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IAD international to domestic transfer question

IAD international to domestic transfer question

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Old Dec 30, 13, 8:32 pm
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IAD international to domestic transfer question

I have a return portion of an international flight connecting in Dulles. It might so happen that I need to stay in DC for a few days on business, rather than continuing on the last leg of my domestic connection. I *will* have checked in luggage and I am assuming that from Europe they will probably insist on checking it through to final destination.

Do international to domestic connections usually go through the separate "transfer" immigration/customs area in terminal C? If they do - do they get luggage there too? Once you get luggage in that area - is there a chance to return to main terminal with luggage, or will I be forced to re-check it (or go through security that won't let it into terminal)?

Any insight appreciated!
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Old Dec 31, 13, 7:54 am
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It depends on what airline you are flying where you will go through immigration. Airlines other than United use the main terminal.

But if you have a multi-day layover, you should be able to check your bag just to IAD anyway. And no matter what, you need to collect your bag to go through customs in your first U.S. port of entry.
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Old Dec 31, 13, 8:49 am
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This is United, and the time between flights is pretty short - so sounds like I may be sent to the "transfer" customs area.

Is there any "escape" from there that lets me keep my luggage and go back to main terminal?
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Old Dec 31, 13, 9:40 am
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Originally Posted by br2k View Post
This is United, and the time between flights is pretty short - so sounds like I may be sent to the "transfer" customs area.

Is there any "escape" from there that lets me keep my luggage and go back to main terminal?
Not really. You would need to see a UA supervisor in the secure Customs area, have them rebook you to terminate at IAD, have your luggage directed to the IAB and process through the IAB.

I have not done this myslf, but people I know who have done this have waited hours at IAB for their luggage.
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Old Dec 31, 13, 10:32 am
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Thank you - very helpful info!
(Not what I hoped for, but will plan accordingly)
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Old Jan 1, 14, 5:58 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
I have not done this myslf, but people I know who have done this have waited hours at IAB for their luggage.
Just wanted to second that! You will wait FOREVER!
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Old Jan 5, 14, 12:25 pm
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International arriving passengers on United (and most of their Star Alliance partners at Dulles) who are making a connection through Dulles, and have their checked bags tagged for the connection, need to follow the TRANSFER sign for customs in the mid-field facility (C Concourse). After Passport Control you need to collect your checked bags.

If at that point you don't want to make the connection you have two choices about the checked bags. (1) After clearing the customs exit (where your blue customs form is collected) you can refuse to put your bags on the re-check belt - then take them through TSA security; into the C Concourse; and take the train to the Terminal building. (2) Before clearing the customs exit, stop at the United service counter in the baggage claim area; have your checked bags re-tagged for delivery to carousel 3 in the Terminal; after the customs exit drop the re-tagged bags on the re-check belt; go through TSA security; head for the Terminal and collect your bags on carousel 3. It might take 45 minutes for your bags to get to carousel 3 in the Terminal - and it will take you 20-30 minutes to get there yourself.

If you don't want to make the connection, it would be easiest if your checked bags were tagged only to Dulles. Then you would follow the signs for ARRIVALS; take the Mobile Lounge to IAB for customs; collect your bags; and leave the airport.
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Old Jan 8, 14, 3:34 am
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There should be no reason for the airline to refuse to tag only to IAD.

Note that other *A carriers like SAS, LH, etc. also use midfield. Basically anyone connecting to UA.
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Old Jan 8, 14, 5:32 am
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Originally Posted by gnaget View Post
Note that other *A carriers like SAS, LH, etc. also use midfield.
Basically anyone connecting to UA.
Comments on your two sentences quoted.
The first is partially correct.
The second is not.
Details below.

The mid-field Customs facility in the C Concourse is used by all TRANSFERing international-arriving passengers on United and most of their Star Alliance partners (including LH OS SK NH ET SN SA). If you are transferring through Dulles on any of these international-arriving airlines flights, you are directed to the TRANSFER customs facility (mid-field facility) - which is where your checked bags will be delivered.

If you arrive on UA and making a connection (ANY connection), you de-plane at a C gate; walk a sterile walkway; go down two escalators to the ground-level immigration/customs/bag recheck/TSA facility; up an escalator into the C Concourse by gate C7; go to your connecting gate. If you are not connecting, you get on a mobile lounge at the end of the sterile walkway that takes you to the IAB facility in the Terminal building.

If you arrive on another Star Alliance airline mentioned above and making a connection (ANY connection), you de-plane at an A or B gate; walk a sterile walkway; and get on a mobile lounge that takes you to the mid-field facility. If you are NOT connecting, you get on a different mobile lounge that takes you to the IAB facility in the Terminal building.

Notes in reference to UA and Star Alliance international arrivals where checked bags are tagged for the final destination:
(a) If you have checked bags, they are directed to the customs facility that YOU are supposed to go to (ARRIVALS at IAB, or TRANSFERS in the mid-field C concourse). If you go to the wrong customs facility, the airline has to clear your checked bags through customs and get them back to you at their baggage office in the Terminal - that can take a fair amount of time.
(b) If you are connecting through Dulles (signs say TRANSFER), it doesn't make ANY difference whether your connecting flight out of Dulles is domestic or international - and it doesn't make ANY difference what airline you are connecting to - you should go to the mid-field customs facility where your checked bags will be sent.
(c) Several Star Alliance airlines do NOT do the customs split at Dulles - all their passengers go to IAB in the Terminal building. These include TA, CM, AV, and TK.

(I work at Dulles and am inside both Customs facilities every week.)

Last edited by Annandaler; Jan 8, 14 at 6:03 am
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Old Jan 8, 14, 11:49 pm
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The *A flights that don't get the Midfield option is (generally) because a) Midfield is closed or b) they get an odd gate or the plane is met directly by a moon buggy 1960s style. SAS's flight used to have the direct moon-buggy pick-up, which is actually quite nice.

I think the early arrivals like the former flight from EZE on UA went through IAB only because Midfield was closed.

I flew COPA this past summer but I don't remember the details. That flight arrived around midnight when Midfield is closed. Otherwise, as a close UA partner, they would use Midfield. Hmmm.... but they also have an earlier arrival so it could be due to b)?

Are you sure that you go through Midfield if you have an odd ticket like flying SAS and then connecting to Delta? I suppose it would be too confusing for the passenger if it did not.
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Old Jan 9, 14, 11:12 am
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The mid-field Customs facility operates (approximately) 6:00AM-8:30PM. That covers the early morning UA,SA and ET arrivals doing the "split".

For UA international arrivals (which haven't pre-cleared US Customs) and all their Star Alliance partners that also do the "split", connecting (TRANSFER on the signs) passengers use the mid-field Customs facility regardless of what airline/destination is their connection flight - assuming all flights are on the same ticket.
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Old Jan 9, 14, 12:16 pm
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Originally Posted by gnaget View Post
There should be no reason for the airline to refuse to tag only to IAD.

Note that other *A carriers like SAS, LH, etc. also use midfield. Basically anyone connecting to UA.
UA, as a policy matter, does not short-check bags. Neither AA nor DL do as well. It is rarely possible to find an agent at check-in who will do this for you.

This is a red flag for hidden city ticketing such as OP is proposing here.
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Old Jun 7, 14, 8:46 pm
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Does anyone know how the OS-->UA connection works at IAD if a wheelchair is requested? Does the wheelchair take the pax all the way from plane through immigration/customs to the UA gate, or is the passenger on his/her own for at least a part of it? If the wheelchair does take the pax through immigration, does the pax wait in the normal immigration lines or does the wheelchair go around the lines?
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Old Jun 8, 14, 7:48 am
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Originally Posted by nnn View Post
Does anyone know how the OS-->UA connection works at IAD if a wheelchair is requested? Does the wheelchair take the pax all the way from plane through immigration/customs to the UA gate, or is the passenger on his/her own for at least a part of it? If the wheelchair does take the pax through immigration, does the pax wait in the normal immigration lines or does the wheelchair go around the lines?
The wheelchair meets the passenger coming off the OS flight; takes them through Immigration/Customs in the mid-field (C Concourse) facility; and to their gate for the connecting flight.

Wheelchair passengers (and their accompanying party) bypass the normal line at Passport Control. They generally get quicker service assuming there isn't a long line of wheelchair passengers.
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Old Jun 11, 14, 3:31 am
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IAD international to domestic transfer question

I am connecting at IAD from NRT to PHL. Only carry on. Three weeks ago TSA wait was 45 plus minutes.

Am I better off terminating at IAD as if it is my final stop then going through regular TSA? Seems to make sense
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