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Travelers Call Delays At U.S. Airports A ‘Disgrace’ As 2 Hours Wait Times Reported

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As the United States opens for travel for the first time in 20 months, international travelers have vented their frustration at the wait times inside U.S airports. 

Despite warnings from travel experts, various travelers labeled the wait times ‘ridiculous and a ‘disgrace’. 

LAX Airport Lines

British tourist Marc Evans said, “Twenty months closed, lots of time to get things right and JFK Airport queues are a disgrace, three planes landing at the same time from Manchester is ridiculous,”

“It was apparently a PR stunt to show the USA was back open but seems they weren’t concerned about the queues at customs,”

He told Manchester Evening News he had to wait two hours to get through customs, suggesting the delay “did dampen our moods.” There were “no staff around to help,” he said.

Paul Richards, the head of safeguarding for Stoke City F.C said he had to wait two hours to get through airport customs. “No point in getting irate, the queue will still be there,” he said as he waited in the long lines. 

One French tourist said, “The experience was stressful because the employees are (not) ready to welcome so many travelers.”

The Warnings From Travel Experts 

Travel experts warned tourists that U.S airports weren’t ready to handle incoming passengers when the nation reopened on Monday. 

They even predicted wait times of up to 8 hours in some of the busier airports, such as JFK and LAX.

Chicago Share Airport

Sherry Stein, the leader of the technology sector for Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques (SITA), said “The expectation is that we could see wait times of up to eight hours.”

The U.S has laid out requirements but left the processing of documents to the airlines themselves. On the contrary, other nations have had their vaccine system in place since early 2021, with incoming travelers able to store their health credentials via smartphone apps and QR codes.

Travelers wait at LaGuardia airport to board a flight to Cancun

Due to the lack of a centralized system and the airlines responsible for checking paperwork, travel experts predicted annoying delays for all passengers.

They were right. 

Many major airlines have created or changed their apps to accommodate the changes. However, although airlines are attempting to complete most of the checks prior to arrival, they still need to deal with certain checks at the check-in desk. 

Passengers entering customs at Miami International Airport

The Rush Of Incoming Passengers 

The prolonged nature of the U.S’s border closure — which was longer than many countries — has meant thousands of travelers have descended into the U.S in recent days.

The New York Times reported travelers from more than 30 previously banned nations descended on the U.S on Monday. 

A total of 206,990 international arrived at U.S airports, which 40,000 more travelers than the U.S received on a typical day in 2020. JFK airport alone welcomed over 37,800 international arrivals, and Miami International Airport received 21,000 international visitors. 

However, the numbers still lag behind pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, the average day saw 371,912 people enter the United States. 

Travel experts aren’t sure when the numbers will return to pre-pandemic levels, but travel stocks have surged after the U.S. reopened and the travel industry has expressed optimism. 

The Mexican border was busy for a couple of hours at midnight ET on the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez border crossing in Texas. But the border crossing fell quiet after a couple of hours. 

One newspaper salesman at the border said, “ I’ve sold hardly anything. Everyone crossed yesterday, panicked about how the lines were going to be today.”

Hopefully, the waiting times at the U.S airports decrease in the coming weeks.

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories


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Chris

Sunday 14th of November 2021

Arrived at JFK from LHR on 11/11/2021: no wait time at all! Smoothest entry ever!

Kashlee Kucheran

Monday 15th of November 2021

So nice to hear!

H

Friday 12th of November 2021

It is a bit of a disgrace. However, warning after warning was given about the inevitability of these delays occurring, so those whining should have known what they were in for.

Pure Blood Jap Baby

Thursday 11th of November 2021

American workers quitting in masses trying to preserve freedom while international tourists don't care. Sad.

Johnny

Saturday 13th of November 2021

@Pure Blood Jap Baby those “freedom fighters” of yours are the absolute minority. And yes, the vast majority of the global population doesn’t care. Including myself.

Gonna come back to new York soon!