This Sunday, after standing in Immigration at O’Hare International Airport for over 45 minutes, I had an epiphany.
It was time to finally sign up for Global Entry!
While normally Immigration isn’t terrible if you are a US Citizen, when a bunch of flights come in at the same time, it can be positively terrible.
On last year’s MegaDO, when we flew to O’Hare from Frankfurt, there was a 2 hour line for Immigration for US Citizen and over 4 hours for non-US Citizens.
Many people who were seated in the back of the 747 from Frankfurt (ie. me), didn’t make it to the Hyatt Reception in Downtown Chicago on time because we spent so much time in line.
All the people on the MegaDO with Global Entry, passed through Immigration in 5 minutes.
That should have been an indication I should have signed up for Global Entry, but for some reason or the other, I brushed it off.
Well that was dumb of me because once again I got stuck in Immigration on my past trip.
What Is Global Entry
Global Entry is a program that allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers to receive expedited clearance upon arrival into the United States.
So instead of waiting in Immigration line, you simply walk to one of the few computer terminals, scan in, and then walk through immigration.
It literally takes 1 minute to pass through Immigration if you have Global Entry.
Also with Global Entry, you don’t need to fill out those annoying Paper Sheets that they give you on the Airplane.
Really for anyone that travels outside of the United States more than once a year, I’d strongly recommend signing up.
These are separate programs and you have to apply and pay separately for them.
How To Sign Up For Global Entry
While it is free to participate in Global Entry, there is a $100 non-refundable application fee for the program.
While $100 is not small change, once you are approved for Global Entry, it is good for 5 years with no additional fees.
To enroll in Global Entry, applicants must first file an application with Customs and Border Protection, and then submit to an interview and background check.
You can submit the application online here and the interview takes place at the Airport.
During the interview, the applicant’s fingerprints are captured and a digital photo is taken.
Applicants are also given instruction on how to use the automated kiosk.
Once an application is approved, the applicant may use the Global Entry kiosk at any participating airport for a duration of 5 years.
Getting the $100 Fee Waived
For those of you that don’t want to pay the $100 fee, there are a couple of ways to get it waived.
The first would be to have Elite Status.
Many Airlines provide a fee waiver to their Top Tier Elite Status (United).
If you don’t have Elite Status, you can also get a fee waiver if you have an American Express Platinum Card.
While there is a $450 Annual Fee on the Platinum Card, as part of the benefits, you can get $200 in reimbursable Airfare fees every year (can be spent on Airline giftcards), as well as a $100 fee waiver on Global Entry.
This is on top of the Free Lounge Access and numerous other benefits that come with the Card.
If you are interested in getting the Card, American Express is offering 25,000 Membership Rewards Points after spending $2,000 in 3 months.
To anyone that travels abroad, I would highly recommend signing up for Global Entry.
Although there is $100 fee, because Global Entry is valid for 5 years, I personally think it is a good deal.
The one thing about Immigration is that if you don’t have Global Entry, there is literally nothing you can do but wait in line.
So don’t delay and sign up for Global Entry.
There is no worse feeling than standing in line at Immigration and then just looking at Global Entry wishing you had signed up for it earlier.
I am going to sign up today, so I will keep you updated on the process.
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