My Global Entry Card expires next March, but it’s a no-brainer to renew it. It may be the best $100 I ever spent.
A few years back my sister-in-law and co-workers had been telling me about the Global Entry Card and how wonderful it was. Being extremely paperwork-averse, I didn’t pay much attention. Then I looked at my upcoming international trips and figured I’d check it out.
It took me about 45 minutes to complete the online form, filling in blanks for addresses, former address, places of employment, any names I’d ever used, yadda, yadda, yadda. After you submit that, you wait to see if you’ll be called in for an interview. But they don’t email you — you have to check back on the site periodically.
One day I checked the site and it said I was conditionally approved, and had to set up an interview at one of two locations, either an office at the Atlanta airport or one nearby. I chose the airport and on the appointed day, traveled to the new International Concourse F, with my passport and driver’s license in hand.
This was one interview I didn’t need to prepare for and wasn’t a bit nervous. Being exactly the person I said I was, I already knew all the answers to questions about my life. There was no one else there and within a few minutes, a nice gentleman called me back and after looking at my passport, asking me a couple of questions, and taking my fingerprints he said I was approved. He took my photo and told me I’d receive my card in the mail. A few weeks later it came.
It’s the most magical card in my wallet. Even more so than my “Free foot massage after 10 stamps” card that is almost filled up. I’ve used it several times now and here are a few reasons why I love it.
1. With a Global Entry card, you are less likely to miss a connecting flight
An article in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago, “The Summer of Long Custom Waits” reported that customs lines were reaching up to three hours long in some locations. So many travelers missed flights in Miami that they have turned an auditorium into an overnight shelter. Welcome to the U.S.
At participating airports, if you have the Global Entry Card you walk up to a kiosk, slide your passport in, answer a few customs questions, place your fingers on the screen and receive a slip of paper that you use to walk through. Couldn’t be easier. When my son and I returned from Europe one year we just smiled and walked right by the hundreds of people in line at the Atlanta airport. We didn’t have a connecting flight, but by looking at those lines we knew a lot of people would be missing their flights.
2. A Global Entry Card usually gets you TSA PreCheck status
Although the Global Entry Program is designed for you to bypass the lengthy customs lines, some airlines participate in the TSA PreCheck program and if you have a Global Entry Card, you may be eligible to go through the TSA lines in participating airports. Participating airlines include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways. I’ve had my Global Entry Card for over four years now and have flown in and out of airports all over the country. I’ve gotten TSA Precheck status every single time. One note about that, though. You have to put your number in your profile for every airline you fly to get TSA Precheck with Global Entry.
Line is TSA Precheck in Atlanta have gotten a lot longer the past few years, but they generally move fast.
3. You don’t have to take off your shoes, strip half-naked, or take your laptop out with TSA Precheck
When you are able to go through the short TSA line, it’s a trip back to easier times. No need to take off your shoes, strip half-naked or even take your laptop out. Your clothes and your dignity remain intact. At airports that don’t have separate TSA Precheck lines, you are given a slip of paper that you hand to the TSA person waving you through that indicates you didn’t have to take off your shoes or take out your laptop.
4. You don’t have to go through the radiation scanner
I hate radiation scanners and not just because I object to being made to assume a criminal position to have someone look at me naked, although that is enought to make me cranky. I don’t trust the technology or the lack of regular servicing and do no wish to be radiated every time I travel. There’s a reason these are banned in Europe.
5. My photo on my Global Entry Card is awesome
Okay, so maybe this is just me. But I’ve had people laugh at my driver’s license photo. Yes, it is that bad. I’d been waiting for hours at the DMV and was cranky at being there in the first place. My sour expression plus frizzy hair = ugly photo. My small black-and-white global entry photo, however, shows me partially smiling. And my hair looks great. And no one has laughed at it yet. I can’t promise you a great photo on your card, but wish you luck with that
You can find out more at www.globalentry.gov/howtoapply.html It can also take several weeks to be approved after you fill out your form and you will have to go in person to an enrollment center. But it’ so worth it.