If you're leaving Aruba and heading back to the United States, make sure to arrive at the airport really early - especially on a Weekend. Everyone will tell you that getting through Queen Beatrix International Airport is an experience.
Here's a walkthrough of our experience and some tips we learned along the way. On our trip, we traveled using JetBlue.
Getting Boarding Pass and Checking In
As soon as you walk into the airport, you need to check-in. JetBlue allows you to do it in advance, but you still need to check your luggage.
- This took about 20 mins. We could have saved some time by checking in before arriving but I don't think much time.
- Obviously, make sure everyone's Passports are available before getting to the counter.
- Be aware of what's not allowed in checked baggage. The attendant will ask you a couple of questions about it.
Aruba Emigration (Stop #1) - Checking Tickets/Passport
After check-in you move to the left of the building and wait outside in the Aruba Emigration line.
- There were two lines and they both appeared to move at the same pace.
- This will be the last time you'll be outside of the airport.
- There are restrooms available if needed.
- You'll get to a counter and the person will verify your boarding pass with your ticket.
- Some people were dumping juice boxes at this point. They could have kept it.
Aruba Emigration (Stop #2) - Checking Passport
After the person checks to make sure you have the right paperwork, you move inside to meet another Aruba Emigration official.
- There were two people checking passports and four self-passport stations.
- They both moved at the same speed, this is probably because of the long line for the General Airport Security Check-in
- We weren't asked any questions they just took our passport and scanned it.
- The room was air conditioned so it was nice and cool.
General Airport Security Checking
After they verify that you're allowed to leave the country. You now wait in the Airport Security line.
- This was the longest line/wait during our departure
- There are two lines leaving the Aruba Emigration, and the left line was moving faster.
- You could still hold a drink during this period.
- As you get closer, you'll see another line merging at the security counter. These are people that are not taking International flights.
- When you get to the scanners, tablets didn't need to be taken out of the carry-ons.
- You didn't need to show Passport going through.
- After you go through the general security - Don't stop - unless you're thirsty! Continue all the way through to the baggage claim area to pick up your bags for American Immigration. This is a large room with suitcases everywhere.
- There are plenty of food and drinks upstairs - which is where your departure gate will be.
- Avoid any Duty-Free Shopping, you can get the same products upstairs. If you do purchase something here, they put it aside and you get to claim it after the American Immigration check-in.
Picking up Bags
After you go through the general airport, you have to pick up your luggage and see US Customs.
- You will need to show your Passport and Ticket to enter the baggage claim area.
- If you haven't marked your bag you'll be spending time searching for yours.
- Pick up your bag and head over to the opposite corner from where you enter the room.
American Immigration Checking
Customs will be quick - make sure to declare anything that you have!
- The line for American Immigration wasn't all that bad, we waited maybe 10 mins here.
- There were plenty of officials checking passports - I believe all stations were open.
- They will ask you a few basic security questions - such as "Did you purchase anything over $1,000?"
- As part of the Preclearance Memorandum of Cooperation, your face will be quickly scanned by the Immigration official.
- Once you get past the agent you get in a line to drop off the bag. The end of the line might be all the way to the right.
Dropping off Bags
Make sure you can lift your bag. You will have to place the bag on the belt which is about a foot and a half off the floor.
- At this point, we have been at the airport for an hour and a half.
- Make sure to drop off the bag at the correct belt! Delta and JetBlue is the second belt.
- The agent at the door will tell you which belt to place your bags.
- After you drop the bag, you now wait in line for the International Security Check-in
International Security Checking
We're not exactly sure why we have to do this again. Seems that they could have placed the bags in a secure area so you don't have to leave and then get rechecked.
- The security bins are small, they barely fit a 15" laptop monitor - compared to Logan Airport where you can put a laptop and a tablet in the same bin.
- They didn't say anything about taking out the tablet, I kept mine in the bag and didn't have any issues.
- There are two lines before going to the Security Checking station. There's actually a person letting people know there are two lines.
- Your Passport and ticket will be checked before going through security. This will be the last time you need your passport for the trip.
Some Additional Notes
- Pay attention to your departure gate. It probably will change.
- You can get a drink after the "General Airport Checking." You'll have time to drink it, there are trash containers right in the security area. (Including a place to dump liquid from a water bottle.)
- We didn't see a lot of places to purchase bottled water or soda. You can get fountain drinks at most of the restaurants.
- If you are leaving Aruba on a Saturday or Sunday (busiest flight days) you should give yourself at least three hours to get through the whole check-in process. This will also give you time to grab a bite to eat, a drink or those last minute souvenirs.