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Global Entry Rocks My World

by on April 15, 2011 · 52 comments

in American Express, Delta

Last week I wrote about the Global Entry – the government’s expedited immigration program for frequent travelers – $100 fee being waived by American Express for Platinum Cardholders. Even though I paid for my Global Entry application before the benefit went into effect, I was still happy to see Amex adding benefits to the Platinum card. While the card does have a $450 fee, if you are a somewhat frequent traveler you can easily get many more times that amount in benefits because the Platinum card gives you valuable perks like lounge access to American, Delta, US Airways, Alaska, a bunch of international independent lounges (and United/Continental until September 30, 2011), $200 in airline fee rebates, Starwood Gold status, Hertz benefits, hotel upgrades, concierge service, the above-mentioned $100 reimbursement for Global Entry and much more. And for a limited time you can get 25,000 Amex bonus points for getting a Platinum card.

But back to Global Entry, I had heard a ton of amazing things about the program and how much time it can save, but I never gave it much thought. I’ve been lucky to usually fly business/first class internationally, so whenever I have to go through immigration, I’m one of the first people there. Except when a couple weeks ago I got caught in a 40 minute line – and nothing is worse after an 8 hour flight in coach then to have to snake through a line to get let back in your own country. So I decided to get Global Entry and skip the headache.

I applied on a Monday and by the next Friday I received an email letting me know I was conditionally approved and had to make an appointment. Lucky for me I was going to Stockholm the next Friday, so I planned my visit to the airport around my trip. Note: most interview locations are near borders or at big airports, so don’t assume you can get an interview in your hometown – or even state. (List of enrollment centers)

The Global Entry application office at JFK is in Terminal 4 main hall, so once off the AirTrain I simply went to arrivals and into the main lobby and saw the marked-off office. When I entered exactly at my appointment time they couldn’t find me on the list, which I knew was silly because the day prior one of their officers called me on my cellphone to confirm my appointment. However, after 4 minutes of awkwardness, they finally found my name on the sheets – having completely missed it.

Fortunately, the interview wasn’t awkward at all. It mostly consisted of verifying key information, which I didn’t have a problem doing. Then for about 10 minutes, the agent showed me how to use the kiosk (scan your fingers, take a picture and take your piece of paper to get through customs). I once had applied for NEXUS (Canadian/US priority immigration) and I never had the time to get the actual pass. Apparently, if you have NEXUS you can get Global Entry for free – just another way to save on the process.

With the CBP sticker on my passport I was looking forward to going through immigration and cutting the line – and that’s exactly what I did. Once I entered the immigration hall, I asked an agent working the room where I should go. They said, “Go in front of each lane and head to lane 16.” I did just that and felt a line of daggers in my back since everyone else had been waiting for 30+ minutes to see an agent. When I arrived at the Global Entry kiosk, no one was there and it took 45 seconds to get processed. You simply let the camera take a picture of your face (I have to awkwardly bend down because I’m too tall), put 4 fingers on the pad so it can scan your prints and then it automatically pulls up your flight information and you just verify that you don’t have anything you need to declare. Once you are cleared, it prints a piece of paper that you give to the customs official (there’s even a separate line for Global Entry for customs) and you are on your way. The whole process took under 120 seconds- I have to say, my friends were extremely jealous that I was nearly home in my apartment by the time they got through customs and immigration!

Overall, the actual application and implementation of Global Entry was a huge success for me and I highly recommend it if you are a frequent traveler. Feel free to comment below about your Global Entry experiences.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Gregory

    I’ll admit, it’s the best $100 I’ve spent in a long time. Coming back from the ARN and CPH trips, I was through passport control and customs and in a taxi before my friends had even dealt with passport control.

  • AmyR

    I love Global Entry!! I agree with Gregory, easily the best $100 I’ve spent. It’s a simple process, and the feeling of heading to the kiosk and breezing through is practically priceless. I’m in a business where I travel constantly and I’ve told all my colleagues about this.

  • NDStretch

    Thanks for the info! After reading post after post, I am finally to pull the trigger on this. A question though…when I click on the banner for the 50,000 bonus points, it takes me to the AmEx site and says click here to upgrade. Unfortunately the site was down when I clicked it, so I tried calling them. They said they could only offer me 25,000 points on the phone and this must be an online only promo. OR they asked if I had an RSVP code to provide? Has anyone else had any luck getting the 50,000 points, and how did you get them?

  • The Points Guy

    NDStretch- you have to log out of your Amex account and then apply as a brand new cardmember to get the 50,000 points. Once you do that or clear your cookies, it will take you to the page to get the 50,000 points. If you call, Amex will only give you 25,000 to upgrade, so you need to apply fresh and then once you have the card and 50,000, then combine accounts or close down other cards. This works like a charm- many others have done this.

  • NDStretch

    @The Points Guy- Thanks for the info! If I close my current account, can I transfer the points I have accrued to the new one…Also, any idea will my “member since” date change to 2011. From what I have read it looks like you cannot combine accounts and I would have to start fresh.

  • The Points Guy

    Nyd- you don’t have to close- they can merge them all together. Your member since date houldnt change- all you are doing is getting a charge card

  • Joseph

    I am soon flying in from a South American location and have my appointment an hour after I land. Did you do your appointment upon arrival to the U.S. and BEFORE passing through customs or did you do your appointment while you were still stateside?

  • The Points Guy

    I did my appointment stateside, then went to Europe. This was on a Friday afternoon, so I got the CBP stamp and account activated and it takes 24 hours to go into effect, so by the time I came back Sunday I was good to go. Doesn’t look like you’lll be able to use it this time, but its still worth it!

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  • Jim

    I signed up for Global Entry about 8 months ago and I have found it to be great for all the reasons mentioned in your post. The only possible caveat is that I usually check luggage when traveling internationally and I feel that I’m often just replacing my wait in line at the immigration check point with a wait at the baggage carrousel, but, even if it were just to avoid being scrutinized by a CBP officer 6-8 times a year for the duration of my five-year Global Entry membership, I feel the $100 I spent was worth it. And the CBP officers seem to have all been trained to treat Global Entry members as VIPs…. The first time I came into the Atlanta Airport, after clearing Immigration at the kiosk and getting my baggage, I lined up at Customs to exit the area with just my little printout instead of the usual blue form in my hand and a CBP officer singled me out and thought it was to question where my blue form was and I was preparing to explain to her that I had Global Entry. It turns out, she was singling me out and pulling me out of line to tell me that as a Global Entry traveler, I should never line up in the regular line, but should always go to the Global Entry exit and breeze right out of the Customs Hall.

  • Brad

    Recently used Global Entry a few months ago for the first time and all I can say is wow…. No more lines, no questions regarding why I went to XYZ place for business/pleasure, and no more questions regarding why I would fly half way around the world just for the miles. :)

    One question though, if I come back via one of the non-global entry ports of entry, ex. PHX or CLT, will they still recognize the CBP sticker in my passport and bring me to the front of the customs and immigration line? Or do I have to join everyone else in the Q ?

  • Stacey

    Happy Easter! I found the Easter Egg in this post!

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  • Mike

    If I register for Global Entry and am traveling with my family, do they still have to go through the regular customs lines?

  • debbie

    I was conditionally approved and saw that I need to schedule my interview within 30 days. Does anyone know if the interview has to take place within 30 days? A friend told me I have up to 4 months to have the interview but I cant find this in writing.
    Thanks

  • Amy Richards

    @ Mike,

    Your family will still have to go through the line – Global Entry is only good for the person who has gone though the background check that is part of the process of getting the Global Entry card.

  • Amy

    @ Brad – if you come back through a non-Global entry port , you unfortunately have to stand in the line with everyone else.

    @ Debbie – I believe you have to have the interview in 30 days, but I could be wrong. When you go to schedule the interview online you will get a calendar with your range of dates available.

  • Jim

    Brad, I entered at a non-Global entry airport last week and I asked a CBP officer if there was Global Entry there and he said no, but he sent me to the “crew” line where there was no one waiting, saving me what looked like at least a 20-minute wait. Although I did need to fill out a blue customs and immigration form, the officer who checked my passport took one look at my passport with the CBP sticker, and stamped my form and moved me through with no questions. I don’t know if this is standard operating procedure or not, but I’d be curious what experiences others have had.

  • Bruce

    there has been discussion of extending this into a Trusted Security system. Any NEWS ?

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  • HoKo

    @TPG So is the fee a one time thing and we are good to go for the rest of our lives or is it an annual fee?

  • Cary

    One other potential future benefit of having NEXUS and/or Global Entry clearance (from http://www.globalentry.gov/):

    TSA’s Expedited Screening Pilot Program
    We are pleased to announce that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is partnering with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on a new Department of Homeland Security initiative announced July 14, 2011 that qualifies some passengers for expedited screening through U.S. airport security checkpoints.

    This pilot program will be available to U.S. citizens who are members of CBP’s Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI Trusted Traveler programs. The pilot program will provide expedited screening through TSA checkpoints. Additional information will be available prior to the pilot’s implementation, explaining more about the program and the necessary steps you will need to take in order to participate. For more information and the latest updates, please visit http://www.tsa.gov.

  • Upintheair

    I just received my interview and global entry approval. CPB guy said that even if no global entry line, go to the crew line… never wait in the cue. Only for those who’ve been cleared though.. no family/friends in tow.

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  • Flu

    I just got my GE last week and the customs agent said kids up to 14 get to go through with you, you just need to fill out a blue form for them. He also said if there’s no GE line to go to an agent and show them the sticker.

  • flu

    He might have misspoken, but the agent who interviewed me told me it was active immediately

  • AlisaA

    The TSA Pre-Check program is now live:

    http://www.globalentry.gov/tsa.html

    I fly out of Atlanta, one of the 4 pilot airports. Right now it is limited to Delta passengers only (at ATL or DTW, it is AA passengers at DFW and MIA) who have been cleared through the Global Entry program. You do not have to remove laptop, toiletries, shoes or coats and the line has been incredibly short the times I have been there.

    I had already gone through the Global Entry clearance program, so I am ecstatic to know that my $100 fee for 5 years of little/no customs hassle will also clear me for this program!

    I submitted my GOES number to Delta a few days ago, so I am waiting to hear that I am able to start using the TSA Pre-check program. Does anyone have any experience with how long it takes for the 2 programs to synch up?

  • Wjhaus

    Global Entry more than made up for the fee the first time I used it. I had rebooked to come home from Athens a day early to beat Hurricane Irene. I arrived at Newark on time to discover that my flight to Richmond and a later flight had been cancelled but that there was a flight leaving in about half an hour. I zipped through the kiosk, had to wait a bit for my luggage, but the luggage came before all the people on the
    people on the flight arrived, managed to get through security again (a real annoyance) and was the last person on the last flight to Richmond, just beating the hurricane.

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