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How Long to Clear Customs at IAD?

Old May 26th, 2006, 09:37 AM
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How Long to Clear Customs at IAD?

I'm looking to book flights to Paris from Denver for my big 5-0 birthday this November! One option I'm looking at only leaves 1.5 hours to clear customs at Dulles and get to our connecting flight (both on United). Is this enough time mid-afternoon on a Thursday?
tekwriter is offline  
Old May 26th, 2006, 09:41 AM
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My crystal ball refused to cooperate today....da*n.....

sorry, can't help you!

Have a great trip!
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Old May 26th, 2006, 09:50 AM
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There is no guaranteed way to know, but as long as you're not dealing with picking up your luggage, that should be enough time. I assume you're talking about on the way back, and I don't think mid-afternoon is a huge time for many international flights at IAD. You may have a couple at once, but even if you're at the back of the line, and they have a decent number of agents working, it's usually less than half an hour.

However, hour long delays are fairly common on longhaul flights. Perhaps ask the airline what your Plan B will be if you're delayed.
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Old May 26th, 2006, 10:57 AM
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I've cleared customs at IAD several times over the last couple of years. To be honest its almost impossible to predict. If there isn't another international flight or two landing the same time as yours, you should be fine. If there are several other planes that have landed at the same time, and the line is really long, it can take a half hour or longer to get through the lines. I think on our last layover it took about 45 minutes to get through the line, but there were several flights' worth of people in that line. Then you usually have to pick up your luggage, go through security,and re-check it before you continue on.

I think you will more than likely be fine, but if there is a way to avoid such a short layover, I would take it. That way you won't feel frantic if you are sitting in a really long line and watching the time tick by. After long overseas flights, the last thing I want is to miss my plane....I just want to get home!

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Old May 26th, 2006, 11:23 AM
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"A question that would cross a rabbi’s eyes"--Tevye
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Old May 26th, 2006, 12:36 PM
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Just take care not to bring anything back that the agricultural inspectors will want to see--that can create a major delay. We always check the State Dept. web site before leaving to find out what's currently on the banned list, as some things come and go.
Underhill is online now  
Old May 26th, 2006, 01:24 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I work at Travelers Aid at IAD and am often at the desk near the international arrivals area. Mid-afternoon to early evening are when most of the international flights arrive.

We caution people that it can sometimes take well over an hour to clear customs. And this applies both to U.S. citizens and non-citizens.

Although I am not positive about this, I think there is a transit point where you can send your luggage through to the next flight before you exit customs. I think I saw an area for that when I came through customs after returning from a trip earlier this week. I believe that with United, you will not have to recheck your luggage, but you should make certain of that.

Then, you will have to go through security once again, and the lines there can be very long in mid-afternoon.

I would really try for a later continuing flight or find out if there is a later one if you do miss your original flight. And make certain to get a boarding pass for Denver in Paris. Since the gate may not be on the boarding pass, stop at the Travelers Aid desk and ask them to look up the departure gate for you.

Good luck!
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Old May 26th, 2006, 01:38 PM
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Thanks to all the helpful posters! I am aware of all the variables involved and wasn't looking for an exact prediction, just some insight into how busy this customs station is on a normal basis. I agree that 1.5 hours is pushing it, particularly given the hassle of finding another flight if we didn't make it. I appreciate the information!
tekwriter is offline  
Old May 26th, 2006, 04:40 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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First of all, there's nothing to clear on your outbound trip.

Coming back, I see UA's November schedule to have flight 915 arriving back at IAD 3:15pm and then 903 IAD-DEN at 5:20. 2 hours and 5 minutes - very comfortable connection.

Is that what you're seeing? Or what are your exact dates and flights that you're considering?
rkkwan is offline  
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