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Air travel between European countries- a huge hassle?

Air travel between European countries- a huge hassle?

Jan 11th, 2015, 03:09 PM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 6,688
When flying into major airports in the US, both immigration AND customs are annoying and time-consuming ordeals.

We recently tried to use the automatic kiosks in Atlanta, where we were transit passengers. I was approved, but my husband was red-flagged back to the regular immigration line, which was by then about 30% longer than it had been when we got to the immigration hall. So it wasted a lot of time for us.

Most of the airports I know in Italy are well connected to their city centers by public transportation. That's certainly true also in Madrid, Paris, Brussels, Munich, and Amsterdam. I'm sure I'm forgetting some. Rome's Fiumicino airport has direct trains not only into Rome, but also to Florence, and Venice. If people are taking private cars or taxis to these airports, I don't know why they're doing it.
bvlenci is offline  
Jan 11th, 2015, 03:29 PM
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Thank you bvlenci for saying what i was trying to say better than i did. customs and immigration- getting into the US is often a long arduous process. I guess i'm trying to guess, once we land in , say barcelona, how long it will take to get out of the airport so we can enjoy the city.
emcash is offline  
Jan 11th, 2015, 04:43 PM
Join Date: Feb 2014
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Your question is a little bit like asking about the weather. Nobody can really give you a precise answer for the day and time you travel. I live in Europe and I fly around Europe all the time. Most of the time, I spend about 5 minutes or less waiting in lines to show my passport when required. But if I arrive at an airport that is experiencing problems of some sort, or other people are being ushered ahead of me for some reason, then that's the way it is. Have to roll with it.

If in the back of your mind you are thinking it just isn't worth it to you to get a flight to Barcelona if it means you will be standing in line for X hours just waiting to get to the city, I think the chances of your waiting more than 20 minutes at most are pretty slim. And once you are out of the airport, it is really easy and fairly quick to get right into the city by train or taxi.

But if something unexpected happens, you are going to have to roll with it or decide in advance you'd rather not take the chance.
sandralist is offline  
Jan 11th, 2015, 04:52 PM
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Of course i understand no one can predict exactly what the wait will be, but i am asking, like most questions on these sites, generally speaking, what is it like. I would never tell someone their wait at JFK through immigration and customs might be 20 minutes bc I know it will be much longer than that- i was hoping to get an idea of generally speaking what it is like. Thank you.
emcash is offline  
Jan 11th, 2015, 04:55 PM
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Maybe you missed it in my answer, but I told you that for Barcelona it was 20 minutes at most, and probably more like 5 minutes. Barcelona is not JFK and that is why the answer is different.
sandralist is offline  
Jan 11th, 2015, 06:50 PM
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It's always easier and often quicker to take a train over a plane to all but the most hard-to-reach areas. Barcelona is to some extent one of those hard-to-reach areas, but it's still only 6.5 pleasant hours by fast train, leaving and arriving within the cities. Flying will take you almost as long and be a miserable experience.

Given the current state of affairs, I would expect flying out of Paris is going to take longer than in the past.
FHurdle is offline  
Jan 11th, 2015, 10:17 PM
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Emcash is traveling out of London. Taking a train will only be faster if he is going to Paris or Brussels.
Even from Antwerp, where I live, it's faster to fly to London than take the train.

There is no immigration between Schengen countries; flying between them is as easy as flying between states in the USA.

However the UK is not a Schengen country; they will ask to see your passport. But lines are generally very short at most airports. Returning to London Heathrow, there may be a line since it's such a large airport.

If you check in online and have only handluggage, you really do not need to be at the airport more than an hour in advance. Strict check-in times for some airlines are for those who still need to check in, or who have luggage to check. With handluggage and boarding pass there's only security.
Tulips is offline  
Jan 11th, 2015, 11:48 PM
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I take trains and planes .. all the time when in Europe. I do not think 6.5 hours on a train is pleasant at all.. my limit was 5 hours and 50 minutes .. after 6 hours I would fly.. period.

I have used Vueling, Ryanair, and Easyjet .. and all the airports we used were convenient ones.. ( this is not always the case.. you do have do some homework,, ie.. do NOT fly Ryanair to Paris they use Beauvais.. which sucks for commuting into city ).. but

For Paris to London I would not consider flying.. I would take the Eurostar( correct name of the train you would like to book) ..
Its a pleasant 2.5 hours,, city center to city center.

Ps the whole arrival at airports/customs/immigration thing.. my personal luck has been never more then 20 or so minutes.. depends if luggage gets held up , which for us has only done so once, in Marjorrca , took like an hour ! but that has never been the norm.

I find most flying pleasant in Europe.

I find the trains great too.. but not for long trips.. Paris to Nice was my limit.

The Eurostar is a wonderful way to visit two cities efficiently. The sooner you book the tickets the better deals can be had.
justineparis is offline  
Jan 12th, 2015, 03:06 AM
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<> It would be useful to know the reason was he red-flagged. Not everyone can use the automated kiosks. If you are non US and have an ESTA and have been to the US before on the ESTA program, then you can use the kiosk. Immigration in my case was very quick, but sadly customs was a nightmare and that's why US travellers keep asking about how it takes to get thru customs as they imagine it might be like that everywhere else.

If flights are booked far enough in advance, the price of the scheduled airlines can be the same or lower than low cost carriers and the benefit is that you don't fly to/from some airport in the middle of nowhere.
Odin is offline  
Jan 12th, 2015, 03:45 AM
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How long immigration will take also depends on your nationality. Within Schengen there are no border checks, but entering non-Schengen E.U. countries like the U.K., a U.S. citizen, for example, will have to complete a landing card and answer the usual immigration questions. The same may be true for a U.S. citizen entering Schengen. An E.U. citizen making the same journey would only have to show a passport or i.d. card.

Of course, since most of the other passengers will be European, that can sometimes make little difference in terms of waiting time. There are separate queues for each category, but the problem can be someone in front of you who is having difficulties with the procedure.
chartley is online now  
Jan 12th, 2015, 07:11 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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>>the problem can be someone in front of you who is having difficulties with the procedure.<<

I think there's a Parkinson's Law of queues that says the person actually at the counter always makes their business twice as complicated as any reasonable person needs it to be (see Post Offices, passim
PatrickLondon is offline  
Jan 12th, 2015, 08:28 AM
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Thank you all - all very helpful and informative answers.
sandralist, i did get your answer- i was simply making the point that I was asking for a "generally speaking" answer and used the 20 min jfk as an example. Thank you for your help. I do appreciate it.
emcash is offline  

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