Ever begin your vacation stuck standing in airport security behind an exceptionally long line of people who still don’t realize they need to take off their shoes and belts prior to walking through the scanner?
Or return from an incredible vacation only to spend several hours waiting to formally return to the U.S. at Customs and Border Patrol when all you want to do is get home to recover from/reminisce about your adventure and pet your cat?
After 10+ years of annual international travel to 30+ countries, I’ve picked up a few travel hacks. However the scenarios above continue to plague my travels, and, right or wrong, I find I’m less and less inclined to view them as “part of the journey.”
I don’t know why it took us so long for us to look into it, but we finally remedied the situation by applying for Global Entry status.
Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members enter the United States through automatic kiosks at select airports.
My research had actually started with TSA Pre-Check (to resolve scenario one above), but it was quickly apparent the extra $15/person to get Global Entry, which INCLUDES TSA Pre-Check, was the better option for us given the amount of both international and domestic travel we take part in each year. It was $100/person for a five year membership. Money I already know was well spent.
It took very little time to complete the online application, and after our conditional approval we simply needed to set up our interview to complete the process. This part got a little tricky because the next available interviews at SeaTac airport, which was the closest interview facility, were booked out until spring 2017!
We didn’t want to wait that long so we decided to drive to Blaine, WA, which is about an hour and a half away (honestly, not that much farther than SeaTac from us!). We were able to schedule our interviews within a couple weeks. We drove up one Saturday morning, completed the interview process, and this weekend our passes arrived.
I don’t know if we can apply our new status to the trips we already have in the books for the rest of this year and early next year, but I’m looking into it. At the very least all of our big trips next year, and in future years, will be covered, and I can’t wait!
If you’re a frequent flyer, you might look into whether Global Entry, or even just TSA Pre-Check, make sense for you. Personally I can’t wait to speed through security the next time we travel, and the added bonus of being able to use the Nexus lane when we drive home from Canada will also be a huge perk.