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December 27, 2013

No. 5 Long custom lines, parking problems at DFW Airport

HaskinThree hour waits to get through customs and an hour to leave the airport through its new exit plazas.

These were just some of the long lines that North Texas travelers encountered at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport this year.

Over the summer, custom lines at the airport grew as federal budget cuts created staffing problems for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Travelers, who had already spent hours on an airplane getting to DFW, then found themselves waiting in lines that stretched down several corridors as they waited to talk to customs agents.

The average wait time this summer was 69 minutes to get through customs at DFW.

But the lines got better in the past couple of months as the airport spent $188,000 to install 30 automated kiosks to help U.S. citizens move through the customs process faster. DFW was also one of six border entry points that received approval in August to pay for additional staffing and overtime for border agents.

Average wait times in December range from about 20 to 30 minutes although there are occasionally longer wait times, according to the CBP website.

Customs lines weren’t the only headache travelers dealt with at DFW Airport this year.

In September, the airport installed a new automated parking system but its launch did not go smoothly.

Parking demolotionThe new system sometimes did not properly read toll tags on cars entering or exiting the airport. Some drivers were overcharged for parking at the airport while others weren’t charged at all. On one Monday morning, drivers were waiting almost an hour to exit the airport because the parking system was not functioning.

It took several weeks and software upgrades before the airport finally fixed the problems with the new parking systems.

By the busy holiday travel season, the airport said drivers were able to enter and exit with toll tags and customer service calls had decreased.

Photos courtesy of Becky Haskin and DFW Airport.

-Andrea Ahles

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