How I was out of US Customs and in my rental car in 25 minutes.
What was my life before Global Entry!!!
I have been out of the country over a dozen times and my most recent expedition was my first time using Global Entry through US Customs. Boy was it worth it.
I exited the aircraft from Australia to Honolulu International at approximately 10:50 am. I walk what feels like 10 years to the customs hall. In this customs hall is the longest, most convoluted line of people I have ever observed (a typical scene for customs).
Horror I tell you!
Luckily I had set up Global Entry with my interview appointment before I left for my trip. The Customs agent who interviewed me said the Known Traveler Number would be activated by the time I returned.
I see a customs representative ushering citizens like a herd to the U.S. line, myself included. I say “Global Entry”? Kind of like a question, kind if wondering if it will work. She smiles, turns her body and points behind her to a flagged sign the says “Global Entry”. It’s at the very end of the hall and only a standing sign about five feet tall. I would have totally missed it.
With relief, I walk past an endless line of people. They look hot, tired, restless, and as if they’ve been waiting forever. The Global Entry line is empty!!!! To my shock!
There’s a screen with fingerprint identification, I slip in my passport, my photo is taken, a receipt sort of paper pops out. I walk up to the agent window and the basically flag me through after looking at it! That was it!
They cut off the next person from the regular long line to have me come to the window too. Sorry!
I was in my rental car with my luggage at 11:15am. Unheard of!
It also works on domestic flights as TSA precheck. I didn’t have to take off my shoes and was able to use another shorter line.
So how can you get a Global Entry Number? And is there a way to get it for free?
1. Go to GOES website, make sure you are eligible, fill out the application, and pay the 100 fee. Some higher end credit cards also offer this as a benefit with sign up such as American Express Platinum. The features of this card outweigh the sign up fee, if you actually use the features, plus the sign up bonus it pays for itself. Above is my referral link. They will give you a 100 credit for GOES every 4 years. That’s how I paid for my Global Entry!
2. After confirmation, set up your interview and go. I was strategic and made my appointment on a day I was already going to one of the major airports listed. Luckily that’s my normal airport. I hate going to the airport and wasting time!
3. Start using your number! They’ll mail your card to you. However, in the interview they’ll give you the number. It won’t work on the flight that day, but mine worked 4 days later.
Websites like Expedia, and various airlines sites will have a space for a “known traveler number”. You can also add it at the airport kiosk before printing your ticket.
4. Renew every 4 years.
Live with a sigh of relief, knowing your precious time is saved. I have no patience for airport lines. The bonus is if you have a long layover in a US city (on the way back from another city), it gives you more time to explore and escape the airport! On my way back I spent another full day in Hawaii on the beach, lunch, and sightseeing.
Citizens of several other countries are also eligible according to their website.