These Airports Have the Longest — and Shortest — Wait Times at Customs During the Holidays, Study Shows

"While some airports provide swift passages, others are akin to time traps," the study from Upgraded Points explained.

<p>Robert Alexander/Getty Images</p>

Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Holiday travelers flying into Seattle’s international airport waited the longest for customs and immigration, making it one of the slowest international airport experiences in the United States.

International travelers who flew into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport waited an average of 31.6 minutes, according to a recent study from Upgraded Points, the most of any airport in the U.S. That was followed by Miami International Airport, which clocked an average wait time of 30.6 minutes, and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, which had an average wait time of 29.2 minutes.

Overall, the national average wait time during the last winter holiday season came in at just under 23 minutes.

"Our latest report details the discrepancies between anticipated and actual wait times at customs," Alex Miller, the founder of Upgraded Points, said in a statement. "While some airports provide swift passages, others are akin to time traps. 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."

<p>Courtesy of Upgraded Points LLC</p>

Courtesy of Upgraded Points LLC

Not every airport had long wait times. In fact, Orange County’s John Wayne Airport only saw an average wait time of 4.6 minutes for customs and immigration. Busy Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport also boasted an average wait time of only 5.9 minutes, while travelers flying into Palm Beach International Airport only waited an average of 6.6 minutes.

Factors like time of day and whether travelers were U.S. citizens or foreign nationals also affected wait times, according to the study. Travelers who arrived between 5 a.m. and 3 p.m. waited about 20 percent longer compared to other times of the day. And non-U.S. citizens waited approximately 66 percent longer than their U.S. citizen counterparts.

To complete the study, the company analyzed peak 2022 winter holiday season airport wait data from the Custom and Border Protection (CBP).

The study comes as more than 55 million Americans are expected to travel for Thanksgiving this year with 4.7 million of them expected to fly. Major airlines in the U.S. are also forecasting record numbers of travelers, and United Airlines, for example, expects to have its busiest Thanksgiving ever.

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