Has Global Entry Made Me a Bad Friend?

By  | 

In May I obtained Global Entry and it has changed my life for the better and the worse.

global entry

I qualified for Global Entry on my way to Easter Island and was able to use it 3 days later when I returned. The lines in Miami were 200 deep for non-residents and at least 50 people long for US citizens. Global Entry however, was completely empty and 15 minutes after deplaning, I was going through customs. Life has been good ever since.

Except when traveling with friends who don’t have it.

I felt most guilty coming back from my vacation in Asia. The friend I was flying with did not have Global Entry. I had a slightly tight connection, she had a longish layover. So I gave her big hugs and left her in the immigration line. 10 minutes later I was collecting my luggage and headed off to recheck it, guaranteed to make my flight (which wound up departing an hour late). I did feel bad, but rationalized she was based on the west coast and only had an hour flight longer to get home (vs my 5 hr flight).

keep those shoes onAnd because Global Entry also equals = TSA pre-check, I feel guilty on regular basis during domestic trips. I probably should be willing to stand in the normal security lines with friends, but not having to take off all my clothes and opt-out is just too appealing.

Jeanne doesn’t have pre-check quite yet. That’s led to some awkward situations in LAX and other airports. I don’t want to have to opt out, so I go through pre-check and wait for her. Often up to 20 minutes. I feel guilty, but not guilty enough to forgo the extra freedom.

Still, it’s tough to know what the “right” thing to do is, or even what others expectations are. I would be slightly wistful but not resentful if one of my traveling companions could get through more quickly even if I couldn’t. At the least they won’t be ahead of me holding up my lane.

What do you think? What is the right etiquette when traveling with non-Global Entry/non-TSA Pre check friends?


What did you think of this post? Give us a +1 below or leave a comment!

And don’t miss out on any of our adventures and tips. Get instant updates via e-mail or RSS Feed and follow us on twitter and Facebook.

Heels First’s Travel Advice–Sophisticated Travel, Uncomplicated Advice. The travels and tribulations of two frequent flyers jumping into the world of travel, sharing their travel advice. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.


Full Disclosure: I may receive affiliate credit from links in this post or on this site which will help fund my travels. Thank you for your support!

Related Posts:

Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world.


  1. trajan81

    September 12, 2013 at 11:47 am

    And therein lies the problem with the program; its great when you are traveling alone or with others who have Pre-Check/GE, but when traveling with others who don’t have it you are stuck waiting for them anyways.

    Way I dealt with it…discuss it prior to getting to the airport. If they’re a friend and traveling with you it shouldn’t bother them that you took the time to jump through the hoops to get GE (and if that doesn’t work, a drink in the club after the situation usually seals the deal).

  2. JohnSD

    September 12, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Assuming your friends have US Passports, all they need to do is enroll. This isn’t your issue, it is theirs.

  3. jessica

    September 12, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    My husband and I both have global entry so coming in to the US is no issue. He’s an EU citizen though, living in the US with a green card. He started traveling years ago so he still uses Air France and Lufthansa as his airline programs which means no pre-check on Delta or United. I on the other hand get pre-check. We make sure I have all the laptops, liquids, etc going through security and then we just meet on the other side. I figure it makes up for him just sailing through the EU citizens lines going into Europe while I get to wait in the passport check lines!

  4. Joey

    September 12, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Good question. If both of you are travelling together and there is no rush, then I’d say stay in line with your friend (time will go faster anyway as you both talk to each other.)
    In your case, after arrival, both of you were connecting to different flights. In that case, I would have done what you did and said my goodbyes before immigration as you go to Global Entry and your friend stays in the US citizen line (which goes quicky, in my opinion.)

  5. VG

    September 12, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Certainly not a problem for Global Entry if your next leg is a different connection, but probably should be explained. If continuing on together, immigration lines are reasonable places to chat with a companion (but not on your cellphone!).

  6. Mike

    September 12, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    In the first scenario: You had a plane to catch. You weren’t traveling together. No big deal. You were going to say goodbye relativly quickly anyway.

    In the second case: If you are traveling together, same flight and all, I would stay with the friend. You are companions after all. But I wouldn’t fault my companion for using Precheck, as long as they saved me a seat in the lounge!

  7. Chanel @ La Viajera Morena

    September 12, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I have not experienced traveling with friends yet since I have been enrolled, but I have wondered the same thing lol. I would of course not forgo the freedom that I now experience but I would feel bad leaving a friend behind.

  8. Rachel

    September 12, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    I think if you’re waiting for them on the other side, you’re not really ditching them. If you could take your friend through the faster airline status line as your companion, that might be a different story.

    Sadly those of us who quickly go through security are the ones most likely to have Global Entry and Pre Check!

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      September 12, 2013 at 5:28 pm

      Love it!

  9. Jeanne Marie Hoffman

    September 12, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    It’s my fault for not having Pre-Check yet, due to me being lazy, so ditch away!

  10. Matt B

    September 12, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    This thought crossed my mind when traveling for first time with my family (I have GE/pre-check, she does not). Saw a long security line on way to Europe, and she was more gracious than I thought she’d be. At least I was able to take the kids with me through pre-check. I think she was happy to stand in line by herself rather than deal with getting 2 kids through security, so worked out for the best.

  11. Pixie Points

    September 12, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Great question. I’m about to be in this situation, so it’s interesting to hear how others handle it!

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      September 12, 2013 at 7:14 pm

      As the friend who gets left behind, I totally understand. I don’t need someone to be on line with me 🙂

  12. Alex @noviceflyer

    September 12, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    GE so worth it. Used it first time from Ath to Phl, literally took me seconds. I was afraid to mess up my photo lol.first timer. I told my fam and friends to get it asap. Tsa precheck is worth it alone. For $100 for both, for 5 yrs, priceless.

  13. Jimltravels

    September 12, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    I did feel a tad guilty at first, but I always tell people ahead of time. At this point for those who don’t have it, “too bad,so sad”. 🙂

  14. Paul

    September 12, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    For Pre-Check, the way I did it last time I traveled with friend is that I stayed with my friend in the regular line til the end, then jumped out of the line and into the Pre-Check line which was pretty much empty. At the end, I didn’t have to through the post 9/11 security measures and still got through security sooner.

  15. Charlie

    September 15, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    A few years ago, right after I got GE, I was coming back from the Middle East with my dad and received an op-up to business class for the long-haul (which I, of course!, gave to him). Because is was to be my first time using GE, I wanted to see how much time it saved me so we went through separate. Waiting for him for 45 minutes didn’t give me an ounce of guilt since I had given him business class for 12 hours while I sat in coach :). Any other time, probably would feel guilty!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *