General Travel Tips

Things I Love: Global Entry

customs line

Look familiar?

It was the end of 2012 and I had just landed after traveling 20+ hours from Asia. There were over 300 people that deplaned from my flight and in a fog we dragged ourselves down the long, overly bright hallways to customs. I was so tired I was almost in tears.

I watched as a line of never-ending switch backs formed and I braced myself for misery. Two hours later—seriously, two hours—I made it to the front of the line. For some reason there were only three customs agents on duty and I wondered what the sentence would be if I went postal.

The ONLY good thing about that horrible day was that I learned about Global Entry from a fellow traveler who was lamenting the fact he hadn’t gotten his before the trip.

Flash forward a few months later, and once again I am near the end of another 20+ hour journey, this time from Botswana.  I clear the familiar hallways and see the lines begin to form in front of me. For a second my chest tightens and then I remember, I have Global Entry, and with a spring in my step I walked up to an empty kiosk, scanned my passport and I was done.

Finito!

I glance back and saw the other passengers from my flight snaking through the standard line looking as they were headed to the electric chair.

I felt sorry for them, I did, but not enough to slow down…I gleefully made my way to baggage claim!

If you haven’t already guessed, Global Entry enables approved travelers to expedite their entry back into the United States, and even though it takes a little effort to obtain, it’s more than worth it.

Here’s what you need to do to get yours.

From the Global Entry Website: 

  1. Apply Online: Fill out an online application and pay the $100 non-refundable application fee.
  2. Schedule an Interview: Once your application is reviewed, you will receive a message in you GOES account instructing you to schedule and interview at one of the Global Entry Enrollment Centers.
  3. Interview Determines Your Eligibility: A U.S. Customs Border Protection officer will ask you questions, take your photo, and collect biometric information, e.g., scan your fingerprints.
  4. Provide Identification: Bring your valid passport(s) and one other form of identification, such as a driver’s license or ID card to the interview. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you must present your permanent resident card.

Another great perk: nine times out of ten on domestic flights I end up with priority check in—think shoes on, computer in the bag, and shorter security lines. Woohoo!

 

 

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