Happy surprise: My Global Entry renewal application was approved overnight. Not everyone was so lucky

Aug 11, 2020

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Last week, I mentioned the word “challenge” in context with my Trusted Travel Program renewal application. It turns out that I was mistaken in my cynicism that the approval process would take a long time. But not everyone has been so lucky.

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Within 36 hours of applying, I received the following email:

From there, I clicked through the link provided and logged back into my TTP account, where I was directed to select an interview time slot. I selected a morning appointment on Dec. 3, the earliest date available to me:

I also checked my Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card history, and saw that my Global Entry fee had been credited back to me within 24 hours of me making the charge.

Following my article detailing my process of applying for Trusted Traveler membership renewal, a number of TPG readers reached out to me to share their own renewal experiences. Some had similar good fortune, while others have been in limbo for months.

“My wife and I both renewed ours in the last few months with minimal effort,” Mark O. told me via email. “We were re-approved without an interview within a couple of days of submission, and received our new cards within a couple of weeks. Now just need a way to fly overseas and back home again!”

Mary Lu Linnane was not as fortunate. “I started this process at the end of January, paid the $100 fee, went through the process you described and was notified that my renewal is ‘pending review,'” she said via email. “Six months later, it’s still ‘pending review.’ No movement between Jan. 29 and when the program went on hold in March. I have a friend who is in the same position. I live in Chicago and have two [interview] locations to choose from, but am stuck in ‘pending review’ purgatory!”

“I went through this same ordeal last winter,” W. Lani Wong told me. “No appointments. Then one day in the middle of March, an open appointment showed up at one of our regional airports. I immediately grabbed it. A couple of days later, having not heard back with a confirmation, I called the airport directly. Of course they had no record of my appointment. But what they can do is set you up at the U.S. Customs House to get all the forms filled. Two days later, I drive to Manhattan Chinatown and park, walk to the Battery and get everything done in 20 minutes.”

Key things to know about Global Entry

Not everyone had Lani’s success with rescheduling. “Mine is at Denver Airport in JUNE 2021!!!,” Pete Knepell told me by email. “I initially applied in November 2019, expecting an international flight in 2020. That would have allowed me to get my Global Entry status as I re-entered the U.S. When my trip was canceled in May, I checked for appointments in Denver, my closest international airport. No luck. Earlier this week, I check again and snagged the earliest available date — in June next year. Crazy stuff. It is what it is…

Pete isn’t alone in the long wait ahead. Josh Donohue said that, “I received my passport on Nov. 21, and shortly thereafter, I submitted my application for Global Entry and paid my application fee. As of today, my application is still pending review.”

Unfortunately, it seems that many people who applied between late 2019 and mid-2020 are stuck in what Mary Lu aptly called “pending review purgatory.”

We’ve seen similar firsthand reports from travelers who have been trying to apply for or renew their passports. While a number of people who applied within the past six months have been waiting for some time with no progress, a growing number of travelers who applied for renewal in late June through early August have seen “normal” turn-around times of four to six weeks — even as fast as two weeks in some cases (without expedited processing, which isn’t even formally available right now). And while passport agencies are slowly reopening across the nation, none are yet at Phase 3, otherwise known during regular times as “normal operations.”

While anecdotal evidence isn’t enough to prove that things are returning to normal, one can always hope. For fellow Global Entry renewal applicants, take heart in the fact that your privileges will remain intact for up to 18 months after expiration, as long as you reapplied for membership before your expiration date.

Featured photo by Shutterstock.

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