Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Naples to Munich/Frankfurt, to DC, when do you go through customs?

Naples to Munich/Frankfurt, to DC, when do you go through customs?

Dec 26th, 2011, 08:50 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 24
Naples to Munich/Frankfurt, to DC, when do you go through customs?

We're trying to plan travel in Sept. 2012 for a trip to Praiano, Italy. Right now I'm just trying to get a grasp of the best flights to be looking at in terms of sufficient time for our needs and going through customs.

The two flights in question are:

Naples->Munich (2hr 25min layover)->DC(1hr 37 min layover)->Burlington, VT
Naples->Frankfurt(1hr 15min layover)->DC(2hr 17min layover)->Burlington, VT

The second flight is a bit more expensive but a shorter flight and leaves in the early afternoon. The first flight is a bit cheaper (only a $25 difference) and leaves just before noon (both flights mean we can just come in from Praiano instead of having to stay near the airport the night before, which is a good thing).

The question is, where will we be going through customs on this? Do we go through customs in Munich/Frankfurt after flying in from Naples and then again once we land in DC? Or would we only be going through customs in DC? If we have to go through customs in Frankfurt, would a 1 hour and 15 min layover be enough time to make our connection or would it be pretty tight, and if we have any delays, we'd be in trouble?

We traveled from Geneva, through Belgium, then back to the states last year, and neither of us can remember at all if we had to go through customs in Belgium after flying in from Geneva (that was a VERY LONG day and we were tired even before we got to Belgium because we'd gotten up VERY EARLY to drive an hour and a half to catch our early morning flight).
morgannalefey is offline  
Dec 26th, 2011, 08:56 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 10,181
First of all, you need to distinguish between immigration and customs. They are very different things. Immigration can take quite a long time (passport checks, etc.). Customs is done in the country of arrival (in this case the U.S.) and may be minimal.

On this itinerary, regardless of which flight you take, you go through both immigration and customs in D.C. In Germany, you'll be in transit and will likely have a minimal check if anything, and it won't take long. I'm not sure there's any passport check between Italy and Germany, though someone here should be able to tell you. In any case, you'll have plenty of time on either itinerary for that. You may have to go through security again. I've read widely that Munich is a better connecting airport than Frankfurt, but in either case you should have no problems unless your flight is delayed greatly, and then you'd have trouble with the connection anyway.

Where you'll definitely need more time is in DC. You will have to go through immigration, pick up your bags, go through Customs (usually a cursory check with no stops), and then re-check your bags to Vermont. So take the longer layover in DC rather than the longer layover in Brussels, and you should be ok. I don't know if you are a U.S. citizen or not, but it does usually take longer if you are not, but I don't have any experience at Dulles for the immigration lines.
doug_stallings is offline  
Dec 26th, 2011, 09:32 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
You go through Immigration and customs only upon entering a country (unless you're coming from Ireland, which has allowed the US to implant Immigration and Customs people n their airport for departing US flights).

customs entering the US is usually fairly quick - unless you are selected for an in-depth inspection, Immigration can take ten minutes to an hour or more depending on how many flights land at the same time. Waiting for your luggage to appear can take the longest.
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 26th, 2011, 10:25 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 24
So both connections (Munich and Frankfurt) are likely to afford enough time to get through immigration? The connection from DC is less of an issue because we are US citizens, so I'm thinking it should be fairly quick. Though the longer one might be better anyway... hrmph.
morgannalefey is offline  
Dec 26th, 2011, 10:31 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,921
If you do not leave the security zone I don't think that you will be going through immigration.

U.S. immigration can have long lines even for U.S. citizens depending on the number of citizens on the plane and the number of planes arriving from abroad around the same time.
Michael is offline  
Dec 26th, 2011, 10:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,932
You are assuming that the DC connections is not an issue because you are US citizen, but it would likely to be the biggest timing issue as Doug indicated due to having to retrieve luggage and having to go through customs or having to go thru the Dept of Ag inspection if are carrying target products.
greg is offline  
Dec 26th, 2011, 10:55 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 10,181
No, DC is absolutely not a non-issue. I recommend (strongly) that you take the longer layover in DC. You never know how long the immigration lines will be, and even if you are a U.S. citizen, if several flights are arriving or if you are at the back of the plane, you might still have a long wait. And if luggage takes a long time to arrive on carousel, you can still miss your flight because of that. Myriad issues mean that 2 hours is generally the shortest time I like to have to connect from an international flight to a domestic flight in the U.S. regardless of airport.
doug_stallings is offline  
Dec 26th, 2011, 11:34 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 24
Ok, fair enough. My experiences with connections in the US are limited to two trips (one this year and one the year before). I'm totally willing to be guided by your advice and take the longer layover in DC flight. Thank you all so very much. You've been soooo helpful.
morgannalefey is offline  
Dec 26th, 2011, 11:58 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 10,337
There is no immigration check at Frankfurt airport. The Naples-FRA flight is intra-Schengen zone (no passport check).

A 1hr 15min layover at Frankfurt is ok, but dut don't dilly dally at Frankfurt airport. About a year ago they moved all US bound flights to Terminal C, which is a long walk from where intra-Europe flights arrive. Many arriving flights park on the tarmac and passengers are bused to the arrival terminal, which can add to the arrival delay.

You will have to go through a security check and passport check by the airline as you approach the departure gate.

I noticed on a recent connection through Frankfurt that they now post "fast-lane" flight information at security, which are those flights that are approaching departure time. Late arriving passengers can bypass any long security line if necessary.
J62 is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Jan 29th, 2013 08:55 AM
Jun 6th, 2011 05:51 PM
Nov 17th, 2010 07:47 AM
Air Travel
Mar 12th, 2007 04:43 AM
Jan 19th, 2005 03:29 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:49 AM.