Is Global Entry worth it?
May 8, 2015 6:31 AM   Subscribe

I have some international trips coming up in the latter half of this year and was thinking of getting Global Entry to reduce airport hassles. When I traveled abroad a few years ago, it seemed a definite advantage (at least at my airport, Dulles), if only for the TSA Pre-Check. But, is it still that way? I read recently that they get 50,000 new applications every month, so I imagine as more people join, it may not be as useful.

I'm mostly concerned with airline travel and less so with driving across the border. I'm a US citizen.
posted by bluefly to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've heard people complain about long precheck lines but I fly a lot and haven't encountered any major problems. I breeze right through at just about every airport. Even if there's a little bit of a line, it moves much faster than the regular one, and I don't have to dig my liquids out of my bag or take off my shoes. Still well worth it in my experience. The one annoying thing I've encountered is sometimes smaller airports will just not have the Pre line open at non-peak times, or it will only be at certain checkpoints. But that's very rare for me.
posted by primethyme at 6:39 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Well, there's no downside. After you have it you can always choose whether to use it or not.
posted by mono blanco at 6:39 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Pre-Check lines are still a breeze and far more convenient. It comes out to $20 a year. Why wouldn't you?

Small bonus: if you lose your passport but have your Global Entry card, you'll have additional proof of your citizenship with you. You can't use it as proof of citizenship for most purposes like proving your eligibility to hold a job, but embassies might recognize it and save you a bit of grief.
posted by Somnambulista at 6:43 AM on May 8, 2015

IAD is also my home airport, and Global Entry + TSA Pre is worth the $20 for 5 years. If you stand in the right spot in the people mover, you can get through immigration and customs and out the airport in 15 minutes with GE.

Do make sure you read up on and comply with the rules for GE -- I declare everything I've got with me, no matter how mundane -- lest you end up being a cautionary tale.
posted by evoque at 6:45 AM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Totally worth it. Also note that several credit card companies including some flavors of AmEx will cover the fee for you -- worth checking.
posted by Perplexity at 6:55 AM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Well, there's no downside. After you have it you can always choose whether to use it or not.

I was just curious of people's experiences with it. Right now where I'm situated, it's kind of a long trip to get to an enrollment center. So, I wondered if it was worth going through a little hassle now to avoid more later (otherwise, I would just wait until a more convenient time or not get it at all).

15 min through Dulles I&C sounds awesome! One more question, does anyone know if Global Entry helps expedite US Customs Preclearance that they have at some airports, including Dublin?
posted by bluefly at 6:59 AM on May 8, 2015

Dunno where in the DC area you're located, but there's a GE enrollment center downtown and also in IAD.

Yes, GE works at all CBP pre-clearance locations, including DUB and SNN. Full list here.
posted by evoque at 7:06 AM on May 8, 2015

I live in the US but visit Toronto fairly often. I can't speak for Dublin, but the Global Entry preclearance process at YYZ (Terminal 1 at least) is like a dream.

I flew home just after Christmas (so packed airport), the regular preclearance lines were *long*. I got directed to a separate area with little kiosks (no human interaction... yay!). There were probably a dozen kiosks and just me in there. Scanned the necessary documentation, got a printout, and showed it to the officers on my way out.

Absolutely worth it.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:11 AM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Oh my god yes. [1] Fast lines, no unpacking shoes and computers, mixture of smug superiority with liberal guilt. Amazing.

Do you one better: apply for NEXUS, the joint US-Canada program, if you are near a participating joint station [2]. GE comes free as part of NEXUS. It's also slightly cheaper [3].

Having more people has actually made GE better, because travel sites and airlines now know about and handle "trusted traveller" numbers.

Usage Tip: Make sure your ticket always says TSA Precheck, or they will not let you into the fancy line, even if you have your card. You might have to inform your airline!

1. If you are willing to go through the government background check (your morals may vary), and accept that it insulates from the horrible security theatre that is US travel, and that this will make you less likely to fight against the corruption of the whole system, and realize it's totally a sign of privilege.

2. Seattle, NYC, YYZ, YVR, others. NOT MSP, for some reason. We went to International Falls, which was a deeply weird solution that confused everyone at that station.

3. Apologies to Douglas Adams.

posted by gregglind at 7:24 AM on May 8, 2015 [5 favorites]

Just as an anecdote for future readers - we live in Los Angeles, and recently my husband has had to have extensive dental work done, well outside of our insurance limits. We found out it was much cheaper to have it done in Tijuana. It will require several visits, which includes a minimum of 4 hours of travel on the day of (LA to the border, and back), to say nothing of the actual time for the work, and then the time for the return border crossing (over 3 hours the first time he went). For that reason alone we applied for GE, along with registering one of our vehicles. Last time he breezed through the border in 20 minutes. Bottom line = worth it.
posted by vignettist at 7:27 AM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm currently out in the boonies and will be here until my first trip of the year to Dublin out of IAD. But, y'all have convinced me to make the drive to the enrollment center especially since US preclearance was a nightmare for me in DUB last year.

By the way, evoque, I think you meant to link to the list of Global Entry locations. I saw that page before, but somehow, I didn't notice the non-Canadian/US airports on there.

Also, thanks for the tip on notifying the airline about GE to get the TSA Pre-check.
posted by bluefly at 7:34 AM on May 8, 2015

I get TSA Pre-check as part of my job (I'm a GS-Joe) and thus springing the GE money would only benefit me on my occaisional international trips. Also my home airport is in the middle of nowhere, so I have a several-hour layover any time I fly overseas. Zipping through customs and immigration just lands me at my gate with four hours to spare rather than three.

That said, for re-entry at ORD, DTW, and ATL the GE lines are consistantly lightning fast, at least from the vantage point of the commoner line. If I didn't have to make a connection every time I fly out of the country, I'd get GE in a heartbeat.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 8:15 AM on May 8, 2015

Absolutely worth it. The comments upthread about the TSA Pre-check lines getting longer are true, but they don't apply to what happens when you return to the US from a trip abroad. I travel internationally pretty often and have never had to wait for a kiosk. When you return from a long flight at an odd hour and you're jet-lagged and exhausted, skipping the often-long customs and immigrations lines is amazing.
posted by sunflower16 at 6:45 PM on May 8, 2015

Global Entry is awesome. You skip both the passport check and any customs lines. I'm out of the airport in 10 minutes if I don't check any bags. The pre-check benefit is more of a mixed bag.
posted by benbenson at 7:08 PM on May 8, 2015

Another option, which is free and does not require a visit to CBP, is the Mobile Entry app. It was actually faster than the GE line last time my SO entered at Miami. It does not get you PreCheck, however, so if your primary concern is saving time at security for domestic travel, it is not an option. But it's great for clearing customs and immigration.
posted by wierdo at 2:13 PM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I just applied for--and was granted--Global Entry, so if you have any questions about the process then you're welcome to send them my way.

The entire process was super easy (started my application in early April, got conditional approval a week later, set up an appointment for late April based on my scheduling needs, breezed through a five minute in-person interview at a major airport, received final approval that day including my Trusted Traveler Number, and a week later received my card in the mail).

Global Entry have a lot of folks applying right now because the news of the clampdowns on PreCheck going into place has sent a surge in applications. Even so, super quick and easy.
posted by librarylis at 8:04 PM on May 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

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