Our flight was delayed. As we watched the time tick away in the Lima airport, our thoughts shifted to the inevitable: We’re not going to make our connecting flight in Miami. And we both spent time bonding about how much we hate Miami airport and weren’t looking forward to any more time than needed there.
As the plane finally took off almost 2 hours late, the captain came on with the updated landing time: We’d only have 55 minutes from the time we pulled up to the gate to the time our next flight would take off. We had to clear Customs and Border Protection, get through security, and catch an air train to another part of the airport and do it all in more or less 35 minutes? Impossible. Until it’s not. And the only reason it was possible? One app that has now vaulted to the top of our must have list if you have ANY international travel planned.
Stop what you’re doing, pick up your iPhone, and download Mobile Passport. When you search for it in the App Store the official name is Mobile Passport- Officially Authorized… It looks like this when you find it:
And the app is incredibly simple. Consider this our Mobile Passport Review:
1. Set up your profile. Add the stuff from your passport and save it. Make sure you can login (I had problems logging in once so just had to delete my profile and create a new one).
2. When you land, you fill out a few questions, and submit it electronically.
3. Then, follow the signs for mobile passport. In Miami, they had the regular passport entry for US Citizens to the left. They had a middle lane blocked off that had Global Entry and Mobile Passport on the signs above it. And visitors to the right. We showed our app to a woman who opened up what I will now lovingly refer to as “the VIP lane” and less than 2 minutes later, I breezed by lines of other citizens, walked right up to a CBP officer, scanned the QR Code on my phone, and was told “welcome home.”
4. Once you get your bags (if you checked any) you again have a special lane: Crew, diplomats, Global Entry, and Mobile Passport. No wait again, and we were in and out of customs in less than 10 minutes.
Suddenly, making our flight seemed doable. We took a bit longer to get through security again, hopped on the first air train that pulled up, and got to our gate just as they began boarding group one.
If you have Global Entry, lucky you. But if you don’t, this app is for you. So what’s the catch? Not much, but there is this: The program is still in its infancy, so it’s not everywhere. As of this blog entry, it’s only available in Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, and Seattle.
But the good news is this: I spoke to Hans Miller, the CEO and Founder of Airside Mobile, the team that built this brilliant app, and he promises more is on the way. They launched in Atlanta in August 2014 after nearly two years of planning and development. We can’t reveal what is in the works in terms of new locations, but it got us VERY excited! And what we can share is this: The White House put out a press release in February and they’re working to get Mobile Passport in the 20 biggest airports in the next year or so, according to Miller.
So download the app, skip the line, and toast a speedy return to the USA, something we never thought would be possible without buying Global Entry!