Dubai Adding US Immigration Pre-Clearance Facility

Back in January, Abu Dhabi became the first Middle Eastern airport to open a US customs and immigration pre-clearance facility. That seemed like an odd and somewhat political move, since no US airline actually flies to Abu Dhabi. It would seem much more logical to add such a facility to Dubai, which has much more US bound flights, including on US airlines.

Per Bloomberg, the pre-clearance facility concept will be expanded to Dubai Airport within a year, apparently:

Another post is planned in Dubai within a year as part of a push to combat terror threats before would-be perpetrators even board a plane that will also fast-track travelers through a routinely arduous entry process.

The U.S. drive to tighten immigration security with overseas posts stands to deliver an advantage to Emirates and other fast-growing Persian Gulf carriers because the overseas checks can shave hours from border crossings at major U.S. gateways, the typically vexing finale to a long-distance trip. Passengers in Abu Dhabi can instead make use of the dead time between flights to complete the process, enhancing the allure of the luxurious Gulf airports as global travel hubs.

By the time the new facility opens, there will be nonstop flights from Dubai to Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington Dulles.

Dubai Airport

Since I have Global Entry this doesn’t really impact me much one way or another. The UAE government picks up 85% of the cost of this facility, so it shouldn’t cost US taxpayers that much. I can certainly see the lure of this for those without Global Entry, though, since the time savings of a pre-clearance facility can be huge. As far as the claim that this will combat terror threats goes, meh, I guess?

Presently pre-clearance facilities are available in Canada, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Aruba, Dublin, Shannon, and Abu Dhabi.

Filed Under: Travel
  1. Actually, it’s worse for US passport holders apparently atleast in Abu Dhabi. No GE kiosks yet, no segregation of US and other Passport Holders or Premium Passengers and no Lounge after pre-clearance.

  2. With no GE kiosks in Aruba, pre-clearance totally sucked — took absolutely forever. I hope they put GE kiosks in all the pre-clearance locations (like in Canada).

  3. The Etihad flights leave AUH 60-90 minutes late on a regular basis due to long processing times for passengers. As it was, you had to leave the lounge very early to clear their extra level of security. I’ll be eager to see if Emirates takes the same kind of delays on their outbound flights to the USA as Etihad.

  4. @Austin

    That is only the case if there is GE at that location but the machines are off or you experience an error. If you are at a location that does not have GE, participation in the program confers no front-of-line privileges.

  5. AUH is a disaster at the moment. AUH is in the process of installing their GE kiosks (they have received them), but there is a delay due to some beuqacratic processes. Reports from recent EY flights from AUH-USA have been rather horrible where it is taking premium passengers 75-120 minutes to go through the security, customs and immigration. Then once at the crowded gates, there are no lounges. The problem in AUH is that all 3 US bound flights leave within 30-minutes of each other and there’s only 4 lanes open for processing ~1000 pax. This has caused many departing flights delayed due to this cluster. Hopefully Emirates can learn lessons from the AUH implementation.

  6. One of the frustrating aspects of pre-clearance is that there are locations still lacking Global Entry (Aruba was one of them when I flew home in August). It took nearly 90 minutes to go through the pre-clearance center in an non air conditioned part of AUA.

  7. Ouch! I guess, if you are not a US citizen (esp. not a US citizen with GE), this may be better/same as clearing security in the US, but I’d definitely want to have GE kiosks to go through security quickly.

  8. preclearance is absolute crap because of the things already mentioned. Most airports do not have enough us bound traffic to justify many customs agents. So it becomes a cluster with all the flights leaving at the same time. Add to that no GE and only one line and it is the worst @#%$#@$^%#$ experience!

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