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International to Domestic transfer at Washington (IAD).

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London, England...
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International to Domestic transfer at Washington (IAD).

I'm traveling from the UK (Heathrow) to LA (LAX) in the next couple of weeks and am getting slightly concerned about my transit in Washington (IAD). Both flights are with United Airlines but I only have an hour at Washington to transit between them.

Normally I'd think this was OK but being a UK citizen I gather that I'll need to go through customs and immigration in Washington rather than my final destination of LA, is this correct?

Any conformation / tips would be appreciated!

Maryland
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1. Re: International to Domestic transfer at Washington (IAD).

Yes. You'll clear customs and immigration in your first arrival point in the USA, which will be IAD. Was there a schedule change or did United actually let you book this flight with such a short connection?

If it was a schedule change I would contact the airline and look into changing the flight(s) to one with a better connection time. If you booked this by choice, you can call and ask to change but that may require a hefty fee.

London, England...
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2. Re: International to Domestic transfer at Washington (IAD).

Thanks for the conformation. I booked through Expedia so it was all one booking rather than a schedule change.

Arlington, Virginia
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3. Re: International to Domestic transfer at Washington (IAD).

You are at high risk of mis-connecting -- that would be true even if you were a citizen, but your odds go down because of the extra immigration screening. I'd make sure you know what the next several flights are to LAX. When you arrive at Dulles, make sure you follow the signs to the transfers / connections immigration area, NOT arrivals. They are in different buildings and if you go to the wrong one you have no shot at making your connection. I'd also do your best to get seated near the exit of the plane; on the wide bodies from Europe it can take 15 minutes just to get off the aircraft if you are sitting at the back.

naperville, illinois
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4. Re: International to Domestic transfer at Washington (IAD).

It always amazes me - even with years doing airline reservations - that short connections are booked...especially for international flights. By no means do I want to add to the stress the OP is feeling.... but as I always advised passengers - no matter if it was a domestic or international connection... take a bit longer one (if flights and availabilty allow) to account for any type of delay. I would rather have had the passenger walk leisurely between gates and not have a mad dash sprint!

Perhaps those who monitor this forum and TA could post this bit of advise somewhere? Is that even possible? I know third party booking places (like Expedia, etc) and even the airline website can list the connection as long as it is 'legal' (meaning meeting the minimum amount of time you would need ..all things being equal) but, all flight factors need to be considered.

Hopefully the OP will make it on his connection or be able to change it to a bit later flight without too much hassle.

London, England...
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5. Re: International to Domestic transfer at Washington (IAD).

Thanks for your feedback. I've contacted Expedia who have been in touch with the airline and apparently guaranteed that, should there be any issues, they will put me on the next LA flight - at no charge. That is some consolation at least.

I'll not make this mistake again!

Hants UK
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6. Re: International to Domestic transfer at Washington (IAD).

Hi all,

Firstly apologies for what may be silly questions - I have not been to the USA for a long time so am no longer familiar with current procedures.

I too have a similar issue as James S above - I am travelling to Cincinnati from the UK, and have to change planes from Virgin Atlantic to United Express at Washington Dulles. This is a business trip - the agency we use have allowed approx 2 hours and 15 minutes between the Virgin Flight landing and the United one taking off. My boss who is travelling with me says this is plenty of time and has done this trip several times before. I am not so sure.

Do you believe they are cutting this a bit fine - I have heard stories of long queues to clear immigration at Dulles. I am guessing I need to clear immigration there, and not at Cincinnati?

Also will I have to find my bags at Dulles and check them in for the United flight, or can I simply check them in at London Heathrow and they will find their own magical way to Cincinnati without me having to find them in Dulles?!

Any advice, etc most gratefully received!

naperville, illinois
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7. Re: International to Domestic transfer at Washington (IAD).

As others have posted, the lines for immigration and customs can be long. You will have to clear immigration in Dulles. As you deplane (and I do not know which terminal Virgin Atlantic arrives - you might want to call your agency or the airline) there will be two 'exits ' - one for connections - that is you and one for those who are NOT continuing, but staying in DC. You will enter the immigration/passport lines for non US, once that is completed you will collect your luggage (there will be / should be signs posted , people to direct you - for which bag belt), then once you clear customs - and unless you have something to 'declare' that is a simple shot, At the end of customs clearance, there will be baggage handlers to grab your bag and recheck on to your connecting flight. BUT - before you leave the UK make sure that your luggage is tagged all the way through to Cincinnati (airport code CVG) and with the UA flight number. Your agency should have booked you on one ticket - but, again, check with the agency to make sure it is one ticket and not two. Once you hand off your bags to the baggage handlers, then you will need to reclear our security for the 3-1-1 liquids, etc. and then you will be on your way to your next flight. It is a busy area and all, but the time you have should be adequate, as long as you do not dawdle, and are prepared with all your forms, etc.

Just double check with your agency as to how your flights are done - one vs two tickets, and find out which terminal Virgin Atlantic arrives in, and then look on www.ual.com (under flight status) for which terminal/gate UAX (United Express) leaves from. ALso, pull up online a map of the IAD airport for reference.

Good Luck!

Hants UK
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8. Re: International to Domestic transfer at Washington (IAD).

Many thanks imwmn913 for your excellent reply. I have spoken with our travel company who our work uses and they have said that if we miss the afternoon flight, there is one later that evening which we can get - their agents at the airport will sort out the tickets and apparently its no problem. The delights of business travel rather than having to sort it all out myself!

So, if I have a few hours to kill, then I might take advantage of the situation and get an afternoon of sightseeing in!

Many thanks

Dave

9. Re: International to Domestic transfer at Washington (IAD).

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