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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!