The elite status that gives me the biggest rush…

My Diamond status of course… because I’m a Diamond guest!

In all honesty, as much as I enjoy status with various airlines and hotel programs, there are three things that enhance my travel as much as any elite status level — TSA Pre-Check, Global Entry, and an EU Passport.

TSA Pre-Check

I actually experienced TSA Pre-Check for the first time tonight, and I think my Tweet sums it up:

You see, I’m an idiot, because for months I had the wrong Trusted Traveler ID in my American AAdvantage profile, and as a result I was never chosen for Pre-Check. Tonight when I passed through security at JFK and heard the three beeps at the boarding pass scanner I nearly wet myself, I was so excited. It felt so good to just dump all my stuff on the x-ray, leave my liquids and laptop in my bag, and go through the metal detector with my shoes on. It took all of 30 seconds, and for the first time in my life I actually LOVED the TSA. What’s kind of scary is that I completely forgot that it’s how things used to be for everybody.

Global Entry

Global Entry is also life changing for anyone that travels internationally even semi-frequently. There are few things in life more frustrating than standing in line for an hour without being able to use your cell phone after landing from a 12 hour flight. With Global Entry I get a rush out of getting off a plane after an international flight. I’m so excited to go up to the machine, punch all the buttons, and have the piece of paper with my mugshot print out. Beyond the huge time savings it really changes my perception of international flights, and takes the stress out of it almost completely. And the fact that you don’t have to fill out the immigration form and don’t have to get a stamp at immigration (which leaves more space in my passport free) is awesome as well.

EU Passport

Since my parents are both from Germany and I was born in the US, I have dual citizenship, including both a US and German passport. I love this for several reasons:

  • It has saved me a ton of money. Many countries have instituted reciprocity fees for US passport holders based on what the US charges visitors from those countries. For example, I was just in Chile, and while Americans have to pay a $160 entrance fee, I didn’t have to pay a dime with my German passport. I’m also planning a trip to Brazil soon, and while those on US passports need visas, those on German passports don’t.
  • It makes entering the EU easy. Instead of standing in the (usually) long line for foreigners, the EU line is almost always shorter, and they just look at your passport — there are no stamps or anything.
  • It saves me stamps. Back when I first started traveling internationally I loved “collecting” immigration stamps from various countries. Then one day my passport was full and I had to go the US consulate in Hong Kong to get pages added. Ever since that day I’ve sworn to do everything I can to get as few stamps as possible in my passport. Not only do I have two passports to spread the stamps between, but I don’t get stamps when I enter the US (thanks to Global Entry) or the EU (thanks to my German passport). That makes my life much easier.

Anyway, after my Pre-Check high today I figured I’d share…

Comments

  1. The first time I went to Europe with my EU passport (FRA), my Japanese wife and I split up at immigration. She finished five minutes before I did. Her first comment after immigration was “Wow, your passport really sucks.”

  2. I’m working on getting those three myself. I’m enrolled in Pre-Check already, though haven’t been picked yet. I have my Global Entry appointment in 2.5 weeks, and I’m in the process of getting a Guatemalan passport (I was born there, but I only have a US passport right now). Since I plan on going to Chile next year, I definitely want that passport before then!

    FWIW, I also got my motorcycle license today.

  3. Unfortunately for me to get an EU passport I still have to do the draft for the army lol. I just book my seat as far up the plane so I can run past everyone.

  4. No TSA Pre-Check love for me. It seems my usual destination a few km north of the 49th parallel is a disqualifying defect.

  5. @Lucky Despite myself having dual US and German citizenship and passport from Germany(German parents as well), I recall reading somewhere that I should not present or even hint/let them see that I have the German passport, when leaving or entering the USA. Have you ever tried this or heard anyone questioned on this by immigration?

  6. I also have US/EU – Irish citizenship. You must always enter and leave the US on your US passport. I recently tried to apply for a Chinese tourist L type visa using my EU passport. I was told by an official at the Chinese consulate that since I was a US citizen living in the US, I would have to apply as a US citizen. The visa cost $140 as opposed to $30.
    On a different topic, Global entry is now available at DUB, Ireland. Just go through the GE channel to your right and miss the sometimes long queues, hand the printout to the CBP agent and you’re done.

  7. BothofUs2, all US citizens must use their US passport when entering America, no matter what other citizenship they hold. Leaving is a different story, and would depend on the rules of the destination country.

  8. @ BothofUs2 — Agree with Martin. Ultimately it’s perfectly legal/fine to have a German passport. But I have to use my US passport to enter and leave the US, which I do anyway thanks to Global Entry.

  9. Hey Lucky, bet if you EVER need assistance overseas you will always use the US Embassy! Aren’t you also eligible for an Isreali passport? 3 different passports would be cool!

  10. Get ready to be humiliated if youvuse your american passport entering brazil,as americans are the only one queuing to get photographed even the crew,reciprocal treatment.

  11. Agree that US requires its citizens to use US passports for both arrival and departure, but so do other countries. Practically speaking, how do we reconcile the conflict? e.g. When you fly NYC-FRA, do you show the airline your US or EU passport? Or do you wait until you arrive in Germany? What about the return trip?

  12. @DBest,

    I have a Swedish and US passports. I show either at check-in in the US (doesn’t matter which), the Swedish one into Europe, the US one at check-in for my return flight, and the Swedish one at the last emigration check before boarding.

  13. I would be careful with those 2 passports. Don’t be surprised if you get detained by the die Einwanderung Polizei next time you go through Frankfurt or Munich. I know you have ignored it before but Germany does not allow dual citizenship mate…(and believe me they know who has two passports they are not stupid) Just be careful. You could be banned from entering Germany for 10 years, which is the last thing you want with your love for the FCT in FRA.

  14. You are wrong on Germany not allowing Dual Citizenship. Those laws have changed a while ago and were different in any case for children.
    I do have dual citizenship (US naturalized) and needed to have this formally approved by the German government (and they can and do decline this if you don’t have good reasons).

  15. I agree mate. But you need to go through the BS things with their embassy and they have to approve it. Since because they wanted me to go through that BS I just gave away my BS German citizenship and just accepted US citizenship. I have a diplomatic passport through my job so I don’t ever pay for any embassy/visa/reciprocal fees ever so these BS fees don’t apply to me anyways but I doubt Lucky has gone trough that or he would have at least blogged about it. I am just warning him mate…

  16. @ WorldWingedExplorer — My understanding is that this is the case if you’re born in Germany and want to get US citizenship. However, as someone born in the US with German parents, I don’t believe that applies to me.

    After all, I got my German passport at the Miami consulate, and presented my US passport as a form of ID, so…

  17. Don’t worry Ben. You are legally German and keep using your German passport. For children it is much easier when they are born to a German parent. Only change to the law was that you do need to register them within 1 year. We also have a German ‘family book’ which made it even easier to just add him.
    Our son is dual citizen and also has a German identity card (we did not bother to get him a passport since its only valid for 5 years for children below 10, identity card is 10 years).

    http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/bundesrecht/rustag/gesamt.pdf

    The reason I wanted to keep my German passport is not so much for travel. I don’t plan to go back but you never know and plans might change. As a German I won’t need a work permit in the EU countries and Switzerland which could come in useful one day.
    A friend of my mother decided to retire in Germany after living in the US for more then 40 years. Its just a nice option to have an unlike the US you don’t need to pay or file German taxes when you live abroad.

    It was also useful on my recent Brazil trip but I see this only as a minor bonus. The real advantage is the option value in case we ever plan to return.

  18. I have all three too and agree they make life easier! Entered the EU in Portugal last year and waited about 5 minutes. Fiance waited 45! If you have any Italian ancestry, it’s not terribly difficult to get Italian dual citizenship, but some of the rules are a little wacky.

  19. Has anyone else noticed the TSA agents at the Pre-check line seem to be cheerier than average? Seems like they put the friendliest agents on the pre-check line so frequent flyers have even less reason to complain and the TSA can continue to perpetuate itself…

  20. @ Chas — Noticed that as well. Suspect it’s not that they’re cheeriest, but rather that working the Pre-check line is SO much easier than working the other lines.

  21. I haven’t had my US passport stamped in about 4 years entering the US…not sure if that’s normal but it sure saves a lot of space!

  22. Today at my home airport I got the TSA Pre-Check 3 beeps at security. I got momentarily excited until I remembered SBA doesn’t do Pre-Check. I still have yet to experience the fun of more reasonable security screening 🙁

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