A new mobile app for Global Entry members is now available for passengers returning from overseas — and Pittsburgh International Airport is one of the few U.S. airports to offer it.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which operates international arrivals facilities at U.S. airports, launched the new Global Entry mobile app in September. It allows Global Entry members to use their personal devices to re-enter the country instead of waiting in line to use a portal, saving even more time and providing a touchless experience.
The app is currently in use at only seven U.S. airports: PIT, Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Miami International Airport (MIA), Orlando International Airport (MCO), Seattle Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD). CBP says it plans to evaluate and expand the app’s use at other airports with Global Entry in the future.
The Global Entry app is the latest program to be offered for international travelers at PIT. The app supplements existing Global Entry kiosks available to members of the Department of Homeland Security’s Trusted Traveler Program, which offers expedited entry and reduced wait times. It joins Mobile Passport Control, also offered at the airport; this app for iOS and android users speeds up the entry process and make some parts of the experience touchless.
How it works
The new Global Entry app allows travelers to take a “selfie” with their device and use it as identification. The photo is compared to a photo gallery to verify their identity through facial biometrics. Travelers will receive a receipt on the app confirming their photo has been submitted.
“It’s a pretty simplistic process just by using the app,” said Bill Fitting, port director, CBP at PIT.
Once the traveler arrives in the primary inspection area, they can bypass the Global Entry kiosks and go directly to CBP officers to efficiently process their entry into the U.S. by showing their mobile receipt.
“Once the plane touches down, you simply go to the app, answer a few questions and take a photo of yourself on the plane and hit send, which goes directly to the officer,” said Fitting. “You then bypass the kiosks and come directly to the officer to answer a few more questions. Then, you’re gone.”
Global Entry members can download the app for free onto iOS devices via the Apple App Store and on Android devices through Google Play. The Global Entry program allows for expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the U.S. Global Entry is used at land, air and sea ports of entry into the United States at all major airports and all airports with U.S. border preclearance.
Global Entry is one of the most popular programs for international travelers, with more than 12 million members as of September 2023, according to CBP.
To enroll into Global Entry, individuals must apply by undergoing an extensive background check and in-person interview before enrollment. Individuals can apply for Global Entry membership or learn more about the program by visiting CBP’s website.
Rise in international flights
The new app’s arrival at PIT comes as the airport continues to add nonstop international flights to its portfolio.
The new flights include increased service to Europe starting next spring with Icelandair’s recently announced service to Reykjavik, Iceland, beginning on May 16, and British Airways’ flights to London Heathrow, U.K., which go back to six weekly flights next year.. With British Airways and Icelandair combined, PIT will be directly connected to Europe every day of the week through October.
American Airlines will soon resume its nonstop service to Cancun, Mexico, on Dec. 9 with flights operating through March 30. Southwest Airlines and tour operators Apple Vacations and Vacation Express also fly nonstop between Pittsburgh and Cancun, while Apple Vacations and Vacation Express also fly nonstop to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Additionally, PIT has nonstop service to Montreal and Toronto on Air Canada. Montreal and Toronto are among a handful of international cities with U.S. border preclearance, allowing inbound travelers to clear customs in Canada and arrive at PIT normally as domestic passengers.
While most of PIT’s inbound international flights are spaced throughout each day, the addition of the Global Entry app will still help alleviate lines in the event of multiple flights arriving at once, said Fitting.
“Right now, we have flights separated where they’re not going to be in the room at the same time,” he said. “But even if they are, you will not be waiting in line — you will be long out of processing before other folks at other airports that haven’t even got their passport looked at.”
“It’s just another added feature for why you want to come to Pittsburgh.”