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I read on CNN (mirror):

When an airplane stops over in the US, all passengers must alight the aircraft and proceed through US Customs and Border Protection before they're allowed to advance on with the next leg of their journey.

Am I correct to infer that technical stopovers are not allowed in the United States?

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  • Did you mean to strictly follow the linked definition interpreting "embark or disembark" literally as passengers boarding or leaving the plane? Otherwise CBP requirements are not a hurdle to a stop without passenger exchange (FAA allows it), it just doesn't usually make commercial sense to do so due to the fifth freedom. – xngtng Dec 25 '20 at 16:11
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Not really an answer, but just a vague data point. I do remember doing a fueling stop in Bangor, Maine on the way from Frankfurt to LA. As far as I remember, we were sequestered in the terminal and not allowed to get out. That was a problem, since they only had vending machines and no way to make change, which was really annoying. However, that was a LONG time ago (when fuel stops were actually still a thing) and I may recollection may not be entirely correct.

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  • Thanks, in Bangor did you go through US Customs and Border Protection? – Franck Dernoncourt Dec 25 '20 at 19:55
  • They did the same thing in ANC way back when, for trans-Pacific flights. It's not really necessary any longer as passenger planes now have the range to not have to stop for fuel. Lots of cargo planes stop there still, as they are flying the older planes. – Michael Hampton Dec 25 '20 at 20:52

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