Toward the end of last year, Pete and I both signed up for Global Entry. As frequently as we travel, I can’t believe we didn’t do this sooner! Having used it for our last three trips, I can tell you, it’s worth every penny. It’s like buying a first class ticket through the security line, it makes travel feel hassle-free, and I no longer dread going through security. Want to know why? Here’s just a few reasons you should look into signing up for Global Entry:
1 – Global Entry Includes TSA Pre-Check
Global Entry is a program through US Customs that pre-qualifies eligible travelers for reduced security screening. The application fee is $100, that’s just $15 more than TSA Pre-Check and it also includes the benefits TSA Pre-Check! So, once you’ve been approved, you’ll be a registered trusted traveler on both domestic (TSA Pre-Check) and international flights (Global Entry). If you travel internationally, this is the way to go.
2 – Save Time
The first time I used my Global Entry card, I actually used it for a domestic flight from Orlando to Albuquerque. I arrived at the airport 2 hours early for my flight, got through security in about 5 minutes, and then waited at the airport for those whole two hours. Thank goodness there was a Starbucks where I could grab a coffee and chill during that extra time! Now, you should always schedule some wiggle room in case of traffic or road accidents, but your time waiting in line at security is significantly reduced as the que for TSA-Precheck and Global Entry is typically shorter and moves quickly. (For international flights, you’ll use the Global Entry kiosks instead of waiting in a long line for passport control.)
3 – Stay Dressed At Security
I don’t know about you, but taking off my shoes and sweater was a hassle. Since I live in Florida, I typically always wear sandals or some other type of open-toe shoe which seems like it would be a time-saver since I could slip them off easily. But then I was stuck walking through the security line … barefoot. Ick. Well, that only happened once before I got smart and started carrying little footies or socks to slip on. Still, going through security felt like the opening intro to the children’s show, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood (for those of you old enough to remember), taking off shoes, taking off a sweater, putting on footies, walking through the line, putting shoes back on, etc. Well, with Global Entry, you can keep your shoes, belts, and sweaters on.
4 – Keep Your Bags Packed At Security
In addition to shedding the clothing I mentioned above, there’s also the inconvenience of removing your laptop and quart sized bag of liquids from your carry-on when going through airport security. Some travel days, I felt stretched to the max (figuratively and literally) while watching four plastic bins filled with my expensive electronics, my make-up and face creams, shoes, sweater, scarves, and anything else TSA asked me to remove and put on the x-ray conveyor belt. It felt degrading. No more. With Global Entry, I put my fully packed carry-on on the conveyor belt to be scanned and walk right trough the medal detector fully clothed, shoes and all.
5 – The Application Is Easy
The reason I put it off for so long is because I thought the Global Entry application process would be time consuming. It really wasn’t. The only part of the online application process that took a little extra time was listing out all the countries I’ve visited in the last 10 years. The rest of it was pretty straight forward and once I received confirmation that my application had been processed, I was able to easily set up an appointment time for my in-person interview with security administration online.
If you’re in a time crunch to get your Global Entry application approved before a scheduled trip, check and see if a smaller airport has available appointment times for your interview. For instance, I scheduled my interview at Orlando International Airport, and their appointments were booked about two weeks in advance. Pete looked up and found that the Sanford Airport, only about a 35 minute drive north of Orlando International, had appointment times available the next day.
TIP: Schedule your interview at a smaller airport on the approved list in order to speed up the process.
Overall, I’ve loved the convenience of traveling with a Trusted Traveler number and look forward to enjoying those benefits when traveling internationally later this year.
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