device, setup your profile (name, passport, picture, etc.). To use it, when you're taxiing to the arrival gate, open the app (remember to turn off Airplane Mode), answer the usual customs type of questions (item or foodstuff declarations etc.), hit 'submit' button and up pops a QR Code (a square bar code). When you deplane and get to Customs, search for signs that say "Mobile Pass", scan your code and you're pretty much outta' there! Bonus: Free!
You can apply for what's called 'Global Entry'. It allows you a separate entry through US Customs and is very often void of people as well. In order to obtain this, you have to make an appointment with the Dept. of Homeland Security for an interview - usually at the airport and is at a cost of $100 that's good for 5 years. Similar to Mobile Pass, you basically bypass the other returnee queue - it's a breeze. Unlike Mobile Pass, Global Entry also affords automatic TSA Pre-Check, which is just for US domestic air travel.
As mentioned, this program is just for US domestic air travel. You've probably seen the huge green checkmark at the beginning of the security checkpoint, have seen folks hurriedly scooting by the rest of the other queue (you've probably seen me). Although these days, this line is getting longer and longer, it's still a bit shorter that 'the other queue' AND you don't have to take off your shoes, take out your laptop or any of the usual stuff these days. It's pretty much the opposite as you're stuffing everything into your backpack or carry-on instead of taking everything out. Even though this isn't available in ALL airports across the US, it's pretty well represented at the major ones. For this alone, TSA Pre is totally worth it all by itself. The program is $80, is good for 5 years. Trick: for $20 more you get Global Entry.
So ... sign up for any one of these security services, you'll kick and ask yourself why you didn't do this a long time ago! Happy travels and see you in line.