Build In Extra Time to Clear Customs at Coronavirus Screener Airports
If you’re traveling in or out of one of the designated U.S. “coronavirus screener airports,” you might need to prepare for longer lines and waits—especially if you’re traveling internationally.
What’s a coronavirus screener airport? Well, the United States is currently routing all flights from China into one of eleven airports, in order to screen passengers for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) when they arrive. As CNN explains:
The new federal rules, which went into effect Sunday, include:
— Temporarily banning any foreign national who has visited China in the past 14 days from entering the US
— Forcing US citizens who have recently traveled to Hubei province — the epicenter of the outbreak — to be quarantined for up to 14 days after their return to the US
— Requiring US citizens returning from other parts of mainland China to undergo health screenings at selected ports of entry. These Americans could also undergo up to 14 days of self-monitored quarantine.
The eleven screener airports include:
- San Francisco International (SFO)
- Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA)
- Daniel K. Inouye International (HNL)
- Chicago O’Hare International (ORD)
- George Bush Intercontinental (IAH)
- Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW)
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL)
- Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County (DTW)
- John F. Kennedy International (JFK)
- Newark Liberty International (EWR)
- Washington Dulles International (IAD)
As The Points Guy reports, customs processing at these airports is taking longer than usual for all passengers (regardless of whether you’ve been to China or not) with some people reporting six-hour wait times.
That said, The Points Guy pulled the data, and the typical customs processing time increase is more like 5–15 minutes depending on the airport. At the beginning of December, for example, the maximum customs wait time at SFO averaged 55.8 minutes; now the maximum customs wait time at SFO averages 71.5 minutes (that’s 15.7 minutes longer, if you’re doing the math).
If you have Global Entry or the Mobile Passport App, you might be able to expedite some of your customs processing—but in general, go ahead and prepare for longer lines and increased wait times if you’re planning to clear customs at one of the 11 coronavirus screener airports.