Talkin’ Points and Miles with the TSA…a “Behind the Scenes” Look at my Global Entry Interview

Do I look like a “suspicious person” to you? Seriously, would you pull me over in airport security? Because I get stopped all the time. Josh says it’s because I “radiate anxiety,” but I think it’s just my awesome power that he’s feeling. (Or maybe it’s because I wear clothes that security doesn’t understand. And bracelets.)

Whether it’s anxiety, awesomeness, or bracelets, I know that my new Global Entry/TSA PreCheck benefits will soon make the above discussion a moot point. I got approved for a Global Entry card yesterday, and I am now spreading the gospel about its greatness. So listen up.

(By the way, in case you haven’t already noticed, I always root my stories in the past. It makes for a better story. So bear with me here, because I can’t just jump right in. I have to root.)

A few months ago, I applied for an Amex Platinum card when the bonus was a crazy 100K points. While the fee for this card is a hefty $450/year, the benefits really do justify the cost. Among the benefits is a Global Entry fee credit. What this means is that you can apply for Global Entry, and if you pay for the fee with your Amex Platinum card, Amex will reimburse you for it.

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That sounded good to me.

In May, I applied through the Global Entry website. The application was pretty straightforward: basically you just have to fill in a bunch of facts about yourself. After several days, I got an email from the Global Entry site, letting me know that my application had been conditionally approved.

At this point, I could log in and select an interview time. The earliest available interviews were months away. I selected August 13. Then I waited. And waited. And waited.

Note: I have since learned that if you simply check back every couple of days, an earlier interview will always open up. You just have to be persistent.

Finally my interview time was drawing nigh. The night before, brimming with anticipation, excitement, and…could it be..anxiety?…I logged onto the Global Entry site to double check what I was supposed to bring to my interview. Here is the list of items they wanted:

  • This Letter inviting you to an interview;
  • A valid passport or permanent resident card.
  • Documents providing evidence of residency. Examples are a drivers license (if the address is current), mortgage statement, rental payment statement, utility bill, etc.

The last item panicked me. I LOVE my paper shredder, so don’t have any documents providing evidence of residency just lying around. Would they accept a self-printed copy? I printed out proof from several different sources to be on the safe side. (Luckily Josh is traveling right now so he couldn’t laugh at me or raise his eyebrows in an annoying way).

The morning of the interview, I had a moment where I wondered if my outfit would cause them to deny my application. (Would a sparkly glitter top pass the TSA test?) Again, I decided to play it safe, and changed into something more conservative (and again, I was thankful that Josh wasn’t around to raise his eyebrows at me).

I made it to the interview with plenty of time to spare. I walked into the office and was slightly surprised to see no less than 6 TSA agents behind the counter…and no one else. I did my best not to look suspicious. I smiled. I think I even waved. One of the agents asked me to have a seat, and then he started the interview.

I really shouldn’t have worried. The interview took 5 minutes, tops. He asked me to verify some very basic information such as my address and employment. Then he asked me what countries I was planning to visit and why I wanted to visit them. Then he asked me the best question of all: why did I want to apply for Global Entry? Being completely honest, I replied that I had mainly applied because it was free with my Platinum Amex card.

This was when the interview got fun.

“Aw man!” he said. “I got the wrong card.”

I couldn’t help myself. I really couldn’t. “What card did you get?” I asked him.

Turns out he was a beginning points and miles collector. Don’t you just love it?

I explained a few things to him as he fingerprinted me, took my picture, and gave me a few brochures. And then it was over. I was approved. He told me that I would receive an official email within a few days, but really, they sent the email before I even got home. Speedy.

So now it doesn’t matter if I act anxious and wear sparkly tops and lots of voluminous layers and armloads of bracelets. I’m going to sail through security. And I might even raise my eyebrows at Josh as I breeze past him, just for fun.

Comments

  1. Whenever I think of airport security I remember the time we changed planes in Paris on our way to Barcelona to begin a Mediterranean cruise. For some reason this old granny fashionista (me) was pulled aside for a VERY thorough pat down by female security agents.

    Oddly enough, on the way back home. I was again patted down in Paris. Both times my husband stood to the side and waited.

    Since then the family joke is that French women find me VERY attractive.

  2. I love it!! Especially the part where the agent reveals himself as a beginning points & miles collector. That was awesome.

  3. Points Pixie says:

    Anne – Ha! Love it!!

    Rebecca – It was great. We are everywhere 😉

  4. I was approved in Feb but interviewed in May (the whole one month to do so isn’t strict) and JFK accepts drop-in interviews unlike SFO and LAX. It is WONDERFUL for TSA pre-check..and I have saved hours at SFO, ORD, ATL, LGA, and JFK the past two months. Only thing is some airlines don’t participate. Virgin America does, Virgin Atlantic does NOT. If your ticket doesn’t have the TSA precheck code on it to get past the first TSA agent who checks your ticket/ID, you can’t use the line. Even if you have your Global Entry card. As I found out at JFK on my way to Heathrow.

  5. Points Pixie says:

    Jim – Good info. Thanks!!

  6. Jennifer says:

    Hi, In response to the section where you said — “I LOVE my paper shredder, so don’t have any documents providing evidence of residency just lying around. Would they accept a self-printed copy? I printed out proof from several different sources to be on the safe side” — was the printed copy OK? Because that is all I have too. I don’t get statements mailed to me!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Attend your scheduled interview and have fingerprints taken (I just had my interview today and will write about the process in a future post).  […]

  2. […] Attend your scheduled interview and have fingerprints taken (I wrote about the process here). […]

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