International Air Travelers to Experience Long Delays at Customs
Mar 6, 2013

Passengers flying into the U.S. on international flights may have to wait in much longer lines due to the government sequester and budget cuts that went into effect March 1. The number of workers processing these flights has been cut back drastically by U.S. Customs & Border Protection, in some locations by as much as half. Overtime staffing has been reduced and a hiring freeze will begin soon. Processing time for passengers could take up to two hours, which is double the normal expected time.

This will greatly affect the Orlando International Airport, who sees 95 percent of its traffic as passengers who are either arriving or departing from the airport. Airports that serve as airline hubs may not be affected quite as much, because the majority of their traffic are passengers taking connecting flights, not needing security in those locations.

Airports were expecting the cutbacks and delays to start sometime in April, but the problems began showing up March 5.

A statement released by the U.S. Customs said, "Under sequestration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will not be able to maintain its required staffing levels at our ports of entry. CBP reduced overtime this weekend at ports of entry around the country and effects are already visible. Lanes that would have previously been open due to overtime staffing were closed, further exacerbating wait times at airports with typically longer international arrival processes. In the coming weeks, we will see additional impacts as the CBP hiring freeze and furloughs take place."