My Latest Global Entry Victory — And How It Was Different From Normal
This past week, my wife and I returned from our latest international trip… well, technically. I have to say that, given the long, overseas flights we’re used to, it was quite strange to be boarding a regional jet for an international flight from LaGuardia to Toronto. Speaking of strange, another unique aspect of this airport experience was the fact that, in Canada, you actually clear United States customs before departing on your flight — meaning that, when you land, you’ll basically be treated as a domestic flight. Because of this different setup, we also had a chance to experience yet another level of awesome from our Global Entry status.
First, let me back up and briefly explain Global Entry. Part of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s trusted traveler set of programs, Global Entry allows members to save time in line when re-entering the U.S. from abroad. After applying and paying a $100 fee, prospective users will need to conduct an in-person interview in order to complete their registration. Then, once approved, members can look for Global Entry kiosks at select airports and enjoy expedited re-entry. In fact, the process has been made even faster in the pandemic era as, instead of needing to scan your passport and fingers, it seems you currently only need to snap a photo of yourself, grab the slip that prints off, and proceed to the agent. Seriously, this service has saved us some major time in the past and potentially even saved our butts when trying to make connecting flights. Oh, and the fact that it also includes TSA Pre✓ is just the cherry on top.
Anyway, while Global Entry has already provided us some amazingly fast and impressive moments so far, our experience at Pearson Airport may just take the cake. Let me set the scene for you: we show up to the airport at around 4:30 a.m. to find that the line for security already occupies a good amount of the terminal. After checking in at the desk, we asked the Delta agent where to head for Global Entry (which doubles as the NEXUS line). Her instructions included us walking down the hall and looking for a door. Yet, when we made our way over, we saw a shorter line but only an emergency exit. Assuming that we couldn’t possibly be the only Global Entry or NEXUS people, we waited a few minutes in the line, which eventually led to someone checking boarding passes. It was only then that we learned that, in fact, the “emergency exit” door we passed was really where we were supposed to go — very clandestine, indeed. Heading back to the door, we were greeted by a different agent, had our boarding passes scanned, and headed to a very short queue of fewer than a dozen people. And while the checkpoint still required us to take out laptops and liquids, we did get to keep our shoes on.
As I teased in my headline, there was a small catch to this experience. Normally, when flying, you don’t need to bring your physical Global Entry card with you. However, in this case, the agent asked to see our cards and there wasn’t another way to confirm our enrollment at this point. Luckily, we were somewhat prepared for this as we’ve previously needed to show our cards when using the NEXUS lane to reenter the U.S. from Canada by car — plus, we tend the bring the cards with us anyway just to be safe. Still, for those not used to this, it could be a rude surprise.
I should note that, after this unique checkpoint experience, there is a more traditional Global Entry procedure to be found after you clear security. That’s because you’ll still need to go through customs, meaning that there are Global Entry kiosks to be used and more lines to avoid. Again, you basically get to feel like a VIP.
While it’s difficult to estimate just how much time we saved thanks to our Global Entry experience in Toronto — and it actually just meant us spending more time sitting at the gate as a result — I can’t explain how much I loved being able to breeze through each process and not have to stress. On that note, although I know Global Entry has had a backup in the past, I’m not sure what the current status is. That said, if you ever travel internationally, I really can’t recommend the service enough.