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Global Entry Really Works November 9, 2012

Posted by Peter Varhol in Technology and Culture.
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As a fairly frequent air traveler, I do what I can to make travel civilized and less stressful. I started my journey to trusted traveldom last summer because I wanted to use the TSA PreCheck security lines at the airport, and came away a couple of weeks ago as a participant in the Customs and Immigration Service’s Global Entry program.

I had my first opportunity to use it yesterday morning, coming back from the TesTrek Conference in Toronto. Toronto Pearson, like several large Canadian airports, has US Customs and Immigration facilities so that travelers to the US clear before actually arriving at a US airport.

I had a Delta ticket for a flight that was operated by a partner in crime, Westjet. I started at the Delta kiosk, which told me that I needed to check in at Westjet. As they were in the same terminal at Pearson, I just had to walk down to the other end of the terminal, where a Westjet representative told me that I had to check in at Delta. I declined to get into the recursive argument, and instead had to see a live person.

We were not off to a great start (Delta, are you listening?), but the Westjet counters weren’t crowded, and the ticket agent was very helpful, so I was on my way to the maze of Customs and security within a few minutes.

After having my boarding pass checked, I was admitted to the US Customs and Immigration area. Even in the early morning, there were about 200 people in line ahead of me. However, there was a separate line for Nexus and Global Entry, and in a pleasant contradiction, there was no line. I simply walked up to the Global Entry kiosk, and offered my passport (face down, please). The kiosk acknowledged my passport, took a photo, scanned my fingerprints, asked me to confirm my address and answer the usual Customs and Immigration questions, and printed out an acknowledgement with my photo. I spent perhaps two minutes at the kiosk.

At Security, my boarding pass was scanned again and I was waved into the Nexus line, which was considerably shorter than the general one.

The total time from entering the terminal to getting to my gate was 20 minutes, and it probably would have been a couple of minutes shorter if there weren’t wheelchair people ahead of me at Security (I don’t begrudge them that). I seek out pleasant and stress-free experiences at airports, and this definitely qualified. Global Entry rates two thumbs up.

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Comments»

1. Ed Dodds - November 9, 2012

Tangential but have you seen socialflights.com ?

2. Piracetam - November 26, 2012

Went in for my interview today, and got approved for Global Entry. Basic interview; they’re interested in confirming the information you’d already entered into the system and finding out why you want the pass. Took a little extra time as it was the first day they offered it in Philly, so I was a training example, but still it was maybe 45 minutes all told. My short-term parking was between 30 and 60 minutes, so it was under an hour including getting into the airport and finding the CBP office and getting out again. Lots of warnings about my membership being canceled if I’m found breaking the rules (not declaring food, etc).


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