The U.S. Airports with the Longest Customs Wait Times

A new study just surfaced crucial information for international holiday travel.

A new Upgraded Points study has gathered some crucial planning data for international holiday travel. The holiday travel rush typically slows things down no matter what—and at customs, which is already one of the slowest parts of the airport, it might not actually be worse during the holidays. In fact, places where customs are slowest during the holidays tend to be slow all year round.

"While some airports provide swift passages, others are akin to time traps," said Alex Miller, founder of Upgraded Points, in a statement shared with Thrillist. "And since being stuck in a customs jam can sour even the sweetest vacation, we're hoping this latest study will help empower travelers with the knowledge they need to avoid the snags."

Upgraded Points used information from the US Customs and Border Protection’s Airport Wait Times data from winter 2022, pulling averages and maximums and breaking down the data. The fastest airports for customs wait times include John Wayne Airport with an average of 4.6 minutes and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, with an average of 5.9 minutes.

On the other side of the wait times, the five airports with the longest custom wait times, according to the study, are:
1. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, 31.6 minutes
2. Miami International Airport, 30.6 minutes
3. Auston-Bergstrom International Airport, 29.2 minutes
4. Orlando International Airport, 27.8 minutes
5. John F. Kennedy International Airport, 27.4 minutes

You can check out the wait times in the chart below.

Some other important data that the Upgraded Points study revealed included another helpful tip to avoid the longest customs wait times. Between 5 am and 3 pm there are usually 20% longer wait times compared to other times of the day—so, if you can, try to time your arrival back into the US outside of the window.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She holds a bachelor's and master's degree in Journalism from NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She's worked in digital media for seven years, and before working at Thrillist, she wrote for Mic, The Cut, The Fader, Vice, and other publications. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.