Global Entry + SmartGate = Awesome!
Earlier this week I saw something in my mailbox that got me really excited:
So why did this get me all excited?
Well, I remember both times I arrived to Sydney, there were HUGE lines to get through passport control and then even longer and completely disorganized lines to get through Customs.
While in pretty much every other country going through Customs is a breeze, as long as you do not have anything to declare, in Australia and New Zealand it could be quite and ordeal. Both countries are legitimately worried about introduction of foreign species into their eco-system, whether it is plants, animals or bacteria. Essentially, being in the middle of nowhere, their natural habitats do not get exposed to new things often and therefore, do not have an immunity of sorts to such things.
So it is more or less a valid issue, but one that makes it a royal pain in the behind to get into either country.
Luckily, on my arrival from Bangkok, I was able to utilize the priority lines, courtesy of flying Thai Airways business class as part of my round-the-world itinerary.
It was a whole different story when I arrived from Auckland on a
cattle economy-class ticket - I spent over an hour dealing with this mess. Not a good thing if someone is waiting to pick you up...
So now, you can probably see why I was so excited to see this email. Being a part of Global Entry program, it already saves me heaps of time when entering the US. Earlier this year the TSA allowed Global Entry folks to utilize the TSA Precheck lanes at security check points at various airports (no need to take off the shoes or the belt, take out liquids or laptops, or get zapped by radiation - good ole metal detector instead). I almost feel like a human again going through security now, imagine that!
Even though I do not have any plans to go back to Australia any time soon (gotta make some serious money first!), it is nice to know that if I do end up there again, I will not have to deal with long lines and have some predictability over the process.
The enrollment in Global Entry program costs $100 and, if approved, lasts for four years. If you get the American Express Platinum credit card, they reimburse the application fee. Both, the Global Entry and the American Express Platinum card are great tools for world travelers and I will be doing a more comprehensive write up on each (and how I leveraged them) shortly.