ESTA Panic

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Old Dec 17, 18, 6:28 am
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ESTA Panic

Thought i'd share a story from today.

Tomorrow, the wife and i are travelling to New York on BA0173 in J. Booked 2 months ago, and ESTA submitted beginning of December.

During check-in for the BA flights, I noticed it would not allow me to print off wife's boarding pass. BA also advised that our travel documents would need to be checked at the airport. The only document i could think of was our ESTA/ approval so I re-checked the ESTA approval and to my absolute horror, noticed her middle name had a one letter mis-spelling "M" instead of "N". Quick search on FT indicated that as this did not match up on the passport, it's as good as useless. NOTE: I scanned her passport to pre-populate the fields and this seems to have caused the issue (however I know it's my fault for not checking)

PANIC!!

11:35 today I resubmitted her ESTA, but in bold red highlight, 72 hours minimum. Body shaking of nerves, I make silly mistakes but correct them immediately and resubmit the application. It prompts me that I have an existing ESTA open that will be cancelled if resubmitting. Pausing for a second, I question whether I should do it, but knowing how precise US customs can be, I thought its the only option available.
11:45 I call BA Bronze Helpline to discuss my predicament. The guy i spoke to was extremely helpful and understanding and gave me some options to consider, and a number to call should I need to change flights.
12:00 Go for lunch with a friend but can't stop thinking about this ridiculous mistake i made and crossing fingers we get approval in time.
13:00 Get back from lunch, check status, all approved!!

PANIC OVER! Well kind of. I'm now paranoid i've made another mistake somewhere, or that BA won't process it in time for our flight, or US customs won't receive it in time for our arrival.

I'm sure it's all fine but the lesson from this story? Be wary of the passport image scanner on ESTA site. Recommend filling in all fields yourself!
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Old Dec 17, 18, 6:35 am
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Thanks for posting this, there have been a few discussions recently around the '72 minimum' specified on the US site, it's good to know that in an emergency, all may not be lost.

Enjoy the trip, I forgot to do my Australian ETA until I was actually at the airport, total panic but it was all fine after a 30 min wait for confirmation. A couple of big whiskeys and you'll be fine!
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Old Dec 17, 18, 6:40 am
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It would almost certainly have worked if the API was submitted without the middle name. If the passport information was otherwise correct then it should have passed the CBP check. It's more important to get the passport number and expiry date correct than the name, given all the various alphabets that there are in the world - transliteration is never perfect. However I can see the point in paying a modest sum to get peace of mind.
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Old Dec 17, 18, 6:40 am
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When ESTAs come up as needing approval, simply log out and back in. More often than not it changes to approved. No need to panic for most people.
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Old Dec 17, 18, 6:41 am
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Last year I had a similar problem, and ended up with no ESTA at T-24hrs - thankfully managed to get it sorted, but it was a timely lesson in how not to forget it in future!
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Old Dec 17, 18, 9:35 am
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I sympathise! For my November trip, I realised that I totally forgot to do my new ESTA since I had to get a new passport as the old was full. A lot of panic for a short period then thankfully all got approved on time. Mind you, queue at LAX immigration as I got the "cross" typical of new passports, was over 2 hours!
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Old Dec 17, 18, 9:52 am
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Originally Posted by madfish View Post
When ESTAs come up as needing approval, simply log out and back in. More often than not it changes to approved. No need to panic for most people.
This is my experience too. I forgot to apply for a new ESTA after renewing my passport which led to an uncomfortable few minutes on my blackberry at the check in counter while my wife glared at me.

I had the standard 72 hour warning message but it was only a couple of minutes before I could be checked in.
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Old Dec 17, 18, 10:00 am
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I remembered I didn’t have an esta on the way to the airport once. Pulled into South Mimms services, filled it in on my iPad and drove on. Didn’t bother checking again, and checked in with VS with no issues at all.
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Old Dec 17, 18, 10:03 am
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Before I lived here in the US but used to travel a fair bit back and forward, I've actually applied for the ESTA while waiting to check in at T5
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Old Dec 17, 18, 10:45 am
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A quick question (possibly a little off topic): I'm travelling from LHR to JFK in the New Year and have just renewed my passport and my ESTA. Will I be able to use the returning ESTA lane?
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Old Dec 17, 18, 10:58 am
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Originally Posted by SoiDog View Post
A quick question (possibly a little off topic): I'm travelling from LHR to JFK in the New Year and have just renewed my passport and my ESTA. Will I be able to use the returning ESTA lane?
I do know that when we arrived into JFK earlier this month the automated kiosks were not open, so at that time we all had to queue up. Strangely enough this time the agent never took our fingerprints.
The only exception was the GE lane. The cabin crew had distributed customs forms I filled out mine whilst standing in the queue !
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Old Dec 17, 18, 11:14 am
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Originally Posted by SoiDog View Post
A quick question (possibly a little off topic): I'm travelling from LHR to JFK in the New Year and have just renewed my passport and my ESTA. Will I be able to use the returning ESTA lane?
It's quite hard to find an official answer on this but it looks like as long as you currently have an ESTA and have visited the US on an ESTA some time before (since 2008) you can use the APC terminals. I had assumed that you needed to have visited on *this* ESTA but that seems not to have been the case. No mention has been made of passport renewal voiding this ability although it does void your ESTA.
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Old Dec 17, 18, 11:15 am
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Originally Posted by NB12 View Post
This is my experience too. I forgot to apply for a new ESTA after renewing my passport which led to an uncomfortable few minutes on my blackberry at the check in counter while my wife glared at me.

I had the standard 72 hour warning message but it was only a couple of minutes before I could be checked in.
It would seem that from 11 December a change in ESTA application processing means than instant approval is no longer being granted so US CBP suggesting the 72 hours is the norm here. Whilst it seems we have a couple of data points of renewals taking a few hours and not the 72 hours I wonder if will change and people finding out at OLCI they donít have an ESTA and it not being approved pre travel.

Cant post the link to this page but hopefully someone can. Maybe title needs to be changed to alert people or new thread started. I know Flyertalkers are normally organised but...

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Old Dec 17, 18, 11:54 am
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Originally Posted by DeathSlam View Post
It's quite hard to find an official answer on this but it looks like as long as you currently have an ESTA and have visited the US on an ESTA some time before (since 2008) you can use the APC terminals. I had assumed that you needed to have visited on *this* ESTA but that seems not to have been the case. No mention has been made of passport renewal voiding this ability although it does void your ESTA.
Well this is one of these incredibly helpful nuggets one picks up from time to time.

I have existing passport, a new ESTA but have been to the US several times on the previous ESTA and had struggled to find anything definitive on this. I shall report back later in the week.
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Old Dec 17, 18, 12:43 pm
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I renewed my ESTA in May last year, using the same passport as my previous one, then visited the USA (entry point was PHL) in June and was able to successfully use the APC terminal.
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