I like to say that I’m not terribly interested in status items, which is true for the most part. I prefer plain black V neck shirts over a polo with a green crocodile. If I were to buy a car, a late model Civic would be just fine.
That said, I’ve always been a huge sucker for travel status, especially status that saves me time or helps me avoid crowds. To date, the best J class perk I’ve experienced was skipping a tortuously-long exit immigration line at Kuala Lumpur International.
Naturally, one might imagine that I’d have applied for expedited border crossing programs, such as Global Entry or NEXUS, a long time ago. Frankly, I should have. Whenever I flew between the US and Canada, I would look longingly at the deserted Global Entry/NEXUS kiosks as I shuffled over to the general line. However, the application process is lengthy. I didn’t want to pay the associated fees. And I didn’t travel enough for it to seem worth it. I didn’t even have TSA PreCheck.
I was ambivalent about applying until a trip to Orlando with the girlfriend tipped the scales. We were flying on Delta and I had booked our tickets together. Since she had TSA Pre, I told her to wait for me after the checkpoint as it was going to take me longer to clear security. But when we checked in, my boarding pass also had “TSA PRECHK” stamped on it. Even though the program doesn’t allow for it, I had somehow been granted her TSA Pre privileges. And it was amazing. I don’t have to remove my laptop – my most prized possession – or my shoes? Jackpot.
Choosing between Global Entry and NEXUS was easy, as both come with TSA Pre and the latter includes the former. Although NEXUS is less convenient for some as it requires an in-person interview with both American and Canadian border officers, it is not difficult for me to appear at Pearson in Toronto.
Coincidentally, the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite card was offering a full rebate on NEXUS applications, so I submitted my application as soon as I received the CIBC card and waited. The CBP website estimated a three to five month processing time, blaming the partial government shutdown and reallocation of resources to the southern border. On the other hand, the CBSA website estimated 40 business days. In the end, the Canadians won.
Exactly 40 business days later, I received an email informing me that I had been conditionally approved. I breathed a sigh of relief. From what I’d read, virtually everyone who is conditionally approved ends up obtaining a NEXUS card. Unfortunately, it seemed like I would have to trek over to Niagara for the interview if I didn’t want to wait another two months for availability at Pearson.
But when I went to check the calendar at Pearson, a 12:45 PM slot had opened up the very next day. Someone must have canceled last minute! I quickly snatched it up. The following day, I took an Uber to Pearson so that I wouldn’t be late to the interview. In hindsight, it was a totally unnecessary expense – the office was experiencing a backlog and I ended up waiting an hour and a half after my scheduled appointment.
The actual interview was a breeze. The officers asked me why I wanted NEXUS, took my fingerprints and iris data, and sent me on my way with a single sheet of paper detailing all the ways I could have my membership revoked (for example, not declaring an airplane granola bar).
Looking forward to not waiting in line, not removing my laptop(s), and feeling special when I fly across the border in October!