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American Airlines First Class travel within USA

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leilajake

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Hi There

Hubby & I are visiting the USA in June this year and have booked our LAX, Boston, Detroit, Dallas, LAX flights all with Australian Airlines first class so that we can earn QF points.
Question is, when travelling First last year to Europe and Dubai we were given Priority passes to get thru customs/security gates, and l was wondering if this will be the case in the USA given their horrendous custom/TSA queues.

Cheers

Leilajake
 

Formal Hall

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I suspect you mean American Airlines, not Australian airlines!

Excellent question, but a difficult one to answer, as the situation is different at each airport. Your AA boarding passes will be marked PRIORITY, but this means priority boarding at the gate. The system for priority security is called Pre-check - shorter queues and you don't have to take off shoes, remove laptops from bags etc. Some Americans pay an annual fee to use Pre-check, sometimes it is randomly allocated to you. I don't believe it comes automatically with first class boarding passes.
 

kevrosmith

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I flew AA last Aug/Sep on a holiday around States, and unlike my time there 2 years prior, many of the ports no longer had a "priority" security lane, e.g. based on class of travel or Airline Status, but as Formal Hall indicated, and from my observation, they mostly now have "Pre-check" lines or "The rest" lines. Some people here have reported that they received Pre-check on their boarding pass which qualified them. I am QF WP/OWE, and didn't receive Pre-check on any of my flights, so was stuck in "the rest" lines, even though I was always travelling in F. Fortunately in each case, the lines were relatively short and I got through fairly quickly. YMMV
 
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leilajake

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Fortunately in each case, the lines were relatively short and go through fairly quickly. YMMV
We were there 4 years ago and lines weren't too bad, but our Travel Agent is now advising that with the latest "issues" they are being told to allow 3.5hrs between connecting flights to ensure customs/TSA clearance. I guess i just thought that given every other country does it the USA may have decided to offer it.

Guess i will see if l can obtain Pre-Check somehow. Thanks for your help.
 

TomVexille

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You will struggle to guarantee precheck without Global Entry which is not yet available to Australians.
 

RooFlyer

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Oops....silly me....!! Yes did mean American. So do you know if you can "buy/subscirbe" to Pre-Check?

Cheers
Pre check can be gained by approval in certain USA TSA 'trusted flyer' programs (Global Entry) which Australians can't enter.

As noted by kevrosmith, it is a matter of debate here, but those with high status on Qantas (and, presumably other airlines) have a good chance of getting 'Pre check' printed on their boarding pass, but you don't know it until you get the BP. I am a WP and get it nearly all the time when flying domestically in USA; others have reported same but others apparently not. It may be something in one's profile in the TSA (if such exists!).

I don't think flying F will get you any priority with security, although there are some airports with 'cattle', 'priority' and 'pre check' lines (ORD UA, from memory) .
 

leilajake

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Thanks to everyone who has replied. Looks like we will just have to allow plenty of time pre-flight!! Lucky we have lounge access...!!!
 

kevrosmith

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We were there 4 years ago and lines weren't too bad, but our Travel Agent is now advising that with the latest "issues" they are being told to allow 3.5hrs between connecting flights to ensure customs/TSA clearance. I guess i just thought that given every other country does it the USA may have decided to offer it.

Guess i will see if l can obtain Pre-Check somehow. Thanks for your help.
Do you have domestic connecting flights? Are they all with the same airline (AA) and all in the same terminal? Domestic connections shouldn't be a problem as, unless you have to change Terminals landside, you shouldn't need to go through security again.

You mention immigration, so do you just mean your initial connection when you arrive into States? If so, then yes, I'd probably allow a bit extra time on arrival to make an international-domestic connection, though depending what class of travel you are arriving into USA on, airport and time of day, you could get through fairly quickly. I fly BNE-LAX in J on QF last year, and was through Immigration in about 20 minutes and not long wait for baggage. However, I was up the front of the queue and all the QF et al flights from MEL, SYD, etc. arrived behind and the queuing area filled up rather quickly.
 

MEL_Traveller

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We were there 4 years ago and lines weren't too bad, but our Travel Agent is now advising that with the latest "issues" they are being told to allow 3.5hrs between connecting flights to ensure customs/TSA clearance. I guess i just thought that given every other country does it the USA may have decided to offer it.

Guess i will see if l can obtain Pre-Check somehow. Thanks for your help.
As others have said - connecting between flights in the USA (wholly domestic-domestic) shouldn't generally require re-screening by the TSA. However, allowing plenty of time is a good idea anyway due to delays caused by weather (especially at Dallas in the summer due to thunderstorms). If you are departing for the first time on a day from a US airport, TSA can take 30-40 minutes at a peak time. So arriving for check-in with 90 mins up your sleeve would be recommended.

Arriving in the USA you should allow a minimum of 3 hours to clear immigration. It can be very very slow (I missed a connection at ORD two years ago with a three hour transit time, with immigration taking over 2.5 hours - but I understand this may be quicker now with the introduction of smart-gates).

pre-check I have also looked into - but to be registered requires an interview or something with Homeland Security... and you need to be an eligible passenger - which non-residents would have a hard time satisfying.
 

Ewing

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I don't think flying F will get you any priority with security, although there are some airports with 'cattle', 'priority' and 'pre check' lines (ORD UA, from memory) .
On AA, First will get you PriorityAAccess which includes priority security (not pre-check) in a lot of airports.

Recent airports I've flown through that definitely have this include SFO, LAX, JFK, LGA, LAS, DFW and MSY.

It doesn't expedite customs though. I've only had expedited customs when travelling on a tight connection (eg: QF93 to QF107 in November).
 
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MEL_Traveller

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On AA, First will get you PriorityAAccess which includes priority security
There were no priority security lanes last year at ORD, CLT or SFO. Just the 'pre-check' and 'others'. Used to be, but not now.
 

kevrosmith

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On AA, First will get you PriorityAAccess which includes priority security (not pre-check) in a lot of airports.

Recent airports I've flown through that definitely have this include SFO, LAX, JFK, LGA, LAS, DFW and MSY.

It doesn't expedite customs though. I've only had expedited customs when travelling on a tight connection (eg: QF93 to QF107 in November).
The day I went through LAX T4, it only had pre-check and non pre-check when I went through there late August last year. No "priority" lane.
 

drron

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Domestic connections are not a problem if using the same airline.Even at DFW where there is a fair chance of changing terminals it is done airside using the airtrain so no need to go through security again.
Pre-check is random.However AA does give preference to their own elites.I as only OWS got precheck more often than mrsdrron as OWE on our last few visits to the US.But I am with AA and she with QF.That said her percentage getting precheck is steadily rising with time.
One other thing.Dont expect first Clas treatment.AA domestic F is like QF domestic J-apart from some transcontinental 3 class services.However AA F is priced probably a bit less than QF J and you do get more points and SCs flying F even with the much simpler and fairer system QFF now has.
 

RooFlyer

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I wonder if it varies between airlines?

I travel around USA with Canadian colleagues who have 'NEXUS', usually on UA. I know that a number of times last year, at DEN and ORD at least, I got Pre Check and zoomed through that lane; they went into a 'priority' lane which was still long (it always steams them up :) ); God help the cattle in the 'general' lane. I also remember with Alaskan at LAX last year there were 'pre check' and 'priority' lanes, and they merged -I saw the signage quite clearly.
 

wandering_fred

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Also if flying AA domestically, AA is very good at handling issues with delays resulting from international arrivals on OneWorld flights. You will be accommodated on the next available flight if missing the connection seems likely. With arrival on CX, they are equally pro-active in looking at tight connections and providing "enhanced" processing if it likely to help.

Happy wandering around the states

Fred
 

Quickstatus

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Agree with all of above

TSA Precheck for Aussies is more or less random for Aussies. Not everyone in your travelling party will get it either. Unless everyone in the travelling party gets TSA Precheck then the non precheck passenger cannot sneak into Precheck line with their Precheck travelling companion even though they are travelling together and really you are still limited by the speed of the non precheck passenger through security. There is no way you can arrange to get Precheck. Buying a First class ticket will not necessarily get you Precheck. Neither does Platinum or Emerald status. Neither can the checkin desk get you Precheck.

Travelling recently with AA and also DL in First on 6 flights, wife got total of 2 precheck, son got 2 precheck other son got 1 precheck, but me the alpha male got none. The son who got 2 precheck got enhanced screening....

In our recent experience Precheck only mean you dont have to take off shoes or jacket and queue us shorter, but not by much.

There are several queues: precheck queue, and also first or premium class. They are very strict about these queues. In my experience, It does not matter who you are travelling with, you cannot sneak in a particular queue if you are not carrying the relevant boarding pass that says you can go inthat queue irrespective of who you are travelling with.

Also there is no such thing as Precheck for first class passengers only lane

Self serve kiosks at LAX sort of like the smart gate in Australia have speeded up the immigration queues at LAX.

AA are very proactive in getting you onto next flights if you miss your flight due to delays in the system

I would not worry too much though..... travel with lighter expectations, you cannot really game or tweak your way through the security system except maybe to buy a Premium ticket such as First class to get into Priority lane but even then its not much difference.
 
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defurax

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In our recent experience Precheck only mean you dont have to take off shoes or jacket and queue us shorter, but not by much.
When the TSA Pre lane is "fully" operational, you can keep your shoes, belt and jacket on and leave laptop and liquids in your carry on.
My last visit to LAX T4 I went through the checkpoint in less than 10 seconds.
The problem is that often the lane is not fully operational and that's when it gets complicated! They give you a card at ID control with "TSA Pre" written on and then you show that card to the TSA officer who tells you what to do i.e keep shoes, no coat, liquids in, computer out...:what:
 

Formal Hall

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Just to make sure. I'm assuming you have QF Gold (or other Oneworld equivalent) or above?
To follow up TomVexille's point, one of the many failings of AA domestic F is that it does not come with lounge access. Even AA's elite members cannot access the lounges when flying domestically unless they purchase a lounge membership on top. So if you don't have Qantas or one world status, prepare to be in the main terminal.
 
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