It’s 5am and my Lyft driver has come to pick me up at my hotel in Atlanta. I have a 6:30am flight to catch. With boarding starting at 6am, I figure I can get to the airport in thirty minutes and get to the departure gate on time.
Still bleary-eyed and exhausted from keeping up the conversation with my chatty Lyft driver, I arrive at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport at 5:30am. I print out my boarding pass and go to the security line. On a Friday morning at the start of the spring break travel season, the security line snakes back and forth at least a dozen rows deep. I’m surprised how many people are in line this early in the morning. The wait time must be at least an hour. If I were to be in this line, I would never make it in time for my 6:30am flight.
Fortunately, I have Global Entry, which includes TSA Pre√®. I go straight to the TSA Pre√® line, which has two people in front of me. I blaze through the security screening area and still have enough time before my flight to pick up a bagel and coffee for breakfast.
I’ve seen this scene of excruciatingly long security lines at domestic airports all over the United States. Millions of people start their trips with frustration, worry, and anxiety about getting through long security lines and having to deal with all of TSA’s rules including no shoes, 3-1-1 liquids, and laptops out of bags. Recently, Chicago’s Midway Airport had TSA lines going out to the parking lot with wait times of almost two hours. Read about it here.
Coming into the United States through immigration can be just as frustrating. Not only do you have to deal with long lines, but also random questioning and inspection of your bags. This whole process can be stressful, especially after a long international flight and if you are trying to make a tight connection to your final destination in the United States.
Thank goodness I have Global Entry and TSA Pre√®. It’s the best $100 I’ve spent for my travel sanity. In fact, I made sure our family would never get slowed down at an airport by enrolling my wife and kids too. When we travel, we don’t have to worry about waiting in long lines at airports anymore, which makes traveling more enjoyable and less stressful with our kids.
What befuddles me is how many people haven’t signed up for Global Entry yet. At $100 for five years, it’s a $20 per year investment. How much do you value not waiting in long security lines, actually making your connections, and getting through immigrations without any hassles? If you travel at least once or twice a year, getting Global Entry makes sense.
These are the six reasons why you should sign up for Global Entry right now:
- No more long security TSA lines: These lines are getting notoriously longer, as more people are carrying on bags and getting checked for things that they cannot bring through the lines (bottle of water, etc). Skip these lines and head straight to the much shorter TSA Pre√® line.
- You get all the TSA Pre√® benefits: With TSA Pre√®, you don’t need to remove your shoes, laptops, belts, light jackets, and 3-1-1 liquids. You get through security lines easier and with less hassle, so you can get to your departure gate on time.
- No more long immigration lines: Very rarely have I seen an immigration line that is short and easy to get through. I’ve been in lines that have taken over an hour to get through, which is the last thing I wanted to encounter after long flights from Asia. With Global Entry, you input your info at a Global Entry kiosk, get a printout, and you’re on your way to baggage claim.
- Less chance of getting bags inspected at customs: Prior to having Global Entry, I’d get my bags frequently “randomly” inspected. With Global Entry, my bags have never been inspected. Not only does bag inspection take up more time, but it also could lead to some hefty fines for not declaring some things on your custom form.
- It’s affordable: At $100 for five years of eligibility, Global Entry is $20 per year. To avoid all the headaches and stressful situations that those without Global Entry have to deal with it, it is worth every penny.
- It’s easy to enroll: As long as you don’t have a criminal background or any customs violations, you should be approved for Global Entry. Signing up is easy: submit an application online and get your fingerprints and photo taken during a short interview. The whole process from start to finish can take anywhere from 3-10 weeks, depending on when you are able to schedule your interview.
For more info on Global Entry, visit their website.