Clearing customs in the US twice?

Mar 21st, 2012, 05:24 AM
Original Poster
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Clearing customs in the US twice?

My boyfriend is flying from Sydney to Boston. His first flight is Sydney to Atlanta but stops in LA. The travel agent told him that he will go through customs in LA and then get back on the plan and continue to Atlanta. I just checked the flight status and it has the flight arriving at Terminal E in Atlanta, which is an international terminal. Will he have to clear customs twice or would they give him something in LA so he can just bypass customs and immigration in Atlanta?
MLemos10 is offline  
Mar 21st, 2012, 06:38 AM
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He will pass through Customs and Border Inspection at the first point he lands in the US (Los Angeles). The flight from LA to ATL will be a domestic flight and no one on the flight will need to pass through inspection upon arrival.
Citylghts is offline  
Mar 21st, 2012, 08:19 AM
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Concourse E has gates that connect to US Immigration, but they can route passengers to the regular domestic area as well. Plenty of domestic flights use that concourse.
rkkwan is offline  
Mar 21st, 2012, 08:23 AM
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You said he will get back on the plane, does that mean he will board the SAME plane or a different one? I've been in situations like this before (where I reboarded the SAME plane) and what they do is the people going into LA will go through customs in LA and go on their way. The ones continuing on to Atlanta will be herded into a room to await re-boarding and they will not mingle with the general public in the airport. He will not go through customs in LA, he will reboard the plane and he will go through customs in Atlanta.

If he will be taking a different plane from LA to Atlanta then the advice from Citylghts is absolutely correct.

I've done this 3 times and this is the way it has always worked, but only when you are taking the same plane to your final destination. The waiting room to reboard the plane will have a bathroom and in my experience they always had refershments.

In either case he will not go through US customs twice.
P_M is online now  
Mar 21st, 2012, 05:06 PM
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P_M: makes no difference on same plane or not, with same flt number or not. The LAX-ATL is a pure domestic leg. True even for those flying QANTAS LAX-JFK.
rkkwan is offline  
Mar 21st, 2012, 05:37 PM
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rkkwan, I'm not sure we are on the same page, here's one example of the trips I took in the situation I mentioned above.

When I flew from FRA to IAH we had a stop in Charlotte, NC. The Charlotte passengers got off and the rest of us were not allowed to stay on the plane, as the plane needed to clear US customs. We did not go through customs in Charlotte, instead were taken to a room and about an hour later we reboarded the plane, then we went through customs at IAH. No new passengers boarded the plane in Charlotte.

The last time I took such a trip was in 2007 so maybe something has changed since then.
P_M is online now  
Mar 21st, 2012, 05:56 PM
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I just thought of another thing I should add. The flights I am speaking of were direct flights. As we know a direct flight is not the same as non-stop. With a direct flight you do stop somewhere but continue on the same flight. Sometimes there is an aircraft change on a direct flight and perhaps that is when the domestic leg is treated as such, meaning you do clear customs at your first port of entry. However on the direct flights I have taken I have always used the same plane to continue, I have had to go into a waiting room while the plane clears customs, then the flight continued and we did customs at the last stop.

rkkwan, I hate to dispute your vast expertise but these are the experiences I have had on direct flights.
P_M is online now  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 12:33 AM
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I've never heard of that practice on LH apparently, but I won't dispute that. But I highly doubt it was as late as 2007. There are no current 'direct' flight I know of in the US with such practice. There was, when Cathay Pacific and EVA have had something at ANC in the past when passengers could get off into a secured room, though they don't actually sell tickets to ANC only.

I am talking about the OP in this case, apparently flying DL. Makes no difference whether same flight number and/or actual plane. Everything is cleared at LAX, flight arrives ATL as domestic, regardless of which concourse it arrives at.
rkkwan is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 01:03 AM
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P_M: I do know BA long had a London-DTW-IAH flight where Houston-bound passengers probably cleared at IAH. But that flight was dropped a few years back in favor of LHR-IAH non-stop.
rkkwan is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 01:40 AM
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I did not say that particular flight was in 2007, that one was several years earlier, I only used it as an example. You are correct about the BA flight doing customs at IAH, except the stop was at ORD. (maybe at one point in time it was DTW but I do remember ORD) I also recall that BA did not take bookings for IAH/ORD routes only.

The Cathay Pacific flight you described is exactly what I have done, where we got off the plane and went to a secured room. I'm glad we are back on the same page and I'm glad the OP knows that whatever happens there is no clearing customs twice.
P_M is online now  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 04:48 AM
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I've been on flights in the past 2 years where the internal flight was classed as international. No domestic passengers were allowed to use it so there was no problem with immigration - people passed through immigration only at their destination whether it was the first or second stop.

This might be similar.
alanRow is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 07:48 AM
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For the OP, it is not.
rkkwan is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2012, 10:37 AM
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You will not go through US welcoming (yeah we make you very welcome with fingerprinting and photographing you if you are not a US or Canadian or green card holder, very friendly like) twice. For the most part, the informtion is correct. US law requires that immigration and customs formalities be dealt with at the first port of arrival in the USA. However, some (not a lot) of flights do not permit domestic passengers to board at the intermediate stop and therefore are classified as international continuing and in that case the passengers will be taken to a sterile area with a friendly US border agent with them at all times, will board the aircraft for the continuation flight and upon arrival it will be treated as an international flight. It happens but not often.
xyz123 is offline  
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