Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How to get approved for the Global Entry Program

Step 1: Go to the Global Entry Program website and fill out the application.

Step 2: Schedule your interview for a Tuesday morning in Moline, Illinois. 

Step 3: That's it.  You're approved. 


Being part of the Global Entry entourage not only gives you TSA pre-check access for domestic flights (skip those annoying security lines and don't worry about taking out the liquids!), it also allows you to bypass the looooong immigration lines when arriving back in to the US from traveling abroad.  I mean, who wants to wait in a ridiculously long line after a ridiculously long flight? Not me...

We initialy became interested in this program back when we started talking about going to Cuba.  It would have been a sure fire way to get back in to the country un-detected.  But we couldn't get the interviews done before we left.  (Yeah, we went to Beliza and Cuba back in August.  I'm STILL waiting on pictures from Scott before I put the posts up...)

We decided to try the program out anyways, and the best time that would work for the interview process would be this week when we were together in Moline, Illinois.  There aren't a lot of airports in the Midwest that offer this step, so it was definitely the easiest option. 

I was a little worried that I might get caught with two Cuba stamps in my otherwise empty (brand new!) passport and get denied the Global Entry number. Scott didn't have his approval letter printed out, as the instructions said, and we were running late.  He couldn't find his wallet, there was road construction. Oh, and I hadn't touched my hair.  Surely they won't need a picture, right? I did manage to hastily paint my toenails in the car before we got there. I couldn't go in flip-flops with the toes Addi had painted Sunday night!

We pulled up to the Quad Cities International (?) Airport just a couple of minutes before 10am.  Scott's interview was at 10, mine was at 10:30.  There wasn't a car to be seen anywhere around.  I mean, it's a small airport anyways, and this US Customs & Border Protection building was off on its own.  But I wondered if they were even open on a Tuesday morning! Maybe they forgot about us?

The door was open and we went inside. One overweight older man came to the counter.  I said, "Hi!" No response.  "We have interiews for the Global Entry Program this morning."  Blank stare.  "Both of you?" he asked, sounding annoyed that we interrupted his never-ending coffee break.  "Sit over there."

I tried to make some small talk.  Asked him if it was a slow day -- kind of jokingly, because clearly it had to be.  He wasn't having it. 

He started with Scott, since he was in the seat closest to him.  Asked his name, date of birth, where he lived, and if he brought his passport.  He scrolled through something on his screen, scanned the passport, asked if he'd ever been arrested, and took his picture.  (UGH.)  Meanwhile, I'm still talking.  "What would happen if he had been arrested?" The guy eventually loosened up a little bit...

Then the serious part.  "Now I always tell people to take this part very serious.  You only get three tries to get this right and then you get locked out."  He was talking about fingerprints!  Ha!  Luckily, we both got them right right on the first try, but apparently not everyone does.  ?  How do you mess that up?

Anyways, after a couple of minutes, he said Scott was approved and asked us to switch seats.  I got the same couple of questions, he took my picture (so mad I didn't do my hair!) and then...scrolling on the computer...more scrolling.  "Now, you've traveled to a lot countries.  In what capacity have you been to all these places?"

I'm thinking, "Oh shit, he can totally see I just snuck in to Cuba..."  I said for the last 8 years or so I've picked a coupe of countries each year and just gone.  Which is entirely true.  He wanted to know more.  What for?  By yourself? Scott chimed in, too, and we talked about how our jobs got us traveling and we never stopped,  that we were quitting our jobs to travel full time, etc.  He seemed mildly DISinterested, but let it go.  I nailed the fingerprints, and we sat and waited for the system to save approved. 

He told us for our age, we have both traveled an inordinate amount.  I've been to 41 countries and Scott has been to upper 20's I think.  I asked if that mattered, and he said that actually, both of our names came back with yellow squares around them, which meant we required "extra questioning."  Oh great.  But he didn't say anything after that.  So I asked what the extra questions were.  He just stood up and said, "I didn't ask them.  I don't think it's neccessary.  You guys are all done."  

Success!   And that's why you go to small-town Illinois on a Tuesday morning for your interview.  They don't care.

Now we have TSA pre-check numbers, and we should receive our cards in the mail in a week or two.  So when we come back in to the US and scan our passports, it should whisk us right on through! Woohoo!

Since I had already painted my toenails, when we got back to the house, I sat out on the back deck and painted my finger nails, too.

It's been awhile since I've had the time to do that.  So instead of nice, normal color, I went with navy bue. Why not.  I'm unemployed!  I can do that now! ;)

I made oatmeal for lunch and spent most of the afternoon sitting outside in the sun around the pool and just enjoying the nice fall weather.  

Another day almost got away from me without a workout, but I snuck in a quick one that I had on my phone before showering and heading over to Scott's sisters house for taco night.

Zaiden got a new Gator for his birthday, and he is about as bad of a driver as they come.  He hit everything imaginable - from cars and people to flowers and rocks.  (He's 3, what do you expect?)

  Thank goodness his sister is up for the craziness!

After dinner, Scott and I went to the movies!  For the first time!  I love movies, but getting this guy to sit down for one is like pulling teeth apparently.  We saw Everest at the little local theater.

Before we walked in, I asked him over or under on how any people would be in there.  Remember, we are in small town Illinois and it's a Tuesday night!  He said 9.  Ha.  Easy.  I took the under.  I would have said under 4, for the record.  And when we walked in?

Okay, there was actualy another couple in there that I cut out of the picture, but it was just us and them!

The movie was good.  Better than I expected, actually.  But it reminded me that I have NO desire to climb Everest anymore.  Maybe to Base Camp would be fun, but all the way to the summit?  That's just nuts. 

(I'm totally climbing Everest someday...) 

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