If you’re flying back to the US from Aruba, you’ll want to heed the many warnings to arrive at the airport 3 hours prior to departure time. Go ahead, laugh. I thought it was silly too… until I got there. For those of you who prefer to learn from other people’s mistakes, read on for some tips on getting through this airport with your sanity (mostly) intact.
- Check in and get your boarding passes.
- Go through ID and boarding pass control.
- Go through Aruba immigration.
- Take off your shoes, belts, hats, and change so you can go through the central security checkpoint.
- Once through, gaze wistfully at the delicious chocolates and liquor available at duty-free, but don’t stop, because you didn’t get there three hours ahead of time and you have a long way to go.
- Pick up your checked luggage and carry it through to US Customs and Border Protection processing area.
- Observe the long line and start wishing you’d arrived 3 hours in advance.
- Finally get through Customs and place your checked luggage back on the designated conveyor belt.
- Pat yourself on the back because you think you’re done.
- Arrive at the next passenger and hand luggage airline screening checkpoint and repeat step #4.
- Observe this long line and begin hyperventilating and wishing you’d arrived YESTERDAY.
- Finally arrive at the screening machines and, as per usual, pick the shortest line so that you can be guaranteed the longest wait.
- Get through this checkpoint and start running toward your gate.
- Spot a Cinnabon and throw money at the counter in exchange for a warm piece of gooey deliciousness that you ABSOLUTELY deserve at this point.
- Arrive at your gate, winded and cranky, and proceed to wait for them to start boarding. At least you have your Cinnabon.
For those of you who think I may be exaggerating (or for those of you who are neurotic planners), here is an Aruba Airport Map with fun, colorful guides. Believe me when I tell you that it looks a lot easier and quicker than it actually is!