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I have a ticket from AKL (Auckland - New Zealand) to PRG (Prague - Czech Republic). It is a single ticket, with two transfers. The first transfer is in IAH (George Bush International - Houston, Texas), 2 hours. The next transfer is in FRA, 6 hours (Frankfurt - Germany).

My question is about the transfer in IAH. We have the ESTA in order, but with US you have to immigrate first, pick up and drop off the bags again. Is two hours enough to complete the transfer?

The arrival in IAH is on Friday 16:20. The inbound flight is NZ28, Air New Zealand. The outbound flight is LH7600, Lufthansa (operated by UA).

As the flights are on a single ticket, I should be able to make it, but each leg is a different airline, so I am not sure if that plays a role.

Next, is there any priority queue? What do I do if I am still stuck in the immigration line and they start boarding?

Any tips are appreciated.

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2 Answers 2

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That's tight but should be doable. You can check recent immigration wait times here: https://awt.cbp.gov/ using your specific arrival time and weekday. Average wait times are about 20 minutes but max wait times can exceed an hour. It's hard to predict.

Once you're through immigration you need to collect your bags, walk through customs, and then drop them off at the bag drop right after the exit. There is typically no wait time at customs, but you won't know for sure until you get there.

I think you arrive and depart both from Terminal D so you can just walk over to security and enter the gate area.

If everything is normal, you'll be fine but there isn't much room for error (delayed incoming flight, slow immigration, misplaced bag, customs want to see your bag, long line and secuity, etc.).

If you miss it, LH UA will rebook you to the next available flight for free but you will probably have to stay the night. Your flight to Frankfurt is the last one that either UA or LH operate from Houston to Germany. There is an 8:25pm United going to London, which could get you there the same day, but will incur another stop to get from London to Frankfurt.

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I want to report back after it has already been done.

The agents from the airline expedited all people with tight transfers to the immigration, so we were able to go via passport control easily.

The problem than was that we had to wait 40 mins for our bags to arrive. Because in USA you have to transfer your bags yourself. This 40 mins then caused us to miss the connection. Though the airline put us on next day flight, no questions asked.

Air New Zealand does not have a counter on IAH, so we have dealt with Delta, our connecting airline. They were unable to provide us with any accommodation, so we had to do it on our own.

IAH has WiFi, but if you need to make a call (hotel, uber, taxi, ...) there are no easily accessible US SIM cards at the airport. A few shops sell SIMs but $70 for SIM, that will be used for 2 calls, does not make sense. You cannot really walk anywhere from the airport, you will need some transportation.

Bottom line - if stars align, yeah it is doable. But to have a more comfortable experience, more time is needed.

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