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I have booked a flight from DEL to London to Phoenix to SBA. There is a 2-hour layover time in Phoenix. I will be traveling in late July and will arrive at Phoenix at around 12:30 hours. I have a J1 visa. I have two questions:

  1. Will the security clearance and immigration take place at the Phoenix Airport? Or will it take place at the Santa Barbara Airport?
  2. Will 2-hour layover at Phoenix airport be enough? If not what is the recommended layover time?
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    What air carriers are involved? Are all three flights on a single itinerary? – David Jun 5 at 8:38
  • It is enough but you can't rule out possibility of flight being delayed. I had recently missed connecting flight because my previous flight was delayed for 1 and half hour. In such cases, if you have booked ticket together, airline will either arrange alternative transport or refund (unless this happens in EU, then you might get more compensation). – Dexter Jun 5 at 9:43
  • @Dexter If the journey has already begun, they are contractually obliged to get you to your destination. They can't just dump you half-way and say "Here's your money back. Good luck!" – David Richerby Jun 5 at 15:57
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    It's tight but doable if everything is on time. Luckily there are many daily flights between Phoenix and SBA, so if you get delayed you likely won't be stuck over night. Check your carrier's schedule to make sure. West coast US customs is better than east coast, but you'll have to talk to a human and that can easily take a long time depending on many unforeseeable factors. I'd do it with a single ticket, definitely not on multiple tickets. – Adam Jun 5 at 16:36
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Travelers passing into or through the United States go through US Immigration and Customs at the first US airport; for your itinerary, this will occur in Phoenix. (Some US-bound travelers will go through USA Immigration and Customs in the departure airport, provided the US CBP maintains Preclearance facilities in those departing airports. Londons' airports do not have Preclearance facilities, so this exception does not apply to you.)

Without knowing more about your itinerary (see my Comment, above), we can't answer your question about time sufficiency in Phoenix.

  • Yes. All three flights are on a single itinerary. – Rohan Bhatia Jun 5 at 18:43
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Will the security clearance and immigration take place at the Phoenix Airport? Or will it take place at the Santa Barbara Airport?

At the first USA airport you will do immigration, collect your luggage, take it through customs and drop it off again then go through security.

Will 2-hour layover at Phoenix airport be enough? If not what is the recommended layover time?

That should be enough but check the CBP Airport Wait Times page to make sure. I presume you are on a single ticket (on BA/AA, most likely).

If you are on two tickets, my rule of thumb for transatlantic unprotected connections is to calculate with being on the next LHR-PHX flight I can catch. This often means booking a hotel for a night at the layover airport (PHX in this case) and taking the flight the next day. Either that or be ready to book a potentially expensive last minute ticket. This is just how I operate, others might find different levels risk acceptable. It also depends on how much of a rush you are in. All in all, doing two hours with a unprotected connection is only recommended for those cool as a cucumber people who are absolutely not stressed by missing a flight. Otherwise you will spend the entire DEL-LHR-PHX worrying about making your last leg... Again, if you have a single ticket then no worries, if you miss your flight because one of the incoming legs were late, then fixing the situation and getting you to the destination (and getting a hotel potentially) is totally on the airline.

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    What exactly is the situation if the flights were on-time but the delay at immigration was unusually long? I've always assumed that the airline will rebook you, even though it's not their fault, but is that the case? (Assuming everything's on one ticket.) – David Richerby Jun 5 at 15:59
  • I have a single ticket to SBA. Not two tickets. – Rohan Bhatia Jun 5 at 18:44
  • @DavidRicherby The airline might rebook you, but isn't required to do so. If you're on a single ticket like the OP, the airline has to get you to your destination regardless of the reason for delay, and care for you until you arrive. – David Jun 6 at 5:35
  • Also, this is not United Airlines... :) Customer service can be expected. – chx Jun 6 at 6:51

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