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Advice for non US passengers using Houston as stop over

Londra
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Advice for non US passengers using Houston as stop over

Warning, this is a rant!

We traveled via Houston on our way to Belize. We travel on EU passports.

On the way out, it took 1.5 hours just to go through passport control. The queue was unreal, with less than half the booths opened and it was peak time (saturday afternoon). babies, elderly people, all standing in a queue for ages with the silly video playing on a loop on the screens and the 'welcome' music driving us nuts.... then.. another 30 minutes to get through the custom checks.

Finally out, we slept at our airport hotel and had not time to even attempt visiting the city.

On the way back, we were ONLY transiting, to catch our connecting flight. Thankfully we had 5 hours otherwise we would have missed it. This time it took only 45 minutes for passport control (ONLY!) and then it took another 45 for customs. Just to get our luggage out and then IN again for check in!!

We have traveled in many airports, but this, after Port Sudan 10 years ago, is my worst experience ever, and for an international hub, is a real disgrace. And I am not even commenting on the lack of shops or refreshments when waiting for our next flight.

We will avoid at all cost from now on.

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1. Re: Advice for non US passengers using Houston as stop over

DivingFoodie--

So sorry to hear of your experiences. Unfortunately, we residents have no control over the process, but can only express our apologies for your experiences. Yours is the first complaint I've seen regarding lack of shops and refreshments, however--most comments are quite positive, especially regarding the restaurant choices.

Houston, TX
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2. Re: Advice for non US passengers using Houston as stop over

As Gene says, sorry you had what you feel is a bad experience. Just a couple of comments. In many places around the world, there are generally fewer immigration agents assigned to the checkpoints for non-residents than for residents (or EU passport holders, where applicable). I can't tell you the number of times I've been at LHR and Gatwick, Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Madrid, Berlin, etc, etc, etc where the resident passport holder line zips through and the non-residents stand and wait. It is annoying, but not much to be done about it.

Also, you say you were lucky to have had 5 hours while transiting on your return or you would have missed your flight, but apparently it only took you 90 minutes to deal with your luggage. While that seems long, it still left you 3.5 hours--seemingly plenty of time, since you mention waiting for your next flight.

Good luck with your next airport choice.

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Houston, Texas
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3. Re: Advice for non US passengers using Houston as stop over

My 2 cents. Based on my experience and the unpredictable nature of IAH, I would say 90 minutes on both sides is not bad. Granted, they've vastly improved the US Resident side with e-kiosks, and those with carryon only have the One Stop option. But, I can recall a connection about 4 years ago (Costa Rica to Pittsburgh) where I waited well over 90 minutes on the US Resident side, to connect. When I flew back here a couple weeks ago, we got in just before a couple large jets, and I made it out of One Stop in about 20 minutes. Sorry to say, but there are worse US transit airports in my opinion (PHL, EWR) - and at ORD, once you clear immigrations/customs - you are forced to take a tram back to another terminal. There are choices.

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4. Re: Advice for non US passengers using Houston as stop over

It used to be worse prior to Terminal E opening and pax having to use the old International Arrivals Building.

My complaint with the new (relatively) International Arrivals FIS building is that it requires a lot of walking to get through the entire process. The security check area seems really cramped while there are long, open hallways elsewhere that seem to be well under capacity..

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5. Re: Advice for non US passengers using Houston as stop over

There is a gov website somewhere that lists average time from gate to clearing customs by day and hour at all major US airports with number of arrivals and number of deplaning pax.

Edited: 23 April 2014, 10:13
6. Re: Advice for non US passengers using Houston as stop over

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