Avoid the Mobs: Passport Control Lines

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By: Roy Berger, MedjetAssist President/CEO

So, for you, what’s the worst part of international travel?

Flying coach is bad enough but crammed into the middle seat gets compounded doesn’t it? How about immigration control when you arrive at your destination, it’s 6 a.m. after a sleepless night and only 15 or 20 other flights arrived at the same time–with the queue stretching for what seems to be Christmas rush at Disney? Or maybe you did doze for 10 minutes until the baby two rows behind sounded the alarm.

For me, it’s none of those. It’s returning to the United States, anxious to get home and then running smack into the mobs at Passport Control. Customs clearance, as long as you have nothing to hide, is overrated. More times than not, you just shuffle right through. But it’s getting in the Passport Control line, when you are tired and grumpy, and having to wait and wait, knowing you best then keep your mouth shut and just wait and then wait a little longer.

The simple answer of course is to join Global Entry, which I have, but the reality is if you are traveling with a non-Global Entry person, you’ll have to wait for them anyway.

While skimming through the Wall Street Journal on June 30, 2016, a morning habit, I was attracted to the “Personal Technology” column written by Geoffrey A. Fowler (if you missed it is in the WSJ archives). If what he reports is true, then the potential nightmare of slow-moving lines when you arrive back in the States is over.

Introducing Mobile Passport. If you are an Apple or Android user, go ahead and download the app. It’s free. According to Mr. Fowler, 13 airports presently feature Mobile Passport and that’s expected to jump to 20 by the end of the year. When you enter “arrivals” you should see Mobile Passport signs. You’ve already preloaded your travel and passport information, which you can do on your flight home, entered a “selfie,” and then all you have to do is scan your phone at one of the booths and you are finished.

So if you haven’t heard of Mobile Passport, which was born in 2014, you now have. No need to thank me, but you can do me a favor: I’m scheduled to return home from an international journey in mid-August. If you do use it, I’d love to hear your experience before I give up my place in line!

Safe and pleasant travels.

Roy Berger