Conde Nast Traveler 5/28/2020
Another part of the air travel industry has gone on hold as the outbreak of the coronavirus continues to spread: Global Entry enrollment is now temporarily suspended through at least July 6.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced on Tuesday that it would be extending closures at all public access enrollment centers nationwide to help limit employees’ potential exposure to COVID-19. The move effectively suspends all new enrollments in trusted traveler programs, including Global Entry, which allows air passengers access to faster lines through airport customs and immigration when returning to the U.S. after an international trip.
The now-shuttered enrollment centers typically process in-person interviews for new applications or renewals for Global Entry memberships, as well as other trusted traveler programs like SENTRI, NEXUS, and FAST, which allow for expedited entry into the U.S. from Mexico, Canada, and for commercial truckers, respectively. Also on pause are all mobile enrollment events for Global Entry. The closures were originally in place from March 19 to May 1.
“Conditionally approved applicants who seek an enrollment center interview will need to reschedule after July 6,” the CBP release states. “These applicants are encouraged to monitor their e-mail and Trusted Traveler Program accounts for further information.” Current members of Global Entry (or the other Trusted Traveler programs) will now also be given an 18-month grace period to continue to use their memberships after they expire, as long as they apply for renewal before the expiration date. Still up and running is the Global Entry “Enrollment on Arrival” program, which allows conditionally approved applicants complete their enrollment interview when arriving from an international flight at one of 60 participating U.S. airports. But with most airlines around the world only operating a handful of international flights, pursuing the Enrollment on Arrival option will likely be difficult.
For now, it seems that TSA PreCheck, which allows members to access faster lines at airport security checkpoints, is still operating in-person interviews at different public facilities across the country. Multiple TSA officers, however, have tested positive for COVID-19 while working at several airports, including New York JFK, Newark, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Cleveland, and Atlanta.
CBP workers have also been at risk of contracting the illness. After the Trump administration enacted a ban on most non-U.S. travelers from Europe, CBP airport employees have been responsible for setting up checkpoints at 11 U.S. hubs that screen for the symptoms of the virus in U.S. fliers returning from Europe, the U.K., Ireland, as well as China and Iran. When they were first implemented, the screenings caused long lines at airports with fliers and airport workers packed near one another.
Before the coronavirus outbreak took hold in the U.S., CBP had banned all New York state residents from Global Entry and other trusted traveler programs, in response to a state law the agency deemed blocked access to databases deemed essential to vetting whether applicants were eligible for membership. The enrollment centers’ closures are one of many other airport facilities, like numerous airline lounges, that have been closed or scaled back due to the coronavirus as well. The majority of Delta SkyClubs and American Airlines Admirals Clubs have closed or are offering limited services, while American Express has closed all of its Centurion Lounges and United has similarly stopped all Polaris lounge service.
How can travel managers account for traveling employees and navigate duty of care at the same time? Learn about duty of care and why its’s important to have a solid travel policy in place.
The U.S. Department of State said this week that its passport services would restart in phases, with regions getting different restart dates depending on local conditions.