Traveling from India to the US? Fly Through Abu Dhabi Airport First.

If you or your family are planning a trip from India to the United States, it can very beneficial to first transit through Abu Dhabi in the UAE. Abu Dhabi Airport offers a US Customs and Border Protection Facility right in its own terminal; the only one in the Middle East. This means you can go through US immigration before you take off from Abu Dhabi, and simply grab your luggage once landing in the US.

This method allows you to avoid the extremely long CBP (immigration) lines at major US airports. After all, the last thing anyone wants to do after a long flight is wait in line for hours to get through customs. So, avoid the hassle and fly through Abu Dhabi first.

The following FAQ can answer some of your questions about flying through Abu Dhabi on your way to the US, and is based directly on firsthand experience.

Flying to the US through Abu Dhabi FAQ:

Q: Is it true that passengers transiting through the UAE can skip the immigration queue in the USA?

A: Yes, if you fly via Abu Dhabi, US immigration will be taken care of in the terminal before you depart from Abu Dhabi Airport.

Q: Is three hours of transit time in Abu Dhabi enough to get through immigration?

A: The immigration process is so easy and that it can be done within an hour. Three hours should give you ample time to clear US Customs and reach your departing flight, even if you are delayed.

Q: Will the US immigration checkpoint in Abu Dhabi Airport be crowded?

A: It is a relatively small airport, so you should make sure you don’t delay the process by hanging around the rest area or at the lounge too long.

There could be a chance that it could get crowded during the weekends or during major holidays. In any case, it is best to get to the immigration area early. Though most people clear US customs quickly, it is better to be on the safe side.

Q: Can there be any delays?

A: There can certainly be delays at times. Such as if the customs agent demands additional paperwork and you are required to wait. There is always the chance that this could cause you to run late for boarding, but this is the case in any airport if your paperwork is not in order.

Q: Can we make calls or take printouts in the Airport for customs/immigration purposes?

A: You can make regular phone calls, but do not use any free VoIP or messaging services such as WhatsApp. WhatsApp is currently banned in the Persian Gulf.

Q: Will your flight to the US wait for you if you get delayed at customs?

A: Possibly. There are instances where you will be allowed to board late, and the flight will wait for you. But only for a few minutes. However, do not depend on this happening. Do your best to avoid any delay in boarding and keep all necessary documents in your carryon bag.

Q: How long of a layover is long enough to finish immigration and board your flight?

A: Three hours of layover is more than enough to complete US immigration in Abu Dhabi.

Q: Is US Customs in Abu Dhabi on a first-come, first-served basis, or is there some sort of different order?

A: Please keep in mind that the following answer is based solely on personal experience. The process could be different today or on any given day:

In Abu Dhabi, you’re processed through US Customs based on the order in which your flight is departing. Those with flights leaving earlier will be processed through immigration first.

There is also a separate queue to enter the lobby. So, even if you just have one hour to connect flights, you should have enough time to get through immigration.

Q: Is there anything else to keep in mind before making the trip from India to the USA?

A: Yes. Be sure that every traveler is covered by visitors medical insurance. Healthcare costs in the US are extremely high, so it is important to have an insurance plan that can cover unplanned illnesses or injuries during the trip. Otherwise, you will have to pay a lot of money out of your pocket for treatment.

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