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  1. #1

    Default Philadelphia vs. Charlotte Customs at Airport

    We are looking at airfare right now and can save about $30 per ticket to fly home through Philadelphia rather than Charlotte via US Airways. We've usually flown through Charlotte and know Customs there is pretty harmless. How is Customs in Philadelphia for our return flight home? Is it worth the $60 we will save? It also means leaving 1/2 hour earlier from the resort and getting into Chicago 1/2 hour later too, which isn't too big of a deal.

  2. #2
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    Jun 2009
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    I have never done customs at Phily but if I had a choice I would not go through Phily. They seem to delay flights even if there is a sprinkle.

  3. #3
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    Jun 2009
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    Haven't heard good things about Philly. Love Charlotte though.

  4. #4
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    Jun 2009
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    First of all, I think that half hour will mean nothing as far as when you leave the resort. It more likely means that you will spend a bit less time at the MoBay airport prior to leaving. As an example, our last trip we spent about an hour or more shopping and waiting in the MoBay airport before boarding our plane. The trip before we dashed through as fast as we could and just made it to our flight, the last ones to board just minutes before being airborne.
    I would assume that it depends on what it is worth to you to be moving through a large busy airport or a bit smaller and less congested one. We too will be going through Charlotte both ways this year. Our first time making a connecting flight for a trip to Jamaica. From what I have read on the message board, Charlotte is a much less stressful experience than some of the larger airports (Atlanta, Orlando, etc.) Watch your thread, I'm sure you will get some good advice.

    Have a great trip!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    776

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    I think Charlotte is the better choice.

  6. #6

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    Stay with Charlotte Philly is a nightmare and you won't see your luggage for days. My god son is a US air baggage handler and says Philly really has a bad rep! That also happened to be our experience when returning through Philly once due to no choice of our own US Air just cancelled the Charlotte connection and sent us through Philly UGH!
    Shari & James
    Members of the 4 for 4 club

  7. #7

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    Just be aware that Philly is MUCH bigger than Char.so I would think more congested.
    ARE WE THERE YET??

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    My vote would be to go through Charlotte rather than Philly. We had a bad experience in Philly. They seem "tougher" in Philly than in Charlotte.

    Bilkat

  9. #9
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    Jan 2010
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    From our personal experience.... AVOID PHILLY. We have never been in and out of there without some kind of delay. Even when you are boarded on time you may sit on the plane,on the runway for upto an hour.It is definately not worth the $60 you will save.
    Happy flying
    csr

  10. #10
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    Jun 2009
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    I fly almost every week for work, and much of it on USAirways. Philadelphia is located smack in the middle of the very busy northeast coast corridor. There are delays just due to sheer congestion (and it could be congestion at the NYC airports which circle using the same airspace as Philadelphia).

    The Customs in Charlotte is very well organized, and it has never taken us more than 30 minutes to go through Customs and Immigration in Charlotte. Then it is a very quick walk to the connecting gates. In Philadelphia, all of the international flights arrive at Terminal A. It is then a very long walk, or a long shuttle ride to the other terminals to catch your flight to Chicago.

    In my opinion, it is definitely not worth the $60 to fly through Philadelphia. And Philadelphia has a notoriously bad baggage handling system, that has gotten better recently, but not great. Our bags once made our flight in Charlotte when we had to run from our plane to the gate.

  11. #11
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    Jun 2009
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    We live in Philadelphia and find the airport as easy to go through as anywhere else. It is big but not as huge as some of the hubs. We have never had trouble with our luggage. They did confiscate my hairspray on the flight out years ago but that was back at the beginning of the 3oz carry on restrictions and I hadn't gotten the hang of things yet.

  12. #12

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    I disagree that connecting in Phili is bad, I have gone through both Phili and Charlotte customs each many times. I believe you are at the mercy af all custom agents and airports regardless of where they are.
    We have been delayed for various reasons at both airports.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    We will be flying out of Philly for the first time this Dec. Is there anyone who likes the Philly Airport? We usually fly out of BWI, but AJ changed their times to late afternoon take off from BWI and very early return. We decided to fly from Philly for the early am departure and evening arrival back home. Please tell me we didn't make a mistake

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    I don't know about Philly.
    We returned thru Charlotte Thursday right after they resumed flights from Europe. In Charlotte you have to go back thru security after customs and the line was 1 1/2 hours long. Bad airport design. Sure would be better if they had a way to go to the other gates without having to go thru security again.
    Bill & Karen, San Antonio, TX, Been to CTI and CN.
    Been to Jamaica 5 times including CTI & CN before our trip scheduled for April 14-22, 2010 to CSS.
    We renewed our vows on our 25th anniversary in Jamaica.

  15. #15

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    Thank you all so much for the advice!! That was my gut feeling about the matter, so you verified it for me. I so miss Air Jamaica from Chicago!

  16. #16

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    I disagree about Philly. Sure I've had issues there (as I fly in/out of there every other month or so). But the problem is always on the domestic side. I don't think I've ever had an issue on the International side - except maybe having to wait a little longer for my bags to make it to baggage claim then I would have preferred.

    We fly out 1st thing on Saturday or Sunday mornings and fly in late Friday evenings (usually) and have never (in 5 trips) had a problem to/from Jamaica.

    As far as Customs and Immigration is concerned I think we usually average 7.5 minutes getting through immigration and we don't even barely stop walking through customs - smile, wave, hand them your paper and off you go.

  17. #17
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    Jun 2009
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    Before our return home on Friday, March 26th, I would have thought that Charlotte would be the better choice. However,we landed late afternoon and it took over an hour in line for immigration in Charlotte. There were only 3 lines open for US citizens and 5 lines for non citizens. We ended up missing our connecting flight to BWI even though we had a 90 minute layover.

    Not sure if that was an unusual or not. We have cleared customs/immigration in Charlotte before that and while it was busy, this was really bad. People was pretty upset and lots of connections were missed. You are not permitted to use your cell phone in line either so people couldn't try to get rebooked on a later flight. You had to wait until you got to the counter to rebook.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    Interesting posts. I posed a similar question not long ago; everyone raved about Charlotte and I didn't hear a single good workd about Phili. Guess it depends on who decides to respond to the question.

  19. #19
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    Chef Bill - upon returning to the U.S. from a foreign country, you ALWAYS have to go through security again. It doesn't matter whether you connect through Philly or Charlotte. It's not a design flaw, it's the law.

  20. #20
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    Jun 2009
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    When we traveled to St. Martin, we flew LAX to Charlotte to SXM and no problems. We returned SXM to Philly to LAX. Philly made us check our carryon luggage due to our liquids (toiletries/sunscreen) - the same exact liquids we had going through Charlotte and which we had no problems with getting through customs. It's quite a bit of leg work to get back to the bag check area, especially when you don't have many minutes to spare. Stick with Charlotte.

  21. #21

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    I generally always try to avoid Philly as it has a bad rep for losing luggage and delayed flights. Last year we flew from Punta Cana to Philly and found that customs and immigration was a breeze. Just a slight delay with our flight to Pittsburgh. In Feb, returning from our trip to CTI, we passed through Atlanta. NIGHTMARE!! It took more than 90 min to get through. Have also passed through Charlotte when flying back from Punta Cana and found it easy.

  22. #22

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    I regularly fly through both and don't see a major difference in terms of making connections, customs, or anything. I do LOVE the Sky Bistro in Philly. Much better food than anyplace in Charlotte.

    You can have an easy time or a nightmare just about anyplace and I only have one hard and fast rule - Avoid Atlanta on a Friday afternoon in the summer, no matter what.

  23. #23

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BobandJudy View Post
    Chef Bill - upon returning to the U.S. from a foreign country, you ALWAYS have to go through security again. It doesn't matter whether you connect through Philly or Charlotte. It's not a design flaw, it's the law.
    Right, it's the law to keep everyone safe. We may find the process annoying sometimes but we can't risk our other peoples lives.

  24. #24
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    Jun 2009
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    We live in the Philly area and have never had any problems.
    However, having said that, Saturday night when we returned from Jamaica, all passengers had their bags searched at customs. It was not random, everyone was searched.
    And we had our carry on searched and our persons patted down prior to leaving Jamaica, before we could even enter the waiting area to sit and wait for the plane.
    This is not what we hav experienced in previous trips.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    We flew out of PHL in September to JA. The flight out left a few minutes early. On the way back we got stuck on the Tarmac because of some jet went to the wrong terminal and had to be moved. Customs was easier here than in Jamaica. My dog put a few teeth marks in my passport and I got some weird questions and looks from the lady at Customs in Jamaica. The guy in Philly laughed.

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