One of the biggest pet peeves in travel is long lines. After a long international flight, there’s nothing worse than being greeted by a ridiculously long customs line—especially if you have a connecting flight waiting. Sadly, the United States is notorious for long customs lines.
It’s pathetic since we are, after all, the leaders of the world in many ways, so there’s really no excuse for not having the infrastructure. The good news is the US is definitely getting better in this area, and these days, if you qualify for the likes of Global Entry or arrive at an airport that offers Mobile Passport, your experience can be a breeze.
For those that don’t qualify and/or are interested in getting a good idea of how long the processing time will be at the US airport you’re arriving at, the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Airport Wait Times page can help. It closely monitors the wait times for arriving flights at the busiest international airports in the US. The data they use, which has been collected since July 2008, shows the number of passengers processed on flights arriving each hour based on how long it took for those passengers to clear Passport Control.
Keep in mind that flight arrival patterns can vary considerably by time of year and day of week, as well as by time of day. But it is helpful for those planning flights, especially those with connections. The historical data for wait times makes it possible to estimate wait times by airport and arrival terminal. Remember these CBP airport wait times do not include the time required to retrieve baggage or navigate through the airport so factor those in if you’re scheduling a connecting flight.
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