Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Good Government Experience…for a change

Interactions with federal and state agencies and large corporations - paying taxes, Medicare and medical insurance processing and snafus, cable, phone and internet company hassles to name a few - get in the way of living a tranquil, laid-back life.

Dealing with large entities has become synonymous with stress.

But not all the time!

Since hub and I travel a lot, we applied for Global Entry status, a program allowing holders to sidestep immigration lines when entering the country. In the past we experienced exasperatingly long lines following lengthy flights, adding to our exhaustion and frustration. Bypassing lines, inserting our passport into a kiosk and allowed to move on is appealing.

The process seemed intimidating, however, involving interface with the largest and probably most fossilized bureaucracy on earth – the U.S. government.

The online process begins with an application fee, $100 per person. Uncle Sam keeps the dough whether or not approval is received. A risk, but I was optimistic we would be granted Global Entry status.

Hub and I filled out forms and waited. Pre-approval meant progressing to the next step, a personal interview. Most interview site locations are airports, with a handful at government offices scattered throughout the country and abroad.

Pre-approval came via email less than two weeks later. We immediately logged into our accounts to set up an appointment at the Philadelphia airport, closest site to our home.

Viewing the interview schedule proved discouraging. The only slot available for the next two months was 4:00 p.m. the following Saturday afternoon. We went for it.

Hub signed in immediately, and then as I tried to log in a message appeared stating the slot was unavailable.

Now what?

We were not going to forfeit hub’s interview. I called and asked if I could possibly get an interview at around the same time. The agent, not supportive, reluctantly stated I could come in and see what happens. 

No traffic hindered our one-hour drive to the airport. We found our way to the customs office, pressed the intercom button and stated the reason for our visit. The door magically unlocked.

Aside from being very cold, the waiting room was not crowded and individuals were summoned steadily. We arrived early, leaving plenty of time in case we got stuck in traffic or could not easily locate the office, and were ushered in for an interview before the assigned time. Explaining our situation, the immigration officer readily took care of both of us.

Personal information verified, picture snapped, fingerprints taken, and we were done.

An added bonus with Global Entry is TSA pre-check with most airlines.

Courteous, accommodating officials, escorted in to the appointment early, completed in a timely manner, willing to work with both hub and me – government at its best!

There is hope for the future after all.

Global Entry status is good for five years. We trust the program is not cancelled before then. 

4 comments:

  1. Incredible. Someone beat the bureaucracy. It's always nice to have a happy ending.

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  2. Nice to hear it worked smoothly.

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  3. This is the kind of story not often heard, but so glad to know it is possible.

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  4. So glad to hear it all worked out so well for you two. I had never heard of this program before your post. Now that I hardly ever travel, I don't need it, but in my working days it would have been wonderful. :-)

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