I live in the suburbs of Chicago where my home airports are O’Hare and Midway… which happen to be some of the worst ranking airports in the country. Lucky me! As some of you might have seen back in May, here is an example of just how long the lines were for the TSA check point at Midway airport. (Please pardon the expletives, but I’d probably be saying the same thing if I were him!)
Video courtesy of: Sean H.
Fortunately for me though, I applied and received Global Entry last year and have been able to avoid some of the chaos. If you are planning on traveling internationally more than once in the next five years, it’s worth the $100 application fee to reap the benefits of Global Entry status. Here’s why:
- Save time and hassle. When you receive Global Entry status, you are automatically given TSA Pre-Check “Trusted Traveler” status as well. This means potentially skipping mile-long lines or hassling with your belt, shoes, and computer to get through security. And that’s not just for international flights, Trusted Traveler status also includes domestic flights so no matter where you are traveling to from the U.S., you have the chance to save yourself some time and frustration. Though you should be aware that having Trusted Traveler status does not automatically let you jump the line every time, but it does significantly improve the odds of being selected for the TSA Pre-Check line.
- Get through U.S. Immigration and Customs much faster. As your plane approaches the familiar skies of the United States, you can sit back and relax while your fellow passengers are filling out their blue customs forms. Then once off your plane, you can skip the processing line and head straight for one of the Global Entry kiosks. This is where you’ll scan your passport, get your photo taken, scan your fingerprints, and answer a few customs questions via the touch screen of the kiosk. You will get a printed receipt and head to the baggage carousel to pick up your luggage. You then get to skip the next line of people waiting to recheck their luggage by heading to the Global Entry-specific queue, hand them your printed receipt and luggage, show them your passport, and continue on your way. I can’t tell you what a welcome sight the short Global Entry lines are (if there are even any lines) once you’ve made your third transfer on an overnight flight back to the U.S. from South America.
- Get through other countries’ Immigration and Customs faster. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection has partnered with a number of countries to help better facilitate travel for those that are considered “Trusted Travelers.” Each of the countries listed below has slightly different arrangements so make sure to double check before you go:
- New Zealand
- Republic of Korea
- United Kingdom
To check what the arrangements are for each country, we recommend visiting U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.
If these benefits appeal to you, you can apply by first visiting the Global Entry website and creating your GOES account. From there, you will be provided instructions on the next steps in the application process. Take note that you’ll want to do this well in advance of your next international trip as it may take a few months to get your application approved and your interview scheduled, depending on your location.