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Passport and Customs advice for Icelandair flight from Munich to Seattle

I'm flying IcelandAir from Munich to Keflavik, then on to Seattle.

I'm curious how the 2017 Schengen passport control changes have affected check in times at MUC?

I was intending to get there 2 hours before my flight departs (carry on only). Is this still early enough?

I understand that I'll be going through passport control again at the KEF airport but it seems everyone has no trouble making that happen within a 1-hour layover.

So the only thing that happens when I land in Seattle is Customs, correct? Is this still a 30-60 min process?

My flight date has made the Alaska Airlines connection between Seattle and Portland a bit cost ridiculous so I'm hoping to Lyft to the Amtrak train station in Tukwila but I've only got 1:24 hrs between flight arrival and train departure. Not sure that's going to work.

Thanks for sharing your experiences and/or advice!

Posted by
12544 posts

You will come in to the South Satellite terminal and will go through both immigration and customs there. The lines at immigration (for those without Global Entry) depend on other planes arriving at the same time, as well as how many people from your own plane got there ahead of you. Then you proceed downstairs to the S terminal baggage claim area, and queue again to hand your customs declaration to the officer. That line is usually quite short.

Then you walk past the guys asking everyone to put their luggage on a belt to be conveyed to the main baggage claim in the central terminal. You do not have to do that with your carryon. Board the train that will take you to the main terminal, and make sure you know where to go to pick up a Lyft ride (I do not).

I would be really skeptical about getting all this done in the short time you have before the train, but since the Amtrak trains usually run late it might well work out.

Posted by
4887 posts

I think you should be in reasonably good shape to make that train if your flight lands on time. To me, the risk is a delayed landing, not so much the SeaTac processing time.

Amtrak runs about half a dozen trains daily so it wouldn't be fatal to miss yours unless you bought advance tickets (don't). If you get to SeaTac and think you'll miss the last train of the day, spend the night at an airport motel and go in the morning. Don't know about Lyft, but there are regular taxis.

Posted by
6168 posts

So the only thing that happens when I land in Seattle is Customs, correct?

Are you implying that US Immigration has a pre-screening location in Iceland?

Posted by
21329 posts

It is both immigration and customs in Seattle as pointed out earlier.

Posted by
18055 posts

I'm curious how the 2017 Schengen passport control changes have affected check in times at MUC?

Iceland is a Schengen member, so you should not have to go through outgoing passport control at MUC. At least that is my understanding. Does anyone have contrary information?

Posted by
7975 posts

I just flew Frankfurt to California in Nov. on Iceland Air with a layover in Seattle. There is no passport control in Iceland when you are flying in from Munich. This will happen in Seattle. You just get off one plane and get on the next one. You would have passport control in Iceland going the other direction though, from the US to Iceland, to ....... fill in the blank.

Posted by
13 posts

Thank you Ms. Jo! How early did you arrive at Frankfurt?

Posted by
7975 posts

I arrived in Frankfurt around noon. Had left Sacramento at 9 the day before.
My departing flight from Frankfurt to Iceland/Seattle was at 1300.
Returning from Sacramento they changed me from Seattle to Portland. Hope they do this again cause Portland is the nicest airport!

Posted by
4637 posts

I flew that flight just last year. You will go through passport control in Reykjavik (Keflavik) and then through immigration and customs in Seattle. For your information: Amtrak does not stop in Tukwila. You either have to go to King Street Station in downtown Seattle or we can consider it International District. Or in Tukwila you can catch commuter train called Sounder to Tacoma and change to Amtrak there. Commuter trains have departures from Seattle from 2:30 pm to 6:20 pm on weekdays about 20 to 30 minutes apart.

Posted by
2799 posts

I think you need to check on the stations where the Seattle to Portland Amtrak trains stop.

Posted by
3636 posts

Debbie, just how expensive is Alaska to Portland on your dates? I worry that you are setting yourself up for a difficult journey to save $50.....

You will be tired. I think you owe it to yourself to makes the end of your journey as easy on you as possible. You will need to leave the airport, get to a train or bus stop (Bolt Bus), and then put in another three hours after already making such a long flight.

Posted by
2916 posts

You will go through passport control in Reykjavik because you'll be leaving the Schengen zone. The question is whether you'll also go through passport control in Munich. Last year we went through passport control in Lyon when flying to Amsterdam, since France was under a state of emergency. Still, getting to the Lyon airport 2 hours ahead of time was plenty. I don't know if Germany is under a state of emergency, but I assume not.

Posted by
2916 posts

A qualification to my prior comment. The passport check I underwent in Lyon was different from the passport check I underwent in Amsterdam when I entered and exited the Schengen zone. The only stamps in my passport for that trip were the entering and exiting stamps at Schipol. As I recall, in Lyon the passport control person just looked at our passports, but didn't scan them and didn't stamp them.

Posted by
12544 posts

Are you flying back on March 31-April 1? Those dates are indeed ridiculously expensive on Alaska, like $259. But every other date appears to range from $64-$91 ( mostly $91).

It does seem like a lot of trouble to get to the train. What time does the Iceland Air flight land at SeaTac?

Posted by
13 posts

Yes, the Alaska flight is $259 and I land at 4:55pm so there's not much chance I'll make a train or Bolt Bus. The Alaska flight wouldn't be an "inline" flight so I would need to allow extra layover time in case there's a delay somewhere. I've decided to rent a car. It's cheaper and I'll get home faster, even with stopping every hour for coffee. Thank you to everyone for your informative responses! Cheers!

Posted by
3636 posts

One more possibility. If Alaska flights go down in price the following day, perhaps overnight at an airport hotel and fly home the next day? I worry about your safety driving when you could potentially be quite tired.

Also, there are two Bolt Buses, 6:30 and 8:00 pm that are very realistic possibilities.

Posted by
7798 posts

Easter is April 1, so that probably explains the cost being so high those dates

Posted by
3290 posts

Robert: I read the state of emergency ended in November. That should mean no extra French passport check.

I take it the PDX KEF flights don’t run in the winter?

Posted by
13 posts

Tom, unfortunately that route has limited days into PDX during winter months. I was disappointed!

Posted by
7975 posts

In Nov. when I flew from Frankfurt to the US, our flight was late and we simply ran off the plane, ran through the airport to the plane they were holding for us. No passport control until we reached the states. Have flown this route about 5 times now and we never had to go thru passsport control upon arrival in Iceland from Germany. Returning from the US, yes you do get checked then.

Posted by
3290 posts

Ms. Jo: Are you sure? I've done the Schengen passport at KEF, three times going to/coming from Paris and once going to CPH. It has to happen here. They are so quick at stamping and there's no line so maybe you forgot, or maybe in your running case they skipped it but not the other times? Your passport will have proof. At KEF the Schengen flights are upstairs, the UK/US/CAN flights are downstairs, it's segregated.

Posted by
2916 posts

I read the state of emergency ended in November. That should mean no extra French passport check.

Yes, Tom, that should. But this is France. Plus, I was only assuming that the only reason for the passport checks on both ends in Lyon was the state of emergency. Well, I'll see when I fly into Lyon in April.
And yes, you have to be right about passport control in Iceland. Besides the fact that I went through it there when returning from France to the US, it fits into the whole Schengen concept. You have free travel throughout the Schengen countries, limited to the 90/180 rule. So the only time you should have Schengen passport control (absent special state of emergency rules) is at your first stop coming into the zone and your last stop leaving. So if you fly US-Iceland-mainland Europe and back, it's Iceland both ways.

Posted by
10261 posts

Both arriving into KEF and leaving, there was no line at Passport Control. (Both flights were from the UK.)

I remember when entering, all I was asked was are you staying in Iceland or connecting? I said staying, she stamped my passport and that was it. It took less than a minute.

Posted by
4637 posts

Yes you are going through passport control in Keflavik both ways; when entering Schengen and when leaving Schengen. It cannot be skipped because then you would have no proof that you left Schengen and without visa you are allowed to stay only 90 days.