Leaving Aruba – When They Say Get There Three Hours Early They Mean It

You know when they say get to the airport three hours early? You know how we all laugh and think ‘yeah sure?’  If you are going to visit Aruba, they really mean it at Aeropuerto Internacional Reina Beatrix that’s Queen Beatrix International Airport.

If your flight is during peak flight times, generally between 11 am and 4 pm, or during holidays the official recommendation is three hours and you should heed the warning. Seriously. I probably would add a half hour, I know we will next time.

The first line you will meet in a long line of lines will be your airline’s check in line, this can be an almost walk through process or be a tedious long wait as your boarding passes are issued and they take your checked luggage (don’t worry you will meet up with your bags again soon). If you can check in online I highly recommend this. If you can travel light and only do carry on this is a time saver too (we don’t because my husband refuses to).

I cannot stress this enough. There were people very unhappy who got to the airport two hours before their flight and had no chance of making it. One family paid another family $100 to take their place in line. I kid you not. Hey, a way to make money if you did not budget!

After you complete your airline check in, you will then meet all of your fellow passengers in an even longer line, sometimes snaking around the airport terminal, to have your passport and boarding passes reviewed by Aruban Security. This line can take upwards of an hour.

From this point you are approved for processing through Aruban Immigration (Departamento di Integracion, Maneho y Admision di Stranhero or DIMAS). After DIMAS you will go through Aruban security screening and into the terminal.

In the terminal you will find duty free shopping and food courts. I found them to be expensive – expensive even in Aruban term and definitely for any other airport. We went to Sbarro and spent $40 for pizza for three people.

You will also find more lines. Oh you just only completed Aruban processing now you are in the hands of the US Customs. You will have to find your checked baggage, each airline is kept separate so there should not be an issue. You and your bags will then join a line for US Customs processing. The one great thing about this is there is no customs once you get back into the United States.

After clearing customs you, your carry on bags and your checked bags will go down a hallway and at this point you will deposit your checked bags onto a conveyor belt to meet you in your airplane. The conveyor belt has, you guessed it a line!

Your lines are not done because you then have to go through US security screening. This is your final processing line.

So to review you have the following lines:

* Airline check in for you and your bags

* Aruban passport and boarding pass review

* Aruban Immigration

* Aruban Security Screening

* United States Customs

* United States Security Screening

I am tired just typing it out.

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