An international traveler’s guide to Orlando International Airport – the arrival
Worried about working your way round the labyrinth that is Orlando International Airport? Well, listen up as your international guide ushers you though the arrival process at the Airport Acropolis that is Orlando International.
Arriving from Outside the United States
You’ve managed it – everyone has checked in, no one has lost a bag, a child or a temper and you have all arrived in Sunny Florida. What do we need to do before we can hit Universal? Well first things first, you need to get into the United States. In my previous article I mentioned about the joys of the ESTA (The Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) now it is time to go face to face with a border officer and ensure that you can get on your way.
But first you need to have filled in a I95 form…
The I95 Form is the guide which you must hand to the Security Officer at the Border Checkpoint unless you’re a U.S .citizen, a returning resident alien, an alien with an immigrant visa, or a Canadian citizen who is visiting or in transit
If, like me, you have a US Visa, then you will receive it with your Visa petition. If you are given it on the plane, then please fill it in exactly as it states on the form. If you have any questions, ask your airlines cabin crew. (If you’ve filled it in incorrectly, it’ll mean you’ll have to go to the back of the line, and at Orlando International it’s a long line.) If you are travelling with children, it is ok to fill it on their behalf.
The form asks for a list of information including:
- Family Name
- First Name
- Date of Birth
- Country of Citizenship
- Sex (Male or Female)
- Passport Number
- Airline and Flight Number (if applicable)
- Country Where You Live , Your lawful permanent residence
- City Where You Boarded (if applicable)
- City Where Visa was Issued (if applicable)
- Date Issued (Day/Mo/Yr) (if applicable)
- Address While in the United States (Number and Street)
- City and State
If you have any questions, I’d advise you to look at the United States Customs and Border Protection website as it’s very informative:
Jamie’s sneaky tips for Orlando International Airport
1. Be ready to get off the plane: A 747 holds around 250 passengers. On average, a good 75 percent of them have to pass though border security with the above form correctly filled out. This means, if you’re hanging about repacking your entire life back into your hand luggage, then your queue is going to be a lot longer.
2. Check with your Airline — some airlines (Virgin as one example) have a special customs lane for upper class and flying card gold holders, which means that you bypass the queue.
3. If you are flying from Europe, see if you can route though Shannon in Ireland. The United States Government has established an external border checkpoint, the only one of its kind in the world. If you fly though Shannon, then you can clear US Customs and Border security at that point and save a lot of the fuss at Orlando.
I have an American Passport…
Then in your case you don’t need to fill out the I95 form and can step briskly off the plane and into the queue marked US Passports only. However, do you want to pass though even faster? Have you heard of the trusted traveller program?
Trusted Traveller Programs
There are several trusted traveller programs run by commercial partners on behalf of the Department for Homeland Security. Details can be found here:
These require a criminal records check and payment of an additional fee. If you travel regularly to the United States then it may be worth your while considering this.
Ok I’m in… What’s next?
The next step is to collect your baggage. Keep an ear out for your name being announced over the Tannoy (every time I’ve travelled to Orlando, my bag is always 24hours late). There are 2 terminals to which your baggage can be delivered. These are marked as A or B. It all depends which terminal you plane arrives in. There are plenty of LCD screens located all over the airport that display your flight number and your carousel number, but here is a little help.
Terminal A has 16 baggage carousels titled fittingly enough 1 -16. These are located on level 2, which may require a trip downstairs. There is one exception to this: Number 8A is located on level 1.
Terminal B has 12 baggage carousels located much like their terminal A counterparts on level 2. Also much like Terminal A, they again have one carousel which is located on level 1; it’s number is 22B.
Once you have collected your baggage, then you will be required to pass through Customs if you have flown in from outside the US. They may check you customs declaration and search your luggage. Comply with all of their requests and you should have no trouble.
It’s now it’s time to hit the parks!
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