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(See also notes about airlines and air travel.)
Dubai arrests and imprisons travellers making connections for having microscopic quantities of marijuana on their clothing — even on the soles of their shoes.
Some years ago it was reported that most US bank notes had traces of cocaine. I wonder if they will start imprisoning people for carrying US money.
Don't be a fool! Don't ever transfer in Dubai; don't think of flying on Emirates.
The US makes international transfer passengers go through formalities comparable to US immigration. I do not know of any other country that is so nasty, except perhaps Jamaica.
Canada interrogates international transfer passengers about what they plan to do in their destination countries. Once I was interrogated on my way to the US about what I would do in the US. When I told them that what I do in my own country was none of Canada's business, they threatened to deport me to the US, but to the wrong city, just as harassment. I urge people to avoid international transfers in Canada.
Connections in London and Paris airports are inconvenient. They make passengers go through security even in connections between domestic flights. In Paris this is so slow that I missed a flight as a result.
It is possible that these policies apply to all airports in France and/or England. Nice seems to have the same policy as Paris.
Vienna also makes passengers go through security even in connections between Schengen flights.
Vienna is bad for international transfers, too: I had to go through two security checks, one getting off the incoming flight and another at the gate. I think that is the standard practice in Vienna.
In Mexico City, terminal 2 makes passengers go through security in domestic connections. Terminal 1 does not. The main user of terminal 1 was Mexicana, which has gone bust. But now Interjet uses it.
Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports require a security check for international connections.
Hong Kong makes (international) transfer passengers go through security checks. So do Jakarta, Narita and Singapore.
Singapore is the worst, because security is right at the gate, so there is no way to buy drinks or fill a water bottle before getting on the flight. This also tends to result in a long security wait at the gate. Connecting to the Internet there requires giving the info in your passport.
If you consider an international transfer in Kuala Lumpur, make sure that you won't be forced to enter Malaysia, because they would take your fingerprints. And be careful because they might extradite you to be executed without giving you a hearing.
Frankfurt, Munich and Schiphol are convenient for domestic connections. For international connections, Frankfurt and Munich have taken to making people go through security, which is a pointless inconvenience.
Avoid international connections between different airlines in Bangkok airport. They require you to go through immigration to claim baggage and recheck it. If you need to get a visa to do this, it could cost you up to $100. That's assuming you don't get arrested for having criticized the king while in some other country.
If you know of any other airports with good policies, or with bad policies, please let me know (email rms at gnu dot org).
Copyright (c) 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 Richard Stallman Verbatim copying and redistribution of this entire page are permitted provided this notice is preserved.