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Uscis Transit Impediment For US Carriers?  
User currently offlineairdfw From United States of America, joined Aug 2012, 193 posts, RR: 0
Posted (1 year 12 months 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 2366 times:

I see that there is lot of negative feeling among A.netters, other frequent flyer forums on how cumbersome American customs and immigration process is.

I was just reading on AA-EK link from CAPA but the article hinted that because of AA's strength in DFW EK may get passengers bound for MX and Central America, but since US airports do not have transit passengers facility (like in EU those stay in transit facility not having to clear immigration), how many passengers would choose route (say via LAX or DFW or ORD) for AA flights to MX? These passengers may have to get US transit visa and it is absolutely a hassle for them (not counting the costs).

So having these kind of visa policy is detrimental for US carriers? I mean USCIS should work with carriers to develop transit facilities so those connecting passengers do not have to clear customs and immigration.

Any thoughts appreciated, I am sure the airlines have thought of this before ...

23 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineLAXintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 25358 posts, RR: 49
Reply 1, posted (1 year 12 months 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 2325 times:

Its much beyond a CBP issue - its an airport design issue as well.

US airports are designed virtually for 95% domestic traffic low, unlike many international peers which largely exist to aid in transferring people. The US market (which is the world largest) is a whole different animal.

Designing facilities that can segregate passengers is a hugely expense proposition, and one that is not viable on a large scale in the US. Neither the airlines, airport operator, or consumer would be willing to fund such massive redesigns.



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
User currently offlinecgkings317 From Canada, joined Nov 2005, 306 posts, RR: 6
Reply 2, posted (1 year 12 months 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 2222 times:
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That I know of--correct me if I am wrong-- only one in-transit facility exists in the US and that is located in ANC in the international terminal. This arrangement was, to my knowlege, serving principally as a re-fueling stop for carriers enroute from and departing to third countries with passengers staying behind customs. I am unsure if this arrangement allowed for passengers to transit without visa though.

LAXintl does make a good statement in that the travel patterns of Americans are largely domestic and so the infrastructure of your typical American airport reflects this reality.

~CGKings317  



I love ✈ & volcanoes but the 2 of them dont get along, just ask KLM867 & PH-BFC
User currently offlineblueflyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 4000 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (1 year 12 months 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 2170 times:
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Quoting airdfw (Thread starter):
So having these kind of visa policy is detrimental for US carriers?

Yes, it is. Their revenue from international transfer passengers is way down since 9/11. EK may indeed funnel some passengers to AA at DFW (or UA at IAH), but that may be because they have few other options. When they have a choice, they will route through Europe or Canada.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 1):
Designing facilities that can segregate passengers is a hugely expense proposition

I think there are several large airports where the cost would be minimal but immigration laws being what they are, the benefit would be equally minimal, so much so that airlines and airports probably don't think it worth it compared to the loss of flexibility.

Setting immigration laws aside for a moment, in my opinion, the fact that airlines are allowed to lease parts of an airport for their exclusive use and often operate them more or less as they see fit is as much an issue to creating international transfer areas as cost itself.

For example, if Houston decided that all international flights would arrive and depart Intercontinental's terminal E irrespective of the carrier, the terminal could be closed off at little expense to allow international connections, all it would take would be a connector back into the terminal from the immigration inspection hall.

IAD already has a connector back in place with a dedicated immigration inspection hall for connecting passengers, only now the terminal is shared by international and domestic flights, while international flights from non-Star carriers operate from another terminal. That is another case where grouping international flights together would make it easy to build an international transfer area.

JFK's terminal 4 could easily become an international transfer terminal as well (perhaps terminal 1 too, but I see less demand by virtue of the carriers using the terminal).

The same goes for DFW, ATL, and EWR, at least. ORD may belong in that list too, or it may need to have terminal 5 expanded first, in which case it would indeed become an expensive proposition.

I don't know other major airports such as LAX or SFO well enough to have an opinion.



I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlineblueflyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 4000 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (1 year 12 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 2116 times:
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Quoting cgkings317 (Reply 2):
That I know of--correct me if I am wrong-- only one in-transit facility exists in the US and that is located in ANC

There is a hybrid one in LAX for Air New Zealand passengers in transit between AKL and LHR. Passengers clear immigration but not customs and wait in a dedicated waiting area.



I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlineplaneguy727 From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 1247 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (1 year 12 months 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 2037 times:

Quoting blueflyer (Reply 3):
The same goes for DFW, ATL,

This was once the case for ATL. Back when I worked there the T gates were Int'l only. The sterile area allowed for the potential of Int'l to Int'l cx, though I can't say they happened. I know we used to see the LTU through pax deplane, do some duty free shopping (that's where I worked), reboard for the onward flight. ATL was a stop between DUS and central america.



I want to live in an old and converted 727...
User currently offlineairindia787 From United States of America, joined May 2011, 94 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (1 year 12 months 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 1991 times:

Quoting planeguy727 (Reply 5):
This was once the case for ATL. Back when I worked there the T gates were Int'l only. The sterile area allowed for the potential of Int'l to Int'l cx, though I can't say they happened. I know we used to see the LTU through pax deplane, do some duty free shopping (that's where I worked), reboard for the onward flight. ATL was a stop between DUS and central america.

How feasible would it be if Concourse E and F were converted into sterile areas, with a sterile walkway built so that passengers can transfer between the two? It would be a good way for those going between Europe and Central America to take advantage of DL's extensive network without going through the ordeal of clearing immigration and customs and all the formalities associated with it.


User currently offline2travel2know2 From Panama, joined Apr 2010, 2624 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (1 year 12 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 1873 times:

From a south-of-the-border view, yes, U.S. airlines do see their loads hurt, maybe just a little bit, from not allowing TWOV.
Also, non-U.S. airlines usually don't consider to route new flights to Latin America thru U.S. airports because of that.

Quoting blueflyer (Reply 4):
There is a hybrid one in LAX for Air New Zealand passengers in transit between AKL and LHR. Passengers clear immigration but not customs and wait in a dedicated waiting area.

Thought NZ used a remote gate @ LAX for that AKL-LAX-LHR flight so transit passengers never get to go out of that remote gate waiting room.



I'm not on CM's payroll.
User currently offlineFI642 From Monaco, joined Mar 2005, 1079 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (1 year 12 months 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 1833 times:

Quoting 2travel2know2 (Reply 7):

TWOV killed a lot of connecting traffic, remember the mini-hub Iberia operated in MIA before 9-11? Passengers
were allowed to transit without visa then. That all is gone now.

Progressive clearance is also gone. Land and clear is the rule now. It doesn't make economic sense for folks
to get a visa for the United States just to change planes.



737MAX, Cool Planes for the Worlds Coolest Airline.
User currently offline2travel2know2 From Panama, joined Apr 2010, 2624 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (1 year 12 months 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 1819 times:

Quoting FI642 (Reply 8):
It doesn't make economic sense for folks to get a visa for the United States just to change planes.

When the fare difference is in the USD hundreds between an airfare with flights connecting in the States vs. not flying via U.S. airports, and if it's a family of 4 all eligible to visit the States, then it's.
There are actually cases it makes sense to get a U.S. transit visa to fly via a U.S. airport.



I'm not on CM's payroll.
User currently offlineFlaps From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 1275 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (1 year 12 months 1 day ago) and read 1792 times:

The market for international to international transfers via the U.S. is simply not large enough nor important enough to warrant the expense and upheaval necessary to accommodate it. The remainder of North, Central and South America have sufficient access directly to the rest of the globe that transiting the U.S. isn't really a necessity for anyone. Such travel via the U.S. is available if someone really wants to (2travel2know2 above for example) it just means some inconvenience.

User currently onlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 22995 posts, RR: 20
Reply 11, posted (1 year 12 months 21 hours ago) and read 1707 times:

Quoting 2travel2know2 (Reply 9):
When the fare difference is in the USD hundreds between an airfare with flights connecting in the States vs. not flying via U.S. airports, and if it's a family of 4 all eligible to visit the States, then it's.

Also, let's not forget that a good number - perhaps well more than half on some routes - of passengers either don't need a US visa due to VWP or already hold a multi-entry US visa that permits them to transit through the States.



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User currently offlineblueflyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 4000 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (1 year 12 months 10 hours ago) and read 1589 times:
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Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 11):
Also, let's not forget that a good number - perhaps well more than half on some routes - of passengers either don't need a US visa due to VWP or already hold a multi-entry US visa

But they still have to go through immigration and treated like common criminals...



I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlineAA7295 From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 622 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (1 year 12 months 10 hours ago) and read 1572 times:

Quoting blueflyer (Reply 12):

But they still have to go through immigration and treated like common criminals...

You know I really resent that comment. It's a comment of yesteryear. I have been the US 5 times in the past 12 months and have not had ANY issues with Immigration, Customs or TSA.... EVER! Now I would have to at least been to the US at least 20 times and have taken well over 40 domestic flights. I think because the level of service OUTSIDE airport orientated interactions is so high the in the US that people often complain.

Like with anything in life, if you follow the rules (which really isn't hard, they explain it to you so simply, that you really must be lacking basic intelligence to not get it) you will be fine.

What you resist, persists. What you can be with, will not be a problem anymore. Keep whinging about TSA/CBP/USCIS and it will keep occuring to you as being negative.

Lastly, has anyone experience Indian immigration and customs.... now that's a different story!


User currently offlineblueflyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 4000 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (1 year 12 months 7 hours ago) and read 1536 times:
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Quoting AA7295 (Reply 13):
You know I really resent that comment. It's a comment of yesteryear.

When taking fingerprints and photographs of visitors like they were common criminals being booked at the local police station will be an act of yesteryear, it will be a comment of yesteryear. Until then, it is my opinion. You're certainly entitled to disagree, but if you don't see the parallels, you probably don't have enough time to watch police dramas on television...

No idea how TSA or customs got lumped into this...



I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlineSTT757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 16865 posts, RR: 51
Reply 15, posted (1 year 12 months 7 hours ago) and read 1521 times:

I think one of the main problems is just the logistics needed to support such an operation, for instance:

Say there is a transit facility at DFW, a passenger arrives from London, enters the Transit facility (without clearing customs or Immigration) at DFW and then boards a flight for Cancun. Once they board the plane they are now mixed in with folks who only cleared TSA, now lets say the plane goes tech and everyone has to deplane while they fix the problem. How on Earth do they identify the person who came from the transit facility and prevent them from entering the Terminal with all the other passengers? And even if you could identify the person how do you ensure that their carry on bag has not been switched to someone else?

You see where I'm going, way too complicated.



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User currently offlinejcwr56 From United States of America, joined Jul 2012, 495 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (1 year 12 months 6 hours ago) and read 1484 times:

Quoting STT757 (Reply 15):

In theory you bring them back to a transit gate or area which allows everyone to deplane and stay in what is considered a sterile portion of the terminal. CPB or Immigration probably wouldn't have an issue like this but given the mindset of the TSA, they would find some reason to complain.

With aircraft advances, I just don't see the need for this type of operation here in the States.

We have one transit gate here in ORD; M5. It has it's own washrooms, larger hold room area and can be closed off to the rest of the terminal if need be. Is it a pure transit area, no, but at least we have something.


User currently offlinePanHAM From Germany, joined May 2005, 9376 posts, RR: 29
Reply 17, posted (1 year 12 months 5 hours ago) and read 1476 times:

Quoting AA7295 (Reply 13):
You know I really resent that comment. It's a comment of yesteryear. I have been the US 5 times in the past 12 months and have not had ANY issues with Immigration,

even when the treatment by Immigration and customs officers is polite and efficient, the simple facts that a picture AND finger prints are taken, means for some people, being treated like criminals. I had never experienced that my fingerprints were taken until this was invented by US immigration. I must say, I did not like it at all and have cut down my vistis to the US since.


That shack at LAX for NZ transit passengers is really a good reason for never using that route to fly down under again. I did it once..... 2 hours stranded in a third class waiting room of a third world railway line.

Now, even for passengers of WV countries , transiting at the US is a hassle which could be avoided by assembling all third country flights to separate terminals. It has been said already that minor changes would easily allow that at certain airports. Security is no problem either, there could and would be TSA check points for transit passengers. That is done in Europe as well.

It is a lot of business which US carriers are not allowed to handle. Too bad for these carriers. AA certaoinly could use some of it.



E's passed on! That parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker!
User currently onlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 22995 posts, RR: 20
Reply 18, posted (1 year 12 months 5 hours ago) and read 1459 times:

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 17):
even when the treatment by Immigration and customs officers is polite and efficient, the simple facts that a picture AND finger prints are taken, means for some people, being treated like criminals.

I think I'd rather be "treated like a criminal" than treated like a pawn in a bureaucracy, which is what happens with those (mostly historically communist) countries that require you to see 4 or 5 immigration officers to enter.



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
User currently offlineblueflyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 4000 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (1 year 12 months 5 hours ago) and read 1459 times:
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Quoting STT757 (Reply 15):
How on Earth do they identify the person who came from the transit facility and prevent them from entering the Terminal with all the other passengers?

They don't even try. Once passengers have boarded an international flight, they have left the US for immigration purposes. If the flight doesn't leave and passengers need to return to the terminal, they'll all go through customs and immigration.

The issue that you raise can happen outside the US where they do allow transfers without immigration checks, but it is rarely a major problem. The only time things can get interesting is when a plane has to divert from its intended destination, lands in a third country, and the flight is cancelled because the crew runs out of hours. Some passengers may not be able to enter the third country (no visa, etc..). Usually, they remain in the transit area while ongoing transport to their original destination is being arranged.

Quoting jcwr56 (Reply 16):
In theory you bring them back to a transit gate or area which allows everyone to deplane and stay in what is considered a sterile portion of the terminal.

Exactly what happened to me when an international flight ex-IAD required unloading passengers for a maintenance delay. We were led to a sparsely furnished waiting room accessed through the immigration corridor for inbound passengers. There was another door that I can only guess led to the terminal itself, as two immigration officers stood behind it and made it clear we were not to try and open it. After about an hour, we back-tracked all the way to the plane and were on our way...



I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlineairdfw From United States of America, joined Aug 2012, 193 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (1 year 12 months ago) and read 1379 times:

Quoting blueflyer (Reply 12):
But they still have to go through immigration and treated like common criminals...

Yes I agree, that is humiliating and unnecessary.

Quoting STT757 (Reply 15):
Say there is a transit facility at DFW, a passenger arrives from London, enters the Transit facility (without clearing customs or Immigration) at DFW and then boards a flight for Cancun. Once they board the plane they are now mixed in with folks who only cleared TSA, now lets say the plane goes tech and everyone has to deplane while they fix the problem. How on Earth do they identify the person who came from the transit facility and prevent them from entering the Terminal with all the other passengers? And even if you could identify the person how do you ensure that their carry on bag has not been switched to someone else?

In Europe you still clear the security when you go to transit facilities but not the customs/immigration.


User currently offlineUALWN From Andorra, joined Jun 2009, 2790 posts, RR: 2
Reply 21, posted (1 year 11 months 4 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 1330 times:

Even forgetting about the whole fingerprinting issue, waits between 1 and 2 hours to clear immigration are rather common in many US airports. That, to me, would be enough to avoid transiting through the US.


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User currently onlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 22995 posts, RR: 20
Reply 22, posted (1 year 11 months 4 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 1275 times:

Quoting UALWN (Reply 21):
Even forgetting about the whole fingerprinting issue, waits between 1 and 2 hours to clear immigration are rather common in many US airports.

True, but with the notable exception of MIA in the mornings, that's not as much of a problem at most of the airports - LAX, DFW, IAH, ATL, MIA - that would/could/do handle much of the transit traffic.



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
User currently offlinePHX787 From Japan, joined Mar 2012, 7560 posts, RR: 18
Reply 23, posted (1 year 11 months 4 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 1264 times:

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 1):
Its much beyond a CBP issue - its an airport design issue as well.

That's the main thing. It's a combination of the two.

When I flew through SEA and LAX on my way home from Japan, I'm standing in lines for hours on end because of a number of things. 1) the CBP 2) the bag re-check 3) the customs declaration.

While all three are standard procedure, the procedure itself needs to be more streamlined.

In comparison when I go to Japan at NRT, while NRT does require a lot of walking to get to immigration, you typically zoom right through in no time at all. You give your entrance card and passport to the kind worker, they take the biometric measurements, you go through the bag customs declaration, and DURING THAT TIME they're asking about why you're in Japan, etc. The bags are immediately delivered to you (usually circulating while you go through the immigration clearance) and you get your final clearance stamps after you finish customs. This may be a whole thing to do with the fact that Japan is all about customer service and efficiency, but even without that aspect, I'd assume NRT's customs would be streamlined anyway. NOT TO MENTION that this is for people staying in Japan anyway. They divide the immigration lines between people staying in Japan and people connecting to different flights. Why the USA doesn't do it, I don't know.

Coming home, I've always ran into problems.
CBP people thinking I'm some terrorist because of my appearance (long hair, unkempt clothing because i wear my slacking clothes on the plane, tired appearance because babies keep me up all night)
The loooooooong lines and lack of caring/open booths at immigration with both airports
the fact that LAX's T6 immigration is quite unorganized
Bag claim, AND having to re-check (in LAX you have to go through check-in again; at SEA they do it for you right outside customs)

I almost missed my connection to PHX when I came home via LAX last year (I arrived at the gate as soon as they started the final boarding call) and missed my flight on AS at SEA this year (by about 40 minutes).

So to answer the OP's question: I believe so, because of the limited resources airlines have, they can only schedule at certain block times in order to use these sources correctly. LAX and SEA are huge draws for asians, and when I gotta connect to get to Asia and because there isn't a dedicated "connections line" at the airports, it really can create many issues.


So my suggestions:
1) streamline the CBP operations
2) divide the lines up even further than "Resident" or "foreign national" and make dedicated lines for people making connections
3) make bag-recheck as an integral part of the CBP process
4) stop thinking every long-haired metal head is some sort of terrorist   

(sorry for the long post)



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