Getting around US entry delays

By | Category: Travel rumblings

UK passportAs well as the moans we have heard recently about how long it takes to get into the UK other countries are just as bad at delays. Luckily in those countries we tend to holiday in, they aren’t so bad. I have never had very long delays in Italy or Spain, Greece or France. Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia have been under 45 minutes. But the USA?
Readers will know that I have nearly missed flights there this year despite having a couple of hours in hand. And I would urge those flying to countries where change of flights in the USA is planned to avoid doing this. Pay slightly more and avoid the hassle and the time.
But if you are holidaying in the USA how – and can you avoid this? The answer is no if you are flying to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami or any of the big airports. And if you are going to places like this it doesn’t make sense to fly into a smaller airport knowing you’ll get through faster but having to then spend a couple of hours waiting for a connection or the additional time for that flight.
But if you are going to some place where there are no direct flights such as New Orleans, Bangor in Maine, (for the autumn leaf showing) and Memphis ( for Graceland) consider flying through smaller airports.
I went through Raleigh Durham in North Carolina last week and it took me just sixteen minutes to get from entering the customs hall, passing through all the checks, rechecking my luggage and getting to the gate for the next flight. Because I managed it so quickly I even managed to get an earlier flight.
Why is it faster? Because they don’t have many international flights so you don’t arrive at the same time as lots of other people. And Raleigh-Durham isn’t the only airport you should consider. Minneapolis-St Paul is an airport that gets you through it quickly as is Charlotte and Philadelphia. (Philadelphia has the advantage that it is only about an hour and a quarter by fast train into the middle of New York and that can be quicker than getting into Manhattan from JFK in the rush hour.
Don’t dismiss the charter flights if you find some. There are some charter flights into Fort Lauderdale in Florida and that is also quick to get through.
One other thing. Wherever you fly try and get a seat as close to the front as possible. That –and a fast walk – should get you towards the front of all the others on your flight!
There is still one problem you can’t beat however. Chances are you are going to fly back into one of the big airports in the UK like Heathrow, Gatwick or Manchester. So you still might get held up for quite a while!

PS Arrived at Heathrow yesterday morning at 7.30am and got through passport control in less than 2 minutes. It took 1 minute and 17 seconds. Is this a record? The inspector told me she had found the whole morning quiet and was hoping it would last. Is this due to more inspectors being available or fewer visitors? My incoming flight was completely full though but many were transit passengers.

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