My Favorite Travel Tip of 2012

I flew internationally at least once a month last year. The bad news: None of those flights was in First Class. The good news: Returning from all of those trips was made infinitely more bearable – dare I say pleasurable - because of one thing:

Global Entry is a government program that allows pre-screened returning U.S. citizens to complete in-bound Immigration procedures at a computerized kiosk. Rather than having to stand in those serpentine lines you just sashay up to one of the (usually deserted) machines, swipe your passport, pose for headshot, and answer a few questions on the touchscreen. The kiosk spits out a receipt with your photo on it, which  you present at the special Global Entry lanes at Customs and, voila!  You’re good to go. Enrollment (which requires an interview and fingerprinting) costs just $100 for five years and, trust me, is worth every penny. (And if you’re an Amex Platinum customer and use the card to pay the fee they’ll refund it – score!) MIA is my home airport, and as anyone who’s been through it knows, even on a good day it’s the ninth circle of hell. But in the two years since I’ve been enrolled Global Entry has spared me countless hours in Immigration and Customs. If you travel overseas on the regular, you’d be crazy not to enroll. Do it here.

(Sidenote: A significant proportion of the time Global Entry has saved me I’ve spent in the airport taxi line waiting to get a cab that will take a credit card. Wassup with that, MIA?! No one comes back from a trip with wads of cash, and all airport cabs should be required take credit cards. Get it together!)