I am looking into flights from Tokyo to Bogotá. The layover is in ATL - Hartsfield-Jackson. Do I need to go through immigration and customs if I am not going to stay in ATL or the US? Both flights with same airline, KLM.

  • Same airline? Just two flights? There is something strange. But attention: KLM could flight also in Caribbean, then to Bogota, but Nederland has territories there, so you risk to go "domestic" at AMS. Note: KLM is in the same alliance of Delta, ATL is the hub of Delta. – Giacomo Catenazzi Aug 27 '19 at 7:41
  • @GiacomoCatenazzi as far as I know, Dutch islands in the Caribbean are not part of the Schengen area. That is certainly the case for Curaçao; I'm not sure about all of the islands. But it doesn't seem to make much sense to fly from Tokyo to Bogotá via Europe. The closest major non-US airport to the great circle route appears to be Vancouver. – phoog Aug 27 '19 at 13:25

Unlike most civilized countries, ALL passengers coming through US airports must go through US immigration and through security checks again. This applies at all US airports.

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    This, of course, means that arriving non-US passengers must have a visa or ESTA (or be Canadian or other small exceptions). – Greg Hewgill Aug 27 '19 at 2:44
  • @GregHewgill yes, thanks. Forget to add the basics sometimes hah. – Ozzy Aug 27 '19 at 2:57
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    That is just insane. I have lots of experience going through customs and immigration in the US since I lived there for 10 years, and unless one goes through a small airport, it is a nightmare - and the longest line I ever had to endure was in ATL. I was always entering the US, not passing through. It's just ridiculous to make all passing-through travelers go through the whole process just to board the next plane... I guess I'd better look for a different route. – cVergel Aug 27 '19 at 4:23
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    @cVergel Yeah, it is quite ridiculous. An alternate route would likely save you an unnecessary headache! – Ozzy Aug 27 '19 at 4:28
  • @cVergel if you have a short connection, an airline employee will likely take you to the front of the line. I've never entered the US through ATL, though (I live near JFK), so I can't comment on the experience there. I also have never used the kiosks, so I can't comment on how they've affected the throughput of the immigration control checkpoint. – phoog Aug 27 '19 at 13:05

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