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Going Through Customs for Leaving Grand Cayman?

Discussion in 'Cayman Islands' started by elinox, Aug 22, 2017.

  1. elinox

    elinox Registered

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Hershey, PA
    42
    18
    We're taking a trip to Grand Cayman this November and American Airlines has, once again, changed our flight times. Now we've got about 55 minutes in Charlotte (our connecting airport) before flying the last leg of the journey home. I don't feel that's enough time to get through customs, get our luggage, re-check said luggage, go through security again, etc.

    So I called yesterday to check, since going through customs once we reach U.S. soil again usually takes awhile. The woman told me that we will go through customs before ever leaving Grand Cayman. That there are customs offices in only a few other Caribbean islands, Grand Cayman being one of them.

    But I cannot confirm what I was told; I haven't been able to find any mention of this on the U.S. Homeland security website or anywhere else online.

    I called again today and spoke to a different woman. She told me that the 55 minutes was enough time to get through customs and never mentioned my group going through customs before leaving Grand Cayman.

    Can anyone here confirm that Americans go through U.S. customs BEFORE leaving Grand Cayman? Thanks!
     
  2. KathyV

    KathyV ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Midwestern US
    5,312
    3,503
    That's not correct! There is a US Customs office on Nassau in the Bahamas but not on Grand Cayman. The GC airport is in the middle of major expansion so maybe they are planning one for the future, but they are a British Island and they don't have a British Customs office at the airport either, so I'm not too optimistic.

    Having said all that, last year we went to GC and CB via AA and CAL in Oct/Nov and we kept getting change notifications from the airlines and it drove me crazy! I was really stressed because it looked like we might miss connections and in some cases we lost our seat reservations.

    So I kept calling and checking and getting the runaround and before long they would make another change! Eventually it all settled out and we had good flights, reserved seats, and no problems with connections.

    We are going back to GC and LC this Oct/Nov and I have already received a few change notifications but I am not going to get worked up about them this year until we get closer to the departure dates.

    The airline flight reservation system will not let them make a reservation for a connection that is too tight on the same ticket number, so if you do miss a connection - it will be their problem and they will have to take care of you - but they are unlikely to let that happen if it can be avoided.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2017
  3. elinox

    elinox Registered

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Hershey, PA
    42
    18
    That's pretty much what I thought, AA is full of it with there being a customs office in GC. I will likely keep calling until I get a better/more realistic answer!

    And this is not the first time AA has changed our flight reservations either; they seem to enjoy doing it a few months out on almost every trip we've booked with them in the last 2 years. Multiple times too! It's extremely frustrating and stressful. So soon, we won't be booking with them at all!

    My concern with this is that we're going with my parents, who are both nervous flyers and so require certain flight comforts such as sitting as close to us as possible. Not to mention being near an exit for my claustrophobic father. We picked seats intentionally, and paid for the upgrades too, so having AA change them on us, last minute, is not okay. My dad has enough stress flying when things go well, he doesn't need this crap too!
     
    KathyV likes this.
  4. Drew Sailbum

    Drew Sailbum Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: Grand Cayman
    2,188
    103
    Well, Cayman does have a Cayman Islands Customs office for inbound customs clearance. But that has no impact on making a connection in Charlotte for your return trip home.

    And, yes, we do want a US Customs and Immigration clearance setup at the airport in GCM, but so far that has not been confirmed as a part of the airport renovation.

    On my recent flight to the States on American I found it difficult to find a flight with sufficient connection time. Their system was showing flights with a one hour connection which is just not enough since you need to clear customs and immigration.
     
    KathyV likes this.
  5. elinox

    elinox Registered

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Hershey, PA
    42
    18
    When I called today and when I have called in the past, I was told that 55 minutes was enough time to clear customs. AA doesn't seem to think it will be an issue at all. When I call again, I plan to ask what they will do if we somehow don't make it in enough time.
     
    KathyV likes this.
  6. howswedeofme

    howswedeofme Contributor

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Michigan
    288
    160
    If you don't make it then you'll get bumped to the next flight they can put you on. Charlotte is pretty efficient with their customs area so you should be OK. I do not believe they use Mobile Pass yet, which is too bad because that really speeds up the process. 55 minutes is a pretty tight turnaround, but I'd have more hope for you being able to make it at Charlotte than through ATL. Do you have trip insurance? If not, it might be worth getting in case you don't make your connection and need to get a hotel room (we have used the Double Tree by the airport before - very nice hotel with reasonable rates). Did you call AA or the CLT airport? You might want to ask the airport what the cutoff time is for getting a bag checked for the next flight. We had what I thought would be a long enough layover at JFK but were bumped to the next flight before we landed because JFK requires bags be checked no later than 50 minutes before the next flight and we probably wouldn't have made that. I'm assuming CLT is the normal 30 minute cutoff since it isn't as large of an airport.
     
  7. elinox

    elinox Registered

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Hershey, PA
    42
    18
    We do have trip insurance, but I don't think it covers missed flights due to slow lines through customs. CLT is a nice airport, if laid out for marathon runs when time is crunched.

    I intend to ask when I call tomorrow about baggage and security checks, thanks. :wink:
     
  8. howswedeofme

    howswedeofme Contributor

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Michigan
    288
    160
    If your flight is bumped from the original time in your booking itinerary and you can't make it through customs, I'd be surprised if they didn't cover it. They should cover it even if you had your original flight but customs took a weirdly long amount of time and you didn't make it. It may be worth checking your policy language in advance. It should be covered under "missed connections" because it isn't something that is within your control (whereas not making it through security in time to get on your originating flight would not be covered because that was within your control to get to the airport earlier). We got into ATL late once and should have been able to make our flight (70 minute layover instead of the 2.5 hours we should have had) and travel insurance covered our dinner and breakfast. We didn't get a hotel because by the time it was figured out, we would have only been there for 3-4 hours so we opted for travel vouchers instead.
     
  9. Drew Sailbum

    Drew Sailbum Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: Grand Cayman
    2,188
    103
    My GCM to CLT flight (AA flt 822, depart GCM 2:53pm arrive CLT 7:00pm) on August 11 was on time , maybe even a couple minutes early, and yet we ran into a long line at immigration that backed up around the corner. Seems that flight, at least on a Friday, arrives at the tail end of a group of international flights. So I assume that arriving passengers from GCM stand a high likelihood of a long line at immigration. Plan ahead.
     
  10. KathyV

    KathyV ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Midwestern US
    5,312
    3,503
    This discussion makes me very happy that I booked a rather unusual flight itinerary for our fall Cayman trip. We are flying from Chicago to Grand Cayman on AA with a connection in CLT, and we will travel from GCM to Little Cayman and back on Cayman Airways.

    But our flight home will be on UA direct from GCM to ORD in 4 hours with no connection, so we won't have to go through US Customs and Immigration until we get to our home town of Chicago.

    We couldn't find a direct flight on any airline for our trip down to Cayman or I would have grabbed it!

    It might have been a little cheaper to fly AA back from Cayman with 1 stop but it was worth it IMO to pay a little more and have a short, direct flight home.

    And I was able to use air miles to pay for the flights for one of us! :yeahbaby:
     

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