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2013 Dulles connection on returning International Flight ?

posts: 251
reviews: 8
2013 Dulles connection on returning International Flight ?

My wife and I will be returning a late Wed afternoon from Paris thru Dulles to Albany NY.

I would like to know if 1hr 50 is a reasonable amount of time to make the connection.

We are not familar with the customs procedure for incoming international flights so that is a huge part of my stress.

As explained to me....

We will have to go thru immigration.... likely not a problem.

Then we will have to claim our luggage BEFORE going thru Customs???

Zero idea what 'going thru customs' will entail ???

Then we will have to re-check our luggage...

Since ALB is not a major hub there appears to be no later flight to catch...

If something goes wrong we are likely stranded until the next day....

BTW IF customs does cause us to be late

Does United help us... or just say SORRY our flights we on-time... your fault.

My backup plan is to book our return flight thru Newark instead with a 4 hour layover.

I added the 2013 because I'm not sure posts from 2008, etc would still be accurate?

Thank you.

Edited: 6:51 pm, April 27, 2013
posts: 251
reviews: 8
1. Re: 2013 Dulles connection on returning International Flight ?

Sorry about the line spacing...

Houston, Texas
Destination Expert
for Air Travel, Business Travel
posts: 6,983
reviews: 77
2. Re: 2013 Dulles connection on returning International Flight ?

1:50 is do-able, but tight.

Yes, you will have to pick up your bags and carry them through customs, which is usually just a line to hand in your declaration card... unless you've pegged yourself for a secondary inspection.

The airline is not liable to put you up in a hotel if you miss your flight. They won't say it is your fault, but it isn't their fault either, so why should they suffer? 4 hours in EWR is a bit much, but it is safer.

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 7,896
reviews: 53
3. Re: 2013 Dulles connection on returning International Flight ?

At Dulles you'll get a jet bridge to the aircraft then will walk through a short piece of terminal onto a mobile lounge. This will drive you across the apron to the immigration hall. Clearing customs is easy, there's a blue form to fill out and you hand it to the customs officer. Immigration will look at it too and possibly notate it. You'll then find a series of check in desks where you can work out with United your connection but if AF have through checked the bag you'll probably just place it on the transit belt and collect your boarding passes from the UA desks. You'll then reclear security and be airside again.

posts: 251
reviews: 8
4. Re: 2013 Dulles connection on returning International Flight ?

AF checked the bags... Who is AF?

How about Newark.... Will the procedure be the same? Right now I.m thinking an extra couple of hours in a Newark United Lounge might trump being left to fend for myself in Dulles. Newark also has more connections to Albany. The Dulles to ALB doesn't seem to be a popular route and I'm fairly certain my connection would be the last of the day to ALB.

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 7,896
reviews: 53
5. Re: 2013 Dulles connection on returning International Flight ?

Oh oops, for some reason I thought I read Air France in there.

If you're flying United both legs then you'll disembark through a jet bridge and will follow signs for connections. You'll go downstairs into the immigration hall for the C/D concourse, claim bags for customs then will drop them off on the belt in the corridor just before security. You'll emerge close to the international first class lounge for United passengers. You may need to head to Concourse A if your flight is from there.

Houston, Texas
Destination Expert
for Solo Travel
posts: 10,477
reviews: 182
6. Re: 2013 Dulles connection on returning International Flight ?

I've had similar connections in 2012, to PIT. As just stated, if it's a connection to United Express at the A gates, it can get tight at 1:50. The airline will do its best to accommodate on the next "available" flight, which might not be the next absolute flight, the following day. If you cannot afford to spend the night, I'd book through EWR.

posts: 251
reviews: 8
7. Re: 2013 Dulles connection on returning International Flight ?

Would love to extend the stay in DC but at the end of a 2 week trip... and only a couple of hours from home I think my own bed might look very inviting. I greatly appreciate the detailed description of the procedure. I have this posted on the Air Travel & DC forums so I have been getting some good advice. I have time before I need to book the return flight . I am using award points with only a standard award available for the return flights so no rush. I did get saver award rates for the outgoing flights which kind of makes you smile! Not many deals left in travel!

Fortaleza, CE
posts: 7,206
reviews: 348
8. Re: 2013 Dulles connection on returning International Flight ?

The procedure is standard at whatever your first port of entry into the U.S. is: Immigration, then bags, then Customs (yes,you need to have your bags to get go through Customs, though you usually just have to hand over a form you filled out on board the flight and had initialed at Immigration, though conceivably you could get pulled aside for a secondary inspection), then drop your checked bags at a transit desk, then go through TSA security to get to the gate of your second (domestic) flight. If you miss the connection, the airline would look for another flight that day, even on another airline, or put you on a flight for the next day, with a hotel, though they MAY not provide a hotel if they say your first flight arrived on time and you missed the connection due to delays at Immigration, etc.

How is booking a flight through EWR a back-up plan? You would book two flights? Or is it your fallback plan, which you'd use in case the IAD connection looks too tight? Between the two, I'd probably go with EWR, since there seem to be two flights a day to there from Paris, so you have more options as to the amount of connection time. However, it appears flying through EWR vs. IAD you'd cross the Atlantic on a 757 vs. 767.

Edited: 8:31 am, April 28, 2013
Buffalo, New York
posts: 702
reviews: 11
9. Re: 2013 Dulles connection on returning International Flight ?

I went through Dulles this January coming from LHR to BUF. We had 2 hours and our plane (United ) was early. It was a nightmare and I swore I'd never go through Dulles again. I missed my connection and had to spend the night. Lines were long at customs and moved slowly. Lines were long at immigration and moved slowly. Ditto for going through security again. By the time I got through my plane had shut its doors.

United couldn't have been nicer. They asked whose fault it was and I told them it was our government's fault. they got me on the next plane to an airport near where I live. the lady at the counter wrote out directions for me so I could catch the shuttle to the hotel. Then, she actually followed me and walked me to the correct entrance.

So, no, from my experience 1hr 50 is not near enough time.

posts: 251
reviews: 8
10. Re: 2013 Dulles connection on returning International Flight ?

Sounds like what would happen to me... We use to travel back & forth to Portland OR when our daughter lived there. Our hub was Minneapolis/St Paul. That was when we discovered Albany is far down the list when it comes to major airports. At that time Northwest was using a 'minor' partner / carrier to handle M/St Paul shuttle to & from ALB. We actually got there only 10 minutes late from Portland and the entire check-in was closed up and employees gone. Employees from a different airline helped us out. ALB may consider itself a major airport but I am not sure the airlines do!

BTW: To who ever mentioned it... I did want the 767 over the 757... additional bummer!