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Customs At ATL?  
User currently offlinePanAm747LHR From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 232 posts, RR: 1
Posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 3394 times:

I was passing through Atlanta a few days ago and wondered how customs formalies were handled for incoming passengers, since the International concourse (E) is all the way at the end, and I noticed that nobody on the trains had baggage. (So I figured they weren't handled in E)
Then, when I arrived at the baggage claim area, I was signs for Delta flights arriving from London, Cancun, Mexico City (just to name a few) arriving on belts with free access to the exits. In otherwords, it seemed that people could just grab their bags and go. So what's the deal? How/When do customs officers inspect baggage at ATL, and when during the arrival process does this happen.

Thanks very much!

Nick

38 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinePositiverate From United States of America, joined May 2005, 1590 posts, RR: 8
Reply 1, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 3388 times:

You claim your bags, go through customs, and then there is a recheck at E for connecting flights or to the terminal where you can reclaim your bags and leave if ATL is your final desintation. It's an easy process.

User currently offlineJGPH1A From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 3387 times:

The customs clearance at ATL happens in the CBP facility in E Concourse. After clearing passport control, passengers pick up their luggage and clear customs, and are then required (somewhat bizarrely) to put their bags on another belt to be whisked (!) to the main terminal complex. Passengers catch the train to the main concourse and recollect their bags. It's very bizarre.

User currently offlineANother From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 3387 times:

IMHO the stupidest handing of international passengers. You arrive in E, you go through immigration, you pick up your bags, you go through customs, you go through security (no kidding), you have to put your bags on the conveyer, you take the train to the other end, you pick up your bags (that is if someone hasn't already nicked it. They even made me put my carryon on that conveyer.

I guess they feel safer now.


User currently offlineSrbmod From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 3381 times:

Actually, when you clear customs, you have to recheck your bags, regardless of whether you're connecting or ATL is your destination. Then before you leave the customs level, you have to go through a security screening since you've had access to your checked bags. This problem will be pretty much done away with once the new International Terminal is built, as those whose destination is ATL will not typically have to recheck their bags, as the facility will have its' own baggage claim and shuttle buses to the parking lots (the facility will also have its' own parking facility as well.) as well as to the main terminal (in case you have to connect onto MARTA or the APM to the new Consolidated Car Rental Center).

User currently offlineJGPH1A From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 3381 times:

Quoting ANother (Reply 3):
They even made me put my carryon on that conveyer.

Really ? That's mean. The trick usually is (once you've cleared customs) to rip the bagtag off your bag, and pretend it's a carryon, and just get on the train. Saves lots of bother. The same applies at RDU for the ridiculous 30m walk through the concourse.


User currently offlineConcordeBoy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 3351 times:

Quoting JGPH1A (Reply 2):
It's very bizarre.

Not really, it's a concourse not a terminal-- and thus rather in keeping with many other such gateways of similar nature.

It'll probably change when that area is transformed into a terminal in the relatively near future.


User currently offlineJGPH1A From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 3346 times:

Quoting ConcordeBoy (Reply 6):
Not really, it's a concourse not a terminal-- and thus rather in keeping with many other such gateways of similar nature.

But it's unclear why. Obviously rechecking for onward flights makes sense, but why not let passengers ending their journey in ATL just take their bags on the train and go ?


User currently offlineConcordeBoy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 3330 times:

Quoting JGPH1A (Reply 7):
but why not let passengers ending their journey in ATL just take their bags on the train and go ?

"...and go" where?

Only way out is through the terminal-- so why not just meet your bags there, instead of lugging them around through the concourses and tying up space on the people mover?


User currently offlineAirTranTUS From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 3327 times:

Quoting ANother (Reply 3):
you go through security (no kidding)

That happens for all connections from international flights in the US.

Quoting Srbmod (Reply 4):
you have to go through a security screening since you've had access to your checked bags.

So that's why. I always wondered.


User currently offlineRobertS975 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 931 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 3310 times:
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Quoting JGPH1A (Reply 7):
But it's unclear why. Obviously rechecking for onward flights makes sense, but why not let passengers ending their journey in ATL just take their bags on the train and go ?

Because those passengers would have access to every other gate in Atlanta, domestic or international. If there was a way to usher these passengers out to the other side of security (landside) in the main terminal, then they would do that. You are allowed to have things in your checked luggage that you are not allowed to have either on your person or in your carryon luggage. Now if you have nothing prohibited in your checked piece, and if it is of manageable size, there is nothing to prohibit you from ripping the "ATL" luggage tags off the piece and bringing it with you on the airport train to the main terminal. It would, of course, have to go through a security check just as if you were entering the terminal for the first time.


User currently offlinePPVRA From Brazil, joined Nov 2004, 8868 posts, RR: 40
Reply 11, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 3273 times:

Quoting RobertS975 (Reply 10):

Just make sure to remember to put in your checked luggage any illegal items that you might have purchased at a duty free. . . such as booze. ATL customs won't let you through with alcohol, and you're gonna have to find a way to send it through the belt.



"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will" - Frederic Bastiat
User currently offlinePositiverate From United States of America, joined May 2005, 1590 posts, RR: 8
Reply 12, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 3250 times:

Quoting ANother (Reply 3):
you go through security (no kidding),

Because you have had access to your bag, which may contain an item prohibited in the airport (such as a knife). If I put a knife in my bag in SVO, check it, reclaim it in ATL, but then am not screened again, I now can take that knife onto my connection to FLL for instance.


User currently offlineEvan767 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 2957 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 3231 times:

Quoting ConcordeBoy (Reply 8):
"...and go" where?

Only way out is through the terminal-- so why not just meet your bags there, instead of lugging them around through the concourses and tying up space on the people mover?

Wow, brilliant point.



The proper term is "on final" not "on finals" bud...
User currently offline767-332ER From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 2030 posts, RR: 11
Reply 14, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 3163 times:

Quoting Positiverate (Reply 12):
Quoting ANother (Reply 3):
you go through security (no kidding),

Because you have had access to your bag, which may contain an item prohibited in the airport (such as a knife). If I put a knife in my bag in SVO, check it, reclaim it in ATL, but then am not screened again, I now can take that knife onto my connection to FLL for instance.

This is indeed why it is necessary to screen passengers once they've cleared customs.



Twinjets...if one fails, work the other one twice as hard!!!
User currently offlineHaggis79 From Germany, joined Jun 2006, 1096 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 3144 times:

Quoting 767-332ER (Reply 14):
This is indeed why it is necessary to screen passengers once they've cleared customs.

I can see that for connecting passengers... but why someone builts a facility that forces an arriving passenger through security again, is completely beyond me....



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User currently offlineWorldTraveler From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 3102 times:

Quoting Haggis79 (Reply 15):
I can see that for connecting passengers... but why someone builts a facility that forces an arriving passenger through security again, is completely beyond me....

again, because arriving int'l flights arrive on a CONCOURSE which is connected to every other gate at the airport.... remember that ATL has essentially 1 security checkpoint at the terminal (there's actually 2 - the main one and the AA/UA check but it's all at the checkpoint.)

ATL wants to build a separate terminal for international arrivals and check-in but it is years behind schedule and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget. Given that DL is the largest international carrier at ATL and has more than enough capability to handle all of its international check-in in its existing faciltities, I am highly doubtful that DL (who is one of the signatory airlines at ATL and thus essentially has veto authority on capital expenditures) will agree to spending hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars on a terminal that gains little more than alleviate the need to recheck baggage on international arrivals. There are some int'l gates in the proposed facility but probably not enough to justify the huge costs that are being thrown around necessary to build a terminal.

By the way, CVG is set up the same way, I do believe.


User currently offlineJtl11968 From United States of America, joined May 2007, 40 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 3049 times:

I'm glad someone asked this question because it has baffled me for a long time. I live in ATL and travel back and forth to the UK 5-6 times a year and other places as well. I always wonder about this odd setup.

When I arrive at LGW or any other airport, my baggage and I are screened before going into the sterile area. From there, we don't handle our bags again until we arrive at our destination. What is the reason to screen my bag upon arrival? My dangerous weapons were already taken from me prior to departure. If I'm not going any further than ATL, why xray my bag AFTER Customs and BEFORE letting me grab it in the main terminal?

When I arrived from Dubai in July, it took an hour for my bag to get to me in the baggage hall after I re-checked it in Customs. Delta man said screening takes time. When I asked why the sceond screening, he shrugged his shoulders. After a 15 hour flight, I wasnt happy about standing around the bag carosel at 6AM waiting.


User currently offlineRobertS975 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 931 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 2980 times:
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Quoting Jtl11968 (Reply 17):
What is the reason to screen my bag upon arrival? My dangerous weapons were already taken from me prior to departure. If I'm not going any further than ATL, why xray my bag AFTER Customs and BEFORE letting me grab it in the main terminal?

Because you need to have access to your checked luggage in order to physically carry it through Customs. You could have had all kinds of items in your checked luggage legally that would have been prohibited in your carryon or on your person... knives, swords, ice picks etc. Those items were all quite fine in your checked pieces which you just had access to. So once you hand your checked luggage back for either transport to the ATL terminal or an onward connection, you and your carry-on need to once again go through a security check before you can gain admittance to the "sterile" concourses at ATL (or JFK or CVG for that matter).

Look at the international processing area at an American airport as a pre-security area.


User currently offlineHaggis79 From Germany, joined Jun 2006, 1096 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days ago) and read 2941 times:

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 16):
again, because arriving int'l flights arrive on a CONCOURSE which is connected to every other gate at the airport....

WorldTraveler, I do understand why the process is handled the way it is.... what I don't understand is why they built the facility as stupid in the first place...

another option would be running a bus that takes arriving passengers to the landside terminal after they cleared customs...

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 16):
By the way, CVG is set up the same way, I do believe.

it is... it is as stupid there as it is in ATL, but at least there are way less int'l flights a day in CVG than in ATL...

Quoting RobertS975 (Reply 18):
Because you need to have access to your checked luggage in order to physically carry it through Customs. You could have had all kinds of items in your checked luggage legally that would have been prohibited in your carryon or on your person... knives, swords, ice picks etc. Those items were all quite fine in your checked pieces which you just had access to. So once you hand your checked luggage back for either transport to the ATL terminal or an onward connection, you and your carry-on need to once again go through a security check before you can gain admittance to the "sterile" concourses at ATL

If I understood correctly, the question wasn't about him or his carryon but merely about his (re)checked luggage...



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User currently offlineAA767LOVER From Hong Kong, joined Aug 2007, 564 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days ago) and read 2938 times:

By personal experience, ATL customs and immigration facilities were really good. Even if i arrived at 8:00 a.m. with the GRU and EZE flights (since I arrived from LIM), it was quite fast going through.


J.I. Tsui, American Advantage Member, United Mileage Plus (Premier)
User currently offlinePhollingsworth From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2004, 825 posts, RR: 5
Reply 21, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 2868 times:

Quoting Haggis79 (Reply 19):
WorldTraveler, I do understand why the process is handled the way it is.... what I don't understand is why they built the facility as stupid in the first place...

another option would be running a bus that takes arriving passengers to the landside terminal after they cleared customs...

The reason, quite simply, was economics. In the past all international flights used to arrive and depart from the Terminal concourse, which allowed direct access to the terminal. You can still see the rescreen area for connecting international pax in the Mezzanine above the baggage claim station of the transportation mall. By the mid 1990s this facility was inadequate for the number of flights and passengers. The simplest and least costly option was to build new concourse at the far end of the transportation mall. This did not call for any major reconfiguration of the remainder of the airfield.

My experience with the ATL situation, happens two-three times per year, is that it really isn't all that bad, except for the fact that the bags are transported between the concourse and the terminal by baggage train (tugs and carts) which means they arrive in batches. This means that if you just miss one batch it might be 30+ minutes for your bag to re-appear. I have also had my bag arrive before me. Even if ATL had buses they would still probably make you recheck your luggage as the checked bags don't mix with large numbers of Pax.


User currently offlineAAflyguy From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 356 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 2843 times:

The new East Terminal will be built, no matter how over budget it is. Over budget is only based on the cost estimates of several years ago (1999, I believe), long before the huge spike in construction costs and materials. So of course it's over budget. And yes, it is long overdue, and well behind schedule from the original timeline. Even if it had moved forward under the design of the original architectural firm, it would have still likely ended up over budget, because of moving costs during the bid package process. There is no way to know definitively what a project will cost until all bids are awarded and the project is officially complete (post change orders and punch list items, etc). Any figure presented is purely an estimate to use for planning and funding purposes. It's only as good as the day it is prepared, basically.

While the new terminal may only offer 10-12 additional gates, that is crucial to the continued growth of ATL's International traffic, and also to alleviate the strain on the Automated People Mover (APM) and the Main Terminal. It would mean nearly 50-gates with loading bridges for International (and Domestic) use, and several remote parking positions for peak times. ATL is not slowing down in its swelling passenger figures. The DL bankruptcy offered a hiccup, but traffic is back in record territory again. It's the World's Busiest, and will be for a long time. In fact, it's entirely conceivable that the airport may serve 100 million annual passengers as soon as 2010, with just a 4% annual growth rate between now and then. Removing the majority of the O&D International passengers from the APM, and the tugs/carts on the airfield which deliver their checked bags to the Main Terminal, will be a big relief and free up capacity for connecting passengers.

It will be a vast improvement for everyone who begins or ends an International trip @ ATL. Also, it is highly likely that DL will have some Domestic passengers checking in there, once again easing the demand at the Main Terminal and the security screening checkpoint. And who knows, the airport could also work with some of the Domestic Carriers to relocate to the East Terminal, especially the likes of AirTran (or other carriers near its existing check-in in Terminal North) because it is now serving 20% of the passengers @ ATL with its 275-daily departures. AirTran may need more space in the coming years to support its growing presence and operation. We shall see.

AAflyguy


User currently offlineSrbmod From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 2724 times:

Quoting AAflyguy (Reply 22):
And who knows, the airport could also work with some of the Domestic Carriers to relocate to the East Terminal, especially the likes of AirTran (or other carriers near its existing check-in in Terminal North) because it is now serving 20% of the passengers @ ATL with its 275-daily departures. AirTran may need more space in the coming years to support its growing presence and operation. We shall see.

That's what the proposed South Terminal is for, and like the Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal, is also behind schedule as well (at least based on the original ATL Masterplan time line).. While the new International Terminal will add additional gates to the airport, the way DL has been focusing on international expansion, plus the possibility of new services by other existing airlines or new airlines into ATL (with the new US-EU Open Skies, there's no telling what kind of services that could pop up), means that by the time this complex is open, all of the gates could already essentially be spoken for during certain times of the day.

Remote gates will definitely be happening @ ATL in the near future. They've already got plans and the equipment needed to do as such on a small scale basis (like for IROPS and an airline doesn't have a spot to park at), but it may end up becoming a regular occurrence for the next 5 or so years. By the time the Midfield Complex opened in September of 1980, Eastern and Delta had been using remote parking for several years; Eastern was parking flights over by their hangar and using mobile lounges and buses and Delta was parking a/c on their cargo ramp and used buses.


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User currently offlineJGPH1A From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 2698 times:

It's just odd that every other airport in the world (outside the US) manages without making passengers recheck their bags just to get to the pavement outside. Of course the biggest part of the problem is the need to clear your bags at the first point of entry into the US. The way it works for Schengen countries is (to my mind) much better. You clear passport control at your first point of entry into Schengen, but your bags are only cleared by Customs at your final arrival point. So for example, if I fly RDU-JFK-BRU-NCE, my bags are checked all the way through to NCE, and when I arrive in NCE I have to walk through customs and (if necessary) declare anything I have over my allowances. I actually clear passport control in Brussels, though, and do not go through Immigration at NCE. That way my bags can travel all the way through to my final destination. Much easier. It does mean that every airport has to have a secured customs clearance area for flights arriving from points where they may have connected on an inbound flight from outside of Schengen.

25 Cubsrule : False. ATL customs caught me with alcohol a couple times when I was under 21 (and it was illegal for me to import it) and let me through with it. The
26 DL787932ER : That's not the issue anymore; I've gone through ATL customs with wine when I was under 21 (and cartons of cigarettes when I was under 18, for that ma
27 Viscount724 : Unless this has changed since January, international passengers arriving at MEX have to clear their baggage (checked and carry-on) through an arrival
28 Cubsrule : Georgia law is supposed to control the ability of minors to bring alcohol in, and it is illegal to bring any alcohol in if under 21; I'm not sure wha
29 Mtsubshe : in what ever concourse you come here or which flight you take , when you come out , of the terminal, everybody comes out to the same place, same build
30 AAflyguy : The South Terminal complex will likely not even be underway by the time the East Terminal opens. That said, it may be 2015 before it debuts. AirTran's
31 PPVRA : Crap, you're right, they stopped me at the security line by the belts. That's not customs. But they still wouldn't let me through with it, and I was
32 JGPH1A : That's not a security check, that's customs. They're checking for smuggled goods.
33 Jetlanta : It's the most efficient passenger terminal complex in the world bar none. In this case, it forces a minor sacrifice in customer inconvenience in orde
34 Aarbee : So is MCO. International pax arriving into MCO have to re-checkin the bags take the train and re-claim the bags.
35 Cubsrule : Many 'secondary' international airports are or were... MEM RDU MDW (? I know that FIS is under the concourse, and I've never seen people crossing the
36 747fan : That wasn't the case when I arrived there on a flight from Paris. I went with a group of about 30 French students from my school and about 10 of them
37 DTWAGENT : So, If I read this right. I'm flying to MBJ on Sept 27 and returning on Oct1 of this year. So when I come back from MBJ, I'm going to go get my bag an
38 DTWAGENT : So, If I read this right. I'm flying to MBJ on Sept 27 and returning on Oct1 of this year. So when I come back from MBJ, I'm going to go get my bag an
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