Wait. I got Global Entry so this wouldn’t happen

Part 2 of 2. Part 1 here.

Once I was home, I didn’t think too much about it, other than to make it into a funny story: “Listen to what happened to me when immigration stopped me at the airport!”

Then we planned a trip back to Italy, and my wife decided we should get Global Entry. We drove to Richmond — the nearest place we could get a reservation for the interview! As I told my story to the agent there, he made sympathetic noises. But he begged ignorance about my name or any list it may or may not be on.

And we were approved.

Upon return — this time flying into Charlotte — I walked past the hordes of people in the “regular” immigration line.¬†Went to the Global Entry kiosk and did the fingerprint thing. It printed out a card with a big, black X on it. “Oh, hell,” I thought. I took it to the agent who picked up the phone, said she needed assistance, and another agent — male, bigger — came and escorted me to a room in the back.

“But I have Global Entry,” I said. “I got it to prevent this from happening.”

“This won’t take long,” he said.

I had heard that before.

This time, the room where they took me was empty, except for another officer. I sat for a moment as one officer was keying my information into the computer. He looked up and told me to get my suitcase from baggage claim. As I walked out of the room, he said to the other agent, “Look at this. I’ve never seen so many flags on one person.”

Great, I thought.

By the time I returned with my bag, the officer handed me my passport, apologized for the delay, and said I was free to go.

“What’s this about?” I asked. “I got Global Entry specifically to avoid this.”

“I understand, and I apologize,” he said. “A person using your name is a bad, bad actor. I will contact my supervisor and make sure you’re cleared through Global Entry in the future.”

I thanked him and left. I know government. Global Entry didn’t work well enough to prevent me from being stopped; why would I believe that an officer telling his boss that I was clear would work.

Last March, we went to London. My wife bet me that the officer took care of me and I’d breeze through. We landed in Philadelphia again. And we did breeze right through immigration, thanks to Global Entry!

Next trip, Israel. Flying into the U.S. from the Middle East will be a cakewalk, I’m sure.

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