Never, ever transit in the USA

By | Category: Travel rumblings, Travel tips & opinions

© Dan Sperrin

If you fly and have to change planes in a country and then fly out of it, you usually go into a transit lounge. You don’t need to go through border controls or customs. But you do if you transit in the US and what a hassle it can be.
Some readers will know I have been in Mexico. In Puerta Vallarta on the Pacific coast to be precise, a destination with long sandy beaches and good hotels but not an easy place to get to from the UK. I had to fly via Miami on the way out and New York on the way back. As both are very busy airports, they aren’t the fastest ones to get through. I have no complaints with the staff as all the booths were open.
My moan is against the country.
Why, unlike so many others, does it have to make you go through the controls and get an entry stamp to the country, reclaim your baggage, hand over a customs form, re-check your luggage and go through security again to get your connecting flight?
It means the border agency staff have unneccessary work to do which adds to the queues making people more annoyed because of the time it takes. On Saturday night it took me an hour and twenty minutes to get through the entry procedures at New York’s JFK airport. Standing in line for that length of time didn’t do much for the temperament of the young children in the line let alone the adults. And as for the elderly; some of them looked ready for collapse.
The passport shuffle took so long that people were pleading with officials to go onto the diplomats line (almost empty) in order to catch their connecting flights. I’m still not sure if two people switching to a Paris flight made it. I had three hours to switch. I just made the flight as they started calling my part of the group to board.
Three hours shouldn’t be required to switch flights at any airport regardless of how busy it is. But the Americans have a simple answer. Set up up a transit lounge system. But although this has been suggested it still hasn’t happened. Why?
Until it comes to pass, avoid transiting in the US like the plague. It will annoy you, tire you and make you worry as the clock ticks away. And if you have young children it must be purgatory. Plan your holiday or trip better and avoid the US unless you’re travelling there. You’ll enjoy your break away a helluva lot more.

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