Traveling has always come with complications, but the coronavirus pandemic has made it more challenging than ever. Our By The Way Concierge column will take your travel dilemmas to the experts to help you navigate the new normal. Want to see your question answered? Submit it here.
I read that fingerprints are required for TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. Can I still apply? — Jim, Boulder, Colo.
It turns out your question applies to more travelers than just those with adermatoglyphia, loss of fingerprints attributed to a medical condition. There are people without hands or fingers, and people who have unintentionally lost their fingerprints, such as agricultural or masonry workers.
I took your question to TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein, who came back with good news: TSA has protocols to handle individuals with poor-quality prints or no prints at all. So even with your rare condition, you can apply for those timesaving, line-cutting programs.
“For individuals who do not have fingers or have bandaged fingers, we can exclude those from the fingerprint-scanning portion of enrollment and still complete the TSA PreCheck security-threat assessment through other means,” Farbstein said.
After you have reapplied for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, Farbstein said, you can make an appointment at one of TSA’s enrollment centers, where a representative should be able to help you. Call 855-DHS-UES1 (855-347-8371) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday, if you’re having trouble making an appointment.
Once you’re at the enrollment center, you may have to attempt the electronic fingerprinting process a few times. But TSA will follow the FBI’s protocol for criminal-history records checks, which has guidance for applicants who are physically unable to provide a 10-finger biometric read. According to the enrollment center website, they will have to manually process your application, so it may take longer to find out if your PreCheck eligibility is approved.
While not exactly the same as TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, you could also give Clear a try to cut the airport security line. Branded as a touchless way to get through security faster, the program helps you cut the line at 40 airports by using your eyes and face to confirm your identity.
Ken Lisaius, a Clear spokesman, said you would be able to enroll in the program’s verification process, which uses your eye’s iris. Since the pandemic hit, Clear shifted its system to be iris-first for touchless verification.
“We often ask for both fingerprints and eyes to ensure we have a redundancy in place in case one method fails at a future verification,” Lisaius said. “But in a case like this, eyes and iris would be used.”
Clear offers a two-month free trial or you can get an annual membership for $179. You can also see if your credit card or frequent-flier program covers that cost.
Have a travel dilemma for By The Way Concierge? Submit it here.
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