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Global Entry program saves time for international travelers at customs

by Katherine Whaley / 11 News

khou.com

Posted on December 8, 2010 at 2:45 PM

HOUSTON – A Houston program called Global Entry is helping passengers save time as they enter the United States from international destinations. 

If you fly into Houston from another country, you may have noticed the growing lines at customs. 

"So far this year we've grown 9 percent in our international travel," said Tim Joneic, of the Houston Airport System.

More travelers mean a longer wait, but not for Roy Bampton.

"I come straight through, I am out of the airport within five minutes," he said.

Bampton is enrolled in Global Entry, which means he can go through customs and make a quick stop at a fully-automated government kiosk.  The program allows him to save time. 

"Travelers who are enrolled in Global Entry might spend two minutes or less at the kiosk, the same two minutes they'd spend with an agent, but they don't have to wait in a line to do that," Joneic said.

Travelers apply online, go through a background check, and get interviewed and fingerprinted.  Members are screened periodically to make sure their record stays clean. 

"Any violations will cause revocation of the membership," Alma Montemayor of U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.

The program is also hugely popular at Bush Intercontinental Airport.  It was one of two airports to launch the program back in 2008, and today it leads the nation in number of people enrolled and number of people using the kiosks. 

Approximately 13,000 people enrolled here in Houston alone. A $100 membership will last five years, but for many business travelers, when time is money, this is worth every cent. 

"It helps if I am getting picked up, because I can pretty much guarantee that when I land I can get out of the airport within ten minutes," Bampton said.

Joneic called it a “win win” for travelers.

"Houston has a lot to offer, we lead the world in aerospace, education, medicine, energy, it makes it a no-brainer," Joneic said.  It helps ensure a short wait time for folks sitting through those long international flights.

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