How Global Entry Saved Me $570 When I Arrived Late to the Airport

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INSIDER SECRET: Lots of people are intimidated by the hassle of applying for Global Entry, but you can get a same-day Global Entry appointment if you know what you’re doing.

Whenever we talk about Global Entry, we’re usually reminding you that it comes with a free membership to the insanely popular TSA PreCheck program which gives you the privilege of passing through airport security without stripping down to your knickers.

The primary feature of Global Entry is that it allows you to skip the giant immigration line when you return to the US from overseas.  But it serves another purpose, as well.  And it saved me hundreds of dollars (potentially $1,000+) during my trip to Abu Dhabi.

Reminder:   You can receive a 5-year Global Entry membership (up to $100 statement credit) if you pay with one of these cards:

Global Entry kiosks allow you to check yourself through immigration without waiting in a gigantic line. It takes your fingerprints and a picture of your face, and you hand it to an officer on your way out of the airport. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

Global Entry Saved Me From Missing My Transatlantic Flight

After a few days exploring Dubai, I was CRAZY late in arriving to the Abu Dhabi airport for my flight home.  So late, in fact, that when I walked up to the desk and asked for my boarding pass, the airline agent actually laughed out loud.  The flight was scheduled to take off in about an hour.  While that might seem like a manageable amount of time to make it to the plane in a US airport, that’s largely a no-no in other countries.

On top of that, US Customs & Border Protection has added a feature at the Abu Dhabi airport called “pre-clearance.”  I DID NOT KNOW THIS.  Pre-clearance basically means you go through all the customs and immigration stuff at your departure airport instead of your arrival airport.  That extra step practically guaranteed I’d need to buy a separate plane ticket home.

Perhaps the most painful part of the story is that they informed me I’d been upgraded to Business Class.

This exact seat retailed at over $5,500 one-way. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

Out of desperation, I mentioned I was a member of Global Entry.  The desk agent’s demeanor sobered, and he quickly made a phone call asking someone if I had time to make the flight as a Global Entry member.  He then printed my boarding pass and told me to hurry to the gate.  I distinctly remember my feet never touching the ground.

Shopping for tickets from Abu Dhabi to the US after the fact, it looks like Global Entry saved me ~$570.  That’s the price of a coach flight for my route.  But a Business Class ticket would cost significantly more, so I’m elated I didn’t squander the upgrade.

Which Airports Offer Pre-Clearance?

Global Entry will be of great help to you if you’re flying from just about anywhere back to the US.  But it’s extra handy when you need to arrive at the airport early in a foreign country due to pre-clearance.  Here’s where you’ll find US pre-clearance:

Canada:

  • Calgary
  • Edmonton
  • Halifax
  • Montreal
  • Ottawa
  • Toronto
  • Vancouver
  • Winnipeg

Caribbean:

  • Aruba
  • Bermuda
  • Grand Bahamas
  • Nassau

Other:

  • Abu Dhabi
  • Dublin
  • Shannon

US pre-clearance is still trying to add itself to other European countries.  This will make Global Entry even more useful!

Again, you’ll get the $100 Global Entry application fee waived if you use any of the following cards:

I have the 2 above cards. Both has a $95 annual fee but the fee is waived on the United Explorer the first year, so you’ll receive the credit for the Global Entry fee, along with a whole bunch of valuable miles if you meet their spending requirement!

These cards have higher annual fees, but they also come with superior travel benefits.

Let me know if you have Global Entry, or if you see it in your future!  And sign-up for our newsletter for other travel tips and tidbits:

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Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Donna
1 year ago

I have pre tsa, is it possible to upgrade to global entry

Beth-ann
1 year ago

@Leslie – Definitely log into your account regularly to check the status. And then – if availability for an appointment isn’t soon enough, there sometimes IS an alternative to “just waiting….” We are lucky enough to have a couple of places in our metro area to check availability for appointments, but the program has gotten so popular that the wait has become longer. For my initial appointment, the availability in another city to which I happened to be traveling was much shorter, so I booked it, got to the airport super early, and got my status there! (And, if you find an appointment in an off-the-beaten-track airport or facility, maybe find a low-cost flight and rack up your miles!) I know it sounds extreme, but after once waiting on the immigration line for 2 1/2 hours, I swore that would never happen again. And now, with Global Entry, I’m always out of immigration and customs before our luggage arrives at the belt.

ONE MORE TIP for people taking a trip to DC: we have an in-city Global Entry processing center at the Reagan Center. It’s often empty. So take a few days R&R to tour the amazing (and free!) Smithsonians and get your Global Entry while you’re here.

FINAL TIP: appointments become available! So keep checking, even after you’ve booked your appointment, as you may be able to get it done sooner, either near your home base or at another facility if you find yourself traveling for any reason. Do get it. It’s fantastic!!!!

Beth-ann
1 year ago

@Diane: Global Entry definitely includes TSA Precheck 100% of the time. We used 2 different platinum cards to get ours (and got reimbursed for both!), and then I got one for our grandson traveling with us and my mother-law (because we want everyone traveling with us to have precheck!), and we have renewed 3 of them already. At $20/year, it’s one of the best bargains on the planet for travelers.

Denise
1 year ago

My family of 4 has Global Entry thanks to our Amex Plat cards. We will be using GE for the first time going to Bonaire. So glad to know about pre-clearance. Too bad they don’t have that on Bonaire.
Thanks for the info. Glad you made your flight!

Priscilla M. Cunanan
1 year ago

I have Global Entry and I love it! I brag about to my friends and families and tell them to apply for it!

Andrew Wan
Reply to  Priscilla M. Cunanan
1 year ago

Global Entry is AMAZING! Anything to get through security more quickly.

I even tried a free trial of CLEAR a few months ago. Combined with my TSA PreCheck/Global Entry, I was through security in a matter of minutes. It was so awesome!

Diane
1 year ago

“Whenever we talk about Global Entry, we’re usually reminding you that it comes with a free membership to the insanely popular TSA PreCheck program which gives you the privilege of passing through airport security without stripping down to your knickers.”
This statement is a little misleading. It does not come with the TSA. They are two separate applications. I’m from Lincoln, Nebraska; and had to drive to Omaha for the TSA interview. Sad to say, the closest Global Entry interview was 3 1/2 hours away in Kansas City. So I was only able to get the TSA–which does not include the Global Entry. Exact wording from United Explorer: * To be eligible for this statement credit you must use your United℠ Explorer Card to either complete the Global Entry application and pay the $100 application fee, or complete the TSA Pre✓® application and pay the $85 application fee. A statement credit will be processed after the Global Entry program application fee OR TSA Pre✓® application fee (whichever program is applied for first) is charged to your United℠ Explorer Card. You are entitled to either: one (1) $100 statement credit per account, OR one (1) $85 statement credit per account, every 4 years in connection with the Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® program application fee.

Emily
Reply to  Diane
1 year ago

It’s not misleading at all. If you get Global Entry you will be enrolled in TSA Precheck. If you get Precheck you won’t get Global Entry unless you apply. The fact that you thought it was too far to go for the GE interview doesn’t make it untrue that GE comes with TSA Pre. It does.

K.M.
1 year ago

Nice going! Do you have status with Emirates and therefore were upgraded?

Leslie
1 year ago

What is going on currently with Global entry interviews? I have Biz Platinum card Card from AMEX and applied for Global entry in December end, but till today i’ve not heard anything back regarding my application or Interview.

Any idea is this delay coz of Government shutdown or what? How can i contact or find out about my application?

Moy
Reply to  Leslie
1 year ago

Log in into your account and it tells you what the status is.

Leslie
Reply to  Joseph Hostetler
1 year ago

What to do in this case?

Emily
Reply to  Leslie
1 year ago

Wait.

Penny
Reply to  Leslie
1 year ago

Hi Leslie,
From what I understand you CAN ONLY find out the status by logging back in to your Global Entry acct and checking your status, there will apparently be no letter or email or anything else to let you know if you can schedule an appointment. We’re currently waiting and hoping to do the GE upon arrival at the return of a trip. It says “in process” for us but it says that as soon as it says approved for appointment, you can click on the same screen to schedule an appt at the airport of your choice. Good luck!

Reed
1 year ago

Is the GE application fee covered for the primary cardholder only? Or will you receive the credit twice if the primary and authorized user each apply and charge the application fee to their card?

Alex
1 year ago

Could you please be more specific on how pre-clearance makes Global Entry more useful? I always thought it’s not useful since there is no special line for it at pre-clearance. Was something changed?

Emily
Reply to  Joseph Hostetler
1 year ago

Saved my butt in a similar situation. My flight was late getting to Toronto which has preclearance and requires US flights to preclear. So my layover was then not long enough to get through customs. But I had the exact same experience when I said I had Global Entry. I was told to go on through. Thank goodness.

Noine Hello Hello
1 year ago

Mobile Passport is a free app, it’s even quicker than Global Entry upon return to the USA.

I also have NEXUS, which includes TSA Pre Check and Global Entry.

josh mackles
Reply to  Noine Hello Hello
1 year ago

Global Entry allows you to use Global Entry kiosks at immigration AND use the expedited Global Entry line at customs. Mobile Passport might indeed be faster when it comes to passing through immigration if the line for the kiosks is backed up. But here’s the thing – it does nothing for you when it comes to customs. After you pick up your luggage, you will then have to join the same line as all the americans without Global Entry AND every single foreigner trying to leave the customs hall. Happy wait.

Joshua
Reply to  josh mackles
1 year ago

Not in my experience. I have Global Entry and Mobile Passport, and Mobile Passport gets me through customs just as fast because the line they have for Global Entry is also open for Mobile Passport users…done it at multiple airports.

Emily
Reply to  Joshua
1 year ago

It’s about to not be free. They just announced a subscription price.

MM
1 year ago

I’m confused. You state GE can be helpful flying from just about anywhere? The list seems quite limited.

Redman
1 year ago

My TSA Pre-check expires in a couple of months but still have years left on my Global Entry Pass. US Customs told us that the GE would extend the TSA PC. Is this true? Do I just continue to use the original known traveler number granted by TSA PC?

Jason
1 year ago

Didn’t know Global Entry worked at Pre-Clearance airports. Nice!

Linda Smythe
1 year ago

I have TSA and it will expire next year. I have chase Reserve and plan on renewing TSA this year. Do yo actomatically get Global Entry or is it a separate application?

Mike
Reply to  Linda Smythe
1 year ago

I am pretty sure that TSA PreCheck is included with Global Entry.

Jacky
1 year ago

I am also a GE member but too bad that Melbourne wasn’t included. They have a horribly backwards airport check in system and the gate security at the International Terminal doesn’t even know how to check for a mobile boarding pass! Cost me over 30 mins trying to find a supervisor, go through the manual security line when my passport didn’t scan 3 times, another 20 mins and missed my flight on Virgin Australia – never fly with them again. Had my Premium Economy Ticket VOIDED…I feel like it is a scam they must run there.

escot
1 year ago

Great story, with news we can use, I am duly impressed. (a further testimonial to the worth of Global Entry)

About pre-clearance foreign airports, when it works, that too can be quite a time saver. (used the one at Aruba two years ago — zipped right through. Alas, now if only they could do something about AUA’s arrival process there…. took us over two hours, just to enter…. Heard something about they were building new facilities? Anybody been there recently?)

Dwayne
Reply to  escot
1 year ago

We’re planning a trip for October to Aruba. Prayerfully, they’ve corrected all those issues