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Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 3:27 am
by ORDTLV2414
How does US Preclearance work at airports who have International terminals? for example every International flight (except AC) arrives at ORD parks at Terminal 5 and all of its passengers proceed through Passport Control and Customs. How does for example an Aer Lingus flight from DUB-ORD drop its passengers, because they have no need to go through Passport Control and Customs.

RE: Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 3:42 am
by tymnbalewne
It's all how the doors at the gate are set. Consider this...that EI DUB-ORD passengers are "domestic" USA passengers because by virtue of their preclearance they're "in" the United States. So, when the aircraft arrives at ORD T5, the doors of the jetbridge are set so that the passengers exit into the departures area and exit to a domestic configured baggage carousel.

RE: Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:01 am
by cha747
For AUA-CLT and AUA-PHL flights you just walk out into the terminal as if it were a domestic flight. Sometimes ground staff "forget" and the doors have to be opened after a short delay.

RE: Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:18 am
by briguychau
The flights just arrive as any other domestic flight would. However, US CBP reserves the right to re-inspect the aircraft upon arrival.

RE: Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 5:19 am
by seat1a
Interesting topic. Slightly different issue, if you're flying to MIA from STT, do you pre-clear customs in STT given it's a US territory? How does it work? Thanks!

RE: Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 8:56 am
by CHI787ORD
ORD T5 is designed and configured to handle international and domestic flights. There is a doorway in the M concourse that allows EI and EY per cleared passengers to exit directly into the check in hall, where there is a staircase that takes them to a baggage claim area that is open on the lower level to everyone. Next time you are there you can do a little investigating and imagine/see how it would work.

RE: Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 12:26 pm
by Cubsrule
Quoting seat1a (Reply 4):
Slightly different issue, if you're flying to MIA from STT, do you pre-clear customs in STT given it's a US territory? How does it work? Thanks!

No customs leaving STT, IIRC. Just agriculture (just like SJU and Hawaii).

RE: Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 6:20 pm
by stxbohn
Quoting seat1a (Reply 4):
Slightly different issue, if you're flying to MIA from STT, do you pre-clear customs in STT given it's a US territory? How does it work? Thanks!

There are Customs and Immigration pre-clearance at STT and STX in addition to random agriculture checks - the USVI are US territories as opposed to Puerto Rico which is a Commonwealth.

I recall spot checks of passports/documents of CBP officers on the jet bridges in Puerto Rico for SJU-US domestic bound flights.

Although I haven't been to Guam, I'm pretty sure they too have pre-clearance.

RE: Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 6:46 pm
by malaysia
Quoting stxbohn (Reply 7):
Although I haven't been to Guam, I'm pretty sure they too have pre-clearance.

SPN had pre-clearance, CBP inspected every passenger from SPN to GUM with my transfer bag never being reclaimed. and CBP did the same from GUM-HNL,

GUM-HNL was a very odd experience in regards to pre-clearance. CBP inspected all passengers and passports prior to boarding to HNL. already cleared into the US, but once arriving HNL, had to go thru US customs, they set it up to where we just bypassed the passport control in HNL, and went straight to pick up bag in customs.

RE: Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 7:25 pm
by TravelsUK
Slightly off subject but went through STT a couple of days ago, travelling to SJU, passport checks were done swiftly and politely, after which checked baggage was screened, at the TSA check point the person scanning BP's and ID looked at my passport and said, and I quote "What the f^*k is this piece of sh!t?" Astounded, I answered him that it was a United Kingdom passport, that I spoke English and he had just insulted me and my country, I got a muttered apology along the lines of he thought I was Dutch as there "... have been sh!t loads of Dutch through here these past few days." Anyway, on arrival in SJU no formalities at all and I was quickly outside the terminal.

RE: Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 7:26 pm
by JAGflyer
As mentioned, pre-cleared flights from Canada to the US are essentially treated as domestic US arrivals and passengers go directly from the aircraft to the baggage hall via the departure lounges. In YYZ, we have many gates which are considered to be "swing gates". These can handle domestic arrivals (when the doors leading to the customs hall are closed and the ones leading to the departure lounge are open) as well as inbound International flights (doors to departure lounge are closed and doors to customs are opened). There have been times when the doors were not re-configured and International un-cleared passengers were accidently let into the departures area. Aside from not being lead to the correct baggage area (a problem in itself) the biggest issue were people did get channeled towards Canadian customs. Trying to round up the misdirected pax is a huge hassle.

RE: Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 9:14 pm
by drgmobile
Air Canada into Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson is a bit odd now that the international terminal is open. You might expect to arrive on the domestic side, but you don't. It's at the international terminal except of course you bypass the customs hall. There's a separate baggage claim area also. It can be a little confusing for those who know about how these flights are usually handled because if you don't know about the international baggage carousel away from the customs area you might be inclined to get on the train and ride all the way to the domestic baggage hall. I did that once and had to take a cab to the other side of the airport to get my bag.

RE: Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2015 1:04 am
by ORDTLV2414
The reason why I asked this question, is that it is quite obvious where AA and UA dropped their precleared passengers at ORD, at T1 and T3 respectively but it was kind of unclear where EI and EY dropped their passengers because they board at T5. I had no idea that there was a "domestic" portion of T5, for percleared passengers, will be interesting to see this summer when I fly DUB-ORD

RE: Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2015 3:25 pm
by Delta763
If it's anything like Terminal E/F in ATL, you pull up to the same jetway but instead of letting you out into the FIS corridor, they let you through the boarding corridor into the public waiting area next to the gate. There is no "domestic portion" per se. Bags are taken to regular baggage claim and you pick them up there.

RE: Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2015 3:52 pm
by CHI787ORD
Quoting ORDTLV2414 (Reply 12):
I had no idea that there was a "domestic" portion of T5, for percleared passengers, will be interesting to see this summer when I fly DUB-ORD

Its not so much a domestic portion as it a domestic process. Before clearing security at T5, go downstairs and walk all the way down past the airport bar at arrivals. You'll see a domestic baggage claim area there that is outside of customs. The door from the main M concourse back to the departure hall is located in the rotunda between gates M5 and M6. I believe EY and EI usually land at M4 or M5, and they follow a roped off path to the door so they don't mix with the departing passengers.

RE: Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2015 5:30 pm
by Josh32121
I just flew out of STT. It is a customs inspection only--not immigration. You do not have to have a passport to pass through, and there is no inspection when you arrive. The U.S. Virgin Islands are in a different trade zone than the rest of the United States, hence the customs inspection. Interestingly, I flew SJU-ATL back in December expecting the same thing, and there was no inspection whatsoever (other than ordinary TSA). Perhaps Puerto Rico is in the same trade zone as the 50 states even though it is just a U.S. territory. Difference between state/territory/possession, perhaps?

Most international arrivals areas at U.S. airports have a single jetway (maybe two) that connects to two different sets of corridors usually on two different levels. One is the ordinary departures area (sterile for TSA but no distinction for international departing passengers vs. domestic departing since there is no departing passport control like in some other countries). The other one connects to the Customs & Border Protection area via sterile corridors that run above, below, or parallel to the ordinary departures area for customs screening. Precleared flights would just dump you into the ordinary departures area (whether it's at an international terminal or not).

RE: Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2015 5:47 pm
by thegman
I for one, am a little confused as to what the OP is getting at because in my travels, I haven't seen a terminal in the US or abroad configured to only accept international arrivals. I mean the jetbridge is used to embark and disembark so by that virtue an international terminal must have doors from the departure hall and a separate hallway that leads to immigration.

Actually, now that I have typed all that I am thinking back from when I arrived in FRA back in 2005 and we were dumped in a special concourse with seemingly everyone and then at the end we could either go through a door to the Schengen area or to the arrivals hall at which point we cleared immigration and customs (This was on a US flight from CLT).

Or maybe the OP was referring to baggage claim when they made the post, in which case, most terminals in the USA are configured to have a domestic baggage claim for all terminals/concourses.

RE: Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2015 7:31 pm
by aerolimani
Once inside a US pre-clearance area, you are essentially treated as if you are physically inside the USA already. Once, at YYC, I was on a trip to the SFO. I was already through US pre-clearance and at my gate. Then, I was bumped from the direct flight to SFO, and booked onto a new itinerary, YYC-YVR-SFO. I had to leave the US pre-clearance area and head to a domestic gate for the flight to YVR. I had to go through Canadian customs and immigration in order to leave the US pre-clearance area.

As such, when you arrive in the US, you arrive like a domestic. You get off the plane, and go collect your luggage, or if you have a connecting flight, your luggage will be transferred, and you just need to walk to your gate. No talking to any CBP officers.

I expect that passengers using US pre-clearance, in any airport where it exists, would be treated like this. I expect that if you entered the the US pre-clearance in DUB, you would either have to fly out, or you would have to go through Irish customs, in order to leave the pre-clearance area.

RE: Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:14 pm
by jcwr56
Quoting ORDTLV2414 (Reply 12):
I had no idea that there was a "domestic" portion of T5, for percleared passengers, will be interesting to see this summer when I fly DUB-ORD

Oh, if you're flying in on UA, that's not precleared in DUB. CBP denied it for now. You'll be arriving as a regular international flight and will need to clear formalities in ORD.

RE: Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 12:11 am
by ckfred
Quoting TravelsUK (Reply 9):
Astounded, I answered him that it was a United Kingdom passport, that I spoke English and he had just insulted me and my country, I got a muttered apology along the lines of he thought I was Dutch as there "... have been sh!t loads of Dutch through here these past few days."

The officer should realize that a lot of Europeans outside of the UK and Ireland speak English, probably better than he does. Further, aren't most passports from EU countries similar to the U.S. passport?

Of course, the lion and the unicorn on the front of the passport should have been a clear sign of a passport from the UK.

RE: Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 10:37 pm
by Maverick623
Quoting malaysia (Reply 8):

GUM-HNL was a very odd experience in regards to pre-clearance. CBP inspected all passengers and passports prior to boarding to HNL. already cleared into the US, but once arriving HNL, had to go thru US customs, they set it up to where we just bypassed the passport control in HNL, and went straight to pick up bag in customs.

This is how DUB and SNN used to be when flying to the US before full pre-clearance.

Quoting aerolimani (Reply 17):

As such, when you arrive in the US, you arrive like a domestic. You get off the plane, and go collect your luggage, or if you have a connecting flight, your luggage will be transferred

Interestingly, if you are connecting your checked luggage will still go through TSA screening (except for flights originating in YEG).

RE: Preclearance At International Terminals

Posted: Fri Mar 13, 2015 4:35 am
by copter808
Quoting malaysia (Reply 8):
GUM-HNL was a very odd experience in regards to pre-clearance. CBP inspected all passengers and passports prior to boarding to HNL. already cleared into the US, but once arriving HNL, had to go thru US customs, they set it up to where we just bypassed the passport control in HNL, and went straight to pick up bag in customs.

And that's exactly why I often avoid going through HNL. Before UA rescheduled the HNL-ORD flight, which apparently now no longer connects with the GUM flight, it was difficult to make a 2 hour connection having to do this. Far easier to fly through NRT and not have to worry about immigration and Customs until arriving in Chicago.