Last month, My Vacation Lady was invited to participate in a travel agent familiarization trip to Tahiti through the Tahiti Tourist Board. In order to get to Tahiti, the flight originates and returns to LAX, which is a huge airport.
On the day we were leaving, my colleague and traveling companion applied for Global Entry. While we were gone, she received an email that it was approved and she used it upon her return from Tahiti at LAX to bypass the customs lines.
So what is Global Entry?
Basically, it’s a skip the customs line program for U.S. citizens who pay $100 for 5 years for the privilege and are approved.
Have you ever had the benefit of seeing TSA Pre Check on your airline boarding pass? We did and we loved that we didn’t have to take off our shoes, remove toiletries from our carry on or take out our laptop from the bag. We also had a special security line that moved much faster. On my way to LAX from Newark Liberty Airport, it took me less than 5 minutes to get through the TSA Pre check security line.
This is the teaser— this is what the TSA wants you to experience so that you’ll pay the $100 for the Global Entry program.
So back to Global Entry— upon our return from Tahiti, those of us without the Global Entry program waited online at customs for about 20 minutes, which is not terrible by most standards. My traveling companion swiped her passport at a kiosk and was out the door. Her total time from getting off the plane to getting out of the airport was 18 minutes and much of that included waiting for her luggage.
So is the Global Entry program worth it for you?
If you travel more than twice a year (originating from airports and airlines that are on the TSA Pre check list ) and you hate lines, this program is definitely worth the $20 a year.
It is on our To Do list for 2014.