I don’t have Global Entry because I can get through customs and immigration in less than 60 seconds without it.
My secret is the Mobile Passport app, which was first released in 2014 but has yet to catch on the same way Global Entry has. The app, which is completely free, has been downloaded about 3.5 million times since launch, according to its developers. While that number may sound big, it’s less than the number of people using Global Entry, which has at least 4.7 million members and “thousands of additional travelers applying for membership each day,” according to a November statement from Customs and Border Protection. That may explain why every single time I’ve used Mobile Passport to re-enter the U.S., I didn’t have to wait behind a single person in line.
If you haven’t tried it yet, here’s how it works:
Download the Mobile Passport app for either Android or iOS, and save some of your basic information, like passport number, expiration date, and a photo; you can do the same for family members traveling with you. When you arrive back in the U.S. from overseas, switch off airplane mode, open the app, and answer a few basic customs questions, like Are you bringing back fruits and vegetables? and Are you carrying more than $10,000?—the same sort of stuff you normally answer on that blue paper customs form. Hit submit while you’re taxiing, and the app will provide a QR code “receipt” that you can use at customs and immigration in lieu of the traditional paper form. Inside the arrivals hall, you’ll often find a designated Mobile Passport lane, where, in my experience, there’s never anyone waiting. An agent will check your passport, scan your receipt, and send you onward to customs, where you can once again take the special Mobile Passport lane to skip any lines.
Another best kept secret:
CLEAR ME (https://www.clearme.com/) – CLEAR, is available in 24 of the biggest airports and at stadiums around the country — an added bonus to sports fans and concert attendees. While CLEAR’s fees are higher than TSA PreCheck, their lines at the airports are significantly shorter getting traveler to their gates quicker.
Price: $149 per year with the code FORBES149. Use code FORBES2M for a 2-month FREE trial.