My least favorite thing about flying internationally is waiting in the immigration line upon return to the US. Our return from Thailand was no exception, as our 13 hour connecting flight from Dubai felt even longer with an hour wait in the immigration line – groggy, smelly and generally perturbed (like everyone around us). It was at this time, I decided enough is enough – it was time to get Global Entry.
Before I go into the details of the program, here are a few particulars:
What is Global Entry? A government program (Customs and Border Patrol) where low risk travelers are given expedited access to immigrations and security lines.
Should you get Global Entry? It really depends on how much you travel both domestically and internationally. If you fly internationally at least once/twice a year, I’d say it’s totally worth it.
What are the benefits of Global Entry? Besides being able to move through the immigration line, you also get access to TSA Pre-Check. Say goodbye to removing your shoes/liquids/laptop when going through domestic security lines. TSA Pre-Check typically has an expedited security line for those who qualify.
How much does it cost? $100 non-refundable application fee, membership is valid for 5 years.
How long did it take me? 20 days (this can vary wildly depending on time of year)
What are the steps? Fill out application & complete in-person interview
I completed the lengthy application form on 7/10 – this includes verifying two forms of ID, providing five years of employment and residence history and confirming you have never been arrested. 12 days later, I received conditional approval and it was time to schedule my in-person interview in Logan Airport (Terminal E next to Dunkin Donuts).
The interview can be scheduled online and I was shocked to see the first availability wasn’t until November 5th! This was surprising considering Philadelphia, Newark and JFK had availability as soon as next day. Anyway, I scheduled the interview, hoping some availability would open up. Lucky for me, a whole bunch of spots opened up when I searched on a Saturday morning and I was able to lock down a 10:30 interview for the following day.
The interview itself was the easiest part of the process – I showed up 15 minutes early, was taken on-time, had my fingerprints and photo taken and was asked if I had any questions on the program. No tough questions at all – in fact, I don’t remember being asked any questions about my travel habits! I was out of there in 7 minutes and shortly thereafter received an email that my Global Entry was approved.
Now that I have Global Entry, the question that remains is where do we go next?