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International Transit at LAX

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mabunji

Intern
Joined
Nov 23, 2006
Messages
75
I'm off to Los Angeles next week, and am planning on doing a side trip to Mexico.

Returning from Cancun (CUN) to LAX, my options seem to be :

CUN/DEN/LAX - which involves a 4 hour wait in DEN.

There is a direct flight CUN/LAX. This arrives into LAX at 21.06. I am looking at a 22.30 departure LAX to SYD. (All flights are United)

Does anyone know if I need to clear US Immigration / Customs when I arrive from Mexico, prior to boarding the flight to Australia (or am I simply regarded as a transit passenger) ?.
 

alect

Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2006
Messages
351
mabunji said:
I'm off to Los Angeles next week, and am planning on doing a side trip to Mexico.

Returning from Cancun (CUN) to LAX, my options seem to be :

CUN/DEN/LAX - which involves a 4 hour wait in DEN.

There is a direct flight CUN/LAX. This arrives into LAX at 21.06. I am looking at a 22.30 departure LAX to SYD. (All flights are United)

Does anyone know if I need to clear US Immigration / Customs when I arrive from Mexico, prior to boarding the flight to Australia (or am I simply regarded as a transit passenger) ?.
Yes you will need to clear immig and customs and then re-enter air-side, but since you're in the same terminal (presumably T6) your connection should be OK if no delays).
 

mabunji

Intern
Joined
Nov 23, 2006
Messages
75
alect said:
Yes you will need to clear immig and customs and then re-enter air-side, but since you're in the same terminal (presumably T6) your connection should be OK if no delays).
Thanks for the info.

I think I am safest doing the CUN/DEN/LAX option and clearing Immigration/Customs in Denver (I've got 4 hours to kill !).

It's been a couple of years since I passed through LAX, the memories still haunt me. United's website advise that security lane delays in LAX are 40 minutes plus (peak time). This is additional to the delays clearing immigration/customs - I'm not confident that I can make the connection doing the direct flight (and it's 24 hours before the next SYD flight - makes 4 hours in DEN seem a bargain).
 

clifford

AFF Supporter
Joined
Jul 6, 2004
Messages
1,775
mabunji said:
Thanks for the info.

I think I am safest doing the CUN/DEN/LAX option and clearing Immigration/Customs in Denver (I've got 4 hours to kill !).

It's been a couple of years since I passed through LAX, the memories still haunt me. United's website advise that security lane delays in LAX are 40 minutes plus (peak time). This is additional to the delays clearing immigration/customs - I'm not confident that I can make the connection doing the direct flight (and it's 24 hours before the next SYD flight - makes 4 hours in DEN seem a bargain).
Must admit, I go through LAX on UA maybe ten times a year or more, and have never had a major delay (> 45 mins) going through Immigration on the way in (UA has its own dedicated Immigration / Customs hall at LAX, which won't be the case at DEN).

As for security, I've never had to wait more than 10 mins at LAX, but I am a UA elite flyer, and that helps as there is a special line. At that time of night you shouldn't have a problem with security at LAX. Note, you would probably arrive and depart from terminal 7, not T6, but this is a mere technicality.

If it were me, I'd minimise the hassle and fly direct to LAX (unless, of course, you want to claim the additional MP miles for going via DEN).
 

Kiwi Flyer

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2004
Messages
5,453
mabunji said:
I'm off to Los Angeles next week, and am planning on doing a side trip to Mexico.

Returning from Cancun (CUN) to LAX, my options seem to be :

CUN/DEN/LAX - which involves a 4 hour wait in DEN.

There is a direct flight CUN/LAX. This arrives into LAX at 21.06. I am looking at a 22.30 departure LAX to SYD. (All flights are United)

Does anyone know if I need to clear US Immigration / Customs when I arrive from Mexico, prior to boarding the flight to Australia (or am I simply regarded as a transit passenger) ?.
Risky IMHO. UA's flights from MEX sometimes arrive at TBIT = long delays depending on how many non-US pax on your flight make immigration before you (or on other flights). Then you have to change terminals, go through security rigmarole.

It is only Canada, Ireland (and possibly some caribbean countries?) that has US immigration pre-processing at departure. All international transits through US require immigration and customs clearance (even when they are same plane and in secure airside transit facility :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: ).
 

spiggy_topes

Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2006
Messages
160
Really, this is enough to make me try to avoid the US entirely when I travel.

Came back from Toronto to Sydney yesterday, with a change of planes in San Francisco (Air Canada to Quantas). Should probably have expected it, but when leaving Toronto I had to fill in the full US immigration paperwork - visa waiver form, customs declaration, fingerprints and photo, and a couple of questions about my job. This so I can walk from one plane to another in SF without ever leaving the international terminal! Is there any other country in the world that makes you do this?

Fortunately I have never had any police problems or anything else that would ring the alarms on the visa waiver. But what if I had? Would that rule out any future transfers through the US?
 

Kiwi Flyer

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2004
Messages
5,453
spiggy_topes said:
Really, this is enough to make me try to avoid the US entirely when I travel.

Came back from Toronto to Sydney yesterday, with a change of planes in San Francisco (Air Canada to Quantas). Should probably have expected it, but when leaving Toronto I had to fill in the full US immigration paperwork - visa waiver form, customs declaration, fingerprints and photo, and a couple of questions about my job. This so I can walk from one plane to another in SF without ever leaving the international terminal! Is there any other country in the world that makes you do this?

Fortunately I have never had any police problems or anything else that would ring the alarms on the visa waiver. But what if I had? Would that rule out any future transfers through the US?
No the US immigration processing at Toronto is for all entering USA. They do that for trans-border flights because it is easier for US to set up immigration at around a dozen Canadian airports than several dozen US airports (plus Canada let them do it).

The real gripe is that no one can do an international transit in USA without entering the country. Most major countries allow international transits without entry. However, there are plenty of countries where you also need to go through immigration to transit - eg a lot of the South Pacific island nations (of course immigration there is fast and painless unlike USA).

If you had past problems then you'd need to apply for a visa even just to transit USA. Air Canada does quite well out of longhaul connecting passengers who cannot (easily) enter USA, eg to/from south america.
 

spiggy_topes

Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2006
Messages
160
Extraordinary. Must make life pretty awkward if your plane has to make an unscheduled stop on US territory (say, for a mechanical fault) and you don't have a visa...
 

Kiwi Flyer

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2004
Messages
5,453
spiggy_topes said:
Extraordinary. Must make life pretty awkward if your plane has to make an unscheduled stop on US territory (say, for a mechanical fault) and you don't have a visa...
There aren't too many routes that fly past US that don't stop there. In any case unscheduled stops are different. If a flight from say NZ to Singapore had to make an unscheduled stop in Australia I'd expect Australia would either require stay on a/c or process for immigration or hold secure location. Indeed same for any country.
 

spiggy_topes

Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2006
Messages
160
Certainly that makes sense. I just wondered what would happen if you didn't have and were unable to get a US visa (say, following a previous criminal conviction) and you then found yourself in the US through no fault of your own, having to apply for entry. Nightmare!
 

Kiwi Flyer

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2004
Messages
5,453
spiggy_topes said:
Certainly that makes sense. I just wondered what would happen if you didn't have and were unable to get a US visa (say, following a previous criminal conviction) and you then found yourself in the US through no fault of your own, having to apply for entry. Nightmare!
No worse than arriving at Australia and not eligible to enter.

Note have a previous criminal conviction does not equate to being denied US entry. However you are ineligible to enter under visa waiver scheme, thus have to go through the visa formalities.
 
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