Abu Dhabi Airport United States Immigration Pre-Clearance

Introduction
US Airways Club Tampa
American Airlines Premium Lounge Miami Airport
Airberlin Business Class A330 Miami To Dusseldorf
Airberlin Lounge Dusseldorf Airport
Etihad Airways Business Class A330 Dusseldorf To Abu Dhabi
Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi
St. Regis Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways First Class Lounge Abu Dhabi Airport
Abu Dhabi Airport United States Immigration Pre-Clearance
Etihad Airways First Class A340-500 Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles


In January a US customs and immigration pre-clearance facility opened at Abu Dhabi Airport.

Etihad-Pre-Clearance

In theory there are a couple of potential reasons for adding pre-clearance facilities:

  • In the event that there are immigration problems, it’s easier to turn someone away before they board the plane than upon landing
  • It’s more convenient for passengers to land at their destination as domestic passengers, so that they can reliably make connections

Of course this comes at a big cost as well. Staffing US CBP officers for just a few daily flights is costly, though in fairness the UAE is picking up 85% of the cost of the facility, thinking that this will be a selling point for passengers.

My experience with Abu Dhabi US pre-clearance facility

I figured I’d share my experience yesterday at the Abu Dhabi Airport US pre-clearance facility prior to the inaugural Etihad Airways flight to Los Angeles.

After spending some time in the Etihad Airways First Class Lounge I was advised to head to the gate about two hours before departure.

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Abu Dhabi Airport terminal

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Abu Dhabi Airport US pre-clearance signage

Etihad’s gates for US bound flights have long been at the far end of the terminal, about a 10-15 minute walk from the lounge, which is just past security. That has always been the case, so the only thing that has been changed is that you now can’t directly access gates 58-61, but instead have to go through a “maze” in order to get to them.

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Abu Dhabi Airport US pre-clearance signage

So as you approach the gates your boarding passes are checked, and you’re directed down a hallway which leads to an escalator, to the lower level.

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Abu Dhabi Airport US pre-clearance facility entrance

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Abu Dhabi Airport US pre-clearance facility hallway

My experience with Abu Dhabi US pre-clearance security

Once there you first have to clear security. For what it’s worth they now have a premium line for first and business class passengers, which they apparently didn’t previously have.

There was no queue and I was helped immediately, though the security screening was in stark contrast to the initial one I went through before accessing the lounge. Airport security screening in the UAE is a joke in my experience, and when I went through the first security checkpoint the agent wasn’t even looking at the computer screen as the bags went through the x-ray.

Meanwhile the agents here are quite possibly the most obnoxiously thorough I’ve ever seen anywhere.

I live out of a carry-on, and I pack it damn well. One of the most useful packing tips is to always put your shoes at the bottom of the bag and stuff them with socks. When I get to the checkpoint not only do they want me to remove the shoes I’m wearing, but they also want me to remove any shoes in my bag. That’s the first time anywhere that I’ve been asked to do that.

So I unpack my entire bag to access the shoes and put them in a bin, and then he proceeds to take the dozen pairs of socks I have in my shoes and place them in a separate bin.

On top of that, they searched every square inch of my laptop bag. I keep all my cords and electronics in separate “pouches” in order to stay organized (mostly Delta’s Tumi amenity kits). The officer proceeded to unzip the pouch of each bag, and literally just dump it in a bin as if it were going into the $1 DVD bin at Wal-Mart.

He took out my electric toothbrush and shaving kit, and placed them all in the bin “bare.” Eek!

And then after screening the bag multiple times, he proceeded to repack it by literally throwing all my electronics back in the laptop bag without putting them in the pouches first. I stood there throughout the process with this look on my face:

Really

When he saw how I felt about the process, he called over the one female screener at the facility and had her pack my bag. I told them that I could just repack it, and when I proceeded to do so they said “you can’t do it here, you need to take it somewhere else.” Mind you, at this point I had my laptop bag, carry-on, and roughly six bins full of crap.

I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said the security process took 25 minutes even though I didn’t have to wait at all in line.

My experience with Abu Dhabi US pre-clearance immigration

When they first opened the facility they didn’t have Global Entry kiosks. Now they do. So I headed to one of the two kiosks located at the far left of the facility. Once that was complete I stood in the Global Entry queue, which was otherwise empty.

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Abu Dhabi Airport US pre-clearance facility

The “policy” for what people with Global Entry are supposed to do varies substantially by airport. At some airports they just want you to walk by, at some airports they want you to “wave” it at an officer and establish eye contact, and at some airports the officers still question you.

I didn’t know what the policy was here, so decided to wait till I was called. That turned out to be interesting, since the Global Entry line is immediately next to the handicapped line, and the roughly 15 wheelchair pushers in line seemed absolutely convinced I was trying to cut them. So they’d kind of stand there to block me off, even though I wasn’t trying to cut them.

Once you clear US pre-clearance in Abu Dhabi

Once you’ve cleared customs and immigration you take the escalator back up the main level of the terminal, where you’ll find the few gates that are “partitioned off” from the rest of the terminal.

There’s a small concession cart with drinks and light snacks for purchase, and then there are toilets and a prayer room on the lower level of the terminal.

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Abu Dhabi Airport US departure gates

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Abu Dhabi Airport US departure gates toilets and prayer rooms

There’s nothing else to do in the gate area, other than to wait.

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Abu Dhabi Airport US departure gates

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Abu Dhabi Airport US departure gates

Since I was on an inaugural flight I left about two hours before departure thinking there would be a party of some sort at the gate, though there was nothing.

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Abu Dhabi Airport LAX inaugural flight departure gate

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Etihad Airways A340-500

Bottom line on US pre-clearance facility in Abu Dhabi

Since introducing Abu Dhabi pre-clearance in January they’ve already made it much better than it was, by adding a priority security line and adding Global Entry kiosks.

When I used the facility yesterday it was under perfect conditions — there were virtually no lines for anyone at security or immigration — and it still sucked. Since this program started, many US bound flights have been delayed 60-90 minutes due to immigration hold ups and passengers not allowing enough time to get to the gate.

To be clear, let me take the perspective of someone that doesn’t have Global Entry. I think it goes without saying that if you have Global Entry then immigration is a non-issue anyway, and it’s just as easy to do it on arrival, since it only takes a couple of minutes.

But especially if you don’t have Global Entry or are in first/business class, you have to leave to the gate two hours before departure, and there’s absolutely nothing to do there. I guess really my biggest beef is with the security process as opposed to immigration as such.

Anyway, they’ve made the decision and I experienced it at its best and still was far from impressed. I’m not sure what problem they were trying to solve with this facility or how they think it will be a selling point, but…

Have you experienced the US pre-clearance facility in Abu Dhabi? What was your experience like?

Comments

  1. Wow, I really hope they don’t expand pre-clearance to other int’l airports. This actually becomes a negative selling point for me then, as I hate going to airports where the lounges are pre-security. I’m usually off the plane and into a cab within 5-10 minutes on arriving ORD with GE.

  2. Thanks, I’ll cross that shitshow off my list.

    How is Abu Dhabi/Etihad for transfers/transits/stopovers going from USA to 3rd countries? Might be useful for East Africa or South Asia.

  3. I guess it just depends where you are. With GE, pre-clearance at YUL is a breeze, even without a lane for premium passengers.

    Nothing like what you went through yesterday.

  4. @ Charlie — Well they used to be really good. Should still be the same if you’re flying from the US, but if returning to the US you’ll want to allow a bit of extra time for transfers.

  5. Thank goodness I’m on EY103, the non-pre-clearance flight (due to departure time). It looks like a total gong show! At the Canadian airports with pre-clearance it’s never been that bad…

    I have NEXUS (which gives me GE) but the GF doesn’t have it and that’s going to entail extra time if we have to do that rigamarole!

  6. Sounds like a terrible idea if the airline wants to become a hub for connecting the Far East with the West. Who would want two hour minimum connection times if you could avoid it where you can’t even sit in a lounge?

  7. How does this work with checked luggage?

    You should have to present your checked bags for customs clearance, yet if you have access to them you should have to go through security after that. Your description suggests the opposite sequence.

  8. My wife recently flew back to the US transiting in Abu Dhabi. She didn’t have anything bad to say about it, but she’s not a frequent flyer. On arrival at JFK, it was pretty confusing because I had to pick her up on the domestic side of the terminal (and we had to pay for the luggage carts, which I think are normally free on the international side).

  9. @ AS — You check your bags at check-in, long before the security and immigration process. Keep in mind that there’s an initial security checkpoint, and then this secondary one. I believe they screen checked bags and take pictures of them, so it’s the same process as pre-clearance facilities elsewhere around the world.

  10. Not everyone is eligible for Global Entry, certainly not the foreign passengers, and this is 300 or so less folks at LAX immigration. Hopefully they can make it better over time.

  11. I’m not eligible for Global Entry (the subject of another post altogether) and went through preclearance the day before you Ben. It was one of the most absurdly ridiculous processes I’ve ever experienced, for one reason: there aren’t separate lines for US citizens and visitors. There are four lines in the facility: Global Entry, Handicapped, and two All Passports lines. So everyone stands there and watches as all visitors are quizzed, fingerprinted, and who knows what else. Then I walk up and it took me 2 minutes. Our flight was delayed an hour, but still arrived early, so I’m pretty sure they have the block times padded to account for this. I actually asked to speak to a TSA supervisor about it and met a very nice and very professional manager (I mean that sincerely). I voiced my concern and was told the reason they couldn’t have a separate US citizens line is the UAE itself. The UAE would’ve viewed it as an insult to have a specific line for citizens and another for visitors.

    Truly screwed up process that made me long for the old-fashioned slog at IAD. The supervisor did say, though, that automatic passport machines would be coming soon though.

  12. Just out of curiosity, What if the flight get diverted to a non-us destination for someone traveling with a single entry visa?

  13. Did you read JRL’s OpEd on this process? If so, thoughts? You likely blogged about it and I just missed it…

  14. I transited via Abu Dhabi to JFK last month on Eithad. My security clearance was very painless. Probably because i didn’t have shoes in my carry on. I don’t have Global Entry so i waited on line for 20-30 minutes to clear immigration. One of the other negatives to pre-clearance is, you can’t purchase duty free liquor because of the security. The positive is you don’t have to wait on line to clear immigration at JFK.

  15. In order for the pre-clearance to work correctly, you need a terminal within a terminal with restaurants, facilities and lounges beyond the pre-clearance point. This allows people to show up early and then have something to do while they wait.

  16. Questions of “cultural respect”, and human rights, aside; this alone just ended any possibility of my ever flying anywhere with a transit thru AD.

  17. A further question is: I have read a number of blog Trip Reports, here and elsewhere, about AD. Why is this the first time I’m reading about this? Surely this atrocious mistreatment of passengers didn’t just start last week.

  18. The scheduled transit time between my upcoming Ethihad connection from their flight originating in New Delhi and the one to LAX is one hour fifty minutes (assuming it’s on time). I will be checking one bag through and carrying a laptop bag and one carry-on bag. Etihad is telling me that this won’t be sufficient time to clear U.S. immigration and customs (even though I do have Global Entry) and that when checking in at New Delhi I should confirm that I will go through immigration and customs at LAX rather than Abu Dhabi. But your report sounds to me like I won’t have this choice.

  19. @Fan – You are not actually in the United States until you are physically within US jurisdiction, even if you are pre-cleared. In fact, despite pre-clearance, you can still be denied entry to the USA upon arrival at the US POE. All pre-cleared flights must operate to “international” airports with US CBP presence, even though they are not required to have a FIS facility.

  20. I have traveled all over, and as a US Citizen, I find US Customs to be the worst. They are just pathetic people who try to use their minor powers to give US Citizens a hardtime. I just secretly mock them to myself as I go through. Pathetic.

  21. @ Stuart Falk — Don’t have any inside knowledge here, but have no clue how that would even work. Either the whole plane has to be “cleared” or no one is — they don’t have a way of just clearing some passengers but not others.

    That being said, if you’re in first class I would hope that they would meet you at the gate in the event that your connection is short and you’d otherwise misconnect.

  22. Ben- What if you have a short connection in AUH, will you be able to go thru preclearance in time?

  23. @ John — Well that’s why so many flights have been delayed from Abu Dhabi to the US. 60-90 minute departure delays haven’t been unusual, unfortunately.

  24. I went through pre-clearance in Dublin last year and thought the way they handled checked baggage was a bit bizarre – the customs guy sees a still photo of your suitcases (taken as you checked them in). So what happens if the customs guy wants to see in bags because he’s suspicious? Are the bags somehow available in a convenient location that you and the customs officer can easily get to, so you can show him what you have? There could be a lot of bags! Imagine an A380 or two!

  25. Count me as one of those with Global entry who would find this pre-clearance to be a major headache. The normal system works just fine for me. For everyone else? Couldn’t care less.

  26. @ jason — There’s a lot of signage, and you basically exit where the security checkpoint is, as if it’s a domestic flight.

  27. I went through EY PreClearance a couple of times and gave up.
    It adds an hour and takes away benefits of Global Entry (at that time there were no kiosks) and gives premium pax nothing to do (in fact all pax nothing to do for a long time)
    If you are a business/ F class passenger, you leave the lounge 2 HOURS before flight, wait in lines for security and immigration for about 45 min and then just sit in a holding area near the gate for an hour. AND after you get on, you still wait an hour for the plane to fill.

    I then decided to go to QR – much better, although there is a slight delay as they call US flights from the same gates and go through security in a very compressed manner in DOH one or two flights at a time through the security and then to BUSES each with about 8-9 seats to take you to the plane.

    It was a bit disconcerting going through the “premium Terminal” – you had 1 security in and another out going to the US
    The new airport was still a day away, so I have no idea how it is.

    But I loved getting down at Dulles, going through GE kiosks, collecting my bags and being at the taxi ramp in 15 min
    By the time the people mover brought me to Immigration, my bags were offloaded and ready.

    The old EY F treatment was best. A van met you at the people mover area, took you to immigration while the crowds were going to the people mover and GE took a min and I had time to use the rest room before my bags came and I had a limo waiting for me.

    If they could do the waiting rigamarole before the flights are called to go thro security, (like Qatar does) perhaps it will be better. For now, it is a shambles.

  28. After my March 28 horror show in Abu Dhabi, I sent the following note to James Hogan:

    I’m writing to share with you my concern about the lounge-to-aircraft experience for Etihad first-class passengers in Abu Dhabi. While your airline provided me with some very good in-flight experiences between Washington and Abu Dhabi and many outstanding pre-flight services (particularly the new lounge at Washington Dulles and the seamless chauffeur car service), the time-consuming hassle of clearing U.S. customs and immigration in Abu Dhabi nearly ruined the return trip.

    It took me 90 minutes, walking a kilometer with carry-on baggage (and no Thai Airway buggy to compensate), and queuing in four separate lines to get from the Etihad Lounge to the gate. Etihad personnel were directing passengers — regardless of class of service — into security lines, meaning that there was no fast track for premium- class passengers. The security facilities were overburdened by passengers leaving for Chicago, New York, and Washington around the same time.

    When I arrived at the chaotic gate, there was a further queue for checking identification, with no separate treatment for premium-class passengers. Once I cleared that queue, I found that there were no open seats anywhere in the gate area and a further 40-minute wait.

    Had I flown from an airport without such a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility, I would have cleared immigration and customs in the United States, where I use my Global Entry card. That allows me to clear customs and immigration in about 20 minutes, with most of that time spent waiting for baggage delivery. Before departing for the United States, I also would have been able to relax more in the lounge, rather than spend time trudging around or queuing in the airport or waiting at a crowded gate.

    As someone who frequently flies as a (paying) first-class passenger, the experience at Abu Dhabi gave me pause about future travel. The lounge-to-aircraft experience reminded me of my experience trying to transit Mumbai last year on my way to Sri Lanka — time-consuming, unpleasant, and resulting in many thoughts of “never again.” Surely it is time for a re-think.

  29. I hate preclearance in all its forms. Just another way of taxing pax (this time in the form of their time).

    How close to departure would you actually recommend an F pax with GE leave the lounge? Certainly not 2 hrs, right?

  30. @ Chas — Well I don’t think I have a big enough sample size to give a good answer. There is a priority security line, though with 150+ premium passengers departing around the same time, I imagine sometimes the priority line is much longer. If circumstances were the same as during my flight, I would have left about 75 minutes before departure.

  31. A near brush with celebrity! I wonder it we were there at the same time?

    I went through AUH on Sunday as well, connecting from Etihad’s JNB to ORD flights. My experience was considerably easier than yours. Security was not an issue. Zipped through customs with GE; I did feel a little badly about going ahead of the wheelchair line.

    Sadly, the connection was tight enough that I wasn’t able to check out their lounge. And then we had a departure delay of two hours; I agree that the gate area needs more shops or something to pass the time.

  32. @ Dave — Yep, we were there right around the same time — my flight left about an hour before yours. Happy to hear your experience was better!

  33. @ SamOH — The flight operated by the Jet Airways aircraft isn’t subject to this, as the pre-clearance facility is just open in the morning.

  34. @ AS — You check your bags at check-in, long before the security and immigration process. Keep in mind that there’s an initial security checkpoint, and then this secondary one. I believe they screen checked bags and take pictures of them, so it’s the same process as pre-clearance facilities elsewhere around the world.

    Actually in Bermuda, you actually get your bags tagged at check in, but don’t drop them off until you clear the US pre-clearance facility. Flights to Canada and UK skip this step.

  35. Dear Sir/Madam,
    Yes, of course, I enjoyed the travel through Etihad Airways and experienced the waiting and immigration processing in Abu Dhabi Airport.

    After reaching the United States (Dulles Airport), we felt very easy as we were told to claim the baggage and enter the US. After we reached the destination home in Virginia at my uncle’s, we noticed that there was no stamping or any evidence of arrival date in the passport. Is it the thing to worry? what should be done?

  36. Thanks very much for this review of the ridiculous immigration and security procedure at AUH. I will be avoiding it, and will refuse to fly Etihad from AUH to the United States,

  37. Has anyone tried this with the Etihad Gold Departure service? Hopefully they will escort you and expedite the process.

  38. I am a US citizen and also have global entry. I booked the Gold Departure service with Etihad as they escort you to the lounge and then to your gate (hopefully). I was wondering if this will give us more time in the lounge as we’re also flying in first and want to experience the lounge for as long as possible.

  39. While I did read about purchasing this service on the Etihad Web site I would think, at least for First Class connecting passengers, this would be included without extra charge.

  40. as what was stated above, the preclearance is only for Etihad’s morning flight. For AUH to JFK, Etihad operates 2 daily flights – one that leaves at 10am and one that leaves at 2am. The 10am is on an Etihad-operated airplane while the 2am is operated on a Jet Airways-operated airplane. The preclearance is closed at 2am so you cannot do the preclearance at AUH; additionally the preclearance is located in T3 and the 2am Jet Airways departs out of T1. Just beware, the gates at T1 are small, the crowd aboard the flight was very large (it was extremely chaotic, unorganized, stuffy, and a complete mess waiting for our flight to JFK). Having said all that, when we landed in JFK, US immigration took less than 2 minutes – smooth and quick.
    Note: came to IAD in January and they have set up a separate section for those transiting within IAD and that immigration process only took 5-10 minutes – very quick and efficient (unlike what it used to be). From there, you can also collect your bags and recheck them on United connecting flight.

  41. I am traveling to New York JFK from Karachi through Etihad Airways. There is a layover of 3 hours at Abu Dhabi. Is this time enough for the pre-clearance? One interesting thing i just found out from Etihad call centre is that passengers transiting from KHI-NY via Abu Dhabi don’t need to go through the pre-clearance (no matter any flight no.) and their immigration will be done at New York. Is this information correct as i read on few above posts that passengers transiting needs to go through pre-clearance. Please advise.

  42. @ Hussain — That’s news to me, not sure how that would work. Regardless, three hours should be plenty of time.

  43. Thanks for this very useful resource, Lucky. Is pre-clearance facility available only to travelers whose trip originates in Abu Dhabi? I for instance, would fly end of this month from Chennai, India to JFK. Also, I will travel on a work permit (an L1 VISA) on an Indian passport. Any information would be very useful.

  44. We were really regretting scheduling an 8 hour overnight layover in AUH on our way back home from our honeymoon, and I was thinking hours of waiting for pre-clearance would undo all of our relaxation…but luckily I now have a good experience to report.

    For the 8:50am flight from AUH to LAX in F.. we checked in at 6am (no line), had breakfast at the lounge where they told us they’d let us know when to head out.. at 7:20 we started to feel nervous so we inquired and the front desk said “oh, you should have left 30 mins ago!!”…guess they forgot about us.

    We do walk fast, and were at the entrance to the pre-clearance gates at 7:30.. there is a premium line for first class/business class/Etihad gold for both the document check line and then also the security line. For us, there was no line in either case for premium passengers so we were through document check and security within 10 mins.

    Next up.. gulp.. down the escalator to passport control…..hey, no lines!

    Long story short we left the lounge at 7:21am and were sitting at the gate at 7:42am. Our 8:50am flight didn’t start boarding til 8:50 and our plane left the gate at 9:45. They mentioned a delay for both re-fueling and also for waiting for people to clear security (but since we were already boarded I don’t know if security got slow or if people were late).

    The whole time I was wondering if it was different since the LAX flight that we were on was the first of the day.. perhaps the lines just grow throughout the morning… but they had every lane open at passport control so it looked to us like they were ready for a crowd. Hopefully things are improving!

  45. I am reporting back on my experience with the Etihad Meet and Greet service. We flew from the Maldives to AUH and had an overnight stay and then the morning flight to LAX. We used the meet and greet service for our arrival to AUH and were met by an escort (with our names on a sign) as soon as we got off of the plane. The escort took us to the passport control and to the front of the line ahead of all other passengers. She waited for us and took us through the airport all the way across the street to the Premier Inn (our hotel) to the front desk. We also book the Gold Departure service for our flight to LAX. We showed up the next morning at the first class counter, checked in and our escort took us to the first class lounge and told us he would return to take us through preclearance. I told him we had global entry and wanted to wait as long as possible before heading to the gate. He allowed us to stay as long as possible and then came back to take us to the gate. He escorted us through the entire process taking us to the front of the line (ahead of all other passengers) at every point. I highly recommend this service, we were flying first class and would have been able to use the premium lanes but this service was well worth the money and took all stress out of the entire process.

  46. I will never take a flight through Abu Dhabi to USA. Airport is relatively small. I had about 8 hours layover. in night …big mistake…..then the pre screening. I am Good US Citizen but US border agent really killed me with questions and even yell couple of times. It never happened before. I could not believe this treatment….

  47. After using the kiosk, did you have to speak to an officer? Did they ask you any questions? You said that things vary at different airports, but didn’t tell us what happened after you used the kiosk! Thanks!!

  48. Hi All…thanks for the great info and responses. Can someone confirm if I need to be at the gate 2 hours before departure? I will be taking EY103 AUH-JFK with a departure time of 2:55 AM. I assume this means the pre-clearance will not be needed and I can just head to the gate not too long before boarding? I will be hanging out in the Terminal 1 lounge at least a couple hours before…but I’m getting conflicting information on whether this flight will be departing from Terminal 1 or 3?

  49. Cool thanks for the info…Darn this means I guess I’ll be meandering around Terminal 3 for like 1.5 hours. I guess I’ll have to get to the airport a bit earlier to enjoy the Terminal 1 lounge then. Given I am now “inside” the airport…would you suggest I still depart from the lounge to Terminal 3 2 hours before the flight? And if I do not will they prevent me from boarding?

  50. @ Jason — To clarify, which class are you traveling in? The Terminal 3 lounge is nicer, if you do have access to it.

  51. I am traveling in Economy…part of the crazy Xmas day cheap ticket offer that lots of folks got. The only lounges I have access to I believe are in Terminal 1 due to my Lounge Club membership…I’m guessing that membership will not work for the Etihad 1st / Biz class options… I was hoping to basically nap / sit in comfortable quiet area for a couple hours close to boarding…looks like not possible now.

  52. Would really appreciate your opinions/suggestions: traveling through AUH from Maldives to DFW, with two nights in Abu Dhabi (Jumeirah)– would like to maximize our time in the First Class Lounge and spa, at least 2 hrs. Flight from AUH-DFW departs at 940am and only one traveler is Global Entry.
    1) would you suggest doing Etihad Meet and Greet?
    2) what time should we arrange the hotel pickup?

  53. @ SJ — If you arrange to be picked up at 6AM, that should leave plenty of time. You can’t reserve spa treatments in advance, but rather only when you get there. That being said, availability typically isn’t an issue. As far as meet and greet goes, not sure what that refers to?

  54. I have a reservation on Etihad flight EY101 (Business Class) to JFK that involves a 2.5 hr transit in AUH. Since this involves going through the US clearance facility in AUH, which I understand still takes 2 hrs, I am concerned that this transit time is insufficient, particularly since the first leg tends to arrive 30 to 45 mins late according to FlightAware.

    I was wondering whether someone could please let me know (a) the current situation at AUH wrt US clearance lines and (b) whether they are aware of anyone missing a flight due to this issue and what the experience was.

    If this is cutting it too fine, the other option is a 9-hr wait at AUH – not that great either.

  55. @ Jif — You should be fine, assuming your inbound flight isn’t too late. In the pre-clearance facility they do a good job prioritizing passengers on flights that are about to leave, so I’m sure you won’t have any trouble, unless you’re way late. The facility isn’t quite as bad as it used to be, but isn’t great.

  56. Hello
    I am travelling on economic class via etihad airways to chicago. I heard about this immigration pre clearence check, I have following queries.
    I am going for travel purpose to usa and also going to meet my brother their, I had taken few snacks and sweets and Indian spices for him . I will pack them in my check in bags. Did they have any problem for this food items. Did they allow this.
    What other precautions we should have for this immigration pre check
    Thanks
    Dr Samidh Shah

  57. @ samidhshah — Your checked bags generally won’t be checked at the facility, since you won’t have them on you. That being said, you’ll still want to declare anything you have.

  58. people with aisian nationalities, even with green card are treated worst in pre clearance, my relatives one 80 years old with his young grand son both green card holders were forced to miss a flight during immigration clearance, and they were not offered hotel stay even, theyhad to fight for hotel so be careful

  59. I would appreciate if someone can comment on the number of people missing their flights to US due to this pre-clearance mess?

    I have a a flight from Mumbai (India) to AUH coming at 6:10 am. I have a connecting flight from AUH to LAX at 8:50 am.

    What are my chances of missing the AUH -> LAX flight (assuming that Mumbai to AUH flight is on-time)?

    GP

  60. Hi Lucky,
    Our flight from New Delhi on Etihad is scheduled to arrive at AUH 00;35am; and connecting flight to LAX EY171 is scheduled for departure at 8:34am. Although it’s an 8 hr overlay, I’m not sure if it’s worth leaving the airport to stay at a hotel, or is it? Would we be wasting time driving back & forth, thinking of staying at Hyatt Gate (to get me 2 stays closer to complete fast track to Diamond)

    WE are flying 1st class, would we be able to hang around at the 1st class lounge as long as possible? Thank you for your reply.

    Your trip report is very helpful and help me prepare for our trip in this October.

  61. @ Lean — That’s a toughie. You certainly could spend the night in the lounge if you wanted to. That’s sort of right at the limit where I could go either way. Assuming you have work to do/can keep yourself entertained, I might just stay in the lounge. Enjoy the trip!

  62. Having flown to the US on Etihad in the past I know I had to get my bags after immigration and give them to American to make my connection. Now that it is a domestic flight do I still have to collect my bags or are they automatically transferred to American? Also, from I know of Terminal 5 in Chicago the only connection to the baggage area is through customs. So I was surprised to see that the Etihad flight still uses Terminal 5 for arrivals. Any help/ideas?

  63. I am traveling from Mumbai to NY via AUH. I reach AUH at 23:25 and Connecting flight is at 02:55. I have to travel from terminal 2 to terminal 3. Is it sufficient for Security and Immigration check?

  64. Hey lycky got a quick question for you.
    I’m flying from bombay to ord on business class ( first time with etihad ( pre clearance) and have a domestic do I need to claim my baggage at AUH and recheck again?

  65. Hi Lucky,

    Could you please advice/clarify below points:
    1) I am flying from Pune to Dallas through Abu Dhabi. Could you please advise if the immigration check will be done in Abu Dhabi?
    2) Do I need to collect checked in baggages at Abu dhabi and recheckin?
    3) Do I need to transfer the checkin baggages at dallas to the domestic airline – American airlines

    Regards,
    Mahesh

  66. I am afraid, even after having such a highest security measures for aliens not to enter US, there is more then 100 millions of aliens settled in USA in past decade. Isn’t a question.

  67. Many folks are asking about baggage and customs…

    If you have connecting flight in US, you need to make sure that your luggage is tagged/checked in till your final destination in US (not till etihad arrival location ORD/DFW/HOU etc etc)… Your luggage will be available at final destination only.

    Customs : US pre-clearance might ask you about baggage tags so that they can scan and show you its image in monitor…and ask if there is anythign to declare…For me they did not ask for anything except whether i have something to declare or not…

    Just make sure you reach pre-clearance asap after landing in AUH… i had 3hrs but all this redoing security (once at AUH terminal change and then US level at pre-clearance) takes some time …it was not busy for me so i was done within 30mins..

    i just came via AUH early Jan 2016… it was really good experience… they have opened pre-clearance 24×7 for all US flights so entering US as domestic flight is plus … and one need not collect baggage anywhere except final destination.

  68. Hi.
    how much time AHU usa immigration take to send first time us immigration documents packet to USICS so that they can start Green card process

  69. Hi
    I got arrested some 20 yrs ago for domestic violence so i have a criminal record
    I am not a US citizen but i travel to houston a few times a year to c my parents by qatar airways
    Evry Time i arrive in Houston they keep me in a room with 50 or 60 other ppl and i wait for 2-4 hours to get cleared then i go inn
    This time i want to try etihad pre-clearance
    Any clue about ppl who need extra security checks? I thought it might be easier to do it in AD rather thank Houston

  70. Flying in Etihad from JFK is 75 minutes transit time in AUH enough to catch the next flight to DAC(Dhaka). Please inform as I am worried.Is this transit time enough to transfer my lugages which will be booked upto
    the final destinatiom.

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