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Advice for tight int'l-dom connection at EWR for non-US citizen

Advice for tight int'l-dom connection at EWR for non-US citizen

Old Mar 7, 12, 4:05 pm
  #1  
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Advice for tight int'l-dom connection at EWR for non-US citizen

A Haitian friend will be visiting my parents, flying PAP-EWR arriving 6.49 p.m., booked EWR-BOS at 8 p.m. I understand he's been advised not to check luggage; he has a visa and a return confirmation printout. With the immigration questioning he may get, does he have much hope of making the connection? At least this is a narrow-body flight arriving past prime TATL arrival time.

I understand that to get confirmed on flight 1043 at 9.30, there would be a $150 change fee. Might he as well not make the change, and standby for that flight if he misses the connection? Any thoughts on the prospect of a problem standing by, for this flight Tuesday, March 13?
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Old Mar 7, 12, 4:31 pm
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If he misses the connection, they'll most likely rebook him on the later flight.

Having the return ticket in hand should help. You might have your parents send him a letter with their contact information on it so he could show it to them. At the minimum, he should have their contact information, address, etc. readily available for inspection.

Being prepared with quick answers to the inevitable questions will certainly help.
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Old Mar 7, 12, 5:07 pm
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It's not the questions that take time, it's the standing in line.
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Old Mar 7, 12, 5:10 pm
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Originally Posted by 5khours View Post
It's not the questions that take time, it's the standing in line.
True. However, if you don't have answers when you get to the front of the queue, you might be delayed even longer.

The actual length of the line is a crap shoot at best and is contingent on a ton of different factors. I've been the first plane to arrive in a block of flights and the last. Every little advantage helps.
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Old Mar 7, 12, 5:31 pm
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Originally Posted by 5khours View Post
It's not the questions that take time, it's the standing in line.
Make sure he fills out the i94 and customs form ahead of time. Remind him of the photo and fingerprints. Try to get off the plane quickly.
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Old Mar 7, 12, 5:41 pm
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I have had this problem many times before as immigration lines can be very unpredictable. The ground staff will know you are connecting from an international flight, and as such, if you don't show up, they will assume that you are probably stuck in immigration. EWR handles many international flights, so they should be very used to this type of misconnect and they will rebook your friend for free. Generally, they are very flexible about these types of misconnects.

As you mentioned, the next flight is 9:30PM, and hopefully you are out of immigration by then. Once you miss the original flight, they will rebook you on the next flight. If you miss the 9:30PM, they will then rebook you on the first flight the next day. I've never had this happen before (even when I was stuck in immigration for over 4 hours one time, there was still a flight the same day), so I do not know if they will provide a hotel. If they don't, it would probably be cheaper for your friend to just take one of the many cheap buses that goes from NYC to Boston.

Even if you have checked baggage it is not an issue. Ordinarily, you have to pick up your baggage after immigration to bring it through customs, then give the baggage back to the airline for the domestic portion. If you are stuck in immigration and it is getting close to your flight, the airline will actually take your baggage and clear customs for you (i.e. have customs open and check your bag and clear it). That way they can bring your bag through to the domestic flight so that it may be ready in case you clear immigration in time for your flight. They won't load the bag unless you make the flight, and if you don't, they will simply put the bag onto whatever flight you actually end up on.
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Old Mar 7, 12, 5:51 pm
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Originally Posted by bruceba View Post
Try to get off the plane quickly.
This is very true. As a non-US citizen who goes to the US a lot, I make a point to try to be at the front of the plane, and literally run from the plane to immigration. With all the fingerprinting and procedures you must go through, every person you pass will save you at least 3-5 minutes.

In my experience, the key is to overtake the following types of people, as they take a very long time:
- students. students who enter for the first time takes a long time to clear immigration because their extra documentation needs to be verified and validated, especially after 9-11.
- people who have lots of extra documentation with their passports. these may be asylum cases, or folks entering on other uncommon or complex visas that requires the immigration officer to do a lot more work to validate these documents before they can admit them
- people who hold passports from countries that are less common or from less developed countries. Unfortunately, even if its subconscious, I find that immigration officers tend to take a lot longer to admit someone who holds, say, a Ghanaian passport than someone who holds a German passport.
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Old Mar 7, 12, 6:05 pm
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As a foreign passport holder, 1 hour is never going to be enough time to make a connection, regardless of a checked bag or not. In fact, checking a bag might just increase his chances of making the connection.


The peak evening arrival time for International Flights is between 6 and 8pm, so your friend will be right in the middle of the peak time. We usually see customs times ranging from 30-60 minutes for US citizens and 60-120 minutes for non-citizens during this time. While a Tuesday is arguably a lighter travel day, I do not see a non-citizen getting through customs in less than 45 minutes.


One would have to assume he will be off the plane in 10 minutes (7:00pm), he will have to walk to, and then be processed by an Immigration Official (7:20pm), and then either claim his bag, or progress to Customs (7:45pm), then exit into International Arrivals, and either take the AirTrain to Terminal C, or reclear security inside Terminal C (8:00pm).


Also, how long is he staying for? If he is staying beyond a week or two, I would expect him to get some extra scrutiny, which could add additional time to the timeline I discussed above.

Also, looking at the MCT for EWR for an International-Domestic flight, it shows at 90 minutes. Where did he book this flight.
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Old Mar 7, 12, 6:17 pm
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Thanks for the replies to date. For the main question: is it advisable to book the later flight, even with the change fee? My father booked this, I think on what was then the CO site. Can he argue that this didn't meet the MCT, and get the change fee waived?

He has a 6-month visa and is staying close to that long.

Last edited by rove312; Mar 7, 12 at 6:22 pm Reason: Adding length of stay.
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Old Mar 7, 12, 6:29 pm
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Originally Posted by rove312 View Post
Thanks for the replies to date. For the main question: is it advisable to book the later flight, even with the change fee? My father booked this, I think on what was then the CO site. Can he argue that this didn't meet the MCT, and get the change fee waived?

He has a 6-month visa and is staying close to that long.
You can try. If everything was booked on the same ticket, the EWR ground staff will rebook the passenger on the next flight with no charge.
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Old Mar 7, 12, 7:21 pm
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Originally Posted by rove312 View Post
Thanks for the replies to date. For the main question: is it advisable to book the later flight, even with the change fee? My father booked this, I think on what was then the CO site. Can he argue that this didn't meet the MCT, and get the change fee waived?

He has a 6-month visa and is staying close to that long.

What kind of Visa, Tourist/Work/Student?

If he is coming on a Tourist Visa, be sure he by no means mentions he will be doing ANY work, or even looking for work (even working for free in a family business or around the house doing odd jobs) This is a surefire way to be sent back.

I will warn that a six-month stay could be a bit of a red flag to be just "visiting" the United States. And aside from improper paperwork, is probably the #1 reason I see people sent back.
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Old Mar 7, 12, 7:36 pm
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Don't rebook the flight. The change fee is less than the probable cost of a hotel room. What you or your father might do is look at hotels and have a possible hotel with a shuttle ready to book as soon as you hear that your friend missed his flight and was not booked on the later flight. (And if the flight is late, as is usual for Newark, he might miss the later flight anyway.)


Now, I'm 1K with UA. My flight to Newark was late, I got booked on a flight to Memphis that was delayed. By the time I got to the gate the door was closed. They rebooked me on the next day's flight and got a hotel, plus dinner and breakfast vouchers. I'm not sure if I got the hotel and vouchers because I'm 1K or if they would do that for anyone.

I'd suggest going on and checking bags. By the time your friend clears immigration, the bags should be on the carrousel. He'll move much faster without a bag. He can ease his way up to the front of the plane and then move through the concourse much, much faster.
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Old Mar 7, 12, 7:42 pm
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Originally Posted by manneca View Post
(And if the flight is late, as is usual for Newark, he might miss the later flight anyway.)
Believe it or not, most International flights arrive either on time or early, unless there are weather issues.


Originally Posted by manneca View Post
I'm not sure if I got the hotel and vouchers because I'm 1K or if they would do that for anyone.
Unless the delay is caused by a mechanical failure, generally no passengers (status or not) will receive vouchers (food or hotel.)

Originally Posted by manneca View Post
I'd suggest going on and checking bags. By the time your friend clears immigration, the bags should be on the carousel. He'll move much faster without a bag. He can ease his way up to the front of the plane and then move through the concourse much, much faster.
+1^^^
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Old Mar 7, 12, 7:44 pm
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What kind of Visa, Tourist/Work/Student?

If he is coming on a Tourist Visa, be sure he by no means mentions he will be doing ANY work, or even looking for work (even working for free in a family business or around the house doing odd jobs) This is a surefire way to be sent back.

I will warn that a six-month stay could be a bit of a red flag to be just "visiting" the United States. And aside from improper paperwork, is probably the #1 reason I see people sent back.

Six months will probably require secondary inspection. Don't want to worry you but he may have to prove he has funds for the visit.
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Old Mar 7, 12, 8:41 pm
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Originally Posted by kwildnj View Post
Unless the delay is caused by a mechanical failure, generally no passengers (status or not) will receive vouchers (food or hotel.)
I don't know for the new United, but UA used to give vouchers even during weather delays for 1K and Global Services members.
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