Last October, I applied for the Citi AAdvantage Executive card. Now, this was only my second card along my travel hacking journey, and I thought it was a great deal:
- 75,000 AAdvantage miles
- Admirals Club access
- Priority boarding
- Free bags
You get the idea. It also came with free Global Entry. Pay for Global Entry with the card, get a statement credit. Easy right?
Starting the Process
I was originally going to wait a while before applying. I figured if I didn’t have any international trips coming up soon, I might as well wait until I do. I mean, I wanted to get the most out of it, of course.
Upon chatting with a friend from FlyerTalk, I learned that the interview schedule for Boston was packed! I promptly went home and applied. The application for Global Entry is involved, to say the least. Everywhere you’ve lived and worked for the last 5 years. For me, that’s a lot of places: 3 different apartments, 2 schools, 4 internships, 2 part time jobs, and finally, a full time job after graduation!
Hey, I don’t like to sit still much, I guess.
That was sometime around April 2016, and the earliest appointment available was in February of 2017…I didn’t want to wait that long. So I checked back periodically, and they happened to open up availability in September, which I was able to snag. New availability goes fast, and if you want to bump your appointment even further, you’ll just have to check back every so often. If enrollment is busy in your area, try these:
- Schedule for a different city. Book a cheap flight, and make a weekend out of it! After all, you’ll be able to get a good deal. You’re a travel hacker now. Remember?
- Just drop in! There’s been plenty of anecdotal evidence that shows you can just drop by and get the interview. Make sure you bring all your documents. Who knows, maybe somebody canceled last minute?
For reference, I just logged into my girlfriend’s GOES (Global Online Enrollment System) to look for availability. She’s currently waiting for her appointment, booked in early March:
A solid 4 month waiting period for new appointments. February 18th doesn’t work for you? You’ll have to wait until April, since there’s nothing at all in March. Just make sure you plan well in advance of your next international adventure.
As you can expect from above, I had to wait a bit before my interview. I waited 6 months, and the whole process took about 15 minutes. 15 minutes is probably even an exaggeration.
Maybe 10 minutes.
I found the Global Enrollment office in Terminal E at Boston Logan, and sat outside patiently for a few minutes. After a short wait, the Customs and Border Patrol officer stepped out, and took inventory (there were a few of us waiting). He confirmed my 6:15 appointment time, and led me into the office.
I handed over my passport, my license, a recent utility bill (because my current address is different from the one printed on my license), and a printout of the conditional approval notice. Come to think of it, he didn’t even glance at the approval notice.
He then asked me a few questions that you’d probably expect. Where do you usually travel? Where was your most recent trip? Where will you be travelling in the future? Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Arrested? Not even in college?
…are you sure?
I assured him that while my classmates were out getting themselves in trouble, I happened to be working on spreadsheets and tracking my net worth. You know, because I’m just that cool. (Ok, so my parties did get busted occasionally, but I always made it out alive!)
After a few more questions, he took my picture, took my fingerprints and we were done. I asked a few random questions that had been on my mind, and he explained that I would be notified of approval in a few days via email. For some reason, I never did get that email, but my card did arrive in the mail a week later.
The card arrived on October 11th, only 8 days later. I have to say, I was kind of impressed! I mean, for the stereotypical government view, this was really fast.
The card looks something like a license, with a little extra information. It even came with a nifty sleeve to slip the card into. I won’t carry my Global Entry card around day-to-day, but I’ll have an open spot in my travel wallet when I need it.
Now, I just need to use the thing!
I’ve already used the credit on the AmEx Platinum for my girlfriend’s Global Entry. I’ve managed to move her appointment up to March so far. Like I recommended earlier, I check back frequently to see if anything sooner opens up, her first appointment was scheduled in June! Depending on where you go for the interview, you shouldn’t have any problem getting an appointment only a week or two in advance, Boston just happens to be very busy.
After both of us are armed with Global Entry, our international escapades will be much easier. We’ll be able to breeze right through customs on the way home. Plus, Global Entry gives us both TSA PreCheck, making domestic security that much smoother. Although kids need to have their own Global Entry, we’ll be able to take him through PreCheck with us too, which is definitely an added bonus!