How to Avoid Long US Customs Lines at International Airports
For baby boomer travelers, there’s nothing worse than enduring a long overseas flight and then having to spend hours in line at the US Customs Station. ACK!
That’s exactly what we did on a recent flight from Tahiti to Los Angeles.
We spent well over two hours in a monstrous US Customs line before we were allowed back into the United States. And then, because I bought my wife a little South Pacific keepsake, we spent more time in a declarations line, and then over an hour getting to our luggage.
To make matters worse, we stood in line and looked at the shiny new Global Entry Kiosks that absolutely no one used. I told Carol, “before our next international flight, let’s get our Global Entry Cards so that we can avoid these lines”.
Being the highly organized gal that she is, we just got our cards in the mail.
Global Entry 101
Here’s how the program works:
- Go online and fill out an application.
- Once your application has been reviewed, you will be asked to schedule an interview at one of the Global Entry Enrollment Centers. At that interview, a CBP officer will determine your eligibility, take your photograph, and collect fingerprints.
- At the interview, you will also need a valid passport and one other form of identification such as a driver’s license or ID card. If you are a permanent resident of the U.S., you must provide your permanent resident card.
A non-refundable application fee of $100 per applicant will be charged at the time of application. If approved, membership is valid for five years.
Note: as American Express Platinum Card members, we were able to get one of our application fees credited back on our monthly statement.
Now, as I understand it, the next time we are flying back into the U.S., we’ll get to use one of the Global Entry Kiosks. If all goes well, we simply insert our passports into the reader, have our fingerprints scanned, and off we go. No more long lines. Yabba Dabba Dooo!
Oh, another big benefit of the program is that you can also get expedited screening in the TSA airport security checkpoints. Flying back to Phoenix from Los Angeles recently, we went to the front of a very long security line. SWEET!
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We recently got our Global Entry cards and used them at Dulles airport—no line for us!! Tried to use our Global Entry cards for TSA PreCheck at Dulles for IcelandAir—TSA said no. I guess they only work for US carriers
Sweet. We love our Global Entry Cards. Hmmm. I think it depends on the airline. When we flew home from Canada recently, they said no to TSA precheck, but when we presented our Global Entry Cards they let us skip the long line.