How would you like to clear customs and immigration in the US in a matter of minutes? Global Entry is probably the best way accomplish that.
I have discussed various Trusted Traveler programs available to (primarily) US citizens in the past. The Global Entry application process is somewhat involved, but in my opinion well worth it.
After returning from our recent Singapore Airlines First Class trip, we cleared US customs in San Francisco. That was our first time arriving here from an international flight. I’ve had Global Entry for some time now, but my wife does not. Up until this point, I figured it wasn’t worth the cost and effort for at most a few international trips per year. I would just wait in the regular lines with her and we clear together. We waited over an hour, and I kept watching the Global Entry people walking past us while we were queuing. Add to this that Trusted Traveler programs seem to increase the likelihood of getting PreCheck, and I’ve been convinced to buck up and get her signed up as well.
She was conditionally approved about 3 weeks after applying, and then made an appointment in the Milwaukee enrollment center for her interview. I’m not certain why there is a center in Milwaukee, since there is neither Global Entry for the minimal international flights nor PreCheck at the airport, but it was very convenient. As opposed to some enrollment centers that have a long wait to get appointments, she scheduled her interview 2 days after her conditional approval. Her Global Entry card arrived a few days later.
My wife’s Global Entry and my NEXUS card
On domestic trips, I would typically get PreCheck, while she did not. I don’t believe she ever qualified for it on United as a general member without a PASSID. Hopefully that record will change now.
I consider the $100 fee for Global Entry well worth it. American Express Platinum cardholders get this charge waived, and United will give a $100 credit to Platinum and 1K flyers to cover the cost of signing up.
Membership lasts 5 years, so even with a little bit of international travel, it seems to me a good investment. If you have any trans-border travel to Canada, you can get NEXUS (as I did) for $50, which also qualifies you for Global Entry. Membership in either of these Trusted Traveler programs make it more likely to qualify for PreCheck. I have been eligible for PreCheck on each flight departing from a PreCheck airport as an United elite since the program has been implemented.
I don’t often give the Department of Homeland Security much credit, but this program certainly reduces some of the stresses of travel. If you have’t signed up for Global Entry yet, why not?