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Is LAX really THAT bad?

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Supersonic Swinger

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Both Air New Zealand (Business Traveller - business travel information, city guides, flight reservations...) and Air Canada (Business Traveller - business travel information, city guides, flight reservations...) have introduced services which enable RTW travellers to "avoid the US".

It can be a nuisance to transit through the US, but is it really a selling point?

It's been noted in the US:

"Air New Zealand Offers Round-the-World Routing Avoiding the U.S." That
was a recent headline from U.K.-based Business Traveler magazine. For
the past several years, fliers bound from Australia and New Zealand to
Europe by way of U.S. stopovers have been raising a ruckus about
security policies that require all passengers, even those merely in
transit to other countries, to clear U.S. immigration formalities -- a
process that includes fingerprinting, photographing and baggage
rechecking. Air New Zealand has responded with the launch of a service
from Auckland to Europe with a hassle-free transfer at Vancouver,
British Columbia, eliminating its long-standing Auckland-Los
Angeles-London route. Air Canada is following suit with a nonstop
Vancouver-Sydney flight, bypassing its traditional layover in Hawaii,
which, in the words of the magazine, "will enable global travelers to
avoid the United States." What have we come to?

http://www.salon.com/tech/col/smith/2007/08/10/askthepilot240/
 

Harriet Vane

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I imagine if you're one of those people who can't use the VWP, it would be a huge selling point. The other group would be people who only want to transit in the US but have a destination in Canada or Mexico, thus meaning their time in those countries counts against the US VWP.
 

simongr

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It is not fun to get through immi into the US even with VWP.

I am lucky being in J/F so am off first and I walk quickly so I beat a lot of pax - I would hate to be transiting and down the back of the bus.
 

stryker

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simongr said:
It is not fun to get through immi into the US even with VWP.

I am lucky being in J/F so am off first and I walk quickly so I beat a lot of pax - I would hate to be transiting and down the back of the bus.
Agree with you Simon.

If I was going around the world and didn't need to go to the US, this would be very attractive.

For heavens sake, when you don't even have the US on your itinerary (eg SYD-YVR on AC), you still have to go through all that bullsh*t at HNL.

The sooner the EU reciprocate on the VWP for Americans the better...
 

toowongman

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Harriet Vane said:
I imagine if you're one of those people who can't use the VWP, it would be a huge selling point. The other group would be people who only want to transit in the US but have a destination in Canada or Mexico, thus meaning their time in those countries counts against the US VWP.
Yes, this is a very good thing. I'm ineligible for the VWP so looking forward to trying AC or now NZ next year to YVR
 

Harriet Vane

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simongr said:
It is not fun to get through immi into the US even with VWP.

I am lucky being in J/F so am off first and I walk quickly so I beat a lot of pax - I would hate to be transiting and down the back of the bus.
I've read so many stories about the delays and frustrations of CBP at LAX that I'm fully prepared for December's trip. I'm going in expecting it to be hellish, so the only way is up!
 

Febs

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simongr said:
I am lucky being in J/F so am off first and I walk quickly so I beat a lot of pax - I would hate to be transiting and down the back of the bus.
Agreed - of the recent times I've been through LAX I've been towards the front of the queue for immigration and never waited more than 25-30min. Never really had problem with security either - no worse than anywhere else IMO.

I do tend to walk "very quickly" (not quite running pace) once off the plane, so as to get in front of as many people as possible. I never shove or get in people's way, but I do like to make my way to immigration as quickly as possible. I'm sure this helps too. :)

Gotta say transiting through LAX (or DFW) has never really bothered me, but of course YMMV. :)

Cheers,
- Febs.
 

littl_flier

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I did the LAX immigration bit last year on NZ and must say that I don't really mind being fingerprinted or anything when entering the US. It is annoying though and I can see why NZ have gone in this direction and are flying via YVR instead.

Admittedly, I did have a stop over for a couple of days but I was out of NZ6, through immigration, had my bags and had passed the non-existent customs in 25 minutes. I think I might have been lucky though. (Then I got hounded by some lady wearing volunteer and wanting me to empty my pockets. Welcome to the USA littl_flier.)

My next test (and yes I will do a TR on it :p ) will be QF107 SYD-LAX-JFK in November. Alas, this still isn't what we're talking about but transiting in LAX wouldn't seem that bad.
 

serfty

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It took about ¾ hour to get through HNL immigration in June.
littl_flier said:
... My next test ... will be QF107 SYD-LAX-JFK in November. Alas, this still isn't what we're talking about but transiting in LAX wouldn't seem that bad.
That should be relatively easy given it generally the same aircraft and terminal.

Being a Melbournite, I'm doing the QF93/QF107 & QF108/QF94 in November, the latter involving the T4/TBIT hop.

At least it's supposed to be T4 for both QF93 and QF107 ...
 

Alanslegal

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last Xmas it took us no more than 30minutes to get through at HNL......(thought that was quite fast for US standards)
it was great to be with family & relatives in Sydney for Xmas dinner 06, then leaving Syd on xmas night, flying 10hrs to HNL arriving in HNL on xmas morning to only spend it with your friends repeating Xmas Day 2006, then enjoying the sun and sand and a nice mai taí"" sunset "catamaran cruise with unlimited mai tai's, alcohol etc which of course lands/moors on the sand right in front of our hotel, Sheraton Waikiki! perfect!

ps. sorry got off topic, boy i mi$$ HNL

pss. mi$$ing BKK too, dammit!
 

bigjobs

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YVR is a much more comfortable terminal/airport than LAX. this is a good thing with these flights. that AC flight via HNL lands at 1am and they take everyone off, process them all, put them all back on. Silly American paranoid policies ... LOTFAP ...
 
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IME, Yes.

Basically, it boils down to the sheer number of int'l pax a day and the complete inability of the TSA/Customs staff to use any initiative at all. To be fair, the TSA have improved considerably when compared to 2001, but still rank dead last in US airports that I have been through.
As for LAX INS, they need to get that "why should I let you in to our country to take our jobs you work visa holding scum?" attitude surgically removed.
SFO has been far more pleasant by comparison.

As others have said, YMMV - but I have never had a 'good' experience through LAX so I now avoid it like the plague. Doubly so for int'l travel.

mt
 

NYCguy

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mainly tailfirst said:
IME, Yes.


SFO has been far more pleasant by comparison.

As others have said, YMMV - but I have never had a 'good' experience through LAX so I now avoid it like the plague. Doubly so for int'l travel.

mt
I loathe LAX, and deliberately schedule my west-coast stops via SFO. Not the SFO is a travellers paradise, particularly in the morning rush-hour for inbound Int flights, but it is still better than LAX. The INS people have a much better attitude, I have never been asked to submit to a customs examination, and the airport is more navigable than it's sibling to the south.

Priority luggage tags have always worked a little better at SFO too, though I haven't taken checked luggage on that route for some time now.

The UA Flounge at LAX isn't as good as the version at SFO either.

So, in short, SFO OK, LAX SUX. No insult meant to Sioux City, of course.
 

coco50

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stryker said:
For heavens sake, when you don't even have the US on your itinerary (eg SYD-YVR on AC), you still have to go through all that bullsh*t at HNL.
Agreed, but at least at HNL the US INS people are friendly and courteous and it doesn't take nearly as long as it does at LAX, where the people I have encountered are mean and surly. As for bullsh*t I have never seen as much as I did recently boarding a flight from LAS to LAX. Right throughout the US, I had found that security at airports and on board was incredibly lax in the light of their 911 experience esp at LGA of all places! Not so at McCarran where it took ages to clear security and for the first time after 15 sectors in the US we had to show our carry on liquids in the clear plastic bag that we hadn't shown since SYD.
 

stryker

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Robert Barlow said:
Agreed, but at least at HNL the US INS people are friendly and courteous and it doesn't take nearly as long as it does at LAX, where the people I have encountered are mean and surly. As for bullsh*t I have never seen as much as I did recently boarding a flight from LAS to LAX. Right throughout the US, I had found that security at airports and on board was incredibly lax in the light of their 911 experience esp at LGA of all places! Not so at McCarran where it took ages to clear security and for the first time after 15 sectors in the US we had to show our carry on liquids in the clear plastic bag that we hadn't shown since SYD.
Yes, I have to agree with you, the security lines at LAS are rather frightening. But I guess you haven't been in line at HNL behind a couple of planeloads of pax ex JA and NH.

Almost as bad as T1 (Southwest Airlines) at LAX. Really unacceptable.
 

serfty

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stryker said:
Yes, I have to agree with you, the security lines at LAS are rather frightening. But I guess you haven't been in line at HNL behind a couple of planeloads of pax ex JA and NH. ...
Yes, that was my HNL experience:
serfty said:
It took about ¾ hour to get through HNL immigration in June. ...
Luckily, I had a 3½ hour transit.
 

alect

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Jun 20, 2006
Messages
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The customs and immigration experience at LAX really depends on the terminal you arrive at and whether you are USC Citizen/GC or visitor.

TBIT is normally terrible, mainly because it is one of the older terminals, and it has the highest international pax numbers. I have had occasions when I was through to the kerb in 10-15 minutes (as a GC holder). Nonetheless I try to avoid it when possible.

T4 on the other hand is really quite manageable, especially if in premium cabins. Other than the morning Aust flights, rarely does more than one international flight arrive at a time. I consistently am gate-to-kerb in T4 from premium cabins in 15 minutes - in fact once my driver remarked that he was surprised I was already out and though it would be another 15 minutes or so.

I don't have any experience in T7 or T2.
 

NYCguy

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alect said:
That was outrageous!
At least they got the toilets emptied and fresh provisions supplied to the passengers. Not like being stuck on a taxiway in the middle of a blizzard with the loos overflowing down the aisle and the pretzel-supply running dangerously low.

I"m no computer boffin (I can barely post on this board!), but it seems outrageous to me that it could take 6-7 hours to work out that the issue was with the LAN rather than a transmission problem. :shock: Just as well they are working for the government! Perhaps they are running whizz-bang software on hardware that has seen better days?

It could happen at any airport, but this incident certainly reinforces my disdain for :evil:LAX:evil:.
 
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