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A few years ago, I signed up for Global Entry through my Citi Prestige card. In addition to the $250 airline credit and complimentary 4th (consecutive) night stay at a hotel booked through their site, the card offers a $100 Global Entry credit. The American Express Platinum card offers the same credit. Global Entry is a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows its members expedited clearance into the United States through automated kiosks. As some who travels with a carry on exclusively, this seemed like the perfect program.
You have to apply on the Global Entry website, get approved, and then schedule the interview. The issue that I had with Global Entry was the long wait time for an appointment in Dallas. At the time, the next available appointment was three months out. I made the appointment, but began to search for alternative locations and appointments. As luck would have it, I had a layover in Chicago enroute to Tokyo. I looked online to see if the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) office had any available appointments, it did not. I then phoned the office to inquire about a walk in. The agent stated that I could do a walk in, but he would not guarantee the length of my wait (so you are saying that there is a chance?).
I arrived at the CBP office at Chicago O’Hare’s Terminal 5 to find about 15 people waiting. I approached the window, stated my reason for visiting (CBP offices handle more than Global Entry applications), and handed over my passport. The agent stated that she could not give me an accurate wait time, but she would do her best to get me in for my interview. I grabbed a seat and waited my turn. A little more than an hour passed and I heard my name (woohoo!). I was escorted to a desk in a back room where I was asked a series of questions. After the questions, the agent stated that my application was approved. He swiped my passport and told me that I was not free to use the Global Entry kiosks upon my return to the states. The entire interview took five minutes.
One thing that I did not know was that you are enrolled in TSA Precheck once approved from Global Entry. You just have to load your Global Entry number as the Known Traveler Number section in the airline reservation. Fun fact: Active duty military have complimentary TSA Precheck, they only have to load their DOD ID number into the Known Traveler Number section in the airline reservation.
This is my only experience with a Global Entry interview. To test out the walk in process, I have asked my friend Matt to make an appointment at Houston Intercontinental Airport during our layover for Costa Rica. I will wait for him in spirit (or with spirits) at the American Express Centurion Lounge.
Global Entry is a great program. I value all of the time that I have saved by enrolling in the program. The one thing that makes it better is that it is ‘free’ from select credit cards. Why not take advantage of all of your credit card benefits?