This is a typical airport experience for Mr. Husband and I trying to return from an overseas vacation:
- Rush to customs/immigration.
- Wait semi-patiently in line all the while hoping we don’t miss our connection and that Mr. Husband doesn’t wet his pants (he’s not a fan of airplane loos).
- Greet Customs Worker as nicely as possible without seeming creepy or drunk (free drinks on international flights WOOOHOOOO!).
- Get pulled aside to wait in a very Soviet-esque customs police office (either totally empty or full of people coughing and hacking).
- Hope they clear Mr. Husband before his bladder ruptures or I catch a deadly disease.
All this happens because Mr. Husband has a rather common name and apparently someone else with that name was a very very very bad man. The last time we went through this ordeal on our way back from the UK (where we adopted Fiona the Hairy Coo), the Customs Dude told Mr. Husband that if he got Global Entry he “probably” wouldn’t have to go through this anymore.
Sign us up NOW!
Mr. Husband had previously gotten a Redress Number because before getting it (thanks to that very very very bad man) he wasn’t allowed to do online check in or even use one of those little kiosks for self-serve check in. We always had to go to the ticket agent, show various forms of ID, and keep our fingers crossed that he wasn’t pulled aside to some little room.
With the Redress Number in hand it was like we were real people. Able to check in early, able to use kiosks, able to laugh at the people waiting in the ticket agent line, you know, that sort of thing.
So with the hope that the Global Entry would keep him on the good side of Homeland Security, he planned to apply before our next international trip (but not too soon since the GE is only good for five years and ain’t free). And since it didn’t make sense for only one of us to slip through the TSA-PreCheck line, I signed up as well.
Global Entry – it really should be “Re-Entry” since it allows you to more easily re-enter the US from other parts of the globe – not only allows you to skate through customs more quickly, but also means (supposedly, more on that later) you don’t have to go through the ordeal of shoe removal, jacket removal, liquids removal, laptop removal, first born child removal, and all the other removals you have to do to get through airline security. Instead, you get to stay fully dressed and fully packed and skip through a special line at security (you know you’ve seen these people and hated them, right?). It also allows Americans smoother sailing back and forth across the Canadian border.
The first step in the whole process is to fill out a LONG application all about yourself. This application isn’t terribly tough, but for some reason you have to enter your birthdate (and a few other bits of info) about 196 times (give or take). That done, you fork over a nice chunk of change and then wait, wait, wait to see if you cleared the first hurdle.
Since neither of Mr. Husband nor myself has much of a criminal history (never convicted anyway), we were approved. Time for the next hurdle…making an appointment for the interview. Because this program is gaining in popularity and because there aren’t a lot of interview places there wasn’t an appointment available for four months from our approval date. A long way out but thankfully far before our planned trip this fall.
Now, when you hear the word “interview” what do you think? Questions, right? Probably questions of the tough variety. So for four months I’m wondering what kind of questions they’ll ask and will my smart ass mouth be able to answer them without getting myself arrested.
Finally, this Monday, the day of The Interview had arrived. We went up to a very tiny, very shabby room (seriously, can’t they use all these Global Entry application fees to jazz the place up a bit?) and waited. For what I don’t know as there was no one else before us, but soon enough we were in front of our interrogator, I mean interviewer. What would he ask? Would I get the wrong answer? What!?
The questioning begins….
“Do you still live at…?” and “Are you still self-employed?” I nailed both of them! With that round of Jeopardy done I was ready and eager for more. But apparently “interview” means different things to the Department of Homeland Security. because that was it. He scanned my fingerprints, snapped a picture (ick), gave us an info sheet about how to use the Global Entry kiosks, and told us how long it would be before we got our cards.
So now we’re approved and will hopefully zip through Pre-Check…oh, about that. Mr. Customs did tell us that the system will randomly not put a Pre-Check approval on some boarding passes even if you have jumped through the Global Entry hoops. With our vacation luck, I can see that happening on our first time trying to use it. I’ve also heard nightmares about the Global Entry kiosks. Sigh, maybe Mr. Husband better learn to use those airplane loos after all.
Any horrible (or wonderful) Global Entry/Pre-Check experiences, airport mishaps, or general airplane complaints you want to share? Feel free to vent…
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