One of the best recommendations I can give for frequent travelers is TSA Pre-check. It’s $85 for five years and completely worth it for those flying domestically on a regular basis. If you also fly internationally then it’s an even better deal to get Global Entry which is $100 for five years and includes TSA Pre-check. (If you’re not too familiar with it check out some FAQs I answered–GE can save SO MUCH TIME.)
I’ve had Global Entry for 4.5 years, which means it’s almost time to renew. It expires in May, so I’ve been planning to start the renewal process in March. However, I recently heard from a friend who just renewed, and his experience was *not great*.
He realized in November is GE was about to expire, so logged onto the government website to renew. He filled out the application, then waited to get approval for an interview. And waited. And waited. They say it should take 30 days, but SEVEN WEEKS later he finally got approved to schedule an interview. He was actually able to get a same-day spot in our local Austin airport. Unfortunately, once he arrived they had no record of his appointment–luckily he had taken a screenshot. He spoke to some others who were waiting, and even though they had reserved their appointment several weeks ago there was no record of them either.
After waiting several hours he was able to speak to someone. When I did my GE interview five years ago it was a very polite, cordial conversation that lasted maybe ten minutes. Alas, that was not my friend’s experience yesterday. The CBP officer he spoke to grilled him for almost half an hour about all the trips he had taken in the past five years. Now, my friend travels regularly for work and he also loves to travel to interesting locations for fun. Off the top of my head I know he’s been to Iceland, Scotland, and Australia in the last few years but TBH I can’t keep up. So he got asked repeatedly about all of this trips, why he chose certain destinations, and what he did there. Eventually he was approved, and now he has Global Entry for another five years. So that’s great, but it was definitely not the seamless process both he and I experienced during our initial application.
Based on his experience, here is what I recommend people needing to renew do (and what I plan to do for my own renewal):
- Check your status to know when your five years is up. There isn’t any kind of notification system in place, so you need to be clear on when your renewal is up.
- Start super early to allow extra processing time. He was given no indication of why it took so long to get approved for an interview. I’m not taking any chances, and will start my renewal in February.
- Print out or screenshot your appointment confirmation, just in case it gets lost.
- Expect the interview to start late and take a long time.
- Bonus: Check to see if any of your credit cards pay for Global Entry. My American Airlines Aviator Mastercard does!
Readers, have you renewed your Global Entry yet? What was your experience?
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Have a travel question or suggestion? Send it to RW @RoadWarriorette.com.
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