Questions on International Flying

Nov 12th, 2003, 06:13 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 26
Questions on International Flying

I will be flying from the States to Europe for a 2 month backpacking trip in April. I've never flown internationally before, and my parents haven't since 9/11, so I'm relying on the vast information of Fodoriteland.

I haven't booked a flight yet, but from the research I've been doing, my cheapest bet will require a change of planes and possibly airlines in the States before flying on to Europe. (I don't know why its cheaper to fly farther and longer, but hey, its the airline industry, normal logic need not apply).

For the sake of discussion, let say my flight itinerary is ATL-JFK and then JFK-LHW (Heathrow). When I check in and check bags in ATL, do I go through customs then? Or at JFK? Or do you go through customs in the destination country? I know this is stupid, but I just don't know!

Again, for the sake of discussion, lets say my ATL-JFK flight is on Delta and the JFK-LHW is on British Airways. Again, I checked bags. Would I need to retrieve my bags from Delta at JFK and recheck them with BA, or is this done for me?

I apologize again for asking stupid questions but if you can't ask stupid travels questions anonymously on a travel web forum, where can you ask them?! haha

Thanks all.
robertw is offline  
Nov 12th, 2003, 06:53 PM
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Customs will be when you land in Europe; not in the U.S. Whether you need to re-check bags for your overseas flight will depend on the airlines you fly and whether they have an interline agreement to check bags all the way through to your destination. If that is NOT the case, then you will need to leave PLENTY of time for your connection because you will need to retrieve your baggage and then re-check for an international flight for which you may need to check in a minimum of an hour and a half to two hours prior to that flight time. Remember also that when you switch between unaffiliated carriers, the first carrier may have no responsibility beyond transporting you to the destination for which you purchased a ticket from them. If you arrive late for your subsequent flight, that is not really their problem; it's yours. Likewise, if your baggage doesn't arrive in New York with you, it is not necessarily going to be their responsibility to deliver it to you in Europe; they agreed to take you and your baggage to New York. (Do you get the idea that it would be worth something to avoid this potential? It is.)
Flyboy is offline  
Nov 12th, 2003, 09:23 PM
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You can check your bag straight through IF the airlines work together and have an agreement to do so. Generally, if all your flight coupons (tickets, paper or electronic) are issued by the same airline this kind of agreement is in place. If you have purchased two separate ticekts, you MAY still be able to do so - check with the ATL-JFK airline about this. If they say no, then be sure you allow plenty of time between flights at JFK. The JFK-LHW carrier won't know that you are originating in ATL and will expect you to meet their check-in deadlines - usually a couple hours for international flghts. You will have to pick up your bags from the first airline then wait in line to check them at the next airline. No customs to clear, but it can take some time. BTW, be sure that you put identification inside as well as outside any checked baggage, and it's a good idea in a situation like this to also enclose a copy of your flight itinerary.
You clear Customs when you enter a country, not leave one. This is where they make sure you are not bringing in anything illegal or more than an allowed amount of something that is legal. You will also need to clear immigration, which is where they will inspect your passport and verify your nationality and right to enter the host country. Usually on landing one first goes through immigration, then picks up checked baggage and goes through customs.
Have a great time!
Seamus is offline  
Nov 13th, 2003, 03:40 AM
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In addition to flight itinerary that is enclosed in your luggage, it's good to have name and phone number of at least your first destination hotel, if you have it (since you're backpacking) - just in case your bag is delayed.

Put ONLY your name and home phone number on your luggage tags. Remember to take cameras and film on board plane in your carryon bag, along with any medicines/pills you might be taking.

Most interline carriers (the majors) have a baggage agreement so your bag from ATL-JFK on DL shold be tagged straight trhu to final destination on the JFK-LHR on BA - and the same on return. You might want to call both DL and BA to make certain and clear in your own mind.
Nov 13th, 2003, 04:00 AM
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This made me think of a ticket I almost bought a couple of weeks ago. Singapore Airlines had really cheap fares between JFK and Frankfurt. I found a great fare for travel from D.C., flying United from WAS to connect to the Singapore flight from JFK. This was at travelocity, I think. I was going to buy the ticket and then noticed that the "connecting" UA flight went to LGA. Woulda been not only an airline change, or terminal change, but an airport change.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Nov 13th, 2003, 04:30 AM
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The LGA-JFK connection is very simple. Three ways to do it and depending on the time of the day it could be as quick as 20-30 minutes.
Bus - Cheapest if 1 person traveling, but also slowest, over an hour
Taxi - Better option if 2-3 people traveling, anywhere beyween 20 minutes up to 45 minutes depending on the traffic.
Limo - more expensive, same time as Taxi.
It's not that big of a deal actually. Many people do it everyday. LGA is more of a domestic airport and JFK international, so even the same airlines make you do this on occassion, such as American.
If you really want budget, I guess there is always the trains/subways, but it involves transfer in Manhattan. Don't know the details.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Nov 13th, 2003, 05:40 AM
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Thanks everyone for your help. My initial questions have been answered.

I've discovered that flying Easyjet between some of my destinations on Europe will be both quicker and cheaper than taking the train. (I'm still using trains for a lot of my travel, but for my long-haul jumps, I'm gonna save time and money by flying). How do I go about buying an Easyjet ticket here in the States? Do Euro. carriers use e-tickets for domestic flights in Euro. like American carriers do? Also, what will the check-in and security process be like for me, an American, flying on Easyjet in Europe? FYI: I'll be flying from Prague to London, if that makes a difference since the Czech Republic is not yet a part of the EU.

Thanks again everyone.
robertw is offline  
Nov 13th, 2003, 05:48 AM
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To buy ticket go to
You will get a res.#, but you really don't need it.
At check-in all they want to see is your passport/id.
It's as simple as it gets. It is an electronic ticket. Easyjet does not have paper tickets even if you wanted one.
Don't forget, Easyjet could be strict about luggage. Your best bet is to follow their guidlines from the website.
Also check into British Airways, as they may not be that much more and possibly better airports.
For that go to

Good luck and have a great trip!
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Nov 13th, 2003, 10:25 AM
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Just remember the low fare carriers like Easyjet generally don't utilize the major airports (I think from Prague they fly into London Stansted). So if you have a same day connection at LHR, you'll need to have plenty of time to get from one airport to the other.
Patty is offline  
Nov 19th, 2003, 07:56 AM
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Why don't you just fly nonstop from Atlanta to London nonstop on Delta? It goes to Gatwick and then you can get a train to Stanstead for your discount carriers. It sure would be easier. Good luck!
dutyfree is offline  
Nov 19th, 2003, 09:23 AM
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I'll suggest this, especially since you are backpacking, don't check anything. You can carry the backpack + a smaller item on. It will save you some time @ both ends.
SAnParis is offline  
Nov 21st, 2003, 04:19 AM
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Ok, thanks AAFrequentFlyer. It's good to know that the option works.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jan 4th, 2004, 04:47 PM
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You go through customs when you get to Heathrow, and wouldn't it be easier to take Delta non-stop to Gatwick?
ChaseMan99 is offline  

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