8 Tips to Avoid Long Lines at Airports When Traveling Abroad

Passport control at London Heathrow

By Paul Riegler on 24 July 2018
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Perhaps the only downside of travel is the need to wait on lines. Lines for the security checkpoint, lines for customs, lines for duty-free shops. While we can’t help with the line at duty free, here are some new tips that will speed you through the airport both upon departure and arrival in multiple countries from Australia to New Zealand as well as in the United States.

1.) Mobile Passport App
Mobile Passport, available on Apple iOS and Android platforms, is a relatively new app that can save international arriving passengers substantial time.

The app works by supplying travelers with a QR code after they fill out an app-based copy of an electronic customs declaration form.

We’ve found it’s faster than Global Entry given that you can fill out the customs declaration on the plane before landing and that Global Entry requires travelers to stop at a kiosk that doesn’t work quite as well or as fast as it should,

2.) Australia: SmartGate
All U.S. citizens over the age of 16 are eligible to use SmartGate when arriving in Australia. SmartGate is a kiosk-based self-service system that is typically faster than waiting on the standard line.

3.) Panama: Global Pass
Panama’s Global Pass is similar to Global Entry and requires an application plus approval prior to use. U.S. citizens are eligible to apply.

4.) Korea: SmartEntry
Members of the U.S. Global Entry program can apply for Korea’s SmartEntry program. SmartEntry is similar to Global Entry and requires a visit to a SmartEntry enrollment center within six months of conditional approval after applying to the program.

5.) New Zealand: Global Entry
U.S. citizens arriving in New Zealand who are members of Global Entry can use dedicated Global Entry lanes at Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch International airports.

6.) United Kingdom: E-Gates
All U.S. citizens are eligible to apply for the United Kingdom’s Registered Traveler program, which gives the traveler access to the automated E-Gates upon arrival (holders of European Union and United Kingdom passports are eligible to use the E-Gates as well). The program costs £70 to apply and an additional £50 per year thereafter. E-Gates are available at all major U.K. airports. No landing form is required nor is an interview with a UK Border Force officer.

7.) Global Entry
Global Entry allows travelers returning from international destinations to bypass the traditional passport control and customs lines. Instead, users proceed through a kiosk for which the line and wait time are never long. They are also not required to complete a customs declaration form; the kiosks provides similar questions on the interactive screens.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, which operates Global Entry, has agreements in place with other countries that allow their citizens to use the system as well. This includes travelers from Britain, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Qatar, Mexico, and South Korea.

8.) PreCheck
Another way to zip through lines at the airport (albeit in the other direction) is by using PreCheck, the Transportation Safety Administration’s trusted-traveler program that debuted in 2011. Membership in this elite group was originally limited to top-tier frequent fliers as well as members of Global Entry, Nexus, or Sentri, but in July, the agency announced plans to expand the program to all who qualify. The first two enrollment centers are slated to open at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. and Indianapolis International Airport. The application will require a background check, fingerprints, and the payment of an enrollment fee, which is expected to be $85.

The PreCheck program allows passengers to leave their shoes on, leave their laptops in their bags, leave their belts on, and not have to take off a light jacket. PreCheck passengers can also leave liquids in their bags.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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