YOW (Ottawa): Transfer from AA to UA

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Old Feb 10, 19, 4:35 pm
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YOW (Ottawa): Transfer from AA to UA

Hello. I am arriving into YOW on AA and flying out on separate ticket on UA. I have done similar routings before in YYZ where I didn't need to pass Canadian Immigration as a transiting passenger. May I presume same situation in YOW? I have a scheduled layover of about 2.5 hours. Will I have enough time to stop into the Maple *A lounge? Thanks.
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Old Feb 10, 19, 5:12 pm
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Originally Posted by cagcag View Post
Hello. I am arriving into YOW on AA and flying out on separate ticket on UA. I have done similar routings before in YYZ where I didn't need to pass Canadian Immigration as a transiting passenger. May I presume same situation in YOW? I have a scheduled layover of about 2.5 hours. Will I have enough time to stop into the Maple *A lounge? Thanks.
There's no option to by-pass Canadian and US customs in Ottawa that I am aware of, and there's no Maple Leaf (or any other type of) Lounge in the transborder area. 2.5 hours is plenty of time. It's a small airport.
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Old Feb 10, 19, 5:18 pm
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Originally Posted by cagcag View Post
Hello. I am arriving into YOW on AA and flying out on separate ticket on UA. I have done similar routings before in YYZ where I didn't need to pass Canadian Immigration as a transiting passenger. May I presume same situation in YOW? I have a scheduled layover of about 2.5 hours. Will I have enough time to stop into the Maple *A lounge? Thanks.
as above poster shared, no bypass. Word to the wise... good luck with immigration. Canadian officials tend to grill, really grill, individuals Just flying through!

years ago I flew to yvr for a few hours. Mileage run.

I was pulled to secondary then tertiary grilling. They specifically didn’t like the family tree diagram in had in my backpack, as they thought it was a drug ring.

Last edited by zrs70; Feb 11, 19 at 12:35 am
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Old Feb 10, 19, 5:27 pm
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Small airport, both Canadian and US immigration will grilll

I went through YOW several times. I do not want to go through YOW anymore. Be prepared to be grilled by both Canadian and US immigration. The Canadian may take you an hour waiting if you are the unlucky one to get special treatment.
Good luck.
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Old Feb 10, 19, 5:53 pm
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Originally Posted by Kmxu View Post
I went through YOW several times. I do not want to go through YOW anymore. Be prepared to be grilled by both Canadian and US immigration. The Canadian may take you an hour waiting if you are the unlucky one to get special treatment.
Good luck.
Kxmu and others. Thanks for your realistic layout of my impending situation with US /Canadian immigration and customs. Too late now to change my itineraries. I am transiting YOW on 12Feb., with an anticipated snowfall accumulation of more than 1 foot. Maybe bad weather may assist me in making an itinerary change.
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Old Feb 10, 19, 9:04 pm
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The YOW transborder area suffers from a serious lack of amenities in general, not just the lack of a lounge. There's only a small restaurant, a newsstand and a Tim Horton's. At least there's free wifi.

I have no experience with Canadian Customs agents because with Nexus I just walk right through. However, unlike at other airports (including Canadian airports like YYZ), even for Global Entry holders the US CBP at YOW tends to ask the same questions as if you don't have Global Entry (i.e. where are you going and why, even sometimes stamping passports, which is annoying).

With 2.5h if the security line is short you may want to at least attempt to access the domestic MLL. No guarantees. I successfully did it once by just telling security that I know I'm at the wrong checkpoint but I'm going to the MLL. The second time I tried it I got through security but was denied at the lounge itself. After that I decided it wasn't worth it as I'm YOW-based, so just show up at the airport close to flight time.

Also, I wouldn't count on being saved by a weather waiver. The forecast, including snow estimates, can often change and while a foot of snow is a large-ish storm, it's not all that unusual here.

One more thing: based on the facts given, you must be flying PHL-YOW-IAD, which seems kind of crazy...must be connecting to somewhere else at IAD?

Last edited by [email protected]; Feb 10, 19 at 9:34 pm Reason: Added comment re routing
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Old Feb 11, 19, 3:51 am
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I don't know why you are doing a US to US connecting in YOW and that's a really bad idea IMHO. Prepare to be more then grilled: 2.5 hours may not be enough.
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Old Feb 11, 19, 5:06 am
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i did seperte tickets to yow this past spring but no checked bags,had no issues with being grilled. told them i was transiting on a cheaper ticket and they could care less. transborder area sucked. the restaurant was pretty terrible, make sure you pay in cad and dont let them trick you into paying usd i saw the waiter do this twice to other tables.
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Old Feb 11, 19, 7:17 am
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Originally Posted by JAXFLY View Post
i did seperte tickets to yow this past spring but no checked bags,had no issues with being grilled. told them i was transiting on a cheaper ticket and they could care less. transborder area sucked. the restaurant was pretty terrible, make sure you pay in cad and dont let them trick you into paying usd i saw the waiter do this twice to other tables.
[email protected] and others thank you all for your informative posts. Pricing of my itinerary YOW-IAD-SFO-SIN was considerably less in CAD than USD from USA. I have done this several times over the years transiting through YYZ with no major problems. I will be flying on 2 separate tickets. AA then UA without luggage and with Global Entry. I was not expecting a "grilling" by either the Canadian or US immigration or customs. Thanks again to all who provided input.
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Old Feb 11, 19, 8:14 am
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We saved about $500/pp a few years ago flying out of YOW to Hawaii, as compared to any US airports within a reasonable drive of our house. Flew YOW>ORD>HNL>KOA for a total of $1263 USD for both of us. We are about a 3 hour drive from YOW and drove up the night before an early am flight.
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Old Feb 11, 19, 9:05 am
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Originally Posted by chebert999 View Post
I don't know why you are doing a US to US connecting in YOW and that's a really bad idea IMHO. Prepare to be more then grilled: 2.5 hours may not be enough.
OP is not on a connection. He is transferring between two tickets and assumes the risk of a no show.

The question for OP is not whether 2.5 hours is sufficient as a connection, but whether 2.5 hours is sufficient to accommodate the risk of a no show at YOW. If OP does no show for his UA flight, all segments through to SIN (and return or onwards if they are on the same ticket) will be cancelled and will retain whatever value it is they have under the fare rules (generally $0).
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Old Feb 11, 19, 9:18 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
OP is not on a connection. He is transferring between two tickets and assumes the risk of a no show.

The question for OP is not whether 2.5 hours is sufficient as a connection, but whether 2.5 hours is sufficient to accommodate the risk of a no show at YOW. If OP does no show for his UA flight, all segments through to SIN (and return or onwards if they are on the same ticket) will be cancelled and will retain whatever value it is they have under the fare rules (generally $0).
Often1. The risk was known to me prior to arranging these 2 ticket itineraries. I considered bad weather making for a late arrival. I also considered that that same bad weather would probably delay the arrival of the incoming IAD-YOW UA flight. I had in fact NOT anticipated a lengthy immigration possible delay. At this point, I can only hope for the best
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Old Feb 11, 19, 10:00 am
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Originally Posted by cagcag View Post
Kxmu and others. Thanks for your realistic layout of my impending situation with US /Canadian immigration and customs. Too late now to change my itineraries. I am transiting YOW on 12Feb., with an anticipated snowfall accumulation of more than 1 foot. Maybe bad weather may assist me in making an itinerary change.
Seeing how you are flying to a Canadian airport, you should use the metric system to avoid confusion.... .j/k but yeah 30-50cm is expected over Tuesday/Wednesday this week. With that said, the ground crew at YOW are pretty good at clearing snow. Most of the delays occur due to late arriving aircraft.
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Old Feb 11, 19, 12:04 pm
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Originally Posted by cagcag View Post
Often1. The risk was known to me prior to arranging these 2 ticket itineraries. I considered bad weather making for a late arrival. I also considered that that same bad weather would probably delay the arrival of the incoming IAD-YOW UA flight. I had in fact NOT anticipated a lengthy immigration possible delay. At this point, I can only hope for the best
I think the immigration delay comments in the thread are overblown. To me there's a simple answer that you were able to save $XXX by doing it this way. I wouldn't worry about it having a significant time impact when you have a couple hours to spare. Not many international flights are arriving or departing at that time of day - the PHL flight is probably the only one, so just make sure you are at the front of the plane.

I would have been more concerned about the first ticket being on AA given that AA's service to YOW is limited to 2 flights a day (both PHL) and that's it.

I would also be worried that UA would cancel the flight but not until after you were already headed to YOW.

The snow is currently scheduled to start mid-day, so UA may try to send the afternoon flight and maybe cancel the evening one.

Some recommendations on irrops recovery at YOW:
- monitor the inbound flight very closely because you can sometimes predict a cancellation before it is announced and be the first in line for rebooking (and also try by phone)
- you can't leave the transborder area by yourself. Staff have to walk the whole group out through Canadian customs (without having to speak to customs agents though), which takes time to organize
- if the flight is cancelled, the UAX staff are generally good about rebooking on other airlines (given limited UA options) but there are few staff so rebooking 50 passengers can take hours (if you can't do it by phone)
- I recommend rerouting through YYZ as there are more options from there and there are hourly YOW-YYZ flights on AC. Even if they can't confirm you on a flight until say 6h later, standby is an option and as UA*G, also potentially booked as "Y", you will have high priority. This has saved me a few times.
- Find your own routings. I've been told there is nothing until the next day, but they were only looking at 1-connection routings and I found a 2-connection routing (using my YYZ rule above)
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Old Feb 11, 19, 12:22 pm
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
I think the immigration delay comments in the thread are overblown. To me there's a simple answer that you were able to save $XXX by doing it this way. I wouldn't worry about it having a significant time impact when you have a couple hours to spare. Not many international flights are arriving or departing at that time of day - the PHL flight is probably the only one, so just make sure you are at the front of the plane.

I would have been more concerned about the first ticket being on AA given that AA's service to YOW is limited to 2 flights a day (both PHL) and that's it.

I would also be worried that UA would cancel the flight but not until after you were already headed to YOW.

The snow is currently scheduled to start mid-day, so UA may try to send the afternoon flight and maybe cancel the evening one.

Some recommendations on irrops recovery at YOW:
- monitor the inbound flight very closely because you can sometimes predict a cancellation before it is announced and be the first in line for rebooking (and also try by phone)
- you can't leave the transborder area by yourself. Staff have to walk the whole group out through Canadian customs (without having to speak to customs agents though), which takes time to organize
- if the flight is cancelled, the UAX staff are generally good about rebooking on other airlines (given limited UA options) but there are few staff so rebooking 50 passengers can take hours (if you can't do it by phone)
- I recommend rerouting through YYZ as there are more options from there and there are hourly YOW-YYZ flights on AC. Even if they can't confirm you on a flight until say 6h later, standby is an option and as UA*G, also potentially booked as "Y", you will have high priority. This has saved me a few times.
- Find your own routings. I've been told there is nothing until the next day, but they were only looking at 1-connection routings and I found a 2-connection routing (using my YYZ rule above)
Thanks again for your detailed information. I will have wheelchair assistance between flights. Maybe that will help expedite my immigration processing. Are the Canadian and US immigration agents sensitive to short timing between carriers?

Last edited by cagcag; Feb 11, 19 at 12:27 pm
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