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Thread: Customs

  1. #1
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    Default Customs

    I have not traveled outside the U.S. since before 9/11. I'd like to know how long it generally takes to get through customs in Jamaica. Any tips on getting through without any problems? Also, how is it coming back? We'll be coming back through customs in Atlanta. Anyone been through it?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Everything depends on home many people are coming in when you arrive. Customs is generally quick--show paperwork, nothing to claim and you're out. What can take a few minutes is immigration. Make sure you have all your paperwork completed before getting off the plane. To make this easier, have a pen for you and s/o and have copies of your itinerary and passport available to complete the immigration forms. It has been our experience that if you don't have these forms completed, you will not be allowed to get in line. If you do get in line, the officers will check your forms in line and you will be pulled aside to complete the form. They don't take forms with cross outs either, so take your time. Last year, the airline did not have extra forms. Fortunately as we have been to JA many times, we know the routine and once we deplaned, my hubby and I hauled butt to immigration as one of us messed up the form and needed to complete another which were available at counters before getting in the line.
    Vicky

  3. #3
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    Depends on day of week and on how many flights they are handling at any given time... incoming is generally in waves of a few flights, which means that if your flight is on schedule (as well as the others in that "wave"), you'll have a few hundred people in line at once, for example on Saturday, 2:30 pm.
    Chris

    "In an abundance of water, the fool is thirsty..." - Bob Marley - "Rat Race"


  4. #4
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    Atlanta is not that bad, just a lot of walking.
    Irie Mon

  5. #5
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    To be honest, Atlanta is a difficult airport. You will clear immigration first, the lines can be just as Vickyj described for Jamaica long or short depending on how many other planes have arrived. You will then go collect your luggage and clear customs, we found this to be a zoo and my understanding is that Atlanta is known for this situation. If you have purchased any alcohol when you leave Jamaica be sure you put it in your checked luggage at this time due to the fluid restrictions on the plane, if you forget you'll be forced to throw it away. After you clear customs you'll recheck your luggage and then you have to clear security again just like you were checking in to the airport for the first time. Again, a zoo. You absolutely cannot accomlish this and catch your connection in under 90 minutes in Atlanta, we've done it in 60 in Memphis numerous times but I wouldn't try it in Atlanta.

  6. #6
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    I actually have crossed information out on the form....and they did take it. Both years missed the exact same question...or at least the spacing on the form. But I have heard they wont always take them so it pays to be careful. This year I WILL get it right.

  7. #7
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    I sincerely appreciate all the info. Thank you all very, very much! <3

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by sherrynchuck View Post
    ...You absolutely cannot accomlish this and catch your connection in under 90 minutes in Atlanta ...
    This statement is incorrect. While I don't recommend scheduling an international connection in ATL w/ MCT under 90 minutes (and your airline may not allow you to schedule it), we've made it through in far less than 90 minutes many times.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by rudi View Post
    This statement is incorrect. While I don't recommend scheduling an international connection in ATL w/ MCT under 90 minutes (and your airline may not allow you to schedule it), we've made it through in far less than 90 minutes many times.
    You are very lucky! And I'll stand corrected, I truly did not think it could be done. I'll ammend my statement to say that I wouldn't recommend attempting a connection through Atlanta in less than 90 minutes. Everyone we've ever known that flew through there has described it as their worst travel nightmare, nothing good to say. We've only done it the one time (down and back) but I will join them in saying it was amazing how difficult an airport can make a travel experience. We've had international flights through four other airports and there was no comparison.

    An airline will allow a short connection by the way, AirTran rearranged our flights and gave us four minutes and we only knew because our travel agent was checking periodically for this very thing, they didn't notify either her or us. We did change to Delta but had she not been watching we would have been in a mess!

  10. #10
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    We did Atlanta last year and everything was crisp and smooth... we even had time to walk the tunnel to our gate (we needed the exercise after laying on the beach all week!), with about a 90 minute layover. As it turned out, we reached our gate in plenty of time, only to find out that someone had gotten sick in the gate ramp as they left our incoming connecting flight; this caused an additional 15 minute delay. If that's as bad as it gets....

    This year, Charlotte. Anyone been?
    Chris

    "In an abundance of water, the fool is thirsty..." - Bob Marley - "Rat Race"


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by sherrynchuck View Post
    ...I'll ammend my statement to say that I wouldn't recommend attempting a connection through Atlanta in less than 90 minutes ...
    I concur. Personally I find MIA to be far worse, but to each his/her own. (and EWR is the absolute worse, but that's for delays -a different story).

    Chris - we've been through CLT and if you had no issues in ATL you'll likely find CLT even easier.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    This year, Charlotte. Anyone been?

    My husband and I went through Charlotte in September and it was pretty much a breeze, even though my husband was on crutches. We only had an hour for a connection. We got to our gate with about 15 minutes until they started boarding. We could have gotten there faster had my husband been able to walk.

  13. #13
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    Chris - We connect through Charlotte all the time. It is easy to navigate through the airport. They also do a terrific job handling luggage. I connected through Charlotte today on a domestic flight. I had a short lay-over (my flight got switched to avoid weather delays), and my bag still made it to my final destination, no problem.

    This past February, we connected in Charlotte from MoBay and landed at the same time as 2 other large planes. It did take about 40 minutes to clear immigration, so you need to allot about 90 minutes for your layover.

  14. #14
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    Consider signing up for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Global Entry Trusted Traveler Program. When you land, you don't have to stand in line at U.S. Immigration but proceed directly to a kiosk, scan your passport, scan your fingerprints, and answer the immigration and customs questions on a computer screen. If the airport at which you land doesn't yet have the kiosks, you'll be granted front of the line privileges as a Global Entry member.

    When we returned to JFK from Jamaica in March 2011, we got through U.S. Immigration and Customs in about five minutes, but we didn't have to wait for luggage before heading to Customs b/c we travel with carry-on luggage only.
    Pamela
    I know everything, and I'm always right (just ask my husband).

  15. #15
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    Default forms

    I am sure it is like any other form you have to use black ink! Thanks for this thread it has been very helpful. Charolette is our connecting airport, which sounds like that is a good thing. 42 days and counting....can't wait!! First timers. so we have been reading the message board often.

  16. #16
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    Question,
    I am flying into MBJ at around 9:am, my friend arrives around 11:am. Can I wait around before I go through customs? Or through immigration? Or do I have to leave the airport and wait for her?

    I would be 'hanging' aound for 2 hours, I wonder if they are going to give me a hard time.

    Thanks

  17. #17
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    also, do you have to get your bags if you have a layover in the States for the domestic/international change? Or are they forwarded right to Jamaica?

    (Providence to Charlotte to Montego Bay)

  18. #18
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    We just returned from CSA on 4/23. went out and back thru Baltimore/ Washington. It was very easy & simple to get around. Have been through ATL, it wasn't as easy, but you have to do what you have to do.

  19. #19

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    For domestic travel, I definitely prefer CLT to ATL, but not for international return flights. We've had problems both times we came back thru there, but have never had issues with Customs in Atlanta.

  20. #20
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    Atlanta is the busiest airport in the world. Literally. So customs can be worse. Houston and Miami are worse IMO though. We always go through Charlotte now and have had zero problems. No more than 30 minutes ever. The security line to get back in the terminal is usually longer than customs/immigration.

    As for MBJ, we landed at 12:00 on a Sunday and it tool about 45 minutes from the plane to the lounge. Not too bad. The lines get long but move fast. Smile and be friendly and they push you along.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by atlpatl View Post
    also, do you have to get your bags if you have a layover in the States for the domestic/international change? Or are they forwarded right to Jamaica?

    (Providence to Charlotte to Montego Bay)

    On the way down you do not have to collect your bags, only on the way home as you clear customs.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by atlpatl View Post
    Question,
    I am flying into MBJ at around 9:am, my friend arrives around 11:am. Can I wait around before I go through customs? Or through immigration? Or do I have to leave the airport and wait for her?

    I would be 'hanging' aound for 2 hours, I wonder if they are going to give me a hard time.

    Thanks

    You will not be able to wait before proceeding through customs and immigration, you really wouldn't want to anyway as there are no lounge areas prior. Clear customs and immigration yourself and then if you want to wait for her at the airport go to the Couples lounge and instead of getting on the shuttle and going right to the resort wait there where you can sit and have a cold beverage and relax. Couples schedules people on the shuttles based on flight arrivals so you may want to contact whichever resort you are staying at just to let them know you don't plan to take the shuttle you would be scheduled on and tell them who you are waiting for just so they know how to plan in case it would be crowded...not terribly likely but best to plan ahead and avoid the hassle. The lounge is small and there are no TV's are anything, it's just a gathering point for the shuttle so you'll want a book or something to do while you wait but at least you can sit and have something to drink.

  23. #23
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    Sorry, I didn't mean to hijact this thread. Thanks for the responses about CLT, but please, continue to provide info and tips on Atlanta for the original poster...
    Chris

    "In an abundance of water, the fool is thirsty..." - Bob Marley - "Rat Race"


  24. #24
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    Hey Chris, "no problem"! I enjoy reading all the input. We are leaving for our 1st trip to CSA early Monday morning. I'm already feeling Irie. There is no chance of bumming me out in any way, shape or form. I am WAY too excited!!

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