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US Transit

Old 13th Feb 2020, 19:29
  #1 (permalink)  
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US Transit

I have a flight that will give me a 9hr transit in a gateway US airport. Not wanting to spend all that time within the terminals and assuming that I'll be going through US Immigration anyway, despite being a transit passenger, will it be any problem to go out of the airport for 2-3 hrs to meet up with a buddy ? I'm not quite sure either way, so thought I'd pose the question to the well-travelled ppruners for advice :-)
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Old 13th Feb 2020, 21:01
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And that gateway airport would be???
The time of day you will have there???
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Old 13th Feb 2020, 21:20
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If you have a valid US ESTA and you go through immigration you’ll be in the USA so do whatever you can do in the time/space available to you.
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Old 14th Feb 2020, 06:30
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Thanks for the replies. My question is from an immigration standpoint rather than how busy/friendly the airport is.

If my bags are checked through it should be relatively easy, although that will mean going through security and immigration again later, but better that than festering in the terminals for hours on end.

I think the USA is the only country I know where transit passengers have to go through immigration, rather than be 'just passing through'. This time it will be an advantage for me hopefully! :-)
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Old 14th Feb 2020, 08:59
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So name the airport and shame the devil!
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Old 14th Feb 2020, 09:00
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Done this loads of times - the main issue is transport on the land-side - I've hired a car and gone shopping/lunching at Houston, Dallas, SF and LA - you need a 6 hour lay over to manage that comfortably and have the car etc booked ahead.
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Old 14th Feb 2020, 15:48
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Can you transit US airports without going through immigration these days? I thought that they ended this after 911. You will therefore end up airside (unless you have to go through security which used to be the case at ATL & may still be at Orlando (I'm not certain on this.)). So yes, you can meet your buddy.
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Old 14th Feb 2020, 17:35
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I think you HAVE to pass US Immigration in transit as well as arrival................
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Old 14th Feb 2020, 18:26
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Yes you do have to pass immigration, but this was the case 30 years ago or more, even if you had a short transit time, say to go from Miami to one of the Caribbean Islands. In other countries, you sit in a transit lounge and are technically not in said country, but afaik, the US always had this policy of insisting transit passengers to go in and then out of immigration when not actually entering the country.
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Old 14th Feb 2020, 18:33
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You are correct, SHJack. So after your buddy visit, you will simply return to the airport, enter TSA security, where you have to produce your boarding pass and your passportID, and then head out to the gate for your next flight, be it international or USdomestic.

I've yet to see a US airport where the procedure is any different. The variations come at the point where you enter the US originally -- some are reasonably organized (IAH) and others are simply 3rd-world chaotic (EWR).
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Old 15th Feb 2020, 12:57
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If you say your bags will be checked through then I take it your onward destination is a country outside the USA?

If not then you will have to claim all your bags and go through immigration and then recheck those in for your onward flight...

If you have 9 hours layover then of course you can clear air-side, and spend your time outside the airport if you wish then come back later to fly on...
It is no problem to leave the airport as long as you clear out in the normal way (ESTA needed)
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