Before I moved abroad, it would have never occurred to me to get Global Entry. I couldn’t afford to travel and the $100 fee was too much for me to consider, since I had only traveled outside the country three times in the last five years (all to the same place!) So it didn’t occur to me at first to get it. It was at the urging of my Mom that I decided to get it.
The appeal wasn’t just the promise of short lines a U.S. Immigration and Customs, but also the ability to save passport pages. You may not think this is a big deal if you only travel overseas once a year, but when you live in another country, the entry and visa stamps add up fast. Every time I was coming back to the U.S., I was getting two stamps. Fortunately, Qatar has a similar system called e-gate and I wasn’t getting stamps in Qatar. Since I have moved to Qatar, I have been on 12 trips to other countries and I have been back to the U.S. four times. Plus, my residence permit takes up a whole page in my passport. My passport was rapidly filling up. This alone was reason enough for me to get Global Entry. I am saving pages in my passport! Of course, now I have the passport with extra pages already built it.
Of course, the faster entry into the U.S. is also helpful. The line in Dallas, where I normally fly into, isn’t too bad because they have installed electronic immigration stations for U.S. citizens. Where it is nice, is waiting to clear customs as you have your own line. I haven’t gotten to test the TSA Pre-Check feature because your airline has to participate and Qatar Airways does not. The TSA Pre-Check security gate is also nowhere near the Qatar Airways check-in counters at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and I am not walking down to another line for it since I am Gold with Qatar Airways and usually get to go through the First/Business security line.
Should you get Global Entry? If you travel internationally at least once a year, every year for the five years the membership is good for, I say yes. Some other travel experts disagree saying that if you check a bag then you are stuck waiting for the bag but do still have to go through customs. Having Global Entry could save you time there. As I mentioned, you still save all those U.S. stamps in your passport and that is worth a lot if your passport is low on pages and not expiring any time soon. Ultimately, you have to weigh the costs and benefits for yourself. The application is long and you will have to wait a few months to get an appointment, but then it is very easy to use.
Do you have Global Entry? What do you think?