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JFK customs

Montreal, Canada
posts: 128
reviews: 7
JFK customs

Hello

I am planning on going back to London in summer 2014, and the ticket I am looking at is nonstop from YUL-LHR, and then coming back its LHR-JFK-YUL, the flight from LHR lands at 3:30 and my flight back to Montreal is at 8:00 which gives me 4 hours and 30 minutes. However I was told that you have to clear customs to pick your luggage at JFK even though you just have a connection flight. I was wondering how long customs over there took, and if it would make any difference if I just had carryon instead?

Thanks in advance

Edited: 1:02 am, October 15, 2013
Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
posts: 63,250
reviews: 12
1. Re: JFK customs

You will have to go through US Immigration, and that is what takes time. You then have to pick up your luggage and go through Customs, which is quick. If your luggage is tagged through to YUL, you can drop it at a drop-off point just beyond Customs.

Having only a carry-on will not speed the process much, as it is Immigration that takes the time.

Mount Dora, Florida
Destination Expert
for Istanbul
posts: 13,068
reviews: 211
2. Re: JFK customs

Customs is quick. We do not even stop. I hand the custom form to the clerk and the porter with my luggage is right behind me. We walk to the other side and re-check it for our connecting flight. No one seems remotely interested in what I have in my suitcases. I suppose they have some system for detecting criminals, but I have never seen anything opened and inspected by a customs agent at JFK. The whole process does not take 5 minutes. It is so quick that there is not even time for much of a line to form. It is really just a parade past the custom agent.

Crossing the border from Mexico into the US is a completely different experience. There they go through every thing you have. They open medicine bottles to confirm that the contents match the label. They count the bottles of alcohol. On a couple of occasions people in my party have endured a physical pat down. So I cannot say that customs is easy at all US borders, but it is truly a piece of cake at JFK.

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
posts: 63,250
reviews: 12
3. Re: JFK customs

But the aspect that slows things down for those without US passports is Immigration, with all the nonsense about taking fingerprints and photographs.

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
posts: 36,968
reviews: 78
4. Re: JFK customs

Fingerprinting and photo-taking is not limited to US only. Japan is another country that requires the visitor to go through this procedure.

I don't think the fingerprinting or picture-taking is overly time consuming. Simply put, there just aren't enough staff at the border.

Mount Dora, Florida
Destination Expert
for Istanbul
posts: 13,068
reviews: 211
5. Re: JFK customs

It has little to do with customs, but the thing that slows me down while traveling by air are the TSA agents who put their hands all over me. If it were any other person than a TSA agent I would call the police on the grounds of unauthorized sexual contact. Last week a TSA agent probed way underneath my underwear. No idea what she thought she might find, but I was exceptionally uncomfortable.

Sorry about the photos and fingerprints, but maybe that will not be a problem much longer. By the end of this week, not only will the US Government be closed, but we will not be able to pay our bills. If there is a shortage of border control agents now it is only going to get worse, and they might discover that they cannot afford photos and fingerprints.

Montreal, Canada
posts: 128
reviews: 7
6. Re: JFK customs

Thanks for the reply guys, but I have one more question. I also read that if you miss your connection to your final destination, they will put you on the next flight available. In my case, my connection flight is JFK-YUL and my flight number is 5771, British airways operated by American Eagle for American Air. Does this mean I am all on one ticket since its all BA ? It would be my first time flying through JFK so I'm new to all this with the connection flight and immigrations.

Thanks for the understanding!

Limerick, Ireland
posts: 2,765
7. Re: JFK customs

Consider flying with Aer lingus.com /

from Boston to LHR via Shannon ( not Dublin )

This way you can avail of U S Customs -

CBP in Shannon,

Youtube " Shannon airport on Business Traveller "

You will arrive in Boston as a domestic passenger.

Wolverhampton
posts: 451
reviews: 26
8. Re: JFK customs

Fingerprinting and photos are a bit of a pointless exercise as they do not make the States any safer. Part of the over reaction to 9/11 when every non American was seen as a threat. An ESTA should be sufficient. Homeland Security seemed to selectively forget that the perpetrators had lived in America for some time. Will they ever be lifted? The length of time it takes is one of the reasons why I am going to use Boston rather than JFK if I visit the States in the near future.

Park City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah, Winter Sports
posts: 11,916
reviews: 238
9. Re: JFK customs

If you do misconnect due to a delay, yes you will be put on next available flight, which in all likelihood would be AA. You have plenty of time so I wouldn't be overly concerned about this.

Good luck.

Mount Dora, Florida
Destination Expert
for Istanbul
posts: 13,068
reviews: 211
10. Re: JFK customs

travellover, I don't want to hijack this thread to have yet another discussion about ridiculous procedures required by TSA employees. I understand why our foreign visitors hate them. I hate them. I do not believe someone groping my bare buttocks has made my world any safer, but I sometimes wonder how perverse a person must be to take so much pleasure in such a ridiculous activity with an old, crippled fat lady.

The bottom line for me is that we still occasionally have people get through security with weapons and explosive devices, and in all the years we have had TSA security they have actually caught 0 terrorists. Yes, we do suspect foreign travelers more than our own citizens unless a citizen has the name of Mohammad or was born in Palestine. In those cases it takes four times as long to clear security, When my little grandson was born Mohammad was included as one of his several middle--eastern names to honor his grandfather. The poor baby was on the no-fly list from the age of three months until he was about four years old. Totally ridiculous.

I would certainly do whatever I could do to avoid as much entry nonesense as possible, and flying into Boston is certainly not a hardship. I have no idea why Homeland Security cannot simply accept ESTA.

Will all these restrictions eventually be lifted? Hard to say. In five more years I will not have to remove my shoes. Well, I really do not always have to remove my shoes because now our boarding passes are printed with some special code and we go through a different TSA line and we do not have to remove our shoes. I have no idea why we have this status, or why we are deemed unrisky enough not to remove our shoes or why there are never any other people in this line. It speeds things up only because there is never a line. Otherwise, aside from the shoes, we have the same identical security check. So these concessions sometimes make me think that one day things will be easier.

However, in the US we seldom remove a restriction once it has been created, particularly if that restriction creates employment. If we reduced the restrictions we might reduce the TSA employees and that would be perceived as a bad thing. I suspect it is difficult for sexual deviants to find employment that is so satisfactory in the private sector of our economy.

So....my best guess is that the restrictions will never be lifted if we still have a United States of America after we stop paying our bills at the end of the week. I am thinking of converting all my currency to Euros and smuggling it out of the country if I can just figure out a way to do so without being detected.