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

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

Joseph HostetlerHow Global Entry Saved Me $570 When I Arrived Late to the AirportMillion Mile Secrets Team

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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.  The $95 annual fee is waived on both of them for 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:

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

@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!!!!

@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.

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

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

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!

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