US Customs

Old Mar 5th, 2019, 05:47 PM
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US Customs

Hi,
I'm flying back from France into Philly but only with an 1 1/2 hour layover. Do I have to go thru customs upon immediate arrival to the U.S. or not until my final destination? The last time I came from overseas to Chicago it was not my final destination and customs was a total s**t show! I'm worried I won't get thru customs in time to make my connecting flight home? Please help!!!
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Old Mar 5th, 2019, 07:02 PM
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You will have to clear Immigration and Customs when you arrive in Philadelphia.

Sorry, but there’s not much anyone here can do to help you other than to say a 1 1/2 hour layover is doable if your inbound flight arrives on time and no unusual incidents occur the day you arrive. If you have Global Entry that will speed you through Immigration. If not, try using the new Automated Passport Control Kiosks as they are much quicker than going through the “standard” lines.

Also, sometimes the longest wait is for your checked luggage to arrive at the carrousel in the Customs Hall. If possible, take only carry-on luggage so you can skip that “step” and simply use the “Nothing to Declare” line and exit Customs quickly.

You will still have to clear the TSA checkpoint after exiting the Customs Hall and before proceeding to the departure gate for your connecting flight.

As I said 1 1/2 hours is doable but you don’t have much wiggle room so don’t dilly dally as you negotiate the airport.
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Old Mar 5th, 2019, 11:36 PM
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Ditto everything RoamsAround said. It also helps if you are flying in the front of the plane (Business class, or a little less so - Premium Economy) because you get off the plane first.
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 03:10 AM
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Did you already book the flight with the 1 1/2 hr connection? If not, then I'd look for a later flight option. Are all your flights on AA? If so, then your chances of getting on the 2nd flight are greater as you'll already be checked in and any bags through checked (you drop them off after customs).

As to your first question about where you go through both immigration & customs, except for a handful of airports around the world that have US preclearance before boarding (Canada, Ireland, Caribbean/Bermuda, and Abu Dhabi), all international arrivals go through Imm/Customs at the 1st point of arrival, never the final destination.
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 06:44 AM
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As to your first question about where you go through both immigration & customs, except for a handful of airports around the world that have US preclearance before boarding (Canada, Ireland, Caribbean/Bermuda, and Abu Dhabi), all international arrivals go through Imm/Customs at the 1st point of arrival, never the final destination.
True for the US, unfortunately. Not true for other countries. In the UK, for instance, you would clear immigration at, say, LHR, but don't have to deal with customs until, say, Edinburgh. Not that "clearing customs" in the UK usually means anything more than walking through the green door, but at least you don't have to collect your bags and then re-check them which is always a pain when returning to the US.
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 07:54 AM
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I flew AA from Lisbon to SFO connecting through Philadelphia last October. I think I needed to retrieve my checked bag and recheck it onto the AA flight continuing to SFO so not sure about the "checked through" thing. I remember because the luggage belts were in fact a "sh#t show". The one we were assigned kept breaking down and the poor guy had to crawl down through the opening to unclog it.. they apparently were being overloaded by the airport luggage handlers and couldn't handle the weight.

Good luck making your connection. That airport was a bleeping nightmare.

I assume you are flying AA because you have miles, not voluntarily.
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 08:12 AM
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I think I needed to retrieve my checked bag and recheck it onto the AA flight continuing to SFO
Yes, that's normal for the US. One of those American exceptionalism things...
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 09:38 AM
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>>I think I needed to retrieve my checked bag and recheck it onto the AA flight continuing to SFO so not sure about the "checked through"<<

They are 'checked through' but yes you have to retrieve them. The advantage it that then you just drop them off, not' re-check' them, and head to security (if applicable) and your gate. If one is on separate tix the bags are not checked through and after clearing Customs you'd have to go to Departures and check them with the new airline - which is much more time consuming.
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 09:42 AM
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If you don't have Global Entry, look for an app called Mobile Passport. I don't know if they are using it in Philadelphia yet, but we used it in San Francisco last fall. It has you to take a picture of your passport and set up your profile. You answer a few simple questions about where you travelled from and what you need to declare, if anything. You should have a separate profile for each adult in your party. When you land, you send the form(s) to CBP, pick up a receipt at a kiosk, and head straight to your next flight (or the baggage carousel). We used carry-ons only and the process was incredibly easy and fast. Good luck.
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 11:14 AM
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Unless there has been a very recent change you cannot use the Mobile Passport App to clear Immigration at Philadelphia airport.
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 11:39 AM
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I don't think greytop meant you can use the mobile ppt app to clear immigration, but it can be used to setup the details of your ppt/photo in a profile, so when you use the automated kiosks, the info is already there so you just get a receipt once you answer some questions and then thru immigration, at least that's how I understood it. I've used the automated kiosks myself and they are great, when you get a receipt at least. Last time I got a slip of paper with an X on it so had to stand in line for an immigration officer.
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 12:01 PM
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Actually, just punched in the number that showed on my phone for the printed receipt at the kiosk and took it to the designated agent who welcomed us back to the USA. The other, regular lines had several people waiting, but no one was in the Mobile Passport line. The guy looked a little lonely. As I recall, he punched in our receipt number when I presented it to him and sent us on our way, no questions asked. Maybe it was an unusual day, but we were glad not to be waiting in the standard lines.
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 12:31 PM
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"info is already there so you just get a receipt once you answer some questions and then thru immigration, at least that's how I understood it. I've used the automated kiosks myself and they are great, when you get a receipt at least."

That happens at the regular passport machines, at least at LAX.

But in Philadelphia, I did get the X....
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by RoamsAround View Post
You will have to clear Immigration and Customs when you arrive in Philadelphia.

Sorry, but there’s not much anyone here can do to help you other than to say a 1 1/2 hour layover is doable if your inbound flight arrives on time and no unusual incidents occur the day you arrive. If you have Global Entry that will speed you through Immigration. If not, try using the new Automated Passport Control Kiosks as they are much quicker than going through the “standard” lines.

Also, sometimes the longest wait is for your checked luggage to arrive at the carrousel in the Customs Hall. If possible, take only carry-on luggage so you can skip that “step” and simply use the “Nothing to Declare” line and exit Customs quickly.




You will still have to clear the TSA checkpoint after exiting the Customs Hall and before proceeding to the departure gate for your connecting flight.

As I said 1 1/2 hours is doable but you don’t have much wiggle room so don’t dilly dally as you negotiate the airport.
Thank you! We will be carrying on... not checking anything so that might help. I just know that at Chicago we filled out the preforms, got there and the lines were so muddied and confusing that we went through five separate lines before finally going through customs
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by J62 View Post
Did you already book the flight with the 1 1/2 hr connection? If not, then I'd look for a later flight option. Are all your flights on AA? If so, then your chances of getting on the 2nd flight are greater as you'll already be checked in and any bags through checked (you drop them off after customs).

As to your first question about where you go through both immigration & customs, except for a handful of airports around the world that have US preclearance before boarding (Canada, Ireland, Caribbean/Bermuda, and Abu Dhabi), all international arrivals go through Imm/Customs at the 1st point of arrival, never the final destination.
both of the flights are booked through AA. I won't be checking any baggage but I remember last time in Chicago we had to claim our bags and then recheck them. I won't be doing that this time so hopefully that will speed up the process.
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