Stockholm Airport Introducing US Pre-Clearance Facility In 2018

In May 2015, the DHS announced their intent to expand US Pre-Clearance facilities to 10 new airports over the coming years. For those of you not familiar with Pre-Clearance facilities, it basically means that US Customs Border Protection officers are stationed at an airport outside the US, so you clear customs and immigration before boarding your US bound flight. That means you land in the US as a domestic passenger.

US-Pre-Clearance-Facility-1

At the time, the possible airports included the following:

Brussels Airport, Belgium; Punta Cana Airport, Dominican Republic; Narita International Airport, Japan; Amsterdam Airport Schipol, Netherlands; Oslo Airport, Norway; Madrid-Barajas Airport, Spain; Stockholm Arlanda Airport, Sweden; Istanbul Ataturk Airport, Turkey; and London Heathrow Airport and Manchester Airport, United Kingdom

I suspect most of those won’t actually happen (Istanbul probably wouldn’t happen either way anymore, while adding this facility at London Heathrow just seems impractical).

As you can see, one of the airports on the list is Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport, and it looks like that’s actually happening.

Per an agreement signed today between the US and Swedish governments, Stockholm Arlanda Airport is expected open a US Pre-Clearance facility in 2018.

SAS-Lounge-Stockholm - 1
SAS A330 at Stockholm Airport

Per the press release:

On Friday, the Swedish and US governments signed a bilateral agreement to introduce US border control at Stockholm Arlanda Airport. In conjunction, Swedavia signed an agreement with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on how this function will be handled at the airport.

“The US is Sweden’s most important trading partner after Britain. It feels really good now that the agreement with CPB has been signed. As we await a decision from the Swedish parliament, we will continue our preparatory work so that a decision on a larger investment in US preclearance facilities can be taken immediately once the legal process is completed, which is expected in the summer of 2018,” says Karl Wistrand, president and CEO of Swedavia.

Here’s a map showing where the new CBP facility will be located:

stockholm-airport

Some travelers will really love the addition of a Pre-Clearance facility, while others will strongly dislike it.

As of now Stockholm Airport has a fairly short minimum connection time of just one hour, though presumably that will have to be increased for US-bound flights once this facility is added. In general:

  • A facility like this is bad news for those with Global Entry, since clearing immigration on arrival is already a pretty quick process
  • Generally foreigners will come out ahead, given how long immigration lines can be on arrival in the US at major airports
  • The biggest problem with Pre-Clearance facilities is that they can cause flight delays, because airlines will generally wait if there are a few passengers running late going through the facility

SAS-Lounge-Stockholm - 24
Stockholm Arlanda Airport

Does the addition of a Pre-Clearance facility in Stockholm make you more or less likely to connect there?

(Tip of the hat to Point Me to the Plane)

Comments

  1. Odd choice. How much traffic is there from Arlanda compared to other cities like London, Paris, and Frankfurt? I’m surprised the Swedes pushed so hard.

  2. Having a pre-clearance facility is a a competitive advantage for the airport in attracting transit passengers as noone wants to have to deal with immigration after a long flight while doing it during transit doesnt eat up too much time as many times you have extra hours to kill. The one thing to consider is that the waiting are after pre-clearance is really boring with no shopping or decent lounges. Airports with pre-clearance need to have decent duty frees so people are encouraged to go through the pre-clearance quickly instead of waiting till the last moment.

  3. I’m guessing its not how US traffic there is now, but how much there will be since ARN is a Norwegian hub. Definitely opens up quite a few possibilities for Norwegian.

  4. Preclearance is really a hassle when it takes place at a connection point: travellers need to go through security a second time, bags sometimes need to be collected, connection times increase et.c. Co I can’t see an airline like British Airways, which relies heavily on connecting traffic to fill its US-bound flights, being in favour of such a facility. As mentioned in the blog, its also impractical as there are US bound flights from all of LHR’s terminals… a single US-terminal for all airlines would increase connection times further and increase costs for airlines.

    ARN, with a more limited number of preclearance flights, and likely higher O&D traffic, is likely a better fit.

    The post also notes that this is subject to approval and a legal process, which is expected 18-20 months from now. That suggests that treaty negotiations may not have even begun, so this is perhaps not guaranteed. Preclearance is legally complicated (you’re effectively putting foreign law enforcement officers in your country)… will be interested to see how this goes and whether, based upon what’s negotiated, the Swedish Parliament approves.

  5. Just read that EZE is also on the list to implement preclearance facilities. Expected to implement the system in 24 months.

  6. When I flew LHR to SFO via DUB I think I went through security a total of three times? WTF?

    Any benefit from pre-clear (along with the risk of it taking so long that I miss my flight) is outweighed by the security paranoia.

    Oh, and no lounge the other side of pre-clear.

  7. I’m sorry, but why would Istanbul never open? There are more than 10 flights a day to US on winter schedule, and more than 13 flights in the summer. How does that doesn’t make sense again?

  8. @Tolga – “I’m sorry, but why would Istanbul never open?”

    Seriously? You DO watch the news right?

  9. They have plenty of flights to the US, including the newly added daily service on SAS to LAX (my preferred route since the connection is so incredibly easy from CPH).

    I hope this is good news! I usually have about an hour connection time.

  10. Dublin airport does have a lounge post CBP security, it also has a global entry Queue (may be new), which I’ve never seen anybody in

  11. How can it negatively affect Global Entry holder? I just passed through the new concourse at YYC. With Global Entry, I still came out faster than my coworkers who do not have it.

  12. It maybe me but I have noticed at AMS over the last year or so that all the US flights now generally depart from pier D only, mainly the northern side. It would be quite easy to divide that pier at the ‘fork’ and turn the far end of it into a preclearance area. Any gate loss would be mitigated by construction of the new A pier with potential that pier C would become non schengen.

    However as other posters have mentioned there is no benefit for those airports that rely heavily on transfer passengers, Schiphol beingnone them.

  13. @Bob
    @Dave Levy

    If you have Global Entry, you don’t have to worry about immigration or customs lines on arrival in the United States, so long as you’re at an airport with a Global Entry facility. With pre-clearance, however, you gain only hassle on the foreign end. One typically has to leave the lounge early and trudge to a remote part of the airport, where one might face huge lines, no Global Entry option (as was the case at the beginning with Abu Dhabi), and more waiting at a crowded gate where there are no empty seats and few if any services. I loathe pre-entry and avoid Abu Dhabi for this reason. Thankfully, I never plan to transit through Aruba again, where it’s the same story with pre-clearance chaos.

    At Arlanda, the pre-clearance facility will be far beyond the SAS and Menzies lounges, in the most remote pier of Terminal 5.

  14. @Bob
    @Dave Levy

    If you have Global Entry, you don’t have to worry about immigration or customs lines on arrival in the United States, so long as you’re at an airport with a Global Entry facility. With pre-clearance, however, you gain only hassle on the foreign end. One typically has to leave the lounge early and trudge to a remote part of the airport, where one might face huge lines, no Global Entry option (as was the case at the beginning with Abu Dhabi), and more waiting at a crowded gate where there are no empty seats and few if any services. I loathe pre-entry and avoid Abu Dhabi for this reason. Thankfully, I never plan to transit through Aruba again, where it’s the same story with pre-clearance chaos.

    At Arlanda, the pre-clearance facility will be far beyond the SAS and Menzies lounges, in the most remote pier of Terminal 5.

  15. IST won’t open until they build a new airport I believe. This is probably a prime priority for CBP to open there, but I think it could be difficult now as Lucky says. Mostly because of their government and I think it will be hard to get volunteers to go to PreClearance in CBP as a big benefit is that Officers’ families can enjoy a better lifestyle and better schools abroad. CBP works under DOS and DOS has sent all family member homes from IST. But who knows. Saudi Arabia is apparently coming, though I would like to go for 90 days or something on TDY I would never go personally as a single person, but taking family could be very interesting, though I doubt it will happen.

    I think it will be good in Stockholm and will help relieve some congestion at US airports.

    Punta Cana will open later in 2018 and Toronto Billy Bob Airport will be opening up sometime in 2017-18

  16. Is aoibhinn liom go bhfuil an pictiúr as gaeilge é ach gur nomead amhain bhí phanaic agam, cad a tharla i an tSualainn! (A topical comment on what’s obviously an old post I’m only seeing now)

    In seriousness though since they made the recent improvements at Dublin and increased the area that cbp occupies as well as installing a stunning Gateside lounge right next to the runway, it’s a benefit for all travellers. There’s now dedicated global services lanes too which are new and also kiosks for residents and for esta holders and everything is streamlinEd for speed. Prior to improvements if you were there at a busy time the wait could be as bad at landing at standard US immigration but on my last trip I was through fully in under 10 minutes. It was a shock. If you look at the map for Stockholm you can see they’re learning from those improvements at Dublin. In YYZ preclearance is slow and painful and indeed worse than most US airports, particularly irritating for transit passengers as a few have pointed out in comments.

    One thing worth noting is that not all US flights use preclearance and it doesn’t suit everyone’s model. Ethiopian fly direct from Dublin to LAX from T1 and they don’t use it (as of my last time checking).

  17. Nice, for me this makes it way easier to travel. Just a quick 1 hour flight HEL-ARN and the Arlanda airport is quite fast place to connect. I would also imagine that in the future SAS would be focusing majority of their US flights to depart from ARN.

    Naturally SAS business class isn’t as good as Finnairs but since Finnair doesn’t fly to LAX it’s more pleasant and quicker to transit in ARN than other major European hubs.

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