In travel, last minute moves can occasionally lead to great hotel rates, or spontaneous getaways, but if you don’t do a little housekeeping beforehand, they may lead you right back out to the airport curb. Destination: home.

Earlier this year, the United States tweaked the language on the ESTA site, which grants visitors an electronic travel authorization to enter the United States, a requirement before boarding a US bound flight. Whereas applications typically took minutes before, the program instituted a 72 hour guideline. This past weekend, a system error caused large numbers of passengers to miss their flights, which merits a reminder…

ESTA System Outage

Apparently, the whole entire world doesn’t read GSTP, and many who were hoping to travel to the United States this weekend hadn’t already completed their ESTA’s. Even though the USA says it now takes 72 hours for an approved application to come through, in practice, it was still taking under 24 hours for most people, so some chose to leave things to the last minute.

That, or they forget theirs had expired.

Either way, a system update caused the ESTA application system to go down, and those who were counting on the last minute magic we’ve long experienced were completely out of luck. Large numbers of people were forced to turn back home because of this simple travel error.

Apply For An ESTA Early

There’s literally no benefit to waiting to apply for an ESTA. If you choose not to use it during the two year validity, you’re only out $14 dollars, and renewal is easier and generally faster than a first time application anyway.

If you have planned, or even potential travel to the United States, this is a friendly reminder to get your ESTA done now, so that you can sit back, relax, and just worry about your luggage making it, rather than you yourself.

For those who travel to the US frequently, it’s also worth noting that it’s easier to apply for Global Entry than ever before, with a few locations for interviews now outside of the USA. The $100 fee covers 5 years of travel, even for citizens of many other countries and generally means wait times of under 5 minutes for entering the USA. It certainly beats 2.5 hours…

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