Snagging a Global Entry interview on vacation — reader success story

Apr 15, 2020

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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Jesse, who was able to help a friend complete her Global Entry interview on vacation:

As a frequent traveler I get tons of value out my Global Entry membership. As a New York resident, I’m very glad to already have my enrollment given the application freeze which came down in early February. As with many sweet spots in the travel game, however, I found an opportunity to turn this challenge into an advantage.

My traveling companion is not a member of a trusted traveler program, however she is an Oregon resident. Oregon has only one enrollment center (PDX airport) and the appointments can be backlogged for many months at a time. As it happens, the New York enrollment centers are still open during the New York application ban, and appear to be doing a very low volume of business — quite unusual given how busy it gets at the JFK office. Given that she was already planning a trip to New York, we checked the availability to interview when her domestic flight arrived at JFK and found the schedule wide open.

She was greeted immediately by a fully staffed but otherwise-empty office, and completed the interview and enrollment process in less than 10 minutes. The fees were covered in full by the credit from a Chase Sapphire Reserve, of course.

So while I hope the New York ban lifts quickly, non-New York residents may find a shortcut to enrollment by stopping in New York for a visit, or merely arranging a layover through JFK. Perhaps this could also be useful for interviewing on international arrival as well.

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Global Entry (and the TSA PreCheck status that comes with it) is an absolute necessity for frequent travelers, and given how easy it is to get the fees reimbursed from the right credit card, the hardest part of the process for most people is finding an appointment to complete the interview.

While this strategy won’t work at the moment, given that all Global Entry interviews have been suspended due to the ongoing coronavirus situation, Jesse hit on a great strategy here that many people will be able to take advantage of when things return to normal.

The increasing popularity of Global Entry (and the increasing number of credit cards offering it for free) has led to a massive backlog of applications, making it even harder for people to schedule appointments. This is especially true if you live in a smaller city with limited enrollment centers, but squeezing in your appointment on vacation is a great workaround.

While Jesse specifically talked about the wide-open availability in New York, you could, in theory, search the entire country to find open appointments and then schedule a vacation around that trip. If you’re able to knock out the interview on arrival at the airport without having to make a separate trip, even better!

Related: You can get Global Entry upon arrival at these 53 airports

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Jesse a gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you.

Please email your own award travel success stories to info@thepointsguy.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes. If your story is published, we’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can’t respond to each story individually, but we’ll be in touch if yours is selected.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Featured photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post/Getty Images.

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