View Full Version : LAX transfer

Haven't a clue
16th Dec 2017, 17:17
Looking at a trip on one ticket with a connection at LAX. Arrival on BA at 13.05 departing on AA 16.55 end June. Appreciate we need to clear US immigration (with a first time ESTA) and customs on arrival, and then check bags in for the AA domestic flight. I haven't transferred at a US airport for a heck of a long time. So can anyone with recent experience tell me whether they think the 3h50 between flights will be enough time to do this, please?

16th Dec 2017, 21:36
Should be fine, for Oneworld if you interline the bags. If you bought discrete tickets and you cannot persuade them to do PNR magic your bag process is a little more complicated but still should be fine. The exit through customs leads direct to bagswap and it's very smooth. American is still over on the right from international.

17th Dec 2017, 00:22
So long as you don't arrive just after an A-380 with 500 + pax. on board who need to go through the foreign visitors immigration channels. i.e. American passport holders seem to move faster - you will have to queue to use a self-service passport processing machine, that prints a slip including a copy of your photograph, then queue again to have that accepted, and your passport stamped by a human. Unfortunately there never seem to be any "sterile" "airside" lounges where inbound pax. transferring to another International departure can avoid having to enter the USA, and of course if you are transfering to a domestic carrier you have no choice.

Baggage collection could be fairly easy, and there are "free" trolleys in the baggage arrival area. ( but not when trying to get one roadside when leaving, $5.oo cash or credit card needed for that, unless you are quick enough to pinch one from someone just releasing one ! )

LAX moves reasonably well, but departure TSA security agents are the most evil of any I have experienced anywhere, and half don't know their own rules, e.g. if you are over 75 there is no longer any need to remove ones' shoes, but the Female, Black, African American, Overweight ( no, I'm not being sexist, racist, or anti-fattty, just stating fact ) brusquely told me to take 'em off. I pointed to the sign granting me dispensation, but she ignored that, claiming that was for Domestic pax. and I was International ( I was, but she was wrong ). I contemplated suggesting that that meant that Domestic passengers could be shoe-bombers, but not International ones then ? but wisely decided to keep my mouth shut and not mention the B word. I reported her to a supervisor who admitted that she was wrong, but no apology of course.

Last visit I was denied a plastic tray, and told to put all my loose change and pocket items in my bag, ( this was for a new procedure that they were allegedly trialling, without warning, so I was not prepared ) I pointed out that there was no more room in my bag for all my crap, so told to just put it on to the belt unrestrained. Naturally a lot of it rolled around and created a stoppage of the belt. Not my fault. ( tip - don't be behind me through security, even Mrs. ExS. disowns me at LAX !)

I wear a totally cloth and plastic belt, no metal, not even the buckle, partly because I have a colostomy bag and this is less invasive against my bag and more comfortable for me. I tried to refuse to take it off, usually successfully, including showing a medical cert. describing my bag issues, but was denied, I was then told to raise my hands as I passed through the scanner, so shuffled through with my trousers around my ankles. I'm at an age where I don't care anymore, but was roundly criticised by the TSA for being unco-operative. I'm not, yet, on a no fly list, but I don't doubt that will occur eventually. I hate them. I wouldn't mind, but we all know that the Bad Boys will do precisely what they want to do precisely when they want to do it, it is all a monumental waste of time.

I think your connection time will be OK !

17th Dec 2017, 07:33
@ ExSp33db1rd
The OP stated that he has a first-time ESTA which means he can't use a self-service kiosk and has to queue with the folk who get a *really* good look-over these days...
@OP Assuming you're arriving at the Intl terminal, you'll probably be in the same time-slot as LH, AF. 3:55 should be OK, would get tight if you get mixed up with EK/CX etc though

Haven't a clue
17th Dec 2017, 07:35
Many thanks geeohgeegeeoh and ExSp33db1rd for your most helpful comments and advice and also ExSp33db1rd for your explanation of the process. In some ways our ignorance of the US security process will be an advantage but like you we will no doubt fall foul of one rule or another. Family and I will be arriving on an A380 but will now plan to sit upstairs in Club as close as possible to the exit....

My only experience of US transfers was passing through Miami several times twenty or so years ago, coming up from South America before heading west. "Use the Blue priority lane sir; I've put a sticker on your passport to show you are entitled to use it". Alas on arrival the signage was in English and the majority of arrivals unsuprisingly spoke Spanish so that didn't work!

Haven't a clue
17th Dec 2017, 07:45
RevMan2 Appreciate the heads up. Based on my extensive experience with BA punctuality eastbound I fear that we'll be a tad late so it could get interesting if westbound is as bad. It's tempting to take a later AA flight but that would add another 3 hours to the arrival time at our ultimate destination (Hawaii). There is an alternative routing through Seattle which may be less hectic and I will consider that.

As least the kids are well past the "Are we there yet" phase and there is 110/240V to keep their gizmos alive available on the A380 at least.

17th Dec 2017, 11:25
I would take a 3 hour connection at LAX, that should be enough for immigration and customs, and make sure that I have a through ticket... It would be AA or BA's responsibility to cater for you in case of a delay. The flight 3 hours later would be AA's alternative to get you out of LAX. ;)

Background Noise
17th Dec 2017, 14:35
We had the same quandary - a single ticket but a change from BA to AA. The website initially suggested a 2.5 hour turnaround but (mindful of previous immigration experiences) we went for the next flight and a 5 hr layover - we ended up with 4 hours to spare!

It is good that you are aware of the requirements, as I don't think we were explicitly told to collect our bags (which had been booked all the way through to Hawaii) and we could have unwittingly gone through immigration and not bothered with baggage reclaim. It was all very smooth and baggage drop is fairly obvious once through customs. Compared with previous immigration experiences it was fairly quick.

We arrived in the TBIT and departed from T4 - the procedure takes you outside and back in to T4 but once back in both terminals are connected by a walkway so you can wander between them. If you have suitable tickets, or one world status, I would aim for the Oneworld lounge in the TBIT over the Admirals Club lounge in T4.

17th Dec 2017, 16:39
Personally unless time is of the essence find a city in USA or Canada you have not visited before and have a 3 day stop over

We went to Hawaii and routed Lgw Bos Sfo Koa Hnl Vyr Hrw

28 days in total and unstressed

Well helps when retired

Haven't a clue
17th Dec 2017, 18:03
Thanks MathFox, Background Noise and Kiltrash for your input; all helpful and positive so we'll give it a go.

MathFox I understand AA's plan B but that does depend on available seats!

I realised we had to change from TBIT to T4 or T5 and hearing Background Noise's experience helps a lot.

Kiltrash the plan is out to Hawaii then back via Washington and New York. Would stay longer but have to be back for RIAT!

Incidentally the last time I went to LAX was with Laker so what little knowledge retained is well out of date.....

17th Dec 2017, 19:01
When we flew Heathrow - San Francisco via O'Hare with American Airlines, we had to collect our bags at O'Hare and take them to the domestic baggage hall ourselves. On the return flights they were transferred automatically.
Both legs were with AA and the check in at Heathrow told us to do this.

Haven't a clue
17th Dec 2017, 20:17
Thanks chevvron I guess in your case as O'Hare was your point of entry to the US, Customs want you to pay them a call. It will be the same for us arriving at LAX although geeohgeegeeoh says there is a bag drop in the international terminal just after Customs so we don't have to lug them to T4 and go through a checkin process.

18th Dec 2017, 06:38
a first-time ESTA which means he can't use a self-service kiosk

can't comment, I used my "First time" ESTA" before self-service kiosks were in service.

During the time that USA IMM. were playing around with the present Visa Waiver procedures,a few years ago, I was denied that option because I still had a "real" Visa, so had to enter using that. The Hofficer asked me if I was the Mr. XX XXXXX who had first entered the United States of America on Dec. 17th 1959, as crew member of BA xxx from London England, operating Bristol Britannia aircraft G-AOVR ? He had every visit that I have ever made to the USA available right before him on the screen. He then questioned me, photographed me, fingerprinted me etc.

I asked him why he was doing this whilst the "experimental" Visa Waiver passengers were being nodded through, you have known everything about me for over 50 years, and your colleagues are not even questioning those others I replied? Because you have a Visa, he said, they are on a Visa Waiver.

The inmates truly run the asylum at USA airports.

Background Noise
18th Dec 2017, 09:04
Ditto about first-time ESTAs, but last time we renewed our ETSAs, I'm pretty sure it said something like 'now you can use the automated kiosk on arrival'. On arrival at Miami, all 'visitors' were being directed into a long line by officials in uniform with guns and radios - so we did what we were told. I asked a tentative question about the kiosks which was rebuffed (ignored) so we stayed in the long line - enviously watching rows of under-used kiosks.

At the desk, I ventured to engage the immigration officer in conversation, which was remarkably successful! He confirmed that we could have used the kiosks, and asked who said we couldn't - a chap in a blue shirt, I said. Ah, he said, we have had a lot of problems with them. That was almost an hour in immigration and the same again queuing in the baggage hall to be checked by only 2 customs officers. Hence our concern at LAX - which proved to be unfounded.

Ref the bag drop, I think that is only if your bags are checked all the way through (which they should be) otherwise I guess it would be the standard checkin desk.

Ref the comments about it being AA's responsibility to get you out - that is only any use if the next flight has availability.

18th Dec 2017, 09:17
Bags will not be checked through. You will have to reclaim and recheck them. This is standard for USA arrival. You are transferring to a domestic flight and the second sector has no procedure for screening international baggage so it has to become domestic baggage. This won't be a problem, immigration will take longer than it will for the bags to appear and the recheck is very close. Your connection time is sufficient. It should work just fine.

Also, re the comments about oneworld and interlining baggage -yes, you'd think that is how it would work. But, I see the OP is travelling on BA who have a foul attitude to such things. They have a clear checkin staff directive to not to transfer baggage EVEN TO another BA flight unless all travel is on one PNR/Ticket. No exceptions. Not even for Gold Card holders. Not even if you bought both tickets from BA. Just one of the many reasons why I have given up flying with them.

Background Noise
18th Dec 2017, 09:51
He says he is on one ticket. We were on a single AA ticket with initial flights on BA from Dublin and Heathrow and then AA from LAX to Hawaii. Bags were checked all the way from DUB to HNL although we knew we would have to collect and re-check them at LAX.

18th Dec 2017, 10:17
To clarify: the bags will be tagged through if on one ticket/PNR but won't be checked through, they will have to be reclaimed and checked in again LAX at the re-check belt right after immigration.

I did see that the OP was on one ticket/two airlines, I was referring to the One World comments to point out that there are less obvious issues with baggage transfer that can occur also, even if you are on the same airline for two sectors.

Haven't a clue
18th Dec 2017, 14:44
Thanks ExSp33db1rd, Background Noise and custardpsc for the additional comments/clarifications. Yes it will be all on one PNR/ticket and success will in the end down to BA on time arrival and the length of the queue for first time ESTAs. Fingers crossed then.

ExSp33db1rd Its amazing to hear that what must have been paper data from the late 50s/early 60s has been captured to that level of detail. I used to have a 10 year multi entry visa issued in 1980. Subsequent visits were under the old visa waiver programme. Be interesting to see if my visa comes up.

18th Dec 2017, 16:05
To clarify: the bags will be tagged through if on one ticket/PNR but won't be checked through, they will have to be reclaimed and checked in again LAX at the re-check belt right after immigration.

Not only tagged through, but in the system...

19th Dec 2017, 05:41
Ditto about first-time ESTAs, but last time we renewed our ETSAs, I'm pretty sure it said something like 'now you can use the automated kiosk on arrival'.

One has to have been initrially processed manually i.e./ by a CBP officer under ESTA conditions after which kiosks can be used. Renewing an ESTA is irrelevant in this context.

Haven't a clue
11th Aug 2018, 16:16
Had to delay the trip few weeks and got back yesterday. I thought you might want to know how it went.

In a word "Perfect"!

Although the plane pushed back late it was a quick flight to LAX at 10h15m and we arrived on time, and more importantly just in front of the Air France A380 but behind the LH A340. From doors open at around 13.15 we cleared immigration and were through to the domestic terminal via the transit route with it's own TSA security within an hour. That's much, much better than I expected, And the bags made it to our final destination as well although the laid back "just leave them there" instruction from the baggage handler left us wondering whether they would.

And for some reason all our party were given TSAPRE on our return domestic sectors, an on the BA return from IAD to the UK which was the fastest security check I have experienced for what I guess is 30 or so years. One has to wonder why the airports and airlines on this side of the pond can't persuade the DfT to allow a similar pre clearance process here.

Thanks again to all who contributed