LHLX
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Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigration

Sun Oct 25, 2015 1:24 pm

Hey,

what are, in your experiences, the worst airports for arriving passengers at immigration?
I was told GRU, especially the old terminal, is awful and can be like 1,5-2 hours in the morning. I have been there four times and never waited more than 30 mins, but that was before the terminal 3 opened.

I think BKK, MIA, JFK and EWR can be really bad at times....

What are your experiences?
 
diverted
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 1:30 pm

I find IAD to be hit or miss. Either I breeze through with no line or its an hours long disaster
 
holzmann
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 1:31 pm

Last Monday at IAD: Exactly one hour between texting the wife I had landed (touchdown literally) and that I was getting into an Uber curbside.
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glbltrvlr
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 1:46 pm

Hate to be a thread killer, but you can find the actual historical wait times by hour here: http://awt.cbp.gov/
 
Andy33
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 1:53 pm

The CBP data doesn't address the different waiting times experienced by US passport holders as against everyone else. Most countries manage to process their own citizens a lot quicker than they do visitors, for obvious reasons. I assume this is still the case at US airports.
 
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Aeroflot777
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 1:56 pm

Quoting holzmann (Reply 2):
Last Monday at IAD: Exactly one hour between texting the wife I had landed (touchdown literally) and that I was getting into an Uber curbside.

Does IAD make use of the relatively new APC kiosks? I've noticed that at SFO, the APC installation has significantly expedited the previously long waits.
 
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sassiciai
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 2:09 pm

Manila NAIA T1 can be a pain sometimes. If you arrive after a succession of heavies and there's already 1000+ people in front of you at immigration! At about 1 minute per person processing rate, even 20 desks means a long wait

I always now try to have a seat on any flight into NAIA as far forward as possible, to deplane ASAP, and to "overtake" people on the walk to immigration.

Occasionally, when I get to the immigration hall, to my delight there are no earlier people, and all the open desks are empty and waiting! Then you get to find out just how fast the baggage handlers are!
 
BestWestern
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 2:16 pm

Quoting sassiciai (Reply 6):
Manila NAIA T1 can be a pain sometimes. If you arrive after a succession of heavies and there's already 1000+ people in front of you at immigration! At about 1 minute per person processing rate, even 20 desks means a long wait

It has improved dramatically of late - queues now are far shorter than a year ago. Counters are manned and staff are friendly.
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GCT64
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 2:18 pm

Quoting LHLX (Thread starter):
what are, in your experiences, the worst airports for arriving passengers at immigration?

In my experience, as an "alien", any major airport in the US (e.g. I have had 2+ hours immigration queuing at DFW (not including any walking time, collecting bags etc.), regularly 1+ hours at LAX, JFK, EWR). I'm told MIA is particularly awful, I don't intend to verify that. In my experience, the rest of the world doesn't come close.

Conversely the best recently: LHR T5 arriving from SFO, 2 immigration desks manned in UK/EU and just Jeremy Clarkson and me in the queue - I let him go first as I didn't want him to get angry with me  
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starrymarkb
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 2:29 pm

I've had 45 minutes at Bristol (small regional airport) after landing last in a wave of arrivals including a couple of 757s. (This being Europe the 757s are 230pax sardine cans) The queue actually started in the walkway prior to even entering the terminal and UKBF only had a couple of desks open >.
 
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 2:53 pm

In Asia, I would say ICN or HKG are among the best, then again I have a HKID card so I just go through the residents channel. SIN took a little longer-but they gave out free candy so who cares. I thought that DMK was unorganized and lengthy.

[Edited 2015-10-25 07:54:23]
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deltairlines
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 2:55 pm

I fly into GRU 1-2x a month...most times I am through immigration before my boss, who holds a Brazil passport. This last time was my longest wait, at about 5-10 minutes.

MEX tends to be bad for me. I've had a few hour long waits there.
 
Brick
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 3:00 pm

Damman, Saudi Arabia! I passed through this airport in March 2015 and it was 2 hours 50 minutes to clear immigration because my flight was one of the last to arrive for the evening. I went to this airport again in August 2015 and my flight was the first to arrive for the evening...wait time was less than 5 minutes.
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alex0easy
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 3:01 pm

Definitely JFK T1. 2 Hrs waiting, and the CBP agent sneezed into my passport without an apologize  
By the time I got to baggage claim, the luggage belt was already used for the next flight's luggage. Of course the passengers of that flight are still waiting in line for immigration behind me. My flight's luggage are scattered all around the luggage hall; you just have to run around and find them.  
 
SCQ83
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 3:09 pm

JED can be a nightmare with the amount of people and the mix of ethnic traffic (for many of whom it is their first time arriving to Saudi - and maybe travelling abroad -, so they dont have an Iqama yet) and the religious traffic (also for many their first experience abroad)

You just have to be smart and gentle and try to move to the GCC citizens queue when they are finished. Of course the other option is to yell like your average Anglosaxon businessman and being stuck in the normal queue forever.  
 
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 3:27 pm

Quoting LHLX (Thread starter):
I think BKK, MIA, JFK and EWR can be really bad at times....

Well, I have experienced both MIA and JFK. MIA was quite crowded at that time and it took for a while. If I remember right I arrived to JFK on Sunday evening, not really busy at that time and it didn't took very long to get through immigration. When I arrived to JFK I expected it to take much longer than in MIA, but luckily I was wrong.

I think it really depends on when you arrive and how many other flights arrive at the same time.

[Edited 2015-10-25 08:28:34]
 
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zeke
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 3:53 pm

Quoting LHLX (Thread starter):

I went to bkk recently for a couple of rounds of golf, from leaving the aircraft and arriving at the golf course was under 60 minutes. I think there must be peak times but I have never experienced it. I tend to arrive in the morning and leave late in the day.
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BoeingGuy
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 3:54 pm

I went through immigration at MIA in 2006, returning from LPB, and it was by far the longest I've ever waited. It was a nightmare. Maybe things have changed since then.

SEA can be long at times when BA and BR arrive at the same time, for example, but I arrived in SEA last Monday from AMS and it was one of the fastest entries I've ever had.

I seem to recall CAI being long too.

DFW has always been my favorite of the larger airports. It's always been fast.
 
opticalilyushin
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 3:58 pm

My worst experience was at Monastir, Tunisia in 2010. It took 2 hours to clear immigration, in a large hot room with no lines, queues or air con! Only a mob of passengers all converging into one corner.

I also remember landing in Curacao in a 15 seat Emb110, right after the KLM 747 landed..not such a long wait but certainly busy.
 
LGAviation
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 4:04 pm

Fastest entry I've ever had in the US was probably an early morning arrival from SCL on AA at DFW where where having ESTA APC was available with no additional immigration inspection (unlike MIA the week before) thereafter for whatever reason. Aircraft to curbside (without luggage though) in 15 min.
Personally, I can well remember queuing at JFK and MIA for hours, but again great work with the APC, CBP!
Personally, I don't remember any European airport with significant delays with TLV being astonishingly efficient for the thoroughness of their checks. Recalling, I think BNE was horrible when arriving with the bulk of Asian flights in the early morning.
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LTU932
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 4:12 pm

Quoting LGAviation (Reply 19):
Fastest entry I've ever had in the US was probably an early morning arrival from SCL on AA at DFW where where having ESTA APC was available with no additional immigration inspection (unlike MIA the week before) thereafter for whatever reason. Aircraft to curbside (without luggage though) in 15 min.
DFW also has green APCs that allow you to be processed if you're not flying with checked luggage or, under certain conditions, connect international to international. If you connect ITI on AA (arriving and connecting flight must be on AA) at DFW, you use the green APCs, go with the printout to the immigration officer, skip the walk to baggage claim by using a special elevator that takes you quickly to the check-in area. All you need to do then, is go through security, and you're good to go. DFW seems to be the only airport to have those green APCs, as I'm not aware of any other airport that has them.

[Edited 2015-10-25 09:14:02]

[Edited 2015-10-25 09:14:55]
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directorguy
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 4:24 pm

DXB Terminal 1 has been a disaster for quite some time.
Waits of 45-60 minutes are common. Coming off a 1 hour flight from Doha or a 14-hour flight from Atlanta, either way unacceptable. Most of the time it's because of inadequate staffing.
Most visitors need to get an eye scan done, which is time consuming. Immigration staff rarely ask any questions though.
Residents over the age of 18 (plus nationalities who get visa-on-arrival) can get an E-gate which allows for automated exit and entry. Otherwise, there are no special lines for UAE residents. GCC citizens have their own line and generally breeze through.
On departure it's must better as it's just swipe and stamp and go.
 
747megatop
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 4:24 pm

Quoting LHLX (Thread starter):
I think BKK, MIA, JFK and EWR can be really bad at times....

What are your experiences?

LAX is consistently backed up at immigration. And,i guess all major aiports i have been to (CDG, NRT, LHR) have had long lines and wait times.
 
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yellowtail
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 4:24 pm

Quoting gct64 (Reply 8):
I'm told MIA is particularly awful,

If you arrive in "AA terminal" mid afternoon....as a no US passport holder in can be very bad. In the last year I have had wait times in the 3 hour range most times.

IAH (for non US residents) in the afternoon is quickly catching up too.....my last time through was 2.5 hours.....only 4 CPB officers processing 77Ws and 380s in addition t my 73G.
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 4:28 pm

Quoting LTU932 (Reply 20):
go. DFW seems to be the only airport to have those green APCs, as I'm not aware of any other airport that has them.

Houston IAH and Chicago ORD both have customs 'one-stop' and have for years.
It allows int'l-int'l direct connections skipping the baggage check and allows one to skip the customs side if carry-on only.
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Escapehere
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 5:08 pm

Never done it myself, but I've heard horror stories of MIA customs queues.

From personal experience, LAX was always the worst US airport as far as custom queues go. I haven't done it since the new Tom Bradley upgrades opened though, so I don't know if it's improved since then.

YYZ's US pre-clearance queues can be pretty bad at certain times, too.
 
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thekorean
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 5:15 pm

Quoting Escapehere (Reply 25):

Completely agree. Takes me usually 2 hours to clear immigration at LAX. Rather fly to SEA and connect.
 
slinky09
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 5:40 pm

The OP was asking about experiences, not data, average wait times can be simply stated by data but experiences can be very different.

In the US MIA and IAD are by far the worst in my experience, MIA is so bad I now refuse to use it as a port of entry to the US. IAD can be variable, sometimes quick yet sometimes dreadful.

Worldwide as others have said MAN was once dire, as was DEL but both have improved. LHRm my home airport, can be a disaster at certain times, sometimes at T3 with people backing up the terminal corridors making it impossible for people to get to transfers, and even as a UK passport holder the egates are uselessly slow, so much so that queuing for a real but thoroughly miserable person is quicker [bring back IRIS!].
 
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thekorean
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 5:43 pm

DTW has pretty good immigration time. Its actually a more attractive point for me to fly DL going back to and from NYC to Seoul.
 
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Zkpilot
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 5:48 pm

LAX can be long as can LHR and YVR can sometimes be slow but the longest I have had to wait is SFO (over 2 hours). People were sitting on the floor in the queues etc.
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FWAERJ
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 5:51 pm

LHR T3 in 2001 was bad - and this was before 9/11. I stood in line for 45 minutes.

CUN was also atrocious when I visited in 2003. Terminal construction was in full swing, and it made clearing customs a nightmare.

The best experience for me was CDG 2A. I cleared customs in 5 minutes. ORD isn't bad, either, as long as you're a US citizen. If you aren't, the lines are long.
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 5:58 pm

i thought id read that MIA had improved in recent times (i was almost 3 hours last year)
 
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thekorean
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 5:58 pm

Quoting Zkpilot (Reply 29):

SJC will therefore be a welcoming change for LHR- Bay Area passengers.
 
N1120A
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 6:00 pm

For those talking about IAD - even before I had GE, the midfield connecting immigration hall moved quite quickly.

Anyway, the longest wait I've had was probably at LHR, in the alleged Fast Track lane. My wife and I stood around there for over an hour, and for what seemed like no good reason.

Also bad is MAD transfer exit immigration. That sucked this summer.

Quoting gct64 (Reply 8):
I'm told MIA is particularly awful, I don't intend to verify that.

MIA does look awful, in part because it is terribly designed. With GE, it was a bit of a pain - double back into this little room, then flip back around and head to customs and have to hack through all the people with 10 bags on Smarte Cartes to get to the GE exit.

Quoting Escapehere (Reply 25):
YYZ's US pre-clearance queues can be pretty bad at certain times, too.

Yeah, I've seen lines going out nearly to the street in T1 there. Thankfully, I always get to skip that.

Quoting Escapehere (Reply 25):
From personal experience, LAX was always the worst US airport as far as custom queues go. I haven't done it since the new Tom Bradley upgrades opened though, so I don't know if it's improved since then.

The expanded hall at Bradley seems to have helped things.
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BoeingGuy
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 6:13 pm

Quoting Escapehere (Reply 25):
From personal experience, LAX was always the worst US airport as far as custom queues go. I haven't done it since the new Tom Bradley upgrades opened though, so I don't know if it's improved since then.

I arrived LAX on the CZ A380 last January. Clearing immigration was easy, but it took well over an hour to get our luggage (well, it was an A380). We were connecting to AS for SEA. Fortunately, we had a 3 hour connection. Even a 2 hour connection wouldn't have been long enough; we'd have missed our departing flight.
 
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PITingres
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 8:29 pm

In my experience? probably LHR, recently. I generally find myself arriving at T4, and the lines are deliberate at best, especially if you arrive around 7 AM or so; I think more people arrive around 8-ish and things speed up. IAD and EWR can both be bad depending on time of day. I've heard horror stories about MIA but fortunately my travels haven't taken me through there for some time now.

When traveling TATL, I've been making a real effort to use the PIT-CDG flight which just makes life a zillion times simpler all around. I almost hate to admit it, but connecting in CDG has become almost pleasant recently -- quite a turnaround.
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Coal
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Oct 25, 2015 9:38 pm

Quoting USAirALB (Reply 10):
In Asia, I would say ICN or HKG are among the best, then again I have a HKID card so I just go through the residents channel. SIN took a little longer-but they gave out free candy so who cares. I thought that DMK was unorganized and lengthy.

It all varies by experience.

At SIN, even prior to the biometric gates, I never waited more than 2-3 mins to be processed. While in HKG, before I started using the biometric gates, at times I would be in line 1.5-2 hours, particularly in the early evening arriving on SQ 2 from SIN.

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bgm
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Mon Oct 26, 2015 2:41 am

Quoting glbltrvlr (Reply 3):
Hate to be a thread killer, but you can find the actual historical wait times by hour here: http://awt.cbp.gov/

Hate to state the obvious, but there is a world outside of the US.

Having said that, the longest I've had to wait was at JFK (~2hrs), followed by 1hr @LHR.
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mugler
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Mon Oct 26, 2015 4:23 am

MIA can be hell if you arrive at peak hours, but only terminal D arrivals which handles flights from D,E and F. Longest I waited from landing to exiting the airport was 3:30. I've also heard bad stuff on MEX when the European heavies arrive. JFK was also hell especially when connecting.
 
ATCtower
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Mon Oct 26, 2015 4:50 am

Interesting no one has mentioned it but I traversed DFW only once clearing customs there and it was absurd. We must have been waiting in line close to 3 hours....

It was well before my 'plane geek' tracking of crap like this but I vividly remember how shitty it was going through their customs. Not only did we finally get to the agent (about the 3hr mark) but then got secondary treatment (pre security clearance days)....

I remember talking about how crappy our 4 hour layover in DFW was going to be coming home and being truly scared we were going to miss the second flight....

Also interesting, I have been through BKK at peak times and never had a single issue or anything that took more than 15 mins to clear (though they have had the meanest/rudest customs agents I have ever seen) and BKK has been mentioned above...
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directorguy
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Mon Oct 26, 2015 8:35 am

In the US it's definitely a mixed bag.
At JFK it's usually a 30 minute wait, I usually find the Terminal serving the majority of foreign airlines (T4?) to be longer than BA (T7).
Trip to DC ages ago (1990s) it was a bit crowded on arrival I think. My most recent visit (2014) passport control was a breeze-only one flight arriving (AF from CDG) and so no queues for visitors. It's a pretty compact arrivals space and I can imagine that during a busy arrivals bank it would be hell, as there is only one arrivals hall, for UA and everyone else.
 
agrflyer
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Mon Oct 26, 2015 10:40 am

Quoting LGAviation (Reply 19):
I don't remember any European airport with significant delays with TLV being astonishingly efficient for the thoroughness of their checks



I think in TLV it is even a hit or a miss like many other places I have been to. I usually take the same flight ZRH-TLV (I travel regularely to Israel for business) and once I had to wait for more than 1h but I also once only had to wait for 5 minutes. It might have an impact if you arriving on a Satudary when LY is not flying.
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Coal
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Mon Oct 26, 2015 1:04 pm

Quoting Directorguy (Reply 40):
(AF from CDG)

Speaking of CDG, when I've landed there in the past on early morning flights from Asia, the line for non-EU/EEA passports has been a breeze, only to be waiting at baggage claim for almost two hours for bags to come out (at T1).

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TYCOON
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:23 am

For me, hands down the worse is LHR, whether T4 or T5... regardless of the time of day. On average, 45mins to an hour. I really hate it.
I once had a horrible experience at MEX... over one hour. Transiting through MEX on AM between two international flights is a horror story as you have to clear passport control and customs, then take your luggage upstairs and re-check it at the counters and go through security again... I hate it!
YVR can at times be long too... and custom agents not too pleasant.
Oddly, a breeze is going through LCY... never had to wait longer the 15 mins... Same for CDG or ORY...
 
Skyeurope
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:45 am

Quoting Directorguy (Reply 21):

Oh yes DXB T1... I once had a wait of almost 3hrs there when arriving on Jet Airways from Delhi. The whole immigration hall was just packed and only a few lines open.
 
sw733
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Tue Oct 27, 2015 7:04 pm

Quoting LHLX (Thread starter):
I was told GRU, especially the old terminal, is awful and can be like 1,5-2 hours in the morning. I have been there four times and never waited more than 30 mins, but that was before the terminal 3 opened.

I cleared immigration both in the old terminal in the new terminal. Probably 8 times in the old one, and twice so far int he new one. In no case have I ever had to wait more than 10 minutes. This was always in the 9:00am to 11:00am timeframe.

Quoting USAirALB (Reply 10):
In Asia, I would say ICN or HKG are among the best

Usually, but I've had some surprisingly long waits at HKG, especially late at night. In a couple of occurrences, it has taken me 30+ minutes to clear at around 12:00am or 12:30am.
 
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RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Wed Oct 28, 2015 2:14 am

My worst was LAX T2 from an Air China flight in 2011. 2 hours in line. A teen girl in front of us in line traveling in a tour / student group of about 50 wet her pants because the line took so long and somebody had to mop up the mess. I felt sorry for her. Welcome to America! Also, I learned from that experience; if you want the two seats at the back of the 777 or 747 when traveling as a couple be prepared for the long wait at the back of the queue  
DC10-10/30,MD82/88/90, 717,727,732/3/4/5/7/8/9ER,742/4,752/3,763/ER,772/E/L/3/W,788/9, 306,320,321,332/3,346,359,388
 
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727tiger
Posts: 290
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2005 11:22 pm

RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Thu Oct 29, 2015 1:17 pm

ATL for me has been relatively a breeze; CLT hasn't been too bad, but the lines were longer and slower moving at CLT than ATL. So far, experiences at both have been mid-afternoon arrivals from Europe (ATL) and the Caribbean (CLT).
 
copter808
Posts: 1384
Joined: Sat Dec 30, 2000 1:14 pm

RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Thu Nov 05, 2015 4:10 pm

Quoting BestWestern (Reply 7):
Quoting sassiciai (Reply 6):
Manila NAIA T1 can be a pain sometimes. If you arrive after a succession of heavies and there's already 1000 people in front of you at immigration! At about 1 minute per person processing rate, even 20 desks means a long wait

It has improved dramatically of late - queues now are far shorter than a year ago. Counters are manned and staff are friendly.

Was there a week ago, arriving around 8:30pm, made a very quick toilet stop, and arrived at immigration with NOBODY in front of me at the station I used. Quite different from all my previous visits. I suspect it would not be so fast an hour or so later, but it has definitely gotten faster now--at least in T-1.
 
qblue
Posts: 140
Joined: Thu Jul 01, 2004 3:47 am

RE: Airports With Longest Waiting Times At Immigra

Sun Nov 08, 2015 9:48 pm

Your experiece from years ago is valid years ago. Many major US CBP entry point have new electronic counter to process your passport and photogragh you. Times have changed, check which airport have this equipment and custom is just a breeze.

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