Customs/Immigration Questions: Transfer Passengers in FRA and CDG

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by chrislacey, Apr 10, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. chrislacey
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    Happy Sunday Everyone! I have a feeling I know the answer to this question, but wanted to make sure for time planning (and lounge hopping) purposes. Any insight that you can add on this topic would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance.

    Tuesday-Wednesday I'm flying ALB-(UA)-IAD-(UA)-FRA-(LH)-ZRH. I'm assuming there will be no need to clear immigration/customs in FRA as I'm headed to ZRH. Maybe a security check and that's it? Am I correct in that assumption? I will have a business sample with me. Any immigrations/customs stories from ZRH? I'm assuming it won't be that much of a PITA compared to bringing it back to the US (which luckily I don't have to do on this trip).

    Does anyone have experiences going UA -> LH at FRA? I'm pretty sure UA uses bus gates at FRA for the most part. Any specific lounge suggestions based on this itinerary?

    Friday I'm returning ZRH-(LX)-CDG-(UA)-IAD-(UA)-ALB. I'm also assuming there's nothing immigration/customs-wise in CDG. Is that correct? Any specific recommendations for my time at CDG on this itinerary? I have a few hours to kill there.

    For lounge access purposes, I am a UA 1K, have a RCC membership, am flying C IAD-FRA and CDG-IAD and Y on all other segments.

    Thanks again for any/all suggestions, tips or corrections!!!
    Chris
     
  2. MSPeconomist
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    Even though Switzerland isn't in the EU (or EMU). I think they're part of the Schengen agreement. If this is true, you would go through passport control as well as security in FRA on the outbound, but no formalities other than customs after baggage claim upon arrival. For the return, because you're boarding a US-bound flight, there will be additional security at CDG, including showing your passport to leave Europe. *A at CDG is T1, where I haven't been since NW/KL moved in with AF.

    Of course, on your return to the US, you do immigration and customs (after temporarily reclaiming your luggage) at IAD. Do you have Global Entry? It's wonderful.
     
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  3. chrislacey
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    Thanks for the quick (and detailed) response! I didn't think Switzerland was a Schengen county, but I know nothing as a mostly all US and Asia flyer. I most definitely have Global Entry and wouldn't trade it for the world! It has come in handy so many times!
     
  4. MSPeconomist
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    I'm not sure whether in fact Switzerland is Schengen or not. I know that Swiss passports usually queue in the EU line when entering Europe and some non-EU countries such as Norway definitely are Schengen. I think flights to Switzerland at AMS or CDG are mixed in with flights to other European destinations but I'm not sure I'm remembering correctly.
     
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  5. chrislacey
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    I think you're right (based on Wikipedia)! It seems like Switzerland is on the Schengen list! I will plan on spending a bit more time going through formalities in FRA :)
     
  6. vbroucek
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    Switzerland is 100% Schengen (my own experience, I do not trust Wikipedia:D), so you will do immigration in FRA and customs only in ZRH. Immigration in FRA is usually fast.
     
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  7. Captain Oveur
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    I can attest to the Switzerland/Schengen thing. Most signs say EU and Swiss Passports.

    On your CDG-IAD flight, you will get an exit stamp at CDG, prior to getting to the security gates at CDG. Nothing else.

    Asking what to do in Paris seems like a loaded question, but if you give more specifics on the where and when you will be, I can give some advice on what to do (PM me if you want).
     
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  8. chrislacey
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    I will have at least 3-4 hours at CDG. I was hoping to get recommendations to fill the time such as lounges, restaurants, etc. I don't think I'll be leaving the airport unfortunately!
     
  9. Captain Oveur
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    There really is nothing to do at CDG. I do not eat at any airport restaurant (my protest over the whole liquid "security" nonsense), so I cannot give any advice there. But from my observations, the offerings really aren't that remarkable in the first place.

    As you're flying United, you won't have access to the Star Alliance lounge (which is MUCH better), you will be redirected to the Red Carpet Club. Unfortunately, the RCC at CDG is one of the smallest of the RCCs I have been to (including Philadelphia, pre-renovation). There's a cubby hole I hide in, the mini cubicles around the corner, just past the desk where the staff sit. Food and beverage offerings are just okay at the RCC, in my opinion. If you mentally set yourself up that your RCC visit would be a good place to get work done on your laptop, then you're fine. But to chill out and relax, it's difficult because of the cramped nature of the space (and the bathroom in the RCC is THE WORST, trust me.....that bathroom in Albany to the right of the bar/restaurant outside the United gates is HEAVEN compared to the CDG RCC bathrooms).

    I'd recommend taking a train into Paris to my favorite chocolate shop, but I don't think it's open that early.

    If you were feeling adventurous, you could take a train into Paris and at least see something like Notre Dame. It would be 8.50 Euros each way, and travel time in each direction is about 50 minutes. You would probably get about 30 minutes to walk around Notre Dame if you wanted to. The train from CDG stops right at Notre Dame.

    You could also take the same train one stop further to Luxembourg and see Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens). Add about five minutes of travel time in each direction. LG is really just a place for people to walk around and relax, but has nice gardens to see.

    If you're interested you can PM me and I can give you step-by-step instructions.

    Those two are offered only if you're feeling adventurous. The experience would be VERY brief, and you would be in the throes of rush hour in Paris on a train. Bigger-name landmarks such as the Champs-Elysees and Eiffel Tower are out of your reach with concerns to time.

    The Red Carpet Club is after Customs, but before security. So, you should leave the RCC about 30 minutes before boarding time starts. The security lines are notoriously slow in Paris. Plus, you're sharing with the UA flight to ORD and the US flight to PHL for space to get through security.

    Also, do not rush to get on board. They will have one male and one female pulling unfortunate souls out of the line after they start boarding, as they pass into the gateway. They're easy to see through the glass, play the "lurking around thing" near the person collecting the BPs. When the security guard of your gender nabs someone, rush to get into line to avoid the secondary search (it's obvious the French don't like doing it, the whole thing is not nearly as bad as the TSA, it's just a hassle).

    Any other questions?
     
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