One of the unique features some airports offer is a US customs and immigration pre-clearance facility, whereby all formalities are taken care of before you even board the plane. Then you land in the US the same as a domestic passenger. For example, this is offered in Shannon, Ireland, and is one of the selling points of British Airways’ Club World London City service, which is their all business class A318 service between London City and New York (with a fueling/immigration stop in Shannon). The flight lands in New York as a domestic flight.
Anyway, it looks like a similar facility has now been added for US-bound flights in Abu Dhabi, as a pre-clearance facility opened there yesterday. What makes this interesting is that no US airlines fly to Abu Dhabi, as the only airline offering nonstop service between Abu Dhabi and the US is Etihad.
As someone that has Global Entry I can’t really get too excited about this, since immigration only takes a minute either way. I’m not sure if the new pre-clearance facility has Global Entry kiosks. The facility in Shannon, Ireland does, so I do hope that the one in Abu Dhabi either already has them or will have them soon.
Anyway, it’s something to be aware of, and while I doubt it’ll sway anyone’s travel decisions, on the whole I view it as a positive change.
Interestingly airline unions are giving the new facility a lot of flak, since they view it as a waste of taxpayer dollars. I find it most interesting that of all airlines it’s Southwest speaking out against it:
“Southwest pilots stand together with industry and labor partners to express our dismay at the federal government’s regrettable actions in choosing to open this unnecessary pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi,” said Captain Mark Richardson, SWAPA President. “We are more than willing to compete against any airline in the world, including state-sponsored Middle East entities. However, Middle East entities that already enjoy generous state sponsorship should not receive additional government support from the U.S. taxpayer. We oppose our own government tilting the playing field further against U.S. airlines.”
(Tip of the hat to Mac)