I have only had one international flight where I had to clear customs and then board a domestic flight, it was after a 4 hour delay so I was already tired and my memory is blurry. I'm trying to put the process flow back together.
I remember going to a special baggage claim then going through customs. Afterwards we must have had to give our baggage to somebody to send it on home.
I don't remember snaking through the United line like I have so many times at O'Hare. Are there counters the other side of customs where we check back in?
Do we have to clear security again, or do we remain on the cleared side of TSA land?
Approximately how long does this whole process take?
Thanks as always
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In most cases you get herded into an area where you go through border patrol (passport).
Then you have to pickup your luggage from baggage claims. You then go through customs (claim form) with all your luggage.
Then there should be a counter for YOUR airline right there. Your bag is already marked so all you have to so is hand it back to the airline. In most cases your airline is the ONLY airline there, so you just hand it back to a guy by a conveyor belt.
then - in most cases - you walk past a customer service desk for your airline (in case you want to switch flight, lost luggage or whatever. most people don't need it since you already have your boarding pass).
Then you have to go through security again, because you are now in the U.S. - then you are usually, but not always, pretty close to your gate.
If you are switching airlines you may want to point it out to the person taking your bags after customs - just to make sure they see it. And they will answer in a snarkyvoice like "we know our jobs, sir."
I am the editor, but I also speculate, ask questions and play devil's advocate. I reserve the right to change my mind.
Let me give you the run-down on Immigration/Customs in Atlanta where I have cleared customs probably twenty times.
You will have to go through immigration to get your passport checked and stamped. They will stamp the I-94 form too. You will then go down the escalator to pick up all your luggage. If you bought duty free liquor or perfume (larger than 3.2 oz) this is the time to transfer it into your checked baggage. You then quickly go through customs dropping off your I94 form. If you have items to declare (e.g., liquor over the limit), you will get that signed off (and pay customs on occassion) before clearing customs. You then hand off your bags to be automatically checked to final destination. You can also check additional bags at this time; we did this on our last trip as it was easier than repacking duty free liquor in one of our other bags. Then, you will go through security again. This leaves you out in E Concourse and you can take escalator back up to E concourse (if your connecting flight is there) or down the escalator to train and other concourses.
I came in last week at 0530 and there was absolutely no line at immigration or security check point. In late afternoon when European flights arrive, it has taken me as much as 30 min to go through whole process (security screening can be long).
Hope this helps.
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