Sorry for you New York area guys, but immigration at both EWR and JFK are by far the nastiest in the country. Brusque, rude, and the slightest mistake on your form and they'll send you back to the end of the queue to fill a new one in
Completely, completely untrue. Let me relay the story of the last time I came into the country, which was about 3 weeks ago.
We arrived on ANA flight 10 from Narita. I believe we came into terminal 2. The customs area is old and ugly, yes, but it also doesn't seem to get many flights so every time I've come in there we've been the only flight needing to clear. Anyway, this was my first time traveling together with my wife as husband/wife and we didn't really know how it was supposed to work - she went to the alien line, I went to the citizen line, but we'd only filled out one customs declaration form (as it says to do on the form).
I sailed right on through, she got hung up because of her lack of a declaration form. She explained that I was with her, the customs guy called me over and explained that we should go through together from then on, on the US citizen line. He was very nice, he even stammered a bit when he said I would still need to go through the "foreigner" line in Japan because he did not want to use the word "foreigner" (I actually said it for him, he said "I didn't want to say that, I was going to say 'alien' but even that's kind of bad").
Because of the type of visa my wife is on, we had to go to another room for clearance. There was nobody else in there, and we sailed on through again. The customs agents again were very nice - maybe a little too jovial with each other (bit of a different experience after coming back from Japan, where nobody ever talks to each other socially while on the job), but nice, and they got us out of there in around 2 minutes.
Got hung up again trying to leave baggage claim because we had declared that we were carrying food. Agent just asked us what we had, we told her some pickles, some cake, nothing fresh, she said "ok, you're free to go" and that was it.
I have never experienced any rudeness at JFK
, from anyone, customs agent or otherwise. This time, we got hung up several times in the process and it still only took us maybe a total of 20 minutes from the time of departing the plane to being out the door (including getting our bag, as baggage claim is directly adjacent to customs at this terminal). We did not have to refill out any forms even though we made an obvious mistake in the process.
There may be individual employees who are rude, or who may be having a bad day or whatever, but these are federal employees under the Office of Homeland Security and I know they will not tolerate that sort of thing if they see it. So I don't think JFK
or anywhere else is really any worse than any other airport in terms of the customs employees.
I'm tired of being a wanna-be league bowler. I wanna be a league bowler!