Tips for Getting through Customs Faster

Jun 25, 2015
Nothing kills the adrenaline rush of arriving in a new destination or the relief of returning home after a long trip like enduring endless lines at airport customs. With a few simple planning tips, travelers can expedite their wait time at the airport and get on their way.

Arrive in the middle of the day

Book flights returning between 10 a.m.-4 p.m., when fewer flights arrive, and those that do are not typically full. Early and late arrivals, weekend itineraries and holidays should be avoided as they’re peak travel times.

Sit in the front of the plane

Most airlines allow passengers to check-in for flights and select seats 24 hours before departure. Choose an aisle seat near the front of the plane to disembark without waiting for everyone else. First off the plane, first in line.

Carry on only

Skip the delay at baggage carousels for checked suitcases and the lines that build up during this process. Traveling light also saves on luggage charges associated with many no-frills airlines. Check the airline’s website when packing for cabin weight and size allowances.

Fly from local airport

When fewer flights arrive at once, passengers are moved through immigration much faster than at a major hub. At small airports, parking is within walking distance of terminals, cutting out the shuttle middleman, and quite often, free.

Use your kids

If you’re traveling as a family, let unruly kids run wild after hours strapped to their seats on the plane. Through frustrated (alligator) tears, make eye contact with the nearest TSA agent. You won’t be the most popular person in line, but the agent’s likely to send you to the front of the queue.

Global entry

Developed by United States Customs and Border Patrol, Global Entry expedites passengers by eliminating paperwork and offering automatic eligibility for TSA PreCheck services. After an application process proving they are low-risk travelers, members no longer deal with the hassle of removing laptops, shoes, jackets and liquids in line. Fill out the online application and pay the $100, non-refundable application fee here.

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