Earlier this year, getting off a flight from London to the U.S., I was waiting for the woman in front of me to deal with her bag. You know when you're waiting in the aisle and the person behind you bumps you with their bag? The woman behind me did that. More than just the accidental tap. She was making her wishes known: Move forward. She bumped me again. I turned around and said, "Please stop bumping me with your bag."
"I'm not," she said.
"You are," I said.
I turned around. The woman in front of me was still struggling with her bag, with the help of the guy in front of her. The woman behind me bumped me, again, with her bag.
"I need you to stop hitting me with your bag," I said.
"You're mental," she said. "I'm not hitting you."
"You are," I said.
The woman in front of me finally started to move forward. As we walked off the plane, the woman behind hit me again. "Now I'm hitting you!" she said.
Friends, I felt the rage. I felt it and felt it, saying nothing (uh, except for, "You are a liar!") until we got to passport control. I was, of course, in front of her, but I took a moment, as she and her passport went to go stand in line. A line that snaked to the other side of the airport. And I hoped she watched as I made my way to the Global Entry kiosk, and out the airport, and into a cab, probably before she'd picked up her bag.
This is just one of the many pleasures of Global Entry.
If you don't have it, and you fly internationally, you want it. Basically, you pay a nominal fee and sit down for a quick interview in order to be placed on a "low-risk" flight list that allows you expedited passage through Customs when you travel back to the U.S.
The only rub is that quick interview can sometimes take months to book, and it needs to be completed at a “Global Entry Enrollment Center.”
But that's about to change thanks to "Enrollment on Arrival," which allows passengers flying through a handful of North American airports (SF, Houston, Austin, Vancouver) to handle most of the paperwork ahead of time before finishing the last dregs at the airport — no need to wait for one of those highly in-demand interview slots. The program is expected to roll out to more airports in the coming months.
Do it. The satisfactions are many, even under less contentious circumstances.
Photo: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images