Getting Around The Global Entry Appointment Backlog

by on June 6, 2013 · 57 comments

in Global Entry, Points Guy Pointers

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Lately I’ve been covering Global Entry a lot since it’s such a great travel program that speeds you through customs and immigration as well as giving you a Trusted Traveler ID number that will qualify you for TSA PreCheck.

Dad can use his new card to get his $100 Global Entry application fee refunded.

Dad can use his new card to get his $100 Global Entry application fee refunded.

Plus, if you have the Amex Platinum, Mercedex-Benz Platinum or Business Platinum (or Centurion) cards, the $100 application fee is refunded to you as a statement credit. This fee is even refunded to additional cardholders as well – and the annual fee for up to three additional Platinum cardholders is just $175 ($175 per cardholder after that), so even if two of your friends/family members gets Global Entry you’ll recoup that fee and then some. Or if you have the new Citi Prestige card, you also get the fee refunded, and if you are a United Global Services, Premier 1K or Platinum, United will also refund you.

However, the program seems to be becoming a victim of its own success as more and more applicants are reporting longer and longer wait times for enrollment interview appointments.

LA Times travel editor Catharine Hamm covered this topic on May 29 after she had been conditionally approved for Global Entry, but found out that she would have to wait until August 6 for an appointment. After talking to John Wagner, the acting deputy assistant commissioner for Customs & Border Patrol, she learned that CBP was opening up additional appointment slots at its offices (including at LAX) and Hamm was able to book an appointment for the following week that had opened up.

But you can do more than just rely on luck and cancellations. Remember, if you are conditionally approved for enrollment, you can schedule your interview at any of the interview centers, so even if the one at your home airport has no available slots for a long time, if your travels take you through an airport where there’s another, it’s worth checking to see if they have appointment slots available on or near your travel dates.

If you simply can’t get to another interview center, keep checking back at yours for cancellations. People cancel appointments all the time due to changing travel plans and other reasons, and if you’re diligent, you can snag one of those open slots.

Global Entry is one of the best time-saving travel tools out there.

Make your appointment, but keep checking back to see if ones open up sooner.

Try walking in. Although this isn’t officially sanctioned and some centers will turn you away, as with all things travel-related, it never hurts to try, especially if you’re courteous and polite. One of the reasons random appointment slots open up all the time is that people often schedule these interviews for days they’re traveling, either at their origin, destination or layover, and as we all know, travel plans and schedules change all the time, so although I don’t suggest wishing for people to be delayed or to miss flights (karma will come back to get you!), that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of it when they do to get in a quick interview appointment.

Have any of you had trouble getting Global Entry interview appointments and found a way to get in sooner? Share your advice below!

For your reference, here is the list of 35 enrollment centers, most of which are at international airports including:

Albuquerque Airport ABQ
Atlanta Port Office
Austin-Bergstron Airport AUS
Baltimore/Washington Airport BWI
Boston Logan BOS
Bowling Green Customs House
Charlotte-Douglas CLT
Chicago O’Hare ORD
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport CVG
Dallas/Ft. Worth DFW
Denver Airport DEN
Detroit Metropolitan Airport DTW
Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood Airport FLL
Houston IAH
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport ATL
Honolulu HNL
New York JFK
Los Angeles LAX
McCarran International Las Vegas LAS
Miami International MIA
Milwaukee MKE
Minneapolis St. Paul MSP
Newark Liberty EWR
Orlando MCO
Orlando-Sanford SFB
Philadelphia International PHL
Phoenix Sky Harbor PHX
Portland International PDX
Salt Lake City SLC
San Antonio SAT
San Francisco SFO
San Juan Airport SJU
Seattle-Tacoma SEA
Anchorage ANC
Washington-Dulles IAD

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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  • Ashley Littlefield

    Do you know if there is a deadline for when you have to do the interview after being conditionally approved?

  • Rebekahroxanna

    You can also do your interview at various land crossings that do Nexus. When you log on to set your appt, the list is longer than the list for GE Enrollment Centers. I did my interview at Sault Ste. Marie. They had tons of openings last year (this year, of course, may be different). My son did his at the land crossing between Detroit and Windsor.

  • Rebekahroxanna

    You must sign up for an interview within 30 days of approval (IIRC) but the interview can be later. I think if you reschedule, you must reschedule within the 30 days.

  • Ashley Littlefield


  • Sam

    While signing up for Global Entry last summer I found interview wait times to be radically different between airports. My home airport, BOS, had a 3+ month wait time where as both PHL and JFK had numerous immediate openings available. I ended up doing the interview at PHL while I was visiting family in the area and it was a breeze. The officer was prompt and polite, the entire process took no longer than 20 minutes. Surprising considering PHL is absolutely not known for its efficiency or polite staff.

  • Jim

    Brian, thank you, as always for this work! Here’s my question. I have the AMEX Plat. If I add my wife as another cardholder, she could also get the Global Entry reimbursement. But what about our 6 year old daughter. I can’t add her as a cardholder. But could I get global entry this year and the in January use my AMEX for her? Would I get reimbursed because that is in the next calendar year? I can’t find that info anywhere else. Again, thanks for a great blog!

  • zila

    there is also a location in Manhattan, all the down at the southern tip, on Bowling Green.

    Appointments on some location appear to be taken, but are really not yet open, so keep checking…

  • Jon

    I walked into the location at Logan (BOS) last Saturday afternoon and they took me after a 10 min wait and the interview only took another 10 mins.

  • Chris

    If you and your wife get Global Entry, can your children piggyback with you when you come back in the country?

  • John Ellison

    There’s another location in Washington DC at 13th and Penn NW. Got conditionally approved yesterday and have an interview set up for next week. Lots of availability at that location.

  • Confucius Jackson

    Chicago has a near-downtown location (Canal and Harrison). While it fills up, I was able to make an appointment a week in advance with a full slate of times available.

  • Aaron

    After having flight delays cause me to miss my appointment in Newark, I was able to walk in at the Charlotte office and take a no-show’s slot.

  • Rich

    As one of the reader (Jon) comment below, the process takes no more than 20-30 min. Furthermore, I think TSA can improve their efficiency by accommodate more than 1 person per appointment.

    My appointment at IAD where my appointment started with a 10 min. video (played on a portable DVD player), follow by a series of questions (approx 5) regarding your criminal history, then finally digital fingerprinting. Therefore, why can’t TSA accommodate 10 applicants per appointment (60 min.): 10 min. for video, then 10 min. per applicant for questionings and fingerprinting? And this is just a ‘back of a napkin calculation’!

  • Eric Krassinger

    I have been approved for almost 6 months courtesy of the credit from United’s Premier 1K but I have not been able to get an appointment that works. I am in St Louis so we do not have an office thus I need to book through a connecting airport. Unfortunately, I do not book many trips with a month in advance and all the connection airports I go through like Dallas, Chicago, Charlotte are all booked. I never thought of the pop in. I might try that next. I also did not know how long the interview took since it is not mentioned anywhere. I just left a message yesterday at the Chicago branch asking this question.

  • Eric Krassinger

    I have rescheduled mine many times. Sometimes months in advance as I am waiting for a time that works.

  • Kacee

    SFO is heavily backlogged, first available slot was three months out. I just kept checking the appointment calendar and a slot opened up one week in advance. Done.

  • Kacee

    TSA has nothing to do with this process. It’s US Customs and Border Protection.

  • Steve S

    I had no problems with getting an appointment in NYC the same week (two days later). I was also pleased I didn’t have to travel to an airport and was able to schedule my appointment at the NYC National Archives

  • roger l

    I just noticed that American Express Platinum Card holders in NYC can schedule an interview (sadly, only on oneday per month at this time) at the American Express Center- check the website. It appears Amex may be planning to expand this benefit to oteher cities in the future.

  • FlavCity

    A chicago amex travel center where u can do the interviews?

  • frostbite

    CBP also offers interviews at the Anchorage airport ANC. Getting my card was relatively quick and painless.

  • Jon P

    No, it’s an individual benefit.

  • Concussioner

    NAw it’s a US Customs bldg

  • Todd

    Ever since I got global entry, my pre-check TSA has went from 50% success to 100% success. does global entry increase pre-check success?

  • John K

    Hi Jim. You can get the AU for someone else in your family, and use the card to get Global for your 6 year old daughter. That’s what I did with my 4 year old daughter and was reimbursed, no problem.

  • Satinger

    You can also just show up at the end of the day as a walk-in and they will interview you. Obviously they don’t like to advertise it, but both my wife and I did this and it worked!

  • Bucky Katt

    I’m not sure what was going on with your time slot, but I just had my interview last week at IAD, and there were 5 of us watching the video at the same time. After that ended, each of us were called to separate desks for our interviews. There were a couple of no-shows, so I think they called in people from the next time slot to move things along. Overall, the process seemed pretty efficient to me.

    Sure, you could assign additional staff and push more people through, but in a time of tight budgets, they seem to have made the decision that there are higher priorities than making sure we get our interviews sooner rather than later.

    Looking at the big picture, though, I’m not sure why they couldn’t just match Global Entry applications against other databases, and just waive the interview for people who have already been fingerprinted and cleared by other Federal departments and agencies . . .

  • Rob

    Wow, I didn’t notice that one when I signed up at the BWI location. You just saved me a few weeks of waiting.


    My wife did a successful walk in at EWR

  • Oldsmoboi

    How much of a benefit is PreCheck going to be if there are so many people getting it? Yesterday through ORD, the PreCheck line was vastly longer than the standard Premier access line.

  • Eric

    FYI- This week Tampa got added to the interview site and kiosk list.

  • Pete

    The JP Morgan Palladium card will also waive the Global Entry fee.

  • sunny guam

    I have had my Global Entry for over a year. When I was first approved it was very difficult to get an appointment. I live on a island and not close to ANY centers and mostly travel where there are no centers. I landed in SFO and went to the center and they were so nice and said to wait and luckily the next appointment did not show up!

  • Cat

    I was able to get in a few days before at Otay Mesa in San Diego when I visited, but be warned the wait was over an hour. The appointment itself was extremely quick and easy.

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  • Amy

    How long is it taking to get the initial approval? Mine still says “pending approval” after about two weeks.

  • joyxi

    It doesn’t seem like this center is available anymore, or at least it’s not on the official Global Entry list – was that the case when you interviewed as well?

  • Hess

    I just got my preapproval letter, went online since I was going through JFK today and there were interview openings. The interview literally took 5 minutes and we were on our way. They were very polite and helpful. I said I was glad there were two openings today and he said “oh, we take walkins here we just don’t advertise it”. If JFK takes walkins maybe other centers do too if you happen to be going through one.

  • nksatp

    anubody knows is DFW accepts walk-ins?

  • Marianne

    This is great! My interview is in a month at ATL and I tired to do a walk-in last week but got rejected. I’ll keep checking cancellations

    @TPG- if I already paid the $100 fee on my Costco Amex, do you think they will allow me to switch this to me newly purchased Amex Plat card so that it is waived??

  • TaxSleuth

    Had a connection at IAH and walked in to the interview center INSIDE terminal E (ticketed passengers only). Was seen immediately there.

  • gk08

    Does anyone know if GOES interview locations are open on the weekend?

  • Robby

    Just got my conditional approoval for GE. After I do my interview, how long does it take before I’m about to use the GE Kiosks?

  • Brian

    Hi Cat,
    How did you do your interview in Otay Mesa? We live in San Diego, but it looks like the nearest Global Entry interview center is at LAX. Thanks,

  • Cat

    Hi Brian.
    Sorry for the late reply but when I checked I think they had just made Otay Mesa available. I was able to change my appointment on the Global Entry website. I hope it worked out for you.

  • Luke Bornheimer

    From what I’ve heard, it all but guarantees you’ll get pre-check.

  • Luke Bornheimer

    From the looks of the calendar, it appears they aren’t.

  • Luke Bornheimer

    My conditional approval (so I now have the ability to select an interview slot) took a week.

  • Susanna Windham

    I was denied last August for “an arrest” 36 years ago. I was never convicted. I did not consider this incident as “an arrest”. So I honestly answered “no” to the question. I sent letter and documentation to have my application reviewed. I just got an email yesterday to reschedule interview. Not sure what to say when ask if I have ever been arrested. Is that an automatic denial?

  • Sam Stern

    I see some interview centers in the list on the Global Entry site without addresses, like GSS Cambridge & GSS Longwood. Does anyone know where these are or how to find the address for them? Some cursory googling didn’t return anything of value. Included a screenshot to show you the offices that come up in the dropdown and that have appointments to schedule. But I can’t find the address.

  • TTN

    At the airport locations, how do we know if non-ticketed passengers can go through? Looking to set up appts at DTW or ORD if anyone has any info.

  • Nick Aster

    I made an appointment at MIA. Showed up early to a massive crowd and two hour delays on appt times. Had to bail to catch my flight. I don’t know how it used to be, but not a quick procedure today! Looks like I have to try again

  • joweho

    You can use the kiosks immediately.

  • beth

    did you ever find out where these GSS places are? I am trying to book an interview but logan is about 5 months out for interviews!

  • Sam Stern

    I never did find out. No one answered on here, and my attempts to reach the relevant people in gov’t didn’t pan out. My colleague who worked in government previously told me he thinks those offices are in the UK. Sorry I don’t have more information for you. I booked a July appt at Logan, and will wait it out…

  • Pallykin

    You have to wait until you receive your card in the mail, and then activate it online.

  • mehmet05

    Dulles global entry center is a joke. We showed up for our recently scheduled interview and they stood us up! They were shut “due to construction they hoped would have been finished.” The entire room was vacant! They never called or emailed to actually cancel. Totally mismanaged group of CBP.

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