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Layover time at LAX and airline recommendations

Layover time at LAX and airline recommendations

Jul 25th, 2009, 05:00 AM
  #1  
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Layover time at LAX and airline recommendations

DH and I are flying into LAX (Tom Bradley International terminal) from Sydney on a Saturday afternoon. We will then wish to fly on to San Francisco that evening.

Our flight from LAX back to Sydney is on a Saturday night, for which we will fly in from Chicago that day.

What layover times would you suggest at LAX on arrival and departure. We want to ensure we allow enough time for customs, baggage collection, terminal transfer and check-in.

Opinions on airlines to use or avoid would be appreciated also. We have been looking at Southwest but their times for LAX to SFO do not appear to suit our schedule, so will need to consider an alternative for that leg.

Thanks in advance for any assistance.
shaje is offline  
Jul 25th, 2009, 07:03 AM
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I'm guessing you're flying on V Australia? Reason being, none of the Qantas flights arrive in the afternoon, and the other flights from SYD (Delta, United, Air NZ) don't arrive at TBIT.

If V Australia (symbol VA) then scheduled arrival is 4:30 PM. I'd definitely allow 90 min. to clear US immigration and customs - could be longer, could be shorter - so I wouldn't book any connecting flight that left earlier than 6:30 or 7:00 PM up to SFO.

You will probably have to shift your own bags to your connecting airline. I think VA now have an interline baggage agreement with both Virgin America and Alaska Airlines (another big west coast carrier) but no idea how that works at TBIT. Alaska (symbol AS) and Virgin America (symbol VX) have several flights a day to SFO from LAX; however depending on what month you're traveling it looks like the only eligible departure either would have that would allow a safe connection window would be at 8:30 PM (VX) or 8:55 (AS) either of which would be an awfully long time to be sitting around LAX after crossing the Pacific.

The other option that looks relatively easy/safe is on American Airlines at 7:20 PM, and I'd probably go with that.

American Airlines (AA) is located in Terminal 4 at LAX, immediately adjacent to TBIT, so a very short walk. Virgin America and Alaska are located in Terminal 3, which is also next door to TBIT, but on the other side from T4. (Virgin Australia also departs from T3, but arrives at TBIT.)

Either way you'd arrive in SFO pretty late; I confess I'm wondering if it wouldn't make more sense to bed down at an airport hotel at LAX that night, then get up bright and early for the short hop up to SFO the next morning. If your flight from SYD was late you might be sweating a bullet or two on the connection, and that anxiety on top of flight fatigue would be yucky. Your call.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jul 25th, 2009, 07:08 AM
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Meant to add, on departure it's not nearly so tight. I'd allow 2 hours to be safe, but I'd really emphasize the importance if possible of getting as many flights included on the same ticket as you can. That way any misconnection will be treated as the airlines' problem and you'll be "protected" to a subsequent flight. If you fly on 2+ tickets neither the first nor the second carrier has any liability if you miss the connection.

As stated, VX and AS have baggage agreements with VA, so if that's the airline you're using I'd try to book a through ticket using one of them from SFO to LAX so your bags would be checked through to SYD from SFO. Since all 3 airlines use T3 at LAX the outbound connection would be simplicity itself - just walk from one gate to the next.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jul 25th, 2009, 05:04 PM
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Is it a lot more to get a multicity ticket. I'm thinking you could fly United straight from Sydney to San Fran, then on to Chicago and LAX with a non-stop back home.
Or maybe fly Qantas and American?
andrews98682 is offline  
Jul 27th, 2009, 03:59 AM
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Gardyloo,

Thank you for taking the time to reply, and with such comprehensive comments. Yes, we are flying with V Australia and arrive at 4.30pm. I was thinking a minimum of 2 hours, or perhaps 3 hours to make it that bit more comfortable, so will probably go for the 3 hours. Yes, a long time to sit around an airport, but we usually err on the side of caution when it comes to arriving in time for flights. We expected to have to shift our own bags to the other airline so we're prepared for that.

We did consider staying at an airport hotel at LAX but decided we'd prefer to move on to San Francisco. Coming from 'down under' we're used to long travel times.

It's too late to book everything on the one ticket so we'll have to live with the risk. It's a lesson to learn for next time!

Regarding the baggage agreements between VX, AS and VA, if we are able to book suitable flights with VX or AS do we have to specifically ask for our bags to be checked through to SYD or will the check-in staff do it automatically (with us of course checking they have been tagged correctly)?

Andrews,

Many thanks for your reply too. The SYD-LA-SYD flights are already booked so we can't change airlines, but thanks for the suggestion.
shaje is offline  
Jul 27th, 2009, 07:02 AM
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Regarding the baggage agreements between VX, AS and VA, if we are able to book suitable flights with VX or AS do we have to specifically ask for our bags to be checked through to SYD or will the check-in staff do it automatically (with us of course checking they have been tagged correctly)?

They ought to have no trouble checking them through provided you show then your ticket or boarding pass to Oz when you check in. And of course make sure you check the bag tags.

You ought to contact V Australia before you travel to see if they have an easy through-check system in place at LAX. They may have some kind of bag re-check operation at TBIT so that you don't have to schlep your bags to T3. Not that it's a long way - around 100 meters worst case, and the walk might help to wake you up.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jul 27th, 2009, 10:25 AM
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I think Gardyloo missed that you're returning from Chicago. VX doesn't serve ORD and AS flights are codeshare operated by AA (unless you want to go through SEA). AA (T4) and UA (T7) fly ORD-LAX but I don't know if they interline with VA. You could also fly Southwest (T1) MDW-LAX. I generally prefer at least 3 hours when connecting on separate tickets to a long haul flight. From T4 you can walk through the parking garage to T3.
Patty is offline  
Jul 27th, 2009, 10:55 AM
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I sure did miss that point. Patty's right. You may not be able to interline your bags from ORD to SYD unless V Australia has implemented new interline agreements with other operators. (Actually, looking at the V Australia website, they only offer through ticketing to destinations in N. America served by Virgin America, Alaska and Delta/NW, none of which go from Chicago to LAX.)

In which case I'd probably make it easy on myself and take American to LAX (numerous daily flights) and just do the short walk from T4 to T3 - past TBIT. This is a march I do regularly; it takes around 15 minutes if you poke along; 7-8 if you walk at a normal pace, pushing your bag trolley ahead of you. You'll probably have to pay for the trolley, however, as they're only free if you're arriving at TBIT.
Gardyloo is online now  

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