I Got Secondary Screening With Global Entry

Filed Under: Travel

Update: This happened to me again, so see this post for the details of that.

Over the years Global Entry (which offers expedited immigration to “trusted” travelers) has saved me a countless number of hours. It has turned US immigration from an annoying pain point of travel, to a consistently seamless process.

Of course when you have Global Entry you can still be searched and sent to secondary screening, though in my experience that rarely happens. To take it a step further, I don’t think I’ve ever received secondary screening when going through immigration.

For a period I was clearly flagged by the government and getting “SSSS” on every single trip, but fortunately I was able to appeal that, and don’t have that problem anymore.

Well, today I had my first experience with secondary screening with Global Entry.

The dreaded Global Entry “X”

Ford and I were returning from Cancun to Fort Lauderdale, and upon arrival headed to Global Entry kiosks. I went through the usual process, but at the end got a slip with an “X” on it, which indicates that you’re getting extra screening.

How US immigration secondary works

First I was directed to see an immigration officer in the main immigration hall — fortunately there was no line at all, so I was seen right away.

He asked me if I was bringing anything back with me, and also asked if I had been to Asia recently. I explained that a few weeks ago I I connected in Taiwan and the Philippines while enroute to Malaysia.

He did some typing in his computer, and then put my passport in an envelope and escorted me to the secondary immigration facility.

Once there my bags were immediately screened — they weren’t searched or anything, but rather were just put through an x-ray. Then I was brought into a different room, where I was asked to have a seat until an officer called me.

Interestingly I could hear the officers talking about my Asia travels — I’m not sure if they were directly accessing those records, or if they were looking at the notes that the other agent left in my file.

Then I was called up.

“Where all have you traveled recently?”
“I just got back from Cancun, and a few weeks ago was in Taiwan, the Philippines, and Malaysia.”
“What about China?”
“Not mainland China, just Taiwan.”
“Are you feeling sick at all?”
“Nope I feel great.”
“Okay since you’ve been to Asia within the past three weeks, please contact the CDC if you feel unwell.”

What makes this especially interesting

I’m not sure if this was random or because I had been to Asia not too long ago — I could see it going either way.

But there are a few things I found noteworthy:

  • I returned from Asia (and not even mainland China) nearly four weeks ago, so it’s not like this was in the past two (or even three) weeks; if they’re concerned about coronavirus and know when I returned, isn’t it a bit too late at this point?
  • When it comes to arriving in and departing from the US while enroute to Asia a few weeks ago, I flew Virgin Atlantic to London, and returned to the US from Toronto, so I was never on a single itinerary between the US and Asia; I assume the US still has access to most of those travel plans, though?

Bottom line

Fortunately my secondary immigration experience was a breeze, and I was in and out within 10 minutes. However, I suspect that was a function of being the only person going through the secondary process, not to mention there were no other flights arriving at the immigration facility.

I imagine this could have taken way longer if the immigration hall were full, since it can take them quite a while to process people in secondary when there’s a wait.

Have you ever experienced secondary screening upon arrival with Global Entry? What was your experience like? Anyone have any theories as to whether my extra screening was random, or because I was in Asia nearly four weeks ago?

Comments
  1. @ lucky how do you think it would be best to approach my parents that their credit card strategy is really stupid? They don’t have any travel cards but travel a lot. So how do I convince them to listen to their 13 yr old about something they think is “just a airplane passion.”

  2. I am sure US Customs is the same as Australia (and other countries) and can see it all. In Australia you can actually get a list of all countries you have visited (helpful when doing a security clearance for govt work as you have to provide a list of all countries visited). One time when I flew into Tokyo I had problems as my Australian passport had never been in Australia. My passport had been issued at the High Commission in Singapore. Expecting I might have an issue I carried my old passport with me and they did ask to see it. Singapore is the same and they know where you have been. Big brother is watching!

    Anyway am guessing the US is the same and can see exactly where you have been.

  3. I flew from Medellin to Miami last summer and was surprised to see that MIA has facial recognition Global Entry scanners. Not like the normal ones where you answer some questions and scan your fingerprints. I do 99% of my international arrivals at ATL but had to fly American from MIA since I believe that’s one of the few nonstops from the US to Medellin. Anyway, I went to scan my face and it spit out a different name and in fact the slip of paper was for a non-US citizen since it had all this language about being a foreign national entering the US. So I tried to scan again and it said I had crossed the border too recently, please proceed to the desk. I handed the agent the paper and my passport, she quickly typed something in the computer and said I was good to go. Haven’t had any issues with GE since, but that was quite odd.

  4. Eskimo could be right. Your frequent quick turns are very suspicious for trafficking. As to why it hasn’t happened before, a lot of it is computerized and not a perfect system. @Toby show them this website. If they don’t listen your 13, not much you can do lol.

  5. I have had Global Entry for several years and have gotten an X on my printed slip every single time I’ve used it. Whether it’s coming back from the Middle East, Europe, or Mexico. I’ve never had secondary screening though, usually the TSA agent in the main hall asks his questions and sends me on my way.

  6. I was in Beijing for a one night layover in mid January and ever since the COVID19 news I’ve been pulled for secondary screening every time I’ve come back to the US despite having global entry. Both cases occurred over 2 weeks after I was in China.

    The first time was at a US port coming back from Europe. I was flagged and asked about my travel over the last month. As I had been in China, they asked for my contact info and address “in case any new information comes out if China” and the CDC would need to contact me.

    The second time I got pulled aside was coming back from Canada. At the transborder facility, I was pulled aside, asked about travel history again and asked to wait. They said a separate immigration agent would need to verify my travel details based on my passport data, and again i was asked to provide my address and contact information in case the CDC needed to contact me. It took about 10 minutes and I was allowed through.

  7. The “5 eyes” countries (US, Canada, Australia, NZ, UK) share *vast* amounts of security data. And the US database does seem to work pretty comprehensively (I was challenged on entering Chicago that “I see you were in our country last week”, and had to explain an overnight transit stopover in Miami on a trip from, er, Colombia to London. Yes, even I was suspicious that I was engaged in narco trading or money movement related to it…).

  8. Ben,

    One of my coworkers returned recently from a stay in Taiwan to visit family. They got flagged for secondary screening where an officer looked through their passport stamps and visas.

    Along with what @Eskimo said, I believe that the government is wary about the possible contact you could have had with coronavirus throughout your trips throughout Asia, and is a gentle reminder.

  9. Well Lucky, on your trip to Cancun, you posted several images from the immigration hall. Which is strictly prohibited just about everywhere. I could think about that someone who reads your site (and there are many of us) and working for CBP could have flagged you in their system.
    Also about that area where you had to wait until an officer called you. I was in something like that in PHL, and I just took out my phone, to text my friends to don’t wait for me. I immediately got yelled on, and was told to hand over my phone. US is always very hospitable.

  10. We’re all going to get Covid-19. It’s just a matter of when.

    Government responses to this is like Neanderthals trying to throw rocks at the sun. This isn’t a ‘single country problem’, and they’re not going to fix it without going into super-lockdown, since it’s transmissible prior to symptom presentation.

    Happy Monday!

  11. Interesting. I was in Taiwan and Japan the week after last. Nothing unusual when I came back into the States on 2/16, but I’ll expect it next time around. Sounds like a minor issue, all things considered. How much time did this add for you? I suspect if you have a checked bag, it probably adds no time at all.

  12. It’s the virus they are concerned about. Some reports suggest the latency of onset might be as long as 28 days.

  13. What makes this interesting is when you call the CDC to report Coronavirus outbreaks they give you the run around after spending 45 minutes on the phone with them and then tell you to call your state department.

    Contacting the CDC if you feel unwell will do nothing.

  14. Ben, I am pretty sure this was due to your Asia trip.

    I had a bit of an extra chat with the lady doing the document check in MUC prior to boarding Lufthansa flight to the US last week. I believe she could see the entire travel history associated with my US passport, and was tripped up by my visit to Asia (Thailand, Singapore, Japan) in the middle of January – a full month before the LH flight I was boarding.

  15. Lucky as someone else said there are 5 Eyes upon you. You would be shocked by how much data they actually have about you.

  16. I would guess US government’s capability of tracking travel history is limited to when you are traveling with the US passport. As I mentioned in another post I can hardly imagine a foreign citizen’s complete travel history is visible to CBP, and they will rely on the passenger’s testimony to verify everything.

  17. I received an X on my Global Entry slip at the pre-clearance facility in DUB last week. CBP officer was courteous and explained that they couldn’t trace my recent travels (i was booked on an open-jaw itinerary), so they just wanted to get a better idea of my recent travels. Was then asked if I’ve been to China recently (no). After a few more minutes I was welcomed home.

    Seems likely that it’s added precaution with COVID19, based on the lack of visibility into my full travel itinerary.

  18. I just returned from Spain last week and also received the “X” at global entry in Philadelphia . I was told this was due to my travel to China in mid January (also 4 weeks earlier). I was also interviewed by CDC and asked to complete a short form indicating the cities I visited in China. Only added 5 minutes or so to my arrival…

  19. Also got the dreaded X on my global entry form coming back from Cancun to Charlotte. Zero travel though on my side to Asia or anywhere outside US. Last overseas travel was July 2019. Don’t think there’s correlation there, at least not for me. First time I’ve even gotten the ‘X’, still not sure why. No secondary screening, CBP officer looked at it, looked at my passport, stamp the backside and off I went to exit/customs.

  20. I’ve been “flagged” for secondary CDC screening twice recently, once at airport returning from Taiwan, and once at Canada land crossing. Both times, I told them that I have not been to China within last two weeks (actually since last year). They acted surprised to hear that, apologized, but then said that I had to go through standard questioning and processing. Because there were quite a few people that got “selected” at the airport, I had to sit around for close to 45 minutes before they let me go. At the land crossing, it took about 15 minutes.

    I know they want to err on the side of caution, but it’s starting to get annoying.

  21. I got it a couple of times. Officers always asked 1-2 simple questions, and off I went.
    On one occasion (DUB pre clearance facility), he asked me: “do you have another passport?”. I said yes (from an EU country). I thought that is what triggered the X because I was leaving the EU, but did not previously enter it with my US passport. However, my wife right behind me did NOT get the X (same dual citizenship – so who knows)……

  22. Glad that CBP i doing their job and trying to keep this virus away from the US. I think you were treated really well and their advice for you to contact CDC if you don’t feel well was a nice gesture. Kudos to them. BTW, nobody here should be naive that the US does not know where you have been. If anyone can buy a camera or hack on people’s accounts I can guarantee you the Border Patrol knows way more than we think.

  23. GE Here and only sent to secondary once. I was bringing back Cuban cigars and dutifully declared them to the exit officer. He said, and I quote, “you’re kidding, right?”

    I was the only person in secondary and it was customs-only (Seattle still has separate Passport Control and Customs) so they just did a quick hand-check of my bags. Funny enough, none of the officers there could seem to agree what the current rules are for Cuban cigars. I actually saw one of them googling it on his phone. Since I had brought a very small amount (20, less than $500) it was permissible under pretty much any interpretation of CBP rules, I got through with no problem.

  24. I got pulled for secondary screening in MSP once when I came back from Europe and declared that I had food products (tea, chocolates, cookies, etc.). It took about 15 minutes for them to scan my bag and send me on my way.

  25. To be honest, you should be grateful for the extra Coronavirus scrutiny.

    I’m a doctor myself, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that it can be contagious for up to four weeks – not two – and the diluted quarantine and immigration rules around the world are based more on short-term economics than infection control.

    This could well be Spanish Flu 2.0, and the tighter the immigration controls, the better. Western countries just need to delay its spread until winter ends to ensure that their health services are not overwhelmed.

  26. BEIJING — Scientists were studying a case in China that suggested the incubation period for coronavirus could be longer than 14 days, potentially casting doubt on current quarantine criteria even as the epidemic moved into new regions. The potential for a longer incubation period was linked to a patient in China’s Hubei Province, where the virus was first detected in December. A 70-year-old man was infected with coronavirus, but did not show symptoms until 27 days later, the local government reported.

  27. “It’s the virus they are concerned about. Some reports suggest the latency of onset might be as long as 28 days.”

    There is some anecdotal evidence that it could be 35 days or more.

    And that an infected person can pass on the virus prior to developing symptoms.

    No need to incite panic – just means that precautions should be taken now while traveling.

    And wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands

  28. I got the dreaded GE X, however, there was no customs at all. It was immigration that took my passport and put me in a room until I answered a few easy questions. I’m a US citizen! What’s up with the temporary detainment (they took my passport and I was not allowed to leave)? If I refuse to answer questions, what do they do deport me? I mean I get it if it’s a customs thing.. but immigration?

    Everyone there was very professional and polite btw.

  29. I returned from Singapore on Saturday evening at SFO and was also given the X on my GE receipt. I then was also given secondary questioning about my travels in the last two months. The officer told me their system automatically flagged me because I had traveled to mainland China in the past 60 days. After answering a similar set of questions to you, I was let go without a health screening.

  30. Road warrior four 30 years, I recently retired. I went on a group trip to Amsterdam. Upon returning to Newark instead of going to global entry, I went with my wife who does not have it and went to the kiosk that non GE were going through. The slip came out of the kiosk with an X on mine. I was sent to a room similar to the picture that was posted. Was told to sit down that an officer would be with me in a moment. An hour later I was called up to the podium given my passport back and when I asked why I was detained he told me it was because I did not use global entry even though I had it. Guess if you have it you better use it!

  31. Got the “X” on returning from France in January. Was told that the device couldn’t read my fingerprints. Advice given was to use a little hand sanitizer before using the machine. A few quick questions and I was on my way to wait in baggage claim.

  32. I’ve gotten the global entry X before – once after coming back from a weekend trip to Oktoberfest. My bags were hand searched – wasn’t asked a single question about my travels.

    Reading into it felt very “we think you brought something back you shouldn’t have (didn’t declare, illegal item, etc.). Obviously I didn’t have anything of that nature but the lack of questioning about my travel was a standout in my mind.

    I also asked before leaving if I was allowed to know why I received the secondary screening. He looked at his computer screen, handed me my passport, and said “you can leave now”. I guess I was not privy to that information.

  33. @NAUgrad05: Interesting. I know that these are considered FOOD but I never ever declared cookies, chocolates, tea, jams, or anything that is not considered fresh and never had any issues. Many times even without declaring I was asked by the agents what I was bringing with me and I always said chocolates, cookies, pastries and they always let me go. I can guarantee you that every time you say on the form that you are bringing food you will be screened so I never click that option when bringing chocolates and cookies to my kids as I know even if I get screened I won’t get in trouble.

  34. one time secondary screening with PreCheck: sent to the radiofrequency scanner, arms and legs and back and chest patted down, bag swabbed. Delay of about 5-6 minutes, much of it waiting to be patted down.

    one time secondary screening with land crossing. they wanted to search the car without me present. ok. waiting for car to be searched about 10 minutes. car searched for about 3 minutes.

    successful GE or Precheck: guessing about 100-200 times

    travel to foreign countries in the past 5 years: infrequent, once to Asia, twice to western Europe

  35. Remember “Five Eyes” — USA, UK, Canada, Australia, NZ. AKA, let’s piss off the French. So since your travels went through two other Five Eyes countries, I can easily believe they had your flight records available.

  36. I always declare all food that I have – even cookies, chocolates, etc. Just not worth the risk. 9/10 they send me on my way. Every once in a while I get sent to secondary. Of those times, I’ve only been asked to show the box once. Really adds no time to the process at all.

  37. NAUgrad05 says:
    February 24, 2020 at 5:05 pm

    I got pulled for secondary screening in MSP once when I came back from Europe and declared that I had food products (tea, chocolates, cookies, etc.). It took about 15 minutes for them to scan my bag and send me on my way.

    I’ve declared food, stating that I have two packages of cookies. They often roll their eyes and let me go without checking. With GE, I would even declare a stick of chewing gum because I wouldn’t want it revoked over bringing undeclared food, like a bubble gum ball.

  38. Got the X once after answering yes about being in contact with animals. Went hiking, camping and horseback riding in Peru. They just sent me thru right away.

  39. May 2019, upon returning from a trip to Botswana, Germany, Italy, and Austria, I received the dreaded X on my GE at Denver Intl Airport. I asked and it was something to do with my fingerprints. There was no problem continuing through, but I wanted to suggest (but did not) that they clean their screens. And, I would have been happy to redo the fingerprints, but that wasn’t an option. April 2018 in Dallas, not a problem with GE. Husband did not have an issue.

  40. I get an X every time and the “explanation” is my fingerprints aren’t legible. HMM, then how did they get passed to get Global Entry?

  41. My experience with the dreaded “x” has nothing to do with the corona virus. My wife and I are in our early 70’s and were flagged a six months ago upon return from the Bahamas. Then in January of this year I was flagged again after a trip to Costa Rica. We hardly fit the profile of a drug smuggler. Neither time involved having to wait for questioning but our bags were sent thru yet another machine. I believe that “big brother” has a list and once you are on it you will probably never get off of it.

  42. @lucky

    I had this happen to me once, I got and X on Global entry and my wife who used the regular citizen quiosk was fine. So just to try I entered my details on the regular quiosk and was given a regular paper with no X…. LOL I proceed to enter without any problems.

  43. I was very surprised that I only got a few questions at customs after I returned to LAX from Bangkok via Seoul last week – just where I had been, why and what I do for a living?
    I expected at least a question or two about how I was feeling (fine) or whether I was experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms (I was not).

  44. Got secondary questioning this morning when headed to NOLA as well. US Border Services officer knew exactly which dates I was in China, mentioned that CDC was instructing them to ask additional questions to anyone who’s been in China since Jan 1st, and advised me to leave extra time when heading to the US in the future.

  45. @EarlJohnson — Wait, you’re telling me that you have to put your fingers on their scanner, then they warn you about Covid-19? No one standing there to wipe the machine after each use? Those TSA inspectors wear gloves, right, but how do I know how healthy the person in line before me is, before handing over a passport?

    But it’s known that people with Global Entry are generally not very bright. Most people know about this virus problem, but the GE travelers are too wrapped up in themselves to know what’s happening in the rest of the world.

  46. For anyone saying coronavirus is no more harmful than the regular flu, when was the last time you saw technicians wearing biohazard suits when escorting people with a normal case of the flu?! And the Chinese have been injecting it into monkeys! Yeah that’s going to end really well. Just like in “28 Days Later”

  47. Good Evening Everyone… Having GE since the beginning, I started getting the dreaded Big-X a constant basis. The officers who did the questioning would never say why; but when I noticed that I wasn’t getting a “green” on every fingerprint, I started asking “is this because my fingerprints aren’t registering correctly?”. I almost always received a positive answer… in fact often with the suggestion that upon my upcoming renewal interview I could do a re-rake of the fingerprints and solve the problem.

    But as the most interesting part, especially for those of us who live in (or transfer via) Miami, most people don’t realize (nor do they even tell you) that you DON’T EVEN NEED TO PUT YOUR PASSPORT IN THE GE MACHINE… because the Facial Recognition takes care of EVERYTHING… obviously also negating the need for prints anymore. Presto pronto… smile nicely for the camera, and if it recognizes you, you’re almost immediately good to go! Unfortunately this upgrade is not yet in most large US airports, but for once our Miami home is ahead of the game. Amazing!

  48. I’m an expat living overseas, Indonesia. I have global entry. I just entered the states a week ago, no problem.

  49. “I returned from Asia (and not even mainland China) nearly four weeks ago, so it’s not like this was in the past two (or even three) weeks” – There are cases where people have a delayed onset of symptoms. Besides the incubation time is normally like up to two weeks but people can be sick much much longer than that, so their questions don’t seem unreasonable at all. Sounds like you were randomly selected and then once you mentioned Asia that is what triggered an interview.

  50. @Toby, you know your parents’ travel habits. Preferred airlines, hotel chains etc. I suggest you research the market and pick one or two credit cards, then do a comparison.

    Like, “Dad, if you had card X instead of your current one, you could have…” Give him concrete examples, like “That trip to Europe last summer, we could have flown in business class at economy prices and saved XXX dollars if you had had this CC”, or, “We could visit Grandma in California four times a year instead of twice, for the same amount of money, if you had this CC”.

    If they still don’t listen to you after you do all the work for them, then I guess there’s nothing to do.

  51. Thanks for sharing – I wonder how Immigration will know your dates in China. Doubtful that the Chinese would be sharing that info with the US. Are they reliant on you to be declaring your time spent in China or based on the stamps in your passport?

  52. One the basis of belt and braces and advice on other blogs I have always selected ‘yes’ on the food quesion on the GE terminal and the officer askes me and I say what I have – usually candies, cookies chocolate and granola bars plus any duty free I have (was once asked specifically at SNN if I had any alcohol) and they then just let me through.

    Mind my arrivals into the US are always from Europe .

    I value my GE so I would rather over than under declare such items.

  53. 7 years of Global Entry. I play by the rules. Always. I get around a bit. 95% of my international travel is the EU. The easy stuff. Last October, I was stopped for secondary screening in Phoenix on my way to Los Angeles from London. Was not a good experience. Missed my connection and there was not a seat available for the remainder of the day. Had to reroute to another city to get home. All to run my bag through another x ray machine. Sometimes I just shake my head and bite my tongue.

  54. Maybe this is new. I had SSSS last week coming in from Istanbul to SFO (after the Heathrow debacle last week .. I’d missed my 4.5 hour connection in heathrow) (folks don’t connect in Heathrow – the airport is beyond incompetent for connections. Schipol or Frankfurt are way better) I missed my connection and had to rebook on to another flight in < 24 hours … It cost lots of $$ but I needed to be back in SF …. I got SSSS'd even with global entry.

  55. Got secondary screening in dreaded Miami when coming back from Bogota. Unfriendly (to say the least) agents tossed my luggage, squeezed my dirty socks looking for contraband, and treated me like a common criminal. At 2:30 in the morning. Because I was really in the mood for that after spending four hours in coach on an A319.

  56. The ER referral code on your kiosk receipt stands for Enforcement Referral. Which typically means an outstanding arrest warrant, but this could be for someone with a similar name.

  57. Is it possible that an official US government-agency is viewing Taiwan as being a province of the PRC, rather than the independent democratic country many of us believe, and therefore subject to stricter checks in these difficult times ? Surely not … erm …

  58. 200% they know where you’ve been, Lucky like MDA said they are always watching.

    I returned from Vietnam two weeks ago and received the quadruple “S” when I arrived in Doha and needed my ticket printed for my connecting flight. I had a 20hr layover in Doha so when I was leaving Vietnam my boarding pass connecting to the US was not available. In Doha everyone gets additional screening before boarding and for me the extra process was a quick swab of my hands and the inside of my luggage which were checked for explosives. No questions asked about my whereabouts.

    Once I reached the US anyone coming from Asia was asked if they had been to China however the custom agent I had asked where I was coming from (Vietnam which he already knew) an if I had any food which I said cookies. Then he said welcome back and sent me on my way.

  59. My wife has had age for almost five years and two out of three trips to Europe she got SSSS. Once in London anothe time in Prague. Isn’t the whole pint of GE to be precertified as “OK”?

  60. China is now two months into the virus epidemic and it is spreading fast .
    Now Italy, Iran and South Korea have cities in lockdown..
    It is for the benefit of the US population that incoming travellers are being asked questions and screened and everyone should be pleased that your USA health controls are good . Do you want cities in USA locked down like Wuhan and now Milan ?
    And @Lucky , there is Corona Virus in Malaysia,Philippines and Taiwan so this is why you were checked , you do not have to go to China to catch it .
    I would encourage all travellers to educate themselves on which countries have the virus and stay away from them. Do your meetings on Skype or Zoom.

    Did you know that in Hong Kong all schools have been shut since mid January and the school authorities have set up an innovative teaching system online with teachers and pupils working from home . Some teachers have 30 kids online for half a day . Some foreign families have escaped Hong Kong and are staying in rented accommodation in safer countries like Thailand , and do the schooling from there ( only one hour time difference )

    @Lucky, maybe concentrate on USA and South America for a few months, hoping this will finish soon.

  61. Do you know why airline asking pax to fill in passport info when booking? Airlines send all the data to departure and destination country CBP so they already know what’s coming before you take off.
    Also those little chips in new version of passport, it does record all the countries you visit and when you enter and leave. Welcome to digitalized world

  62. @Toby, parents are AS adults that we do NOT listen to kids and only believe what we choose to believe. But it’s also their $$ so they choose how to spend it.
    Show them the point guy website (it’s better trick to lure people into points game). If no change, forget abt it.

  63. I got a few Xs about 10 years ago when they first started the program and the staff were clueless about what to do since it was so new and very few used it. As I passed through customs (about 5 years ago) the agent asked if I had any food (their trick question to catch those who have food and have not declared it) and I remembered I had a sandwich from the plane so I said yes and he said line B. So I had to have my bag X rayed and they took the sandwich away saying no meat and that I was risking my GE not declaring the food. (I forgot).

    So a couple of years back I had some coffee and crackers and declared it on the GE kiosk. The ticket sent me to an immigration agent who questioned me and let me pass but the customs agent who sent me to have the “food” looked at. It was 6 am and not many people so I got to the front of the line area behind about 3-4 people but had to wait as the agent looked in all their bag one at a time picking around the all of the possessions before sending them on their way. Might have been a long long wait if there was a line. After that experience, my wife and I travel with no food, coffee (considered food) or candy. We leave all food on the plane. There are enough lines at the airport that I will not elect to stand in another for some food or coffee.

  64. Had a horrible experience with GE entering DEN from NRT in early December. We started our trip SGN and the agent asked if we had any food. I said “no.” He responds: “we’ll see about that. Go to the secondary inspection line.” It was incredibly rude and condescending.

    We had global entry and the secondary line was over an hour. There were several families connecting from India, Thailand, etc and customs agents were so rude to everyone and totally unorganized! They were double searching bags (why?!) and just being totally inefficient. Perhaps they had a lead for something or someone from this flight, but I have never experienced this in 8+ years of GE.

    Honestly made me never want to connect at DEN again.

  65. I’ve had occasions when they wanted additional info but not secondary screening. On one, the interviewer wanted to know why I had such a huge bag for a 2 day trip (he understood when I showed him my total 2 week itinerary), and on another occasion, my passport didn’t scan properly. However, on both occasions they had me skip the line to the next available interviewer. I never had to wait in the main queue.

    Also, you might remember the part of the Global Entry interview where you listed all countries you have traveled through. You may have been identified as a frequent traveler to Asia at that point.

  66. Governments know a lot more about your travel than they let on. I was transiting through Tel Aviv on a flight from China to Turkey in January, and was of course pulled in for 45 minutes of questioning. Most bizarre thing was when they asked for my second passport. Not IF I had a second passport, they knew that already. Very weird as I definitely hadn’t mentioned it. Dual US-EU citizen. I guess some sort of data sharing from somewhere

  67. I live in San Diego and drive to Mexico often. It is common knowledge that sooner or later the sentri officer computer will call your name. They have to keep you honest. Just because you have sentri/global entry doesn’t give you a free pass to snuggle like some might believe.

  68. I just had the same thing at JFK coming back from Manchester. It said I had entered the country too recently. I was taken I to another room and immediately given a red physical tag which I gave to customs and I continued along my way. It added about 60 seconds to my normal trip through to the airport’s exit.

  69. You are lucky. I am an immigrant. I’ve been a US resident since 1994. I am sent to secondary every single time I come into the country. I have no idea why. But is just a mandatory thing to me. I even feel is normal by now. The USCIS is always digging into my past and I believe they’re just hoping to find any little dirt which they can use to deny me entry to the country. You’re lucky. You don’t understand how bad it feels to see tourists visit this country for a week and they get through immigration quicker than me, a US tax payers for 24 years with a stable job, a profession and an active member of this society. I thought of getting Global Entry in the hopes that it will help but after seeing your story it has discourage me. Also, New Yorkers (where I live) are currently banned from it so is not even an option for now….

  70. it has nothing to do with just your trips to Asia. They clearly see you as a potential “drug mule” as your travel pattern suggests.

    You get the last minute tickets and always son the go thus the “SSSS”. It is the drug trafficking they are concerned about and you clearly fit the profile 🙂

  71. I was Global Entry for 5 years and was renewed without any issues, but about 4 month ago, I was selected for secondary agriculture screening , cleared it with no issues but during my next return was told my Global Entry was revoked, I was allowed to enter using regular checkpoint. I contacted GS via email and requested review. Review failed. I asked for info using FOIA but was told it was incorrectly requested. I went to GS interview in Newark and asked if they could look up my records, they said there was no reason for revocation but Homeland reserves the right, I ran background check on myself, it came clean and I applied for TSA Pre and was approved, to this day no one can explain to me why it was revoked and if I can apply. Anyone else had this?

  72. I also received secondary screening this morning coming off the Melbourne- SFO flight.

    I last left the US on Feb 1st and visited Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia before coming home.

    Interestingly, my Singaporean colleague (Singapore passport with Global Entry) who has been traveling with me to the same countries, was able to breeze through while I was been screened.

    Not sure what is the criteria for secondary screening? US Citizen only?

  73. @Toby

    Daniel From Finland is the one to listen to here. Put a case together for your parents. Give them concrete numbers. Most parents are going to be averse to sharing their financial details with their children, but you can use general estimates and go pretty far.
    – Don’t just think about the signup bonuses, but remind them about bonuses on stays at hotels you know you’ve stayed at.
    – – Look up the average rate of those hotels and do the math
    – Think about meal costs. Your average meal per person may cost $20, so do the math on number of meals x people in your family traveling, and then multiply that by the category bonus
    – For flights you’re aware of, do the math on what those costs likely were, and how many points they would have earned for those costs.
    – Find out if they have status, and factor that into the bonuses.
    – Include the negatives (it’s a better sales tactic, since you’re already ahead of where they’re going). So do the math on the annual fees and how your parents still come out ahead.

    Visualize it for them. Give them the hard numbers. Keep it succint, but make the strongest case you can in as few words as possible. Don’t make a passioned plea. Let the numbers make your argument for you.
    Then leave them with the information to sleep on.

    At all costs, do not just lazily send them a link to a travel blog.

    If they don’t listen, then at the very least they will be impressed by their 13yo kid’s persistence, drive, effort, and intelligence.

    Good luck fellow traveler.

  74. @ Andrew
    “We’re all going to get Covid-19. It’s just a matter of when.

    Government responses to this is like Neanderthals trying to throw rocks at the sun. This isn’t a ‘single country problem’, and they’re not going to fix it without going into super-lockdown, since it’s transmissible prior to symptom presentation.”

    The goal is to delay when COVID-19 will hit the general population of the United States. This allows us time to prepare and by limiting the number of persons in the country you limit the number of persons that will catch it. Just by delaying the probable outbreak we are saving lives as it allows more time to develop and vaccinate more people.

  75. Wow. The double whammy of the TSA’s basic, Keystone Kops, levels of incompetence paired with a disjointed, profit over wellness, healthcare system.

    I hope that COVID-19 doesn’t gain a foothold in the US because, if it does, the US is profoundly unprepared to deal with such a crisis. I’d expect death rates double or triple those in China, simply because so few people have access to appropriate healthcare. Add to that a few, “prayer over medicine” mega churches, plus more moronic talking heads like Rush Limbaugh claiming that COVID-19 is a hoax, and we’re looking at hundreds of thousands dead.

  76. I’ve gotten that the last three times I’ve entered the US (once late last year and twice this year. All pre-COVID fwiw). Nothing as invasive as what you had though. The first time (at SEA) I was told to wait to talk to an officer and she asked me a couple standard questions and sent me on my way. Took like five minutes total. The other two times (both at BOS) they basically didn’t even acknowledge the X and just waved me through.

  77. Never had an issue with GE when entering the country. Got secondary screening one time long ago via regular customs line and I think its because I stupidly declared wine even though I probably didn’t even have to declare it. That triggered them tossing my bags. Even one of the agents said he didn’t know why the other agent did that.

  78. “Got secondary screening in dreaded Miami when coming back from Bogota. ” – yea when I was coming back from Bogota I was sure I was going to have an issue but went right through with GE.

  79. Ben, as a CBP employee I can assure you that you would have received first priority as a Global Entry member. Can’t speak to the specifics of why you got stopped (as I have a good idea why) but you seem to already know.

  80. @ Global Entry Rocks! — “as I have a good idea why”

    C’mon, you’re going to leave me hanging like that? :p

  81. Hey Ben,
    I flew from JNB to ATL a few years ago. I was asked to go to secondary screening. They asked me why I was in South Africa, how I paid for the trip and if i attended any religious ceremonies (I am serious). I have an Arabic middle name so I assumed that’s why they asked the last question. In fact, 2 people interviewed me at the same time. They asked a bunch of more questions which I cant remember. The interview took about 20 mins but I had to wait there for another 3- 4 hrs before I was let go. It was not a pleasant experience.

  82. I used to also consistently get the SSSS until I got a redress# and then Global entry. Ive never been secondary screen since. You got screened totally because of coronavirus. Dont over think it, TSA don’t.

  83. Just flew in TPE to SFO with global entry, didn’t get flagged. No one asked a single question.

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