Arrivals into Queen Beatrix International Airport in Aruba (AUA) is pretty straightforward.
Departures from AUA are known for their very long lines during busy times. Saturday afternoons are known to be the busiest. The typical recommendation is to leave your hotel at least 3.5 hours before your flight.
The sequence for flights from AUA to the USA (at least for Jet Blue)
Step #1 - Jet Blue Check-in (25min / 10min Mosaic)
The initial line forms as you enter the building. There are tents and ropes outside, so I expect the lines to be long at times. On 12/31/2022 at 11am they weren’t bad. Looked like about 20 min for JetBlue regular and 5 min for Mosaic/Mint. About 5 minutes at the counter. Passports are checked, boarding passes are issued, bags are tagged and taken. I am not sure if it is possible to check in on the app if you aren’t checking bags, but that could be a big time savings if so.
Step #2 - Emigration (27min)
Now we go to a courtyard with a partial roof and misting water to keep us cool. However, it was raining, so we didn’t need it. This was the longest line. Maybe 25 minutes. There is no way to skip this line without paying a large amount for a local VIP pass. The people selling the VIP passes claimed it would take 90 minutes. Near the end of this line, there is a quick look at the passport and then to the Aruban official to check your passport.
Step #3 - First Security Check (12min)
Next we go to the first time through security. Probably about a 10 minute line. No TSA Pre benefits available. Shoes off, ipads & laptops out.
Step #3.5 - Bag Pickup (3min)
Next we collect the bags we dropped off. Presumably they want us walking with them through customs in the unlikely event they want to check us (not sure why they can’t do a random check on the bags behind the scenes without all passengers needing to pick them up…)
Step#4 - US Immigration (27min / 7 min with Global Entry)
After we get our bags there are US Global Entry terminals on the left for those that have it. They work by facial recognition. 2 of my party are recognized and 2 aren’t. We waited about a minute to get around people to a free machine and took about 1 minute per person to use the machine. Regardless if the machine recognizes you, if you all have global entry, once you try you can continue on by taking the path to the far right as you enter the immigration hall to the Global Entry officer. There were no people ahead of us by the time we got to the immigration officer. He quickly noted the two of us that the machine recognized then briefly checked the passports of the two that didn’t with a quick picture. The non-global entry line looked like it was about 25 minutes. I saw a customs scanner off to the side that I assume they use for people selected for inspection, but I didn’t see anyone going in there.
Step #4.5 - Second Bag Drop (1 min)
Next we walk by a conveyor belt and drop our bags off again.
Step #5 - Second Security Check (4 min)
We get to another security check so shoes off and ipads out again. This one maybe had a 1 minute line and a few minutes to move the family through.
After finishing the second security check, you arrive in the departure hall. The departure hall has 8 gates. Probably a 10 min walk from one end to the other, but maybe more when it is crowded.
We went to the VIP lounge across from Gate 8. I believe there is a second lounge, but that was closed (sounded something like that part of the terminal being temporarily used for incoming flights so maybe a difference security zone). We needed to wait about 20 minutes to enter as everyone must have a seat and it isn’t a huge lounge. We entered with Priority Pass. They said that we could only bring one free guest and each additional would be $47. I told them I didn’t want to do it that way and to put all 3 guests on my priority pass card. They complied. As I have Priority Pass through Chase Sapphire Reserve this should mean that my second guest is free and priority pass will charge me $27 for the 3rd guest but we will see when I get my statement. The VIP lounge was decent even given all of the negative reviews. It certainly didn’t compare to a first class lounge in Asia, but similar to the typical domestic un-flagged priority pass lounge. COmfortable seats, quiet, cold cut mini-sandwiches, tray of mini-passed appetizers (spring rolls, fried shrimp, chicken nuggets and meat balls) and muffins. There was a bar with beer, wine and lower shelf (e.g., Johnnie Walker Red label) spirits. Wifi worked well. The worst part (other than the line) was probably the bathrooms. They very much seem like traditional airport bathrooms, not something you would see in a VIP lounge.
Airport Carribean Aruba