February 13, 2009 / 4:08 AM / 10 years ago

Heathrow most tedious international airport, U.S. rudest: poll

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Flying into Heathrow or New York’s JFK? Then steel yourself for the world’s longest passport queues, the lengthiest wait for luggage and some of the rudest passport staff, a global survey shows.

People queue at check-in desks in the new Terminal 5 building at Heathrow Airport in London, March 27, 2008. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Online travel network WAYN.com (Where Are You Now?) recently surveyed 2,250 travelers about passport control, baggage handling, customs and security at major international airports.

London’s Heathrow was voted the worst for long passport control queues by all travelers, including Britons, followed by JFK in New York and Los Angeles airport.

Heathrow again was voted the worse airport for baggage, followed by JFK and Los Angeles International. The three airports were seen as having the longest wait at the carousel, and the most likely to damage luggage.

Passport staff, however, added an extra irritant for passengers landing at JFK and other international U.S. airports, who voted U.S. immigration as the rudest in the world, ahead of India and Russia.

By contrast, Heathrow’s passport control officers were seen as the most friendly in the world after Australia.

“Competition among countries to attract tourists is becoming increasingly fierce,” Jerome Touze, joint founder and joint CEO of WAYN, said in a statement.

“Our survey would suggest that the U.S. customs and immigration need address their attitude toward visitors, simplify the form filling, generally be a lot more welcoming and better reflect the personality of the American people.”

Travelers seeking to get out of the airport quickly should head to Amsterdam’s Schiphol, Singapore’s Changi or Frankfurt, all which were voted as having the shortest immigration queues.

Heathrow and JFK were voted as having the best security by 15 percent and 18 percent of travelers, and the airports where bag searches and frisking passengers are common.

Travelers believed that Bangkok, Amsterdam and Rome have the least thorough security, the survey showed.

Writing by Miral Fahmy, editing by Belinda Goldsmith

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