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Global Entry failure: The expedited program was the slowest way through immigration

Nov. 05, 2021
4 min read
Global Entry airport kiosks
Global Entry failure: The expedited program was the slowest way through immigration
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My traveling companions always have two words for me: Slow down!

I’m all about speed.

I’ve uploaded all my information to every travel app you can imagine, check in on my phone for flights and often use my phone as my hotel room key.

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And as any road warrior will tell you, there are a few chokepoints at the airport that can kill that speed — namely, security and immigration.

That’s why I have Global Entry — and in turn TSA PreCheck — along with Clear. The last thing I want to do is wait in an unnecessary line.

Related: Clear expedited airport security program — is it worth it?

Normally, that all makes my trip through the airport seamless.

But that was far from the case when I arrived in New York Thursday at lunchtime.

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Coming down the ramp in the Customs and Border Protection hall, I made a beeline for the Global Entry kiosks. No scanning of my passport was needed. There was a quick check of my biometrics and a receipt was printed out like normal.

Welcome back to the United States of America — or so I thought.

Related: Global Entry vs. TSA PreCheck

Normally at this point, you show your receipt and passport to a CBP officer and then ease your way into baggage claim, customs and then out to the street.

Except at 12:44 p.m. Thursday, the officer who normally checks your Global Entry receipt was missing.

A quick aside: Global Entry is one of the government’s “trusted traveler” programs. You pay $100 to join and renew every five years. (You can learn more about the program and which credit cards cover the fees in our guide here.)

The theory behind the program is that the government has already done a background check on you and — in most cases — an in-person interview. Because of that, you get less screening during the actual airport arrival.

Related: 5 reasons your Global Entry can be revoked

Now, back to my arrival during Thursday’s lunch hour.

My British Airways flight from London came into JFK’s Terminal 7. There are two dozen lanes for CPB officers to question travelers and run their passports through online databases.

On Thursday afternoon, only two were open. And neither officer was interviewing the Global Entry passengers.

One officer was laboriously interviewing British passport holders (and other foreigners). The other was processing the line of American passport holders who didn’t have Global Entry.

Like many others in the travel business, the government is facing a staffing shortage.

A Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman was looking into this particular issue for us Thursday but could not get any more clarity ahead of our Friday afternoon deadline.

I would not normally advocate for one group of passengers to skip ahead of others. Except that is exactly what the government set up here. Instead of an officer interviewing an unknown passenger for five minutes, they can process a Global Entry member in seconds.

If the program isn’t going to live up to its promise, why should travelers spend all the time applying — or renewing — and paying the processing fee?

Related: Best credit cards for free Global Entry

The U.S. is reopening its borders to many more foreigners Monday. Transatlantic flights will once again be full.

Based on my experience — and yes, I was just one traveler on one flight — there is no way the U.S. government is ready for the influx of visitors.

TPG will be there to find out.

Featured image by San Francisco Chronicle via Gett
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
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Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023