international flight questions?
i'm wondering roughly how long it usually takes to get through customs. I"m coming home from living in china for a while and i need to book a ticket from china to chicago, then chicago to st. louis, so i was wondering how long in between my chicago to st. louis, MO flight should i wait. i'm doing this myself. So any tips would be greatful. thank you.
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Customs is quick usually; it's immigration that is the problem. Allow 3 hours minimum.
It's a good idea to give yourself a few hours between those flights in case your Chinese flight is delayed. Mine frequently is, but I fly direct to JFK so I don't need to worry about being delayed. Immigration usually takes about a half hour at JFK and customs is a breeze unless you act suspicious in some way. Customs is more likely to worry about the non-Americans bringing in contraband produce or meats than to worry about you. That isn't to say Chicago cutoms won't check you, but after four flights to JFK from Beijing I have yet to be checked.
I went through customs at O'Hare, and it was a nightmare; I missed my connection and had to get a motel room. Allow at least 4 hours, or you may be walking to St. Louis!