Global Entry or Why I Ended Up in Detroit Alone

I felt like I was at Disney World with the magical FastPass, but in reality I had just gotten off a 13 hour flight from South Korea and just wanted to get home. Thank goodness for Global Entry allowing me a swift exit and the ability to skip the long lines of tourists and travelers arriving at O’Hare International Airport.

O’Hare has gotten better with customs and immigration processing for US citizens through automated machines, but the lines can still be quite long! Global Entry saved me a good 30-45 minutes in line. I was out of the immigration area within 2 minutes, although it took me a couple minutes to get my checked bags (wish my bags had Global Entry too).

Global Entry is essential to me now, but mostly for the TSA Pre-Check aspect. I travel domestically in the USA more frequently for work and fun rather than internationally (as of right now).

During the TSA’s excessive lines earlier this year, passengers were actually missing their flights! Seriously, airlines were recommending to arrive 3 to 4 hours ahead of your flight even if it was domestic. I was just not about that life, so I quickly began my application. I enthusiastically handed in the $100 application fee for Global Entry.

How to get Global Entry membership:

  1. Complete the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) application.
  2. Pay the $100 application fee (no, you don’t get this back if denied)
  3. Once U.S. Customs and Border Protection has reviewed your application, you will be notified of conditional acceptance or denial on the GOES website (check back frequently)
  4. Make and attend your interview appointment at a Global Entry Enrollment Center
  5. Obtain Global Entry membership
  6. Travel happily with no customs headache and shorter TSA lines!

O’Hare Int’l Airport’s Global Entry center had a completely full schedule until September – basically after I would be back from my big Asia trip! I quickly started searching for available appointments within a 2-4 hour drives radius. Detroit’s Global Entry office had the soonest available date.

I said, “Screw it, let’s (me being the only person in the let’s) drive to Detroit!”, which is a roughly 3 hour drive from Chicago, and do a little sightseeing of a city I hadn’t been to since I was 6 years old.

The actual interview was 10 minutes long and most of it was spent waiting for a US Customs and Border Protection officer to be available. The officer took my printed out acceptance letter and passport. He then asked me about 5 questions while reviewing my application and proceeded to take my picture.

  • Why do you want Global Entry? – To get through customs faster.
  • Have you ever been arrested? – No, why would I be even conditionally accepted into this program if I was…
  • A question about my work history and my workplaces – This was honestly a little weird to explain to someone that I’m freelancing for several companies and also at the time had a part time job, but also had just graduated from college.
  • Travel history – I listed the few countries I had visited in the last 5 years.

After being “satisfied” (no red flags) with my answers, the agent explained how to use Global Entry kiosks and other relevant information.

So the whole process of getting Global Entry was tedious… but it was worth it, because now I have the next five years to zip through customs lines!

By the way, after you have Global Entry, don’t forget to use your Known Traveler Number while booking flights when possible!

I had a couple free hours to explore a bit of Detroit’s downtown area and grab a Coney Dog at Lafeyette Coney Island near Washington Boulevard, which was so good (not as good as Portillo’s obviously).

Detroit - Global Entry - AirKeena

I already can’t wait to take my next flight to use Global Entry’s fast line again! Have you applied for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check yet?

 

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