My family of four just got Global Entry, but we haven't traveled with it yet. We applied in January, and had to wait until 3/20 to do our appointments at SFO. My in laws in WI applied and did their interviews in Milwaukee in the span of a week.
The actual interview process felt chaotic, but it was all pretty routine.
Incidentally, my uncle got his Global Entry card with an arrest record. They asked him if he has ever been arrested, and he told the truth (that he was arrested for a fight in his youth). The agent said it's no big deal if there is something like that in your record, as long as you are upfront about it on the application and in the interview.
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I will say Global Entry is definitely worth it - I finally got to use it earlier this week, although I had used the Pre-Check feature a couple of times. Coming back from London to LAX, I think I was able to get through customs and immigration in less than 10 minutes (I also didn't have checked luggage). The only minor issue was I was scolded for not completely appearing in the photo in the receipt - I was advised to stand back a little bit since I'm short.
Without GE and Pre-check I don't think I would have made my connecting flight in another terminal - I'd allocated plenty of time initially but delays on both ends of my London flight really ate into it.
Maybe this earns my a bit of a frown but here are my thoughts anyway: the TSA-Proces is a pain for everybody and it does not even provide the security it is invented for. And now one can get around it (what is great!) but this costs 1oo $ (what is not good). So one has to take time and pay money (every 5 years) to avoid something, that is not doing the intended job (making flying save from brainless idiots) in the first place.
I get, why you are doing it and I would too if I'd life in America but the whole thing sounds so... well I have no words for it.
Agree. It's extortion, but I paid my $100 anyway. Too bad it has to be this way. Whenever I go through Europe the security personnel are so polite and efficient, and it makes me wish we could have the same thing in the U.S.
Yes I would be paying too as I said. I have never been to America jet. But someday I will and I am most curious about it. I hope if one does what one is toled at TSA and is polite about it one has nothing to fear? (Hi hi, one talks a bit strange, does one not?) We Germans have a lot inefficiency and stupidity on our own so who am I to point a finger.
Have a good travel where ever it takes you. (But given the bags we all travel with, this goes without saying.
I agree with the comparisons of US vs European and Australian security - it's always such a shock coming back to the US and the general rudeness and lack of professionalism here, plus a lot of it seems so unnecessary. I have less objection to having to pay for Global Entry - I can see smuggling items, needing to declare big purchases, or even bringing in illegal foodstuffs (sometimes unknowingly) as a serious issue and I was warned when I had my interview that having GE doesn't give you an automatic pass - that you might still have your bag searched.
Pre-Check on the other hand I see as a form of extortion - I think everyone should be screened this way unless there's something to warrant a more detailed search.
I've only been to the US a few times, all in the last 2-3 years, but I've had no trouble with the TSA. Some of the security people are a bit po-faced, but others are perfectly pleasant. I don't like having the full-body scans and agree that it's all a charade, designed to make it look like the government are doing something, but what can you do?
Just used the global entry kiosk / global entry customs line. at IAD - totally awesome, specially seeing the long and winding line for immigration clearance.
As I came out of the immigration area, I saw a baggage handler literally throwing bags off a carousel. I suggested that the owners of the bags may be more appreciative of his efforts if he didn't throw the bags. He said that there are too many bags and the baggage carousel gets stuck. I said, yes, but you don't have to throw the bags. I heard the throwing of bags as I walked away, so I don't think he was too appreciative of my advice.
I don't think you can use your camera in the customs area, but a 30 second clip of the bags being thrown would have made a great video on why to carry on and not check bags.
I was actually thinking of checking a suitcase on my next trip (before you freak out, let me put it into context), with my Brompton folding bike inside. But seeing first hand how bags are handled, I just don't know. Unfortunately, it's too big to carry on. Shipping it ahead will be a pain given the hassle of getting it through customs. So we shall see...