For several years, the U.S. Customs & Border Patrol agency has faced serious staffing issues. As far back as 2018, CBP officers were being transferred from the nation’s airports to the southern border, meaning fewer personnel were available to complete customs checks. The backup caused by this staffing shortage has affected passengers across all aviation sectors, but recently, Magellan’s Flight Operations department has noted that private fliers are feeling increased strain.
Why is that the case? Passengers who fly private enjoy access to thousands more airports than are available to commercial airlines—but at many of these smaller airports frequented by private jets, the agents who provide your customs services are taken from larger airports that are already facing tremendous staffing issues. Increasingly, CBP has been unable to divert staff from major international airports to smaller FBOs, meaning private jet passengers have had to re-route or been kept waiting.
With the right private aviation partner handling your trip, your international flight will still come together seamlessly. Here’s everything you need to know about how your experience may be a little different the next time you fly internationally.
customs issues and private jets: what you need to know
Your Airport of entry
In light of these recent staffing difficulties, it’s important to understand that just because an airport is listed as a port of entry, that doesn’t guarantee CBP will have the proper staffing to perform your customs checks upon arrival. Though you may be used to flying into a smaller FBO from abroad, you may be required to utilize a different airport than you have in the past.
As always, working with the right provider is key to mitigating any disruptions. When you fly with Magellan Jets, your Flight Support team will speak with local Customs & Border Patrol offices to request proper staffing for your customs check—and in the event that staffing can’t be guaranteed, they’ll work with you to find an alternative arrival airport. Either way, you’ll be provided with constant updates so there are no surprises.
“Our Flight Support and Guest Experience Teams will consult with you if it has been determined that your preferred airport will not be accepting international arrivals,” said Ryan Foss, Magellan Jets Vice President of Flight Operations & Service. “They will make recommendations based on the best solution for you and your guests.”
For example, your Flight Support specialists may recommend you utilize a larger airport near your destination for arrival in the U.S.—or, they may suggest a stop at a different port of entry to complete your passport check before continuing on to your final destination.
If you fly to and from international destinations on a regular basis, you are likely used to having customs come to you when you land. It’s one of the great benefits of flying private: with agents able to walk right on board the aircraft to check your passports and documents, this convenient process allows you to complete your customs check without leaving your jet—and skip waiting in line. However, due to staffing shortages, you should not count on the on-board customs check being available.
“Passengers arriving via private aircraft to Customs checkpoints should be prepared to either disembark the aircraft to complete the passport and documentation checks or to be instructed to remain on board the aircraft to complete this process,” said Foss. “The decision on these scenarios is at the discretion of the Customs & Border Patrol officer and his or her capacity at the time of arrival.”
While it may be less convenient, this change will expedite your customs process. If customs agents don’t have time to board your jet and perform a document check when you land, you’ll save time by going to the customs office rather than waiting for an officer to board.
Schedule an international flight today
If you have any upcoming international travel, Magellan Jets is ready to help. Our Flight Support and Guest Experience teams will act as your own personal flight department, navigating all the nuances of international private jet travel on your behalf and making recommendations for a worry-free trip. Explore our full suite of private aviation solutions, from Jet Card Ownership to Private Jet Membership and On-Demand Charter services—or, call 877-550-5387 to speak to a Private Aviation Consultant today.