Connection flight in Madrid and baggage

Old Aug 18th, 2012, 03:47 PM
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Connection flight in Madrid and baggage

Hello.

I have only flown non-direct flights once in the past and next week I will for the second time and I fear that I won't make it in time between two connecting flights.

This is my itinerary:

IB 7867 Tel Aviv 06:00 to Madrid 10:30
AA 5673 Madrid 12:00 to Miami 15:30
AA 2139 Miami 20:00 to Cancun 20:35

As you can see, between landing in Madrid and departing Madrid I have 90 minutes. In both flights I am booked under Iberia, but both flights are operated by ELAL and American Airlines.
In the one connection flight I flew in the past it was 2 flights, both were Alitalia flights and both booked through alitalia website so my luggage was checked all the way from the departing country to my destination and I didn't need to claim the baggage before the connecting flight and check it again.

This time, it's booked with an agent from Argentina and I have no way of really know how will it work. Will Iberia be transferring my luggage from one airplane to the other? Or do I need to go out, take my luggage in baggage claim and re-check it again with passport control and security check and all? Because if I need to claim it and re-check it, there's a good chance I won't make it to the connecting flight...

I would appreciate any help from personal knowledge and experience.

Thank you!
Efrat.
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Old Aug 18th, 2012, 04:53 PM
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Doesn't matter how you book your tickets. They should be on the same ticket. Bags will be tagged all the way to Cancun. You won't see it in Madrid or Miami. 90 minutes should be enough time in MAD.

Your Madrid - Miami flight is actually operated by Iberia.

Miami is one of two airports in the US where you don't need to claim bags for int'l - int'l transfers. You still have to go through US immigration though.
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Old Aug 18th, 2012, 06:33 PM
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<i>Miami is one of two airports in the US where you don't need to claim bags for int'l - int'l transfers. You still have to go through US immigration though.</i>

That was what I thought the case was now, and it seems borne out on the following web page published by Miami Airport: http://www.miami-airport.com/traveling_today.asp

<i>International flights connecting to international destinations - confirm with your airline that your luggage was checked directly to your final destination.</i>

However, on the same website it still says this: http://www.miami-airport.com/flight_connections.asp

<i>International flights connecting to international destinations - claim luggage before clearing U.S. Customs.</i>

So trust but verify, I guess.

However, since you'll be checking at the El Al counters at Ben Gurion, I would look very carefully at the bag tags put on your luggage. I would be <i>very surprised</i> if the LY agents at TLV are familiar with Miami's exception to the rule that all luggage transiting through the USA be reclaimed and re-checked post customs, and with two codeshare flights on one three-segment ticket, I would frankly fear for the bags' fate at MIA. With my limited experience with El Al - Iberia relations at TLV, which has been uniformly negative, I would be very protective of my bags' whereabouts. You don't have time at MAD to go landside and get your bags, so you'll have to trust the Barajas bag handlers.

Since you have 4 1/2 hours at Miami before the CUN flight, and since you have to go through US immigration anyway, personally I'd play it safe and ask at TLV for the bags to be "short checked" to only to MIA, where you could reclaim them and re-check them yourself, with minimal risk of having them lost in the bowels of MIA.
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Old Aug 18th, 2012, 07:22 PM
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I disagree. Why subject yourself to any more interaction and queues at US Immigration and Customs than necessary. I'll definitely let MIA take care of your bags.
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Old Aug 18th, 2012, 09:16 PM
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<i>I disagree. Why subject yourself to any more interaction and queues at US Immigration and Customs than necessary. I'll definitely let MIA take care of your bags.</i>

Immigration is required in any case; as you know customs is totally proforma.

In numerous Iberia flights, the only time I've ever had bags go astray was when I was relying on transfers involving El Al personnel at TLV and Iberia at MAD. I fail to see the downside in making sure the bags are safe and secure at MIA. If the OP checks them through, and they don't turn up in Mexico, the paper trail will be very complicated indeed, and finding them will require relying on two airlines not renowned for customer service. Better safe than sorry IMO; of course you (and the OP) are free to disagree.
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Old Aug 18th, 2012, 11:13 PM
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Yes, it's a matter of opinion. The OP can decide for himself.

I haven't gone through immigration and customs at MIA, but if it's like IAH (the other airport that doesn't require claiming bags doing int'l-int'l transfer), one can go though special - usually much faster - immigration lines where the officer also takes the customs card. Then it's straight out the customs door.

Instead of the regular immigration line, and then wait for bags, then another possible line at the customs, and then finally an unlikely (but not impossible) secondary screening at customs.
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