In this post, I will explain what Global Entry is and why every frequent flyer needs to have it (even if you don’t fly internationally). Global Entry is a program by the US Customs and Boarder Protection (CBP) that allows for expedited entry back into the United States when traveling internationally, and in cooperation with the TSA, allows for expedited screening when going through airport security for domestic and international flights.
Global Entry was created for the frequent international traveler but there is NO minimum number of trips required to qualify for Global Entry or maintain your Global Entry status. To qualify for Global Entry, you must submit to a thorough background check and an in-person interview with a CBP Agent. It sounds agonizing but it’s really not that bad. And trust me, the time saved from not having to wait through customs after a long international flight, is worth it!
When arriving back into the United States from an international flight, instead of waiting in that long line with everyone else to see a CBP Agent, you skip that whole mess and use the automated kiosks. The kiosks are located in all the major airports. Just follow the signs for Global Entry. There, you scan your passport, verify your identity with the fingerprint scanner, declare your goods, smile for the camera and voila, you’re done. The kiosks print you out a traveler receipt and you’re off to pick up your bags, way before everyone else. This whole process takes two minutes and you’re done before your checked bags are even unloaded from from the plane and put on the conveyor belt.
Once you retrieve your checked bags, take your traveler receipt to the CBP Gate Agent and present it to him or her. Yes, there will be a dedicated line for Global Entry and they will call you before the next person in the normal line. This process will take another three minutes and you’re off to your taxi or connecting flight. I have personally used Global Entry a dozen times already and not once, has it ever taken me longer than 10 minutes to get through Customs. This comes in super handy if you have a short connection between your arrival international flight and departing domestic flight.
Is Australia or New Zealand on your travel itinerary anytime soon? Well, guess what? Global Entry will allow you to use automated kiosks when arriving in Australia or New Zealand also! No waiting in line after your 16 hour flight. Just use one of the automated Smart Kiosks upon your arrival, and you’re off to Bondai Beach before the back of the plane has even cleared. No additional registration is required. Additional countries are in the process of allowing Global Entry travelers expedited service and I will update this blog as they are announced.
In addition to expedited entry back into the United States, all people who qualify for Global Entry are also entered into the TSA Pre-Check program. The TSA Pre program allows you to use expedited airport screening lanes for quicker access through airport security. As a benefit of going through the TSA Pre lanes, you NO longer have to remove your shoes, outerwear, belts, laptops or toiletry items from your carry on bags. Hip Hip Hooray!
Now, TAS Pre is not available at all airports and not all airlines participate in the TSA Pre Program. Airlines that participate in the TSA Pre program are: Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest, Sun Country, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America (list updated 5/25/15).
Once you qualify for Global Entry, you will be given a Trusted Traveler number. Enter that number into the frequent flyer profile of your airline BEFORE your flight. On the day of your travel, your printed ticket or mobile boarding pass will display the TSA Pre check symbol, if your airport is equipped with dedicated TSA Pre lanes and your airline is a participant. Just show your boarding pass to the TSA Agent for speedy security service.
The cost for Global Entry is pretty cheap. It’s $100 and is good for four years. And there’s no additional charge for the TSA Pre co-op. Holders of the American Express Platinum or Centurion credit cards and Citi Pristige MasterCards get automatic reimbursement for Global Entry when your credit card is used to enroll in Global Entry, and Loews Hotels Platinum members also receive reimbursement. But even if you don’t get a reimbursement, the $100 alone is worth the price to save hours off of your travel time.
Some items of note and things to consider:
- You do have to go through a background check so criminal offenses on your record may prevent you from qualifying.
- The application process is a little lengthy, but it’s worth it.
- The appointment schedule for your CBP Agent interview can bea few weeks out. But just check back frequently as openings appear all the time. Additionally, if you’re traveling and there’s a CBP enrollment center at your destination airport, see if there are any openings. Recently, a friend of mine was unable to get any available appointments at the LAX location. But he was traveling to Miami to see family and they happened to have interview openings for when he was in town.
- If you get arrested or violate any CBP regulations, your Global Entry can be revoked. You will also have to settle bail bonds with the help of a bail bondsman to be released.
- You also get a Global Entry card. It’s great for an emergency secondary form of identification.
- Not all airports are equipped with Global Entry kiosks or TSA Pre lanes.
- You no longer have to fill out the blue customs cards when arriving back from an international flight. That’s done at the kiosks now. Save some trees.
Thanks for reading. Let me know if you guys have any other questions, comments or concerns.