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IAH Customs a disaster on Monday 7/6

IAH Customs a disaster on Monday 7/6

Old Jul 10, 15, 10:35 am
  #1  
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IAH Customs a disaster on Monday 7/6

I arrived at IAH from CUN on Monday afternoon around 1700. I am GE so zipped right down to baggage claim. I was stunned by huge queue winding in and out and along the back walls of the baggage claim area. People were in line for half an hour or more BEFORE EVEN GETTING TO A SIX LANE ZIGZAG ROPE QUEUE!
There were five Customs Officers on duty at the exits. While waiting for my bag I chatted with some people in the exit line. They were not even to the roped lanes and they had been in line for around 30 minutes.

A couple who were on my flight from CUN had 30 minutes to make a scheduled connection for a flight to Canada. That obviously wasn't going to happen even though the husband cut into line because people had their noses in their iPhones instead of closing the gap in the queue. There was no apparent assistance for those who had connecting flights.

Another couple on my parking shuttle said that it took them an hour and 15 minutes down in Customs queue, once they got their bags, and not counting the lines upstairs waiting for a passport kiosk.

Just out of curiosity, I asked an agent if their was a Global Entry exit.
THERE WAS!! Right next to my baggage carousel. Once I got my bag, I was out of there in about one minute.

I have never seen anything like that circus trying to clear customs in IAH.
I've seen huge lines upstairs for Immigration but Customs has always been a breeze. Since IAH is almost 100% passport kiosks for Immigration now, why don't they put some of those Agents down in Customs? And maybe they need a Green Door/Nothing to Declare exit like many other countries have.

I realize that at that time of day, there are lots of international heavies coming in about the same time. Still... there has to be a better way.

Fair warning if you're arriving IAH these days off an international flight.

PS. The Global Entry exit was the far left line as you're looking at the Customs Exit desks.
Kensterfly is offline  
Old Jul 10, 15, 4:35 pm
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This happened to me in DFW in May. Zipped through GE, got my bag and it was chaos!

Glad you had an open GE line through customs. A few other travelers and I showed our GE slips to a person trying to organize the chaos and they lead us to the front of the line - The GE line was closed
Madone59 is offline  
Old Jul 11, 15, 9:03 am
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Originally Posted by Kensterfly View Post
Fair warning if you're arriving IAH these days off an international flight.

PS. The Global Entry exit was the far left line as you're looking at the Customs Exit desks.
Isn't the Global Entry exit the far right lane as you exit customs? It has been on the far right as long as I remember, and was again yesterday.

While not as bad as you are describing, I was shocked how full the non-US queue was yesterday (7/10) at around 7:30pm. Nothing down the halls but that giant queue was full up and looked quite painful. US side was fine, but quite a queue at customs exit. Of course, the one stop exit was closed (why, when it is that busy I don't know), but with GE I was similarly out in a couple minutes max.
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Old Jul 11, 15, 10:42 am
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I was there not too long ago and there was a huge line to get out. I went to the GE exit and sailed out.
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Old Jul 11, 15, 11:18 am
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Head in the Clouds. When I asked an agent standing by my carousel she pointed to the far left lane. The sign said "Flight Crews" and not GE but I followed her direction and quickly exited. There may be a GE exit on the far right, also. OR, due to the crowds, maybe it was being used for the general travelers and they were more efficiently utilizing the Crew Exit by combining it with GE. I was just happy that there WAS one!
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Old Jul 19, 15, 6:17 pm
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It was a clusterfu** on 7/17 too. About 1 hour wait for immigration and 1 hour wait for customs.

If you are travelling light without luggage, consider using ONESTOP. Once you clear immigration, ignore the sign that says "Wrong way" and turn LEFT. There is a easy, short way to clear customs on the top level of the building, rather than downstairs where the luggage belts are.
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Old Jul 19, 15, 7:31 pm
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Originally Posted by BigFatConductor View Post
It was a clusterfu** on 7/17 too. About 1 hour wait for immigration and 1 hour wait for customs.

If you are travelling light without luggage, consider using ONESTOP. Once you clear immigration, ignore the sign that says "Wrong way" and turn LEFT. There is a easy, short way to clear customs on the top level of the building, rather than downstairs where the luggage belts are.
Good to know, Conductor. I'll remember that next time we come back from Europe.
What are the rules for using
Onestop? I have GE but my wife does not. I could take our carryons thru GE, get our bag at baggage claim and exit thru the GE exit while she goes thru Onestep.

addendum: Further research indicates that Onestop is no available to US Citizens since the installation of CBP kiosks, only for foreign visitors.

Last edited by Kensterfly; Jul 19, 15 at 8:36 pm
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Old Jul 19, 15, 9:34 pm
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Originally Posted by Kensterfly View Post
Good to know, Conductor. I'll remember that next time we come back from Europe.
What are the rules for using
Onestop? I have GE but my wife does not. I could take our carryons thru GE, get our bag at baggage claim and exit thru the GE exit while she goes thru Onestep.

addendum: Further research indicates that Onestop is no available to US Citizens since the installation of CBP kiosks, only for foreign visitors.
Based on what two CBP agents told me is that you access it AFTER you clear the machine and the agent and then turn left. I was unable to use it on Friday because the escalator was broken.. Yes, really
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Old Jul 19, 15, 9:38 pm
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Originally Posted by BigFatConductor View Post
Based on what two CBP agents told me is that you access it AFTER you clear the machine and the agent and then turn left. I was unable to use it on Friday because the escalator was broken.. Yes, really
Good to know. Maybe others will chime in with recent experiences with this.
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Old Jul 27, 15, 1:51 pm
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The Global Entry customs exit at IAH is on the far right, up against the wall. It can be hard to see because you have to cut across the general customs line to get to the Global Entry customs line. When I went through a few weeks ago, a very angry man waiting in the general customs line yelled at me for cutting in line. I explained to him that I was not cutting in his line, but instead getting into the Global Entry customs line, and he didn't like that one bit. He sounded like he was from New York (no one from Texas would ever be rude, right?) The signage is not very clear...so if you are looking for the Global Entry customs exit, just go to the far wall and follow the wall to the exit. I went through in under 5 minutes.
(also I find it comical when the Global Entry kiosk takes a picture of my 9 year old son, who is not tall enough to show up in the picture, so it is just a picture of the background behind him...but they always let him through).

I do hope they are hiring more customs agents for the new International Terminal that will open at Hobby in October...instead of transferring them from IAH.
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Old Jul 27, 15, 2:02 pm
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What happened to the dozens of Customs agents who used to man the desks in the international arrivals hall at IAH? Many fewer are needed now with virtually everyone going through the kiosks. They should double the number of agents at the customs exit desks. However, there's an architectural bottleneck there with really no room to add more desks.

And I agree that they shouldn't transfer agents from IAH to HOU. International arrivals at HOU will be NEW business, NOT a transfer of arrivals from IAH to HOU.
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