Flying to the US? You're better to fly from Abu Dhabi
If you are flying to the US and not sure if you will make it into the country, we have a simple solution for you: fly from Abu Dhabi using Etihad rather than Emirates from Dubai.
Why? Abu Dhabi Airport introduced US pre-clearance three years ago. This means that US immigration desks are now stationed at the airport, so after clearing UAE customs, you then pass through US customs. Once you clear that, you land at a domestic terminal in the US, and walk straight out – without having to be quizzed by US immigration officials.
Of course, if you are originally from one of the seven countries banned by Donald Trump, then you probably still won’t be able to travel. But you will find this out in Abu Dhabi, rather than at the end of a 17 hour flight to Los Angeles – and then having to come back.
Many visitors have contacted Shortlist to praise the US immigration desks as Abu Dhabi Airport as being far ‘friendlier.’ Given the confusion over exactly who is affected by the Trump ban, this is the best route to take in order to be absolutely certain. The moment you clear US customs in Abu Dhabi, your passport is stamped and you are effectively in the US.
Etihad currently has direct flights from Abu Dhabi to Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington DC.
Here’s a brief explanation of what the ban means:
- Entry to the US is now banned from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen for the next 90 days.
- This ban includes US green card holders, who will require additional screening before they enter the country. If you are a green card holder from one of the seven Muslim-majority countries, you will need to contact a US embassy or consulate in order to undergo a screening.
- Dual-nationals also fall under the visa ban. This means that if you have a passport from one of these seven countries but also, for example, hold a British passport, you may not enter the country for 90 days. However, this is a grey area, as it’s not quite clear what the rules are for determining who is a dual-national.
- Meanwhile, refugee admissions to the US have been stopped for 120 days, while Donald Trump looks to tighten the vetting process.
- The Syrian refugee programme has been suspended, with no clear idea when or if this will be lifted.