Computers at JFK Customs

By Wanda Bahde
This item appears on page 14 of the December 2014 issue.
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My husband, Ray, and I arrived at New York’s JFK Airport on Delta Air Lines flight 185 from Paris, Sept. 21, 2014. Our flight was on schedule.

When we entered the terminal, officials were barking orders for US passport holders to get into a line that looked a mile long. (I really wanted to take a photo to post in ITN, but signs prohibiting photography were posted everywhere.)

We joined the line at 4:10 p.m. Progress was very slow as we inched toward computer terminals. Apparently, at certain airports, US citizens now complete the Customs form by entering data into a computer, not on paper.

Only a fraction of the bank of computers was working, and only three agents were available to assist confused passengers. The new system requires citizens to scan their passports, answer the traditional Customs questions, get their photos taken and, eventually, get a printed receipt. The computers seemed slow and temperamental.

We then waited in a second (fairly short) line for an agent to see our printed receipt before we could collect our bags, after which we faced a mob line to have one of three agents take our printed receipts. From there, we joined the relatively small crowd at the Delta connections desk to recheck our bags to Orlando.

We next were routed to the Departures section of Terminal 4 to go through security again. This line proved neither short nor efficient. Once we were finally through security, we ran to Terminal 4’s Gate 18, where we caught a shuttle bus to Terminal 2, then ran directly to Gate 63, where our 6:40 flight to Orlando was boarding.

All in all, the process at JFK required two hours and 10 minutes, causing us great confusion and massive stress. In the future, if we must go through JFK, we’ll ensure we have extra time to clear Customs.

 

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

My husband, Ray, and I arrived at New York’s JFK Airport on Delta Air Lines flight 185 from Paris, Sept. 21, 2014. Our flight was on schedule.

When we entered the terminal, officials were barking orders for US passport holders to get into a line that looked a mile long. (I really wanted to take a photo to post in ITN, but signs prohibiting photography were posted everywhere.)

We joined the line at 4:10 p.m. Progress was very slow as we inched toward computer terminals. Apparently, at certain airports, US citizens now complete the Customs form by entering data into a computer, not on paper.

Only a fraction of the bank of computers was working, and only three agents were available to assist confused passengers. The new system requires citizens to scan their passports, answer the traditional Customs questions, get their photos taken and, eventually, get a printed receipt. The computers seemed slow and temperamental.

We then waited in a second (fairly short) line for an agent to see our printed receipt before we could collect our bags, after which we faced a mob line to have one of three agents take our printed receipts. From there, we joined the relatively small crowd at the Delta connections desk to recheck our bags to Orlando.

We next were routed to the Departures section of Terminal 4 to go through security again. This line proved neither short nor efficient. Once we were finally through security, we ran to Terminal 4’s Gate 18, where we caught a shuttle bus to Terminal 2, then ran directly to Gate 63, where our 6:40 flight to Orlando was boarding.

All in all, the process at JFK required two hours and 10 minutes, causing us great confusion and massive stress. In the future, if we must go through JFK, we’ll ensure we have extra time to clear Customs.