Which Airports Have the Shortest Wait Times?

by  Darren Murph | Oct 10, 2014
TSA security checkpoint
TSA security checkpoint / PhonlamaiPhoto/iStock

Any traveler who has headed internationally can attest: not every airport has its act together. Nightmare tales of multi-hour waits to clear customs aren’t uncommon during periods of bad weather and heavy holiday travel, but some airports aren’t in any hurry to make things better for passengers. Conversely, there are a few airports that could stand to be a model for all else to follow — airports where efficiency is the norm rather than the exception. We wouldn’t advise booking your next holiday based solely on how quickly you’ll be in and out, but when you’ve but a few days to enjoy the sights and sounds, every minute counts! Here’s a look at the most expeditious large (over 15 million annual passengers) airports on the planet, where average wait times rarely ever exceed 60 minutes.

  1. Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  2. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
  3. Copenhagen Kastrup International Airport
  4. Athens International Airport
  5. Zurich Airport
  6. Seoul-Gimpo International Airport
  7. Incheon International Airport
  8. Guam International Airport
  9. Sydney Airport
  10. Auckland International Airport

The results here were compiled from the ATRS Global Airport Benchmarking Report, which “compares the operational and management efficiency, as well as cost competitiveness of 195 airports and 26 airport groups in North America, Europe, Asia and Oceania.” You’ll probably notice that New York’s JFK airport isn’t on the list -- while coming to the Big Apple is a dream for many, you may want to consider connecting through an alternative airport. Atlanta may not pop to mind as a great entry point into the U.S., but it has topped this particular list for a decade running, so it’s definitely doing something right. As we head into the holiday season in the coming months, these hubs might be good to keep in mind if you're still in the process of making plans.

Also, for U.S. citizens tired of waiting hours on end to get back into their homeland, be sure to give Global Entry a look. It's $100 for five years, and while sign-up process is quite arduous, you'll be able to bypass the customs line at every major U.S. and Canadian airport. I've been using Global Entry for over a year, and I'm always through immigration before my luggage even makes it to the carousel.

If you’ve had good luck passing through customs in record time at an airport not listed here, be sure to let us know in comments below!

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