International Essentials

Five reasons that Philadelphia is the best place to discover the U.S.

  • It’s easy to get here. Philadelphia International Airport has nonstop flights to most European countries and one-stop flights to destinations including the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Israel and India. The airport is continuing to grow: In 2017, Icelandair began offering non-stop flights to Reykjavik. In 2018, American Airlines added nonstop flights to Zurich, Prague and Budapest and Aer Lingus added a nonstop to Dublin. The airport is currently working to secure a nonstop flight to Asia.
  • Once you’ve landed, it’s a quick and easy trip through Customs. The airport has 24 automated passport kiosks. The Office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection monitors average wait time per passenger going through Passport Control. For the one-year period ending in September 2017, the wait in Philadelphia was 12 minutes. By comparison, the wait at JFK International Airport was 20 minutes.  
  • Once you clear Customs, downtown Philadelphia is only seven miles away. By comparison, JFK is 18 miles from midtown Manhattan, and the trip can take between 35-90 minutes. Dulles International Airport is 26 miles from downtown Washington, D.C.
  • Location, location, location! Philadelphia is about 90 miles from New York City and 135 miles from Washington, D.C. The airport is also connected to the city’s commuter rail system, making it easy to get to the main train station, 30th Street Station.
  • History. Food. Fun. Shopping. Entertainment. In 2016, Lonely Planet ranked Philadelphia No. 1 on its list of U.S. cities to visit, citing its ability to retain “its historic roots and gritty flavor, as well as its affordability – a pleasant surprise for a city so cosmopolitan and accessible.” Conde Nast Traveler put the city 2nd in its list of “The Best Shopping Cities in the World.” (Barcelona, Spain, was #1.)

Before you take off

  • More about the airport: PHL has a number of amenities and here’s more good news – officials recently announced a $1.69 billion budget for new projects. Until then, some things to know:
    • Currency Exchange: There is at least one currency exchange option in Terminals A, B, C and D. In Terminal A, look for TravelEx and Currency One. Terminal B has a Currency One. Terminals C and D each have a Thomas Cook Currency Exchange. There are also automated teller machines in every terminal.
    • Free WiFi: It’s available throughout the airport
    • Electrical outlets: In need of a charge? Look for red “Power Up” signs with available outlets. Important note: The U.S. and Canada use 110 to 120 volts AC versus 240 volts in use in most of Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
    • Privacy for nursing mothers: Nursing mothers can take advantage of 30 free minutes in a private Minute Suite in the Terminal A/B connector.
    • Translation services: International flights are often met by airport employees who speak the native tongue of the departure country. Besides most European languages, Arabic, Russian, Chinese and Mandarin, the passenger assistance team also have employees who know Kpelle, spoken in parts of Guinea and Liberia; Malay, spoken in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore; and Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia. The city also subscribes to a language line for travelers in need of services. It can be reached at 800-648-0170.
  • Electricity: The U.S. and Canada use 110 to 120 volts AC, as opposed to 240 volts in use in most of Europe, Australia and New Zealand. It’s best to purchase an outlet adapter before traveling to the United States.
  • Clothing and shoe sizes: Most clothing is not taxed in Pennsylvania, making it the best place to build a new wardrobe. The exceptions are: formal day or evening wear; sporting goods and clothing worn or used when engaged in sports; and some articles of clothing with fake or real fur. Click for a more detailed list.
    The U.S. has a unique clothing and shoe sizing system. Use the charts found here to convert measurements from one system to another.
  • Sales taxes: Most goods in the city are assessed a 7 percent sales tax. This is in addition to the amount on the price tag. Necessities like food and clothing are not taxed, with some exceptions.
  • Converting measurements: The U.S. does not use the metric system. Use this guide to get an idea of how measurements compare.
    • 1 liter = 1.057 quarts
    • 29.57 milliliters = 1 fluid ounce
    • 1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds
    • 2.54 cm = 1 inch
    • 0.9 meters = 1 Yard
  • Tipping/Gratuities: Tipping is expected in certain situations. At restaurants, for example, diners should tip 15 percent to20 percent of the total check. Other tipping guidelines:
    • Bartenders: 10 percent to 15 percent of the total tab
    • Hotel bellhops: $1 to $2 per piece of luggage
    • Hotel cleaning staff: $1 to $5 per day
    • Parking valets: $1 to $2

When you get here

Philadelphia is one of the world’s most walkable cities and we have excellent public transportation systems! Learn more visitor basics.

 

 

The Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) is the official tourism promotion agency for the City of Philadelphia globally.

Updated June 15, 2018


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