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Exiting EU at BRU: horrible delays

Exiting EU at BRU: horrible delays

Old Jul 31, 19, 10:18 am
  #1  
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Exiting EU at BRU: horrible delays

I did not see any mention of this in other threads on BRU, but I learned this week that no one without an EU passport should fly out of the EU at BRU if they can avoid it. I probably could have taken a train from BRU to AMS and been at my gate faster than I was at BRU. Beyond the horribly slow one-lane traffic towards the terminal and the slow security lines, there is a 1 to 1.5+ hour line passport control line to enter the gates for ex-EU flights. Just about everyone close to me in the line was only about halfway through by the time it was 'boarding time.' The staff could not care less, and no exceptions were made for anyone. At least a third of the people in line literally ran through the duty free store to their gates after clearing the passport check. Of the 10 windows set up for passport control, one was empty, five were for non-EU, and four were for EU passports (where there was no line at all). Fortunately, the airline was well aware of how incompetent the Belgian authorities are, so they kept the gate open for at least 20 minutes after the scheduled departure time.

Evidently, this has been an ongoing problem for several years, and the authorities clearly could not care less. The most absurd thing is that the airport is surely losing millions in revenue from all of the lost sales of duty free, food, and beverages in the terminal from all of these people sprinting to their gate. I know I had a pocket full of Euro's to burn, but no time to even window shop.

If you are unfortunate enough to be departing BRU for a flight out of the EU (and are not an EU passport holder), definitely show up at least three hours early (or better yet, just book a flight from AMS or CDG).
''
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Old Jul 31, 19, 10:47 am
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BRU has been the worst Schengen-area transit airport for my trips between the US/Canada and Europe (in either direction) for some years now. I have been avoiding BRU like the plague for my connections into and out of the Schengen area, but unfortunately I still sometimes am using it for trips crossing into and out of the Schengen area. The passport control lines and the security screening lines at BRU are too often just ridiculously bad -- far worse at BRU in my experiences than what I experience at AMS, ARN, CDG, CPH, DUS, FCO, HEL, MAD, MXP, MUC, OSL, VIE, WAW, or ZRH. And that is despite BRU being one of my least used airports as a transit gateway for entering and exiting Schengen.
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Old Jul 31, 19, 12:41 pm
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
BRU has been the worst Schengen-area transit airport for my trips between the US/Canada and Europe (in either direction) for some years now.
I think it's been about 5 years since I went through BRU, and at the time it was a breeze. I've heard a number of people say that it's been very bad ever since the terrorist incident 3 years ago, which (whether you agree with the resulting security or not) logically seems like it could be the cause. I'm curious if that's been your experience or if you've had prior issues.

Bottom line is to just avoid BRU when possible these days. But I still wonder if ramped-up security is the cause or simply under-staffing for the volumes -- or both.
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Old Jul 31, 19, 12:57 pm
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Passport checks at BRU have been a [bad] joke for quite some time now. The time and place to avoid at all cost are respectively morning between 7–9 and A—B: absolute chaos and, if you try even to merely approach members of staff seeking help, they just wouldn’t give a toss. I believe this has something to do with the border police being significantly under-staffed. It reminds me of CDG & FCO in the ‘dark days’.

G
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Old Jul 31, 19, 5:32 pm
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Originally Posted by JBord View Post
I think it's been about 5 years since I went through BRU, and at the time it was a breeze. I've heard a number of people say that it's been very bad ever since the terrorist incident 3 years ago, which (whether you agree with the resulting security or not) logically seems like it could be the cause. I'm curious if that's been your experience or if you've had prior issues.

Bottom line is to just avoid BRU when possible these days. But I still wonder if ramped-up security is the cause or simply under-staffing for the volumes -- or both.
The security screening mess — at least for transiting — at BRU has been the case for years, starting years before the land-side baggage cart terrorist incident to which you are referring. That mess is no worse this year or last year than I have seen it be at times 5 years ago too.

The passport control mess at BRU is a mess of its own too.

Last edited by GUWonder; Jul 31, 19 at 5:40 pm
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Old Aug 1, 19, 7:24 am
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I just flew out and back last week. Security was fine. Passport control was not. If I weren't allowed to use the EU line, I would have re-routed all my travel through Amsterdam a long time ago.

Typical for BRU in the summer, the wait for security screening (originating flights, not transfers) was less than ten minutes. The non-EU outbound immigration line was 100m past the end of the corral area and easily 90 minutes long; the manual EU line (for kids or others who can use the EU line but not the gates) was 5 minutes tops.

Coming back was the same story--no line at the e-gates, ~5 mins for the EU line, well over an hour for non-EU.

I'm potentially willing to give the benefit of the doubt at the inbound immigration, but the CF of outbound is simply inexcusable. There is no way it should take more than 10 seconds to determine that a passenger is not the subject of an active warrant and hasn't overstayed in the Schengen area. Check, chop, down the road. There's also no excuse for having officers standing around doing nothing because the EU line is empty... but the people using the non-EU line can't vote here either, so no one cares.

And don't get me started on the joke that is the T-gates where they turn the end of the Schengen terminal into a non-Schengen holding pen for some flights to Africa and have one or two officers processing everyone. The last time I played that game, the only reason I didn't miss the flight is because SN held the flight half an hour for the immigration mess to clear up. (Protip: there is a shuttle from B to T that's intended for passengers transiting, e.g. LHR-BRU-DLA, but nothing stops you from going to B yourself to skip the mess)

On the security screening front, I can't speak for transfer security, but I can't recall ever having to wait more than ten minutes as an originating passenger. The contractor that handles screening seems to have enough employees to open a reasonable number of screening lanes. If only the police could take a hint.

None of the above has anything to do with the 2016 bombing... but the total joke that is the traffic pattern around the airport is entirely due to that. BRU has upper and lower level access loops for departures and arrivals like most airports, but the upper level is completely closed and the lower level is open only to taxis. All dropoffs have to be made in a special drop-off area, accessible by a single lane over a bridge in a part of the airport property not designed to handle even half the traffic, and private car pickups have to be made in the parking garage.
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Old Aug 1, 19, 7:44 am
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BRU isnít as bad an airport when not using it as a transit airport.

When Iím originating at BRU, security screening is within the range of normal for what I experience at airports elsewhere in the Schengen area.

Itís transit security screening where the mess can be rather extreme at times and is worse than I experience at the other Schengen airports.
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Old Aug 10, 19, 7:54 am
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Didn't know about these delays until now ... was initially thinking of flying in/out of BRU, but as luck would have it, connecting via MUC worked better for my schedule.

Phew!
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Old Aug 11, 19, 7:54 am
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If all goes fine, BRU is an easy airport. Problem is that for the 1 time all goes fine, there are 4 times when it doesn't.

Security has really improved since they built the new security screening area a couple of years ago so I really can't complain about that. It was worse in the old setup when there was a different security screening for Schengen and non-Schengen.

I can't comment on connecting as I'm from Belgium and thus always ending trips at BRU. At least I have the advantage of being able to use the e-gates, but they do have to work (properly) first. On several trips I took in the last years the e-gates didn't work on departure or arrival and only 2 officers were manning the gates, even during the morning rush. I always wondered what would happen if one of those 2 would have someone in front of him/her that doesn't have the proper paperwork to fly. Luckily it didn't happen when I was waiting in line. But I suppose during the summer months there are likely more people with missing paperwork, causing extra delays.

Even if passport control goes smooth, specially on arrival, there is always a big chance of running into bagage claim delays. Coming back from Budapest this year, it took more than an hour before bagage was delivered.

And there is also always the chance of strikes as Belgians seem to want to become world champions in holding strikes. In the last couple of months there have been (threat of) actions by bagage claim, ATC, border control

But if ATC is doing their job, passport control is fine and baggage claim is quick, you can be out of the plane and out the airport within 30 minutes. It happened to me this year: landing at 18:35 and at 19:10 I was already driving on the highway.
The same for departure: you can check in your bags and be at the gate (or in the lounge) in 15min if al goes fine.
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Old Sep 25, 19, 3:49 pm
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I flew to BRU last April and got in an hour early! I was so excited to have that extra hour until I walked off the plane and found this line:



It took over an hour to get through. Too few agents, horrible queue management. Absolutely awful, made me wish I'd flown RDU-JFK-XXX-BRU instead of RDU-JFK-BRU
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Old Sep 26, 19, 8:08 am
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Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
I flew to BRU last April and got in an hour early! I was so excited to have that extra hour until I walked off the plane and found this line:



It took over an hour to get through. Too few agents, horrible queue management. Absolutely awful, made me wish I'd flown RDU-JFK-XXX-BRU instead of RDU-JFK-BRU
Schengen entry passport control can be quite bad at BRU, even for those not transiting BRU. I don't get hit as hard by Schengen entry passport control at BRU as by Schengen exit passport control at BRU, but that is also a matter of different travel patterns.

Isn't there an RDU-CDG-BRU option? Going for a double connection via JFK to get to BRU sounds almost worse than doing RDU-LHR-BRU. Either way, I would see this as a case of pick your poison.
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