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US Immigration - ATL or JFK better? Connecting flight

Hi, I came across this forum when doing some research on ATL immigration wait times.

I’m flying from Costa Rica and currently booked to connect in ATL, with a 1.5hr connection time. I never went through immigration in ATL and don’t have a sense for wait times - my entry point is usually JFK (Or Dublin where I clear US CBP in Ireland, and save myself the headache in US).

Anyone who’s recently experienced ATL immigration and wait times here to share their experience? I am trying to decide whether I should change my flight to connect via JFK vs. ATL.

I’m not a US citizen so GE is not an option.


Posted by
3655 posts

You can check times yourself here

FYI: "Global Entry is also available to citizens of the Netherlands who are enrolled in FLUX and Korean Smart Entry Service members. Citizens of Germany, Panama, and Mexico may also apply for Global Entry. Canadian NEXUS members have Global Entry benefits, but are not eligible to join." US lawful residents are also able to join.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you so much, Tom and Aimee! Super helpful and added voice of reason that I needed :)

Posted by
847 posts

Since GE is not an option, then I guess the actual wait time will depend on how many other international flights land at your terminal simultaneously. So, I concur that you should choose your flights based on convenience and other aspects such as mileage accrual.

Posted by
6622 posts

I'll try to avoid both. But of the two, I would pick ATL for a different reason - based on connections to my home airport. It's easier for me to get another flight home from ATL than JFK. Despite having one bad experience at ATL (2 hour wait for our luggage to get off the plane). You're always at the mercy of how many planes arrive at the same time, regardless of where you are.

Posted by
189 posts

I fly both JFK and ATL regularly. The JFK reentry experience for me has been far superior than ATL. My last international transit through ATL was in 2018. Perhaps things have changed. I typically land at JFK after an international flight and can arrive at Penn Station (now Moynihan Station) in less than about 45 minutes. For domestic flights with domestic connections I prefer ATL. While I love ATL airport, I avoid international reentry.

Posted by
2004 posts

Atlanta is a disaster for US citizens but from what I can tell they actually process visitors more effectively

Posted by
2004 posts

So I flew in from Paris tonight. The line for all passports except US passports was nonexistent - seriously there’s no one in line

I don’t have any idea how long it would’ve taken me in the line for passport US passports. Thank goodness I had global entry because I would say it was probably an hour.

I think Atlanta is better if you’re not a US citizen, they don’t really want to let us come home here apparently