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Two Hours to Connect at IAD from Germany to LAX

Hi all!

I asked a question a while ago about this connection going from the US through IAD to Europe. Now my question is about coming home on United.

With two hours at Dulles — customs, baggage collection and rechecking to LAX, are there any tricks? I’m afraid it’s going to be tight on Saturday, Dec 18. Big holiday travel day.

Posted by
529 posts

don't check your bags and do carry on. you can get through customs and screening much easier and faster.

Posted by
31 posts

I asked this question about the same airport and I got this response:

***> I’m more concerned about your return trip. I’m assuming your flight

from Vienna is actually on Austrian. Austrian uses a different
terminal at IAD than United. On arrival, you’d get on a mobile lounge
which would take you to the immigration area in the main terminal.
After immigration, you go back through TSA and then have to travel
from main terminal to United terminal on the Aerotrain. Dulles is my
home airport so I have never transferred there, but I have heard it
can be ugly. Note that there are two immigration areas at Dulles. If
your inbound flight was on United metal and you were connecting, you’d
go through immigration in the United terminal rather than the main
terminal.***

So I think if your returning flight is on United it might be easier to go through immigration.

I've been struggling with finding flights with a decent layover time. There are either 40 minutes or 8 hours. I want something in the 3 to 4 hour range but I can't seem to find anything like that.

Posted by
75 posts

Actually all United and all Star Alliance flights that have continuing connecting passengers on United domestic flights use the separate customs facility that is located at terminal "C" with easy access after immigration check to all UA flights in C-D gates.
If you have Global Entry or Mobil Passport immigration is a breeze; otherwise the wait can be long - IAD can be very busy with most Int'l flights arriving between 2 & 5 PM. After that the only wait is to collect your baggage and place it on the connecting belt, then through security and you are within a 20 minute walk of the farthest gate.
If the international flight arrives on time and there are no weather related issues 2 hours is adequate - would guess you are looking at the 5:30 PM flight to LAX. If you'd rather have more time in case of any unforeseen circumstances you might look into the 10 PM flight.

Posted by
4638 posts

A.A. - So do connecting passengers arriving on Lufthansa and Austrian then get on a mobile lounge to the United immigration area in terminal C? I didn’t realize they separated the passengers arriving in the B terminal also.

CaliMon, if your flight from Germany is on United metal, you will arrive in the C terminal and go through immigration in terminal C. After you exit the plane, you will walk down a long narrow corridor to a point where arriving passengers get on a mobile lounge to head to immigration in the main terminal and connecting passengers are directed to the immigration area in terminal C.

Posted by
651 posts

Hi Laura, yes it is a United plane, not Lufthansa. What is a Mobile Lounge?

Posted by
7427 posts

Mobile Lounges are the bane of just about anyone traveling through Dulles. They are these big (I mean HUGE) carriers that lumber from one terminal to another — but not on any track or anything. They are basically huge rooms set on wheels . Uggghhhhhh memories !!!

Posted by
75 posts

Laura - Yes; arriving Star Alliance connecting passengers connecting to UA flights are sent to the "C" concourse for immigration.

Posted by
651 posts

Oh interesting. So we must make sure we get on the “right” mobile lounge since we are connecting, correct? I’m sure they mark it clearly but this is very helpful.

Looks like United Flight 2276 departs from Terminal D.

No global entry here so we will have to wait in line. Is this the process:
Long hallway
Mobile lounge to Terminal C
Immigration
Pick up luggage
Recheck luggage
Security
Walk to Terminal D

Posted by
3578 posts

I don’t think there is a mobile lounge in the equation. Immigration, arrival, and departure are all from the same building, concourse C/D.

Posted by
75 posts

CaliMom - See attached for a visual on UA arrivals at IAD.
https://www.flydulles.com/travel-information/airport-and-terminal-maps
All UA Int'l flights arrive at gates C1 through C14. You exit the plane and are directed along a hallway to the left of the diagram by gates C1 or C2, depending on which side the plane parks. At that point your are directed to either a mobile lounge if your destination is Washington, or to the lower floor if you are connecting. Once at the lower floor you go through immigration, collect our bags, place them on the connecting belt, go through security, and go up to the main floor where you will find yourself in the vicinity of gate C8. Flight boards will advise of correct gate for your connecting flight as they may have changed since the start of your trip.
As others have advised, get Mobile Passport to expedite the process.

Posted by
651 posts

Thanks All! As long as the flight is on time, we should be fine. :)

Posted by
651 posts

Hi all,

Just thought I’d follow up.

The flight from Frankfurt was 10 minutes late. Arrival at Dulles was a madhouse. Seemed like there were 300 people waiting to go through customs and connect onward. It took an hour and 50 minutes from landing to get to the next gate. With a 2-hour connection time, it would have been a miss except the flight to LA was delayed an hour. PHEW!

After much panic, all was well but I won’t book 2 hour connections when returning to the US again 😊

Posted by
8677 posts

I have a back up plan using airline miles from CDG-IAD-SMF with a 2h15m layover, arriving at IAD at 2:50. We have global entry, so I’m not too worried. The Mobile Passport app works really well if you don’t have GE. We are hoping we can get into the Netherlands in April (one never knows about lockdowns) and if we can we fly AMS-SFO-SMF with a 2 hour layover.

Posted by
651 posts

Yes but we never saw a sign or person to direct us to a different line.