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Reminder: Get Global Entry!

by on September 9, 2011 · 52 comments

in Global Entry, Points Guy Pointers

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My experience on this week’s Star Mega Do 3 has been a whirlwind – a one day trip to Munich, which ended up being filled with airline delays and rushing through airports to events – but overall it’s been a great experience. I’ll write a summary post once I have time to breathe next week.

We were delayed flying to Chicago on Lufthansa and when we arrived, we were met with insanely long lines for customs and immigration. The US citizen line was at least an hour long and the US visitor line was over 4 hours long! Yes, a poor Australian participant of Star Mega Do waited 4 hours to get processed and missed that evening’s event at the Park Hyatt Chicago.

I luckily got through in 10 seconds because I have Global Entry, which I’ve written about before. Basically, you just fill out an online form, pay $100 (which will get automatically refunded if you use an American Express Platinum Card), wait a couple weeks for the government to process your background and make sure you should be a “trusted traveler” and then you go to a Global Entry Enrollment Center for your “interview” – which consists of them telling you how to use the kiosk. My advice is to just plan the interview when you have upcoming travel through one of these airports. I’d recommend submitting your application about 3 months before your travel date, just so they have enough time to process it.

Even if you only fly internationally once a year, this benefit could pay off greatly. I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to zip through in 10 seconds when you would have had to wait in a hot crowded room for hours. Personally, that time and frustration saved is worth more than lounge access!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Ben Shearon

    I can’t imagine having to wait more than an hour for immigration. Most countries manage to get people through within 10-30 minutes. What is wrong with the US immigration service? Is this a deliberate policy to reduce tourism, or is it a power trip???

  • Mitch

    US immigration delays pale in comparison to the UK. I’ve stood in the queue at LHR T4 (US passport) for over two hours once, about 90 minutes another time, and about an hour another time. Last night I would have been there for 2-2.5 hours if I didn’t have a FastTrack card that a nice FlyerTalker sent me to keep as an ace in the hole. I really need to write the MP for the constituency in which I live, as UKBA consistently falls flat on their faces in this regard. At some airports, even the EU passport queue can take an hour or more.

  • http://www.euanross.com Euan

    Poor guy waiting 4 hours!

  • Anonymous

    +1 It is a great tool and one that has saved me a lot of time already in my first year with it. People that get nervous about giving the personal information up – they are basically just confirming that it is you. They already have all that stuff anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.costanza Chris Costanza

    We did it a couple of years ago. It’s amazing when you come in behind three 747s in immigration and you just walk up to the kiosk and go through in 30 seconds. Highly recommended.

  • Will

    Got my interview scheduled for the end of this month. I got in on the NEXUS / Global Entry for $50 program that you posted about a few months back, so I’m heading to Vancouver (live in Pittsburgh) for a mini vacation + interview. Can’t wait to be able to speed through immigration… earlier this year I flew BOG-ATL in the back of the bus and I waited 2.5 hours in line. I guess Bogota isn’t the most “secure” of cities in the US CBP’s eyes.

  • Global_Entry_rookie

    Does it expire? I currently fly internationally about once every 1-2 years, but in the future I plan on flying more frequently. Should I apply now, or wait a few years until I’d be using it at least yearly?

  • cruisr

    It is the BEST. I used it this week coming back from CDG. I waS with my DH who did not have it. I was through in under a minute, was able to get the shuttle bus to the off site parking and drive back to the airport to pick him up. I actually had to wait about 10 minutes for him to come out. He was in line for almost 45 minutes at EWR Terminal B.

  • Anonymous

    It lasts 5 years

  • Phil

    ha Mitch glad that came in handy, think that one was from me. Not sure your MP will give a monkeys as we say over there. It works well if you have a EU passport with a chip you can use the machines and go straight through. I also find Paris incredibly quick to get through customs despite the huge volumes, no questions just straight through and stamp everyone. LHR could learn a lot from CDG

  • Phil

    Don’t shout it too loud or the lines for global entry will end up being hours long too :)

  • Gavinmac

    Let me ask this. If you check baggage when flying internationally (most people do), what does this program do other make you one of the first people to the baggage carousel standing around waiting for your bag? In my experience, even when I go through immigration in the regular lines (usually at LAX or SFO), I still end up standing around for a while waiting for my bag.

  • Mitch

    I think the reason an MP should care is that when I’ve been stuck in those huge queues, I’ve often encountered Americans making their first visit to the UK. It’s not the sort of impression that the UK wants to make on tourists visiting for the first time, and it’s certainly not business-friendly (at least when the business travellers aren’t able to fly in J and get FastTrack). Simply maintaining adequate staffing levels and being aware of peak flight times would go a long way. I’ve seen no indication that UKBA actually puts any effort into this. Last night one agent was telling everyone that it’s just a very bad day, but I’ve had more experiences with long delays at LHR than ones where I got through in under 20 minutes.

    I don’t think comparing to the Schengen zone is necessarily fair. UK border checks entail more questions and require those with non-EU passports to provide more information than someone entering the Schengen zone, at least in a situation where no visa is required.

  • Jeremy

    Does anyone know if one can qualify for Global Entry if one is in the US on an H1B visa? Thanks.

  • Trixie

    On my last trip to the UK, the line was not as bad as the absolute *grilling* I got at the hands of the passport officer: Where was I going, who was I seeing, where was I staying, when was I leaving? I’m a 40 yr old woman, do you really think I’m gonna skip off and work for cash in a Covent Garden pub? Sheesh!

  • Robert

    How long between application and interview. I travel frequently, so will hit one of the enrollment centers, but wife doesn’t and I am enrolling her too. We will be in Orlando mid December, so wondering when I should put in her application?

  • 2B

    Sounds really neat, but with no service center in PDX, I’d have to head up to SEA (on a weekday, no less!). That sort of time investment may invalidate the savings!

  • Vze549

    Sounds easy, but try to get the online application process to work. I’ve been trying for months, various browsers and times of day, all links to the application lead to an IBM Tivoli splash page that I assumed means it doesn’t work online.

  • http://getgowing.wordpress.com Getgowing

    If you have checked baggage, you still have to wait for them. Luckily, the 3 times I’ve used it so far, my bags have been priority tagged, and the priority actually worked, where they were early on the belt. But even if you have to wait for your bags, you can then skip the customs line and just scoot through. Still worth it.

  • Federico

    I have the same problem…

  • GLOBALTRAVELERcam

    I have 30,000 thousand new AMEX points thanks to TPG after adding 3 additional CardHolders to my Platinum Card account.

    And I am a GLOBAL RE-ENTRY TRUSTED TRAVELER with new card to be used for re-entering USA at Canadian/Mexican Borders, on top of the Kiosks at major airports.

    Since I live in the Phoenix, AZ, the closest Border Control office I could visit to complete GLOBAL is
    Nogales, AZ. And I did. The interview was less than20 minutes and I was done.

    Now that I have mine, my additional cardholders have all applied using my AMEX PLATINUM CARD as payment because, according to AMEX, the $100 application fee will be credited to my statement!

    Just waiting to see if it actually is re-imbursed as they said.

  • Anonymous

    Do any NON-platinum AMX cards offer partial refund?
    (or other cards?)

  • Phil

    sorry while I agree that MP’s *should* care my point is they are not likely *to* care. Problem is most of the folks in those long lines you see aren’t voters, and while you’re argument about good for business is absolutely right, call me an old cynic but these guys focus their time on whatever keeps them in the power seat

  • Karo

    I also got in on the NEXUS/Global Entry $50 application; however, I was a chump and didn’t realize that I’d then have to interview at one of the NEXUS centers which are limited to Canada and the border states. As I have no current plans to visit that area any time in the next few months, I guess I’m SOL?

  • Anonymous

    Just like lines at security, there is really no excuse for backups at immigration. Planes arrive on a schedule. If weather really leads to a stack of internationals at the same time, then everyone from managers on down should be stamping people through – aka, the immigration services should do what a halfway competent manager at a McDonald’s would do. I’ve gone through immigration in nearly 100 countries – it’s essentially unheard of to wait long at, say, BKK or NRT or SIN or ZRH or AMS or ARN, whereas you’re guaranteed a wait at Heathrow, O’Hare, LAX, Dulles, MIA, any of the New York airports, etc. It’s clearly not a one-time thing.

  • Catjim

    Maybe I just didn’t see it on the website, but is there a minumum age for Global Entry? We have a four year old. Could she qualify?

  • Catjim

    Maybe I just didn’t see it on the website, but is there a minumum age for Global Entry? We have a four year old. Could she qualify?

  • James Ward

    Shame Global Entry is only available for US citizens. You’d think with biometric passports and security collaboration it would be possible to offer this to international travellers arriving in the US too. Especially since there always seems to be a pre-flight screening at the airport when flying from Europe to US.

  • Mitch

    GE is open to US permanent residents and many with visas to be in the US for extended periods (for work, for instance). There’s some sort of attempt at reciprocity with the Dutch Privium program going on, but I’m too lazy right now to try to figure it out. There’s some speculation that the UK will join the FLUX alliance (Global Entry + Privium right now) before long, too.

  • Jessica Flasche

    It took 3 weeks for mine to process. I would put her in now so you can get it all approved and then you can schedule the appointment for December. That way you can make sure you get an appointment time you want.

  • Lark

    I had no problems at all… Applied on line, received an e-mail a week or so later telling me to schedule my appt… (Internot Explorer 8, by the way)

  • Lark

    I am pretty sure I know the answer to this, but: When I enter SFO using GE, is my wife (without GE) allowed to join me in the short line? Or will she have to go through the regular line? Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Not to my knowledge- might as well apply!

  • Anonymous

    Not to my knowledge

  • Anonymous

    Regular line unforutnately

  • Anonymous

    Amex reimbursements with this are automatic.. you should have no issues getting it

  • Michael

    I could not agree more. I applied on first of month, was granted interview 12 days later, booked interview a week after that right before I was embarking on a MR out of LAX and in 20 minutes time had my passport sticker and was on my way. Ive saved hours already and can’t recommend it enough

  • Federico

    I had the same problem but I found out that you have to click on “Trusted Traveler Program”!!!

  • Mighty Mouse

    Global Entry is also available to Canadians. My husband has his GE in conjunction with Nexus and used it to enter the US via SFO.

  • Jmgdner

    Hi. I applied for global entry because of issues about my name being to common and having t0 go throughout extra searching. My process was quick at JFK except their system was really slow that day. Surprisely for custom officers, they were extremely friendly and polite. Custom officers, just like state and city jobs employers tend to be rude, nasty and mean. Can’t wait to try this and see how much time it will save me, though the officer told me I still might have to get the X because of my name issues but that I should be seen sooner when take to “the other room”.

    Amex platinum reimbursed the fee 2 days later. If I apply again for someone else, would they refund that fee too? I can’t find the answer to that question anywhere on their site.

    Thanks for your answer.

  • The Points Guy

    I’m not 100% sure, but I’ve heard of people getting multiple registrations rebated. Maybe someone else can chime in who knows for sure..

  • Noah

    I put in my application late on Friday, 9/9. I was conditionally approved today and scheduled my interview for this Friday. Now THAT’S efficient government service (almost faster than mail delivery!)!

  • John

    It is also available to permanent resident card holders.

  • Bram

    If you’re a Dutch citizen there’s the FLUX program to get access to global entry.

  • uwr
  • Gpuzzi

    Approved for Global Entry. After the disaster with Nexus. I cancelled my application. Was about to give up on the proccess but had an Amex Platinum because my friend added me so he could recieve point for adding card holders. Re-applied and was conditionally approved and credited back the fee 4 days later. Instead of heading to the airport last week I got the oppurtunity to do an onsite interview at the Tavel and Leisure Bazaar opening party on Friday night at the Park Avenue Armory. Immediately after arival did my interview and was approved. So quick and painless. To top it off I was served by Morimotto himself some black cod 15 minutes later. Thanks for all the pointers TPG.

  • Federico

    Brian, I don’t have a Amex Platinum yet ( I will get it next year). Can I pay with my friend’s Amex Plat and get a refund on his Amex account? I told him about the program but he doesn’t care (he doesn’t flight).

  • Keith

    Applied 9/9 also but still awaiting approval. I wonder is something about the nature of my travel (as a PhD student, I primarily visit countries in sub-Saharan Africa on the US govt radar for various reasons) is slowing things up… :)

  • Anonymous

    That may work- I’d try it. Let me know if it gets refunded! I think Amex rebates all $100 charges from that vendor

  • Glen

    I grade Global Entry a D-, so far.

    Used Global Entry for the 1st time last night, coming from Iceland into Washington-Dulles. Found the bay of Global Entry kiosk machines, (the 1st machine I went to didn’t respond to touch, 2nd machine worked okay), scanned my passport, waited a few moments, answered a few questions, scanned my fingerprints, but the machine only marked 3 of my 4 fingerprints as “good” (with green sign), the 4th print got a yellow sign or “less okay” or “partial.”

    The machine spit out my entry card, but I had the “X” marked on it, which meant I had to go through secondary screening in the “special” line. Went to the special line and got asked all of these questions about why I was traveling where I was traveling, if I packed my own bag, etc…. CPB agent also went through my luggage, jacket and carry-on.

    The CPB agent had a full profile of me pulled up on the screen, with NOT my Global Entry awful picture, but my passport picture. (If the Global Entry kiosk uses face recognition, which photo are they using for the comparison?) The “extra” screening took an extra 5-10 minutes, after which I was cleared to go.

    No explanation of why I was there (even after I asked).

    Without Global Entry, I would’ve sped through the immigration line, like everyone else on my flight!

    Hope the next time goes better.

  • Kristy

    Amazing experience coming in from Auckland to LAX on Dec. 30th. Thank you so very much for the recommendation.

  • CanFlyergirl

    Jeremy, did you get an answer for this?

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