Newark Airport Customs Control Terminal B Fiasco

cubby

Just returned from international travel last night through Terminal B. 2 full hours from start to finish going through passport control and customs. The time factor seemed  excessive but what was particularly striking was the total chaos and confusion with employees not seeming to understand the process. Was sent from one line to another due to reproting that we had been on a farm and had also purchased some flower bulbs. However, nobody atually ever questioned us about the details and they didn't even collect our Custom Declaration Form, so while we were told we would need to declare some things, we were never given the opportunity to do so. Clearly the left hand doesnt know what the right hand is doing. What is going on there?


yahooyahoo

So passport control took 2 hours or customs took 2 hours?


cubby

yahooyahoo said:

So passport control took 2 hours or customs took 2 hours?

 2 hours for both. However, breezed through customs and was never asked any questions and they never collected declaration form.


BG9

A new America.

We've reached the point that you should consider yourself to be happy if the only inconvenience was delay:

https://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram/archives/2019/0715.html#cg19

Pretty horrible story of a US journalist who had his computer and phone searched at the border when returning to the US from Mexico.

After I gave him the password to my iPhone, Moncivias spent three hours reviewing hundreds of photos and videos and emails and calls and texts, including encrypted messages on WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram. It was the digital equivalent of tossing someone's house: opening cabinets, pulling out drawers, and overturning furniture in hopes of finding something -- anything -- illegal. He read my communications with friends, family, and loved ones. He went through my correspondence with colleagues, editors, and sources. He asked about the identities of people who have worked with me in war zones. He also went through my personal photos, which I resented. Consider everything on your phone right now. Nothing on mine was spared.

Pomeroy, meanwhile, searched my laptop. He browsed my emails and my internet history. He looked through financial spreadsheets and property records and business correspondence. He was able to see all the same photos and videos as Moncivias and then some, including photos I thought I had deleted.


FilmCarp

We came through Friday night with no problems at all and minimal lines.


tpb

Nice to know that somebody else on MOL is reading Bruce’s blog ;-)


Klinker

My experiences with the arse end of Homeland Security at EWR are consistently poor to awful.  I travel in and out of the country through a number of airports and EWR is always the worst at this just as it is the worst at just about everything else.

Sometimes I think about moving just to get away from EWR.


cubby

Nothing more than an inconvenience. However, still rant worthy. What was most alarming was the chaos. It was apparent than many people working there were unaware of the "rules," often tellling us to "hold on" while they would ask a co-worker. And again the fact that we were never actually asked to declare anything despite having items to declare. It seemed as if everyone had just started working there that day.


ml1

My cynical self thinks that passport control is purposely being made horrendously inconvenient to force citizens to apply for Global Entry status. 


sac

ml1 said:

My cynical self thinks that passport control is purposely being made horrendously inconvenient to force citizens to apply for Global Entry status. 

 I hope not because then Global Entry will get much slower!


oots

so global entry seems like a no brainer ( especially since my credit cards will reimburse the full cost for both my wife & I .  yes? no?  thoughts?


conandrob240

I think once you indicated you’d been on a farm and had soil/plants, this became an atypical experience. I’ve never waited very long returning from abroad at EWR. It’s usually quite seamless and efficient.


conandrob240

oots said:

so global entry seems like a no brainer ( especially since my credit cards will reimburse the full cost for both my wife & I .  yes? no?  thoughts?

 It’s worth it even if you have to pay and if it’s free, why hesitate?


ml1

conandrob240 said:

I think once you indicated you’d been on a farm and had soil/plants, this became an atypical experience. I’ve never waited very long returning from abroad at EWR. It’s usually quite seamless and efficient.

 passport control at terminal C is often a nightmare. We were arriving from Portugal in September and the line was at least an hour. Fortunately we used the mobile passport app and got through in about ten minutes. 

A few years ago they were showing an NBA playoff game on the TV by thr passport control line. We watched the entire first half of the game while we waited. It was nearly an hour and a half. 


Smedley

ml1 said:

conandrob240 said:

I think once you indicated you’d been on a farm and had soil/plants, this became an atypical experience. I’ve never waited very long returning from abroad at EWR. It’s usually quite seamless and efficient.

 passport control at terminal C is often a nightmare. We were arriving from Portugal in September and the line was at least an hour. Fortunately we used the mobile passport app and got through in about ten minutes. 

A few years ago they were showing an NBA playoff game on the TV by thr passport control line. We watched the entire first half of the game while we waited. It was nearly an hour and a half. 

 How is Portugal as a travel destination?


ml1

Smedley said:

 How is Portugal as a travel destination?

 we had a wonderful time. Went to Lisbon and Porto. Great food and wine, and of course lots of history. Believe it or not a major highlight was an Airbnb food tour in Lisbon. We walked several neighborhoods and learned a lot of history in addition to the amazing food. 
We also took a side trip to Sintra. The weather was dreary but it made for some cool photos. 


Smedley

Thanks. Yeah I've heard great things, it's on the bucket list. 

Was the dreary weather unusual?  I somehow figured Portugal is sunny and blue skies all the time, but I guess not.


conandrob240

ml1 said:

conandrob240 said:

I think once you indicated you’d been on a farm and had soil/plants, this became an atypical experience. I’ve never waited very long returning from abroad at EWR. It’s usually quite seamless and efficient.

 passport control at terminal C is often a nightmare. We were arriving from Portugal in September and the line was at least an hour. Fortunately we used the mobile passport app and got through in about ten minutes. 

A few years ago they were showing an NBA playoff game on the TV by thr passport control line. We watched the entire first half of the game while we waited. It was nearly an hour and a half. 

While no fun, an hour to go through customs and immigration isn’t really that terrible. A few flights come in at roughly the same time and that’s about right. It takes around 30 minutes to get luggage anyway so that isn’t too bad. While global entry is great, we usually breeze through in 10 minutes and then have to wait for luggage as the rest of the plane on the regular line catches up to us.


sprout

Came back into Newark a day or two after Labor Day last year on a connection from the U.K. I think it took us ~3 hours to get from airplane to car.


ml1

conandrob240 said:

While no fun, an hour to go through customs and immigration isn’t really that terrible. A few flights come in at roughly the same time and that’s about right. It takes around 30 minutes to get luggage anyway so that isn’t too bad. While global entry is great, we usually breeze through in 10 minutes and then have to wait for luggage as the rest of the plane on the regular line catches up to us.

 That was just passport control. There is no reason it should take close to two hours in a modern developed country. On the other side when you arrive in Europe it takes 15 minutes. (Except in Brussels which is worse than Newark).


ml1

Smedley said:

Thanks. Yeah I've heard great things, it's on the bucket list. 

Was the dreary weather unusual?  I somehow figured Portugal is sunny and blue skies all the time, but I guess not.

 It was beautiful except the one day we traveled to the beach. 


sac

After the first time through Global Entry, we were hooked! It is ABSOLUTELY worth it - $100 for five years.  We paid for it about six weeks before our credit card added the benefit (but that would have been too late for that first trip after we got it, so no regrets.)  The United Mileage Plus cards that many people have is one that offers this perk.  Since we got Global Entry, we have taken three international trips and (excluding baggage claim time), it only took about 5-10 minutes total each time.  Baggage claim varies a lot, but is no different from domestic travel baggage claim as far as I can tell and Global Entry doesn't do anything for you in that phase, but does speed up both passport control (pre Baggage claim) and customs (post baggage claim).  So if you can travel with just carryon baggage, you would likely spend less than 15 minutes down there based on my experience (and anecdotally from others I know who travel on international business frequently with only carryon luggage.)  From the looks of the lines, it probably saved us over two hours last January when we returned from a trip during one of the government shutdowns when they were very short-staffed.

Even if you only rarely fly internationally, the included TSA-pre is also great and Global Entry doesn't cost much more than TSA-pre. 


krugle

I have a large can of spray medicine, which I carry on.  I've taken it to a number of countries, but only at Newark did they have zero idea what to do.  Had to ask a supervisor and then told me I'd have to get a complete pat down.

Zippo training.  Made me sad for our country.


conandrob240

Newark is a good airport (comparatively speaking). At the very least, it’s a FAR better option than JFK or LGA. It’s clean, bright, new(ish). Terminal design makes sense. Security is usually excellent and it’s very quick. Flights take a bit longer to taxi and line up for takeoff so delays are there but usually 15 minutes or so nothing major. I don’t get the knocking of EWR. 

I’ve had the extreme displeasure of being in a few other cities last month- Chicago and ATL. Both of those airports were really old, really poorly designed and I’ve never experienced such long, disorganized security lines as I did in ATL. Just awful.


ml1

conandrob240 said:

Newark is a good airport (comparatively speaking). At the very least, it’s a FAR better option than JFK or LGA. It’s clean, bright, new(ish). Terminal design makes sense. Security is usually excellent and it’s very quick. Flights take a bit longer to taxi and line up for takeoff so delays are there but usually 15 minutes or so nothing major. I don’t get the knocking of EWR. 

I’ve had the extreme displeasure of being in a few other cities last month- Chicago and ATL. Both of those airports were really old, really poorly designed and I’ve never experienced such long, disorganized security lines as I did in ATL. Just awful.

Personally, I'm not knocking Newark.  Passport Control is run by TSA.  And all they need to fix the godawful delays there are to put a few more agents at the counters during crush times (which they must almost certainly be able to predict).  It's frustrating to spend 2 hours in line when only a third of the counters are staffed.  It's not a Newark issue, it's more of a typical U.S. attitude of cheaping out on those kind of expenditures, like personnel costs of staffing the passport control lines.


Klinker

conandrob240 said:

Newark is a good airport (comparatively speaking). 

Compared to what?  Kabul?

What a shocking assertion!


conandrob240

I actually gave two comparison airports right in my post. I could list MANY others. I travel a lot and my opinion is that Newark is a pretty good airport compared to many, many airports both here in the US and abroad. I’m quite sure it’s definitely better than Kabul although that hasn’t been (nor will be) on my list of travel destinations so I’m just guessing. 


ml1

and I need to correct -- passport control is run by HSA, but the rest of my criticisms stand.  I travel a lot too, and go out of the country at least once a year, and sometimes more than once.  And passport control at Newark is really an embarrassment to our country.  If you land in Spain or Italy or Germany or Canada, there's no way you're waiting in line more than 15 minutes to have your passport checked.


Klinker

conandrob240 said:

I actually gave two comparison airports right in my post. I could list MANY others. I travel a lot and my opinion is that Newark is a pretty good airport compared to many, many airports both here in the US and abroad. I’m quite sure it’s definitely better than Kabul although that hasn’t been (nor will be) on my list of travel destinations so I’m just guessing. 

 I don't fly through Atlanta ( I am boycotting pretty much everything below the Mason Dixon line except Texas) or Chicago but I visit San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, Houston (Bush), Dallas Fort Worth and Toronto at least once or twice a year and I have to say that, compared to any of those airports, EWR is a stinking cesspool.  And that is Terminal C.  Terminals A and B ought to be enough to humiliate the citizens of any first world or developing country.


spol

Does anyone use Mobile Passport?  At the risk of sharing my secret, I've found it quicker than even Global Entry in terms of getting through passport control...maybe because no one knows about it!  Even better, I don't have to remember to put a pen in my bag to fill out the landing form at EWR...last time I flew home from London, I was off the plane and into the Uber in 15 minutes.



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