Airports: we love them and, at times, we hate them. Between long queues at TSA, chaotic and disorganized customs and immigration lines, and unfriendly staff, we understand why it can be frustrating to go to the airport.
While airports allow us to do the one thing we love, which is travel to new destinations, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with some baggage... That’s why we are here to help make things a little bit easier for you.
What We Did
Our travel company, FloridaPanhandle.com, has compiled a list of the best and worst customs and immigration in the entire world, along with an additional list of the shortest and busiest customs in the U.S.
We are here to make your international travel as smooth as possible. Here are the ins and outs of what to know when you are planning on going somewhere internationally…
- The Singapore Changi Airport ranked at the top for the best customs in the world! 81% of their Google reviews mentioned customs in a positive light.
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is ranked the worst customs in the entire world, with 89% of negative “customs” Google reviews.
- The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has the worst official average wait time during the busiest holiday season – Christmas!
- If excluding U.S. international airports, Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport is the worst airport when it comes to customs overall. 84% deemed the customs experience as overall stressful and poor.
Toronto Pearson International Airport Is NOT the Worst Customs in the World
While the Toronto Pearson International Airport does not have the worst customs according to the data, it notably got the most amount of negative customs reviews. There were over 600 reviews talking about how stressful this customs procedure is. One Google reviewer even stated, “Long queues snake around the room with no clear demarcation between lines, leading to confusion and a general sense of chaos.” The only reason why Toronto Pearson International Airport isn’t the worst customs is because it also got a fair amount (200+) of positive customs reviews. About 28% of the customs reviews were positive.
When it comes to Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Bangladesh, however, a whopping 84% had something negative to say about customs. Negative reviews not only talk about the lengthy line at customs but also the staff itself at the customs queue, claiming they are “corrupt.” When comparing it side by side with U.S. data, however, it’s still not the worst in the entire world… that is reserved for a Florida airport.
Other international airports that have a high percentage of negative customs experiences are airports like the Charles de Gaulle Airport in France and the Lisbon Airport in Portugal. It’s less than surprising that Lisbon would end up on this list considering the ongoing strikes that happen at this airport.
How about the best customs according to Google reviews? You can expect the Singapore Changi Airport to be at the top of that list. An overwhelming 81% of its customs reviews were raving with positivity. One reviewer states, “I love this airport so much. So fast so automatic. Come through the customs even when it is peak time, just 30 minutes on arrival and departure as well.”
Other international airports with positive customs reviews are airports like the Athens International Airport in Greece, the Vienna International Airport in Austria, and the Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates. All had over 70% of their customs reviews talking about how efficient their customs procedures are.
You’ll Be Waiting A Long Time at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
One of the most talked-about topics when discussing customs at an airport is the long lines that travelers often experience. Because of this, we gathered the real-time data from the Customs and Border Protection. That being said, not everyone who experiences a seamless experience or terrible experience leaves a review. It’s important to note that some of these official wait times are significantly less or more than some reviews state which is why we are looking at them separately.
It’s often said that the Christmas season is the busiest travel holiday of the entire year. Because of this, we took a look at customs wait time data for the entire month of December. We used the average U.S. citizen and non U.S. citizen wait times, as well as the maximum U.S. citizen and non U.S. citizen wait times in order to rank each airport accordingly.
It turns out that the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport consistently had the worst average wait time for average U.S. citizens. They also had one of the highest average wait times for non-U.S. citizens. The highest for non-U.S. citizens would be the Miami International Airport, but they had drastically less for U.S. citizens.
Other lengthier queues according to CBP are the John F. Kennedy International Airport, the San Francisco International Airport, and the Los Angeles International Airport. It’s interesting to note that, while the Los Angeles International Airport is on the list of the busiest airport customs & immigration wait times according to CBP, it’s one of the better reviewed airports when it comes to customs.
No Waiting Around at This Las Vegas Airport: Harry Reid International Airport Steals the Show
To avoid any serious “queue rage”, you’ll want to travel through an international airport where there is a shorter wait time on average. According to Customs and Border Protection , Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas only has an average wait of 8.5 minutes for U.S. citizens and 15 minutes for non-U.S. citizens.
Other notably quick customs according to CBP are the Denver International Airport, the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood international Airport, the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and the Newark Liberty International Airport.
The overall average of the best wait times hover around 12 minutes for a U.S. citizen and 17 minutes for a non U.S. citizen. How accurate that is, however, really should go hand in hand with how we look at the Google reviews. Especially considering that the CBP has some of the worst mentioned customs like FLL and CLT as some of the shortest waits.
According to Traveler Reviews, FLL Has the Worst Customs in the States, While DFW Has the Best
Now, when it comes to Google reviews, some reviewers have a different experience than what the CBP states. For example, the Fort Lauderdale International Airport doesn’t have a terribly long average wait time for U.S. and non-U.S. citizens according to CBP, but reviewers beg to differ. 89% of the customs reviews rate the customs experience as extremely poor. This makes FLL the worst customs in the world. One reviewer stated, “Took 3 hours to get through customs, making me miss my connecting flight home.”
Waiting wasn’t the only thing that reviewers disliked about the customs procedure in FLL, however. Many reviews also hint at the customs staff to be “uncaring” or “rude.” Other international airports in the U.S. like the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina and the Miami International Airport in Florida also have gotten a bad rap on Google. For CLT, 78% of their Google reviews painted their customs in a negative light. For MIA, there were over 250 negative “customs” reviews…
The Dallas/Fort Worth Airport is the only airport to consistently have gotten good reviews on Google and good results via the Customs and Border Protection. 46% of their reviews about customs are highly positive. Reviewers state that the DFW airport is the “Second biggest airport in the country with multiple terminals that made security/customs fairly quick.” While 46% is still less than 50%, this is still the best-rated customs U.S. airport.
Think Twice Before You Choose Which International Airport to Fly Into
If you travel internationally, there are a good few options around the globe where you won’t feel overwhelmingly stressed about passing customs, but be aware that many U.S. international airports still have a lot of work to do when it comes to international travel.
Hopefully, we have helped you decide the best ones to fly through, and what to expect next time you fly into and out of each of these airports.
For the U.S. and the globe, FloridaPanhandle.com gathered a list of each international airport in each state and each country. We then narrowed them all down to the top major international airports with over 26,000 Google reviews. We only kept one per each country for the international data.
For the best and worst customs wait times, we sifted through each airport’s Google reviews with mentions of “customs” and analyzed the stress level vs positive reviews in each review. From Customs and Border Protection, we were able to find the shortest and busiest wait times by taking a look at the averages from the busiest travel holiday of the year, the Christmas holiday.