Florida Guide > Travelling
Arriving at Orlando International Airport
If arriving from the UK you will probably be travelling with either BA or Virgin into Orlando International. Charter flights from the UK arrive at Sandford just to the NW of Orlando. During the flight visa waiver and customs forms will have been distributed for completion before arrival. It is imperative that these are filled out completely and correctly, if you make a mistake ask for another form and start again. The part people often miss is on the reverse side of the form. It is very easy to ignite a “sense of humour failure” with the immigration staff who are very formal. If your form is incorrect they often send you to the back of the queue which is really frustrating if you have spent 20 mins waiting in line. When completing the visa waiver form it is important that questions are completed honestly, any fraudulent entry can prejudice future entry into the US.
There are a at least 20 immigration gates and they are usually all manned, so unless you are unfortunate with 2 flights arriving at once the wait is not usually too long. Something to think about when selecting your seats at check in is the people with seats nearer the front of the plane are the first off and the first to arrive at immigration, this can significantly reduce the wait. Also when you arrive at immigration make sure you are in the right queue as there are a few lanes at the right hand end dedicated to US citizens and crew.
Wait in line until called forward, do not under any circumstances use your mobile phone or camera whilst waiting. In fact mobile phones or cameras must not be used until you have passed through customs and entered the main terminal, the authorities are very strict about this. Be polite and courteous US immigration officers are not known for their sense of humour. Have your passport open at the identification page and ensure that the correct visa waiver form is with the correct passport. Dumping a pile of passports and waiver forms in a heap on the counter will not endear you to the officer. Each person will be asked for a finger print and a photo, providing you have filled in the forms correctly the whole process takes just a few minutes.
Once through immigration you will enter the baggage hall, find the right carousel and wait for your bags, trolleys are available. When you have recovered your bags you will exit the baggage hall through customs.
The customs officer will ask you for your customs form, you only need one per family. The thing that concerns them most is the importation of food especially fruit. Make sure you leave all food on the aircraft. You will sometimes see customs officers patrolling arrivals with dogs that are trained to detect fruit. Customs officers will randomly select parties to have their hold baggage x-rayed, if chosen you simply put your bags on a belt and the bags go through an x-ray machine.
Things are a little different to normal once out of customs, you may be separated from your hold baggage again. If not, and you only have one bag you will be allowed to proceed with it, if you have more than one bag you will have to place it on a conveyor. You then proceed upstairs to catch the transit train to the main terminal.
When you arrive at the main terminal you will be on level three, if you need to collect your hold luggage look for baggage claim ‘B’ on level 2. Here you will find another set of carousels, find the right one and wait for your bags. While you are waiting for your bags to arrive one of your party can go downstairs to the car hire desks and complete the paper work, assuming you are hiring a car. This saves time; it usually takes at least an hour from arrival to leaving the airport with your hire car.
After a long flight especially with a young family this all seems a bit daunting. Relax you have done the difficult bit, now you can just enjoy your holiday.
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Page added on: 7 January 2008
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