If you are a frequent traveler and go out of the country, stop now and apply for Global Entry.
Global Entryis an expedited US Government immigration program for frequent travelers. It costs $100 per application and it is good for 5 years from the time it is issued.
Traveling Through Customs
When we returned from Ecuador in May, we came through Miami. If you have ever traveled through customs in Miami you know how bad the lines are. By the time we got our ticket from the machine there was a gigantic snaking immigration line. I told J we would never make our flight even though we had a two hour layover. There were only six people checking the passports but what made it worse, we watched two of them close their window and leave with no replacement. There were plenty of angry people in line worried about missing their flights. When we finally reached the immigration officer, he advised us to sign up for Global Entryto avoid these lines. We thanked him and ran to our gate. We barely made it, as they were just starting to board.
How to Apply for Global Entry
I told J even if we only traveled out of the country one time a year it would be worth applying for Global Entryto avoid these long lines when we return back to the states. Of course we got busy on our return home, and put off applying. We finally got around to applying for the pass on line. Our next trip was quickly approaching and we were running out of time to apply, as we did not know how long the process would take. After filling out the forms, we began our wait for the approval.
Every day J would check the status of our application. Two weeks later I received an email to check my status on line (I almost deleted it as I did not recognize the sender but did recognize some information in the body of the email) . My application was accepted. I called J and told him to check his status. He advised that when he checked that morning it was still pending. He checked and now his status was approved. YEAH!!
Making an appointment for Global Entry
But now we needed an appointment to finalize the application in person. Luckily for us we could go to BWI for the interview. We wanted to get an appointment for the same day, so we could go together and not make two trips to the airport. The system generates the appointment, day and time. We were both on line trying to get an appointment. It would be easier if you could see what is available, instead of the system assigning a time. The first appointment only I could be seen that day as when J applied for his appointment it was for eight days later. I cancelled my appointment and tried again. The next appointment I got was on the same day as J, but 30 minutes later. They allow fifteen minutes to process your paperwork. With only a little over two weeks before our trip, we both accepted our appointments.
Global Entry Interview
On the day of the interview, we both went to the airport figuring we would wait for each other to get done. But when we arrived, they took us both immediately, as no one was there. After the interview, they informed us that we would be receiving another email advising of our status within 24 hours and if approved our card would arrive within 7 days. They also instructed us that we could use this number as the “Known Traveler ID” when making reservations. This should automatically register us for TSA PreCheck. We received an email the next day of our approval. We immediately went on line and updated our profile for our frequent flyer accounts under the “Known Traveler ID” using our Global Entry number.
Global Entry Cards Arrived
Our cards arrived 7 days later. Now we can skip the huge immigration line and instead go to the Global Entrylane, where we place our hand on the scanner, smile into the camera, check a few boxes on the touchscreen to answer the questions and then breeze through immigrations and head straight to customs.
Using Global Entry
We were able to use our Global Entryfor the first time on our return from Switzerland. We landed in JFK and proceeded to immigrations. The line was long, but we were able to walk right by and went to the sign directing us to Global Entry. There was no line. We waited for a machine to open up and walked right up. We were both done in five minutes, on our way to catch our next flight. We looked back at the line we used to have to stand in waiting to get through immigrations where we would have been without Global Entryand we were both glad we applied for the card.
Even if you only travel out of the country one time per year, it is worth being able to use the Global Entry machine and enjoy your time at the gate, instead of being stressed, standing in line waiting to get through immigrations. What are you waiting for?