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US Airport Customs/Immigration Question

Old Dec 18th, 2011, 07:39 PM
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US Airport Customs/Immigration Question

I apologise in advance if this has been asked multiple times. The basic question is this: If you are an international visitor with a change of flights in LAX and you go through customs/immigrations in LAX do you then need to do the whole process again at JFK?

We are flying from Sydney, Aus to New York late next year. At the moment we are still researching flights and are tossing up between two options.

Flight 1 - Syd to LAX then LAX to JFK. (QANTAS)
Flight 2 - Syd to Seoul then Seoul to JFK (Korean Air)

From the dates we have looked at, Flight 1 is substantially more expensive however if the scenario would be that we only do the customs/immigration process at LAX and once we arrive at JFK we can exit quickly to get to our hotel (after a 20 hour plus flight) that would be the more attractive scenario for us.

Does anybody have any experience with us they could enlighten us with?
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Old Dec 18th, 2011, 07:54 PM
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<If you are an international visitor with a change of flights in LAX and you go through customs/immigrations in LAX do you then need to do the whole process again at JFK?>

No. You clear customs/immigration at your point of entry into the US. Once you've cleared customs, you re-check your bags for your connecting flight. This is easily accomplished if you've had your bags tagged all the way to JFK when you depart SYD - you merely drop them off - it's painless and relatively quick.
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Old Dec 18th, 2011, 09:46 PM
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Thanks for replying so quickly!
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Old Dec 18th, 2011, 09:55 PM
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No worries. I'm in your time zone.
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Old Dec 18th, 2011, 11:29 PM
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Wow I just re-read my question and realised what a silly question I asked. Of course a LAX-JFK is a domestic flight.... I blame it on the cold and flu medicine!
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Old Dec 19th, 2011, 02:23 AM
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Not silly at all. You'd be surprised how many non-Australians don't realize that TAS is part of OZ.
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Old Dec 19th, 2011, 03:12 AM
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"Of course a LAX-JFK is a domestic flight.."

Yes, but your question's not silly. Most flights from Britain to Melbourne (back in the day...) used to terminate at Sydney, and it was common for us all to be chucked off, wait in a lounge with people who'd arrived from Frankfurt, and then we'd all get onto a different plane, clearing immigration at Melbourne. Fly from Europe to Bali on Garuda these days and you'll likely get off at Jakarta, get on another plane and go through Indonesian immigration at Bali.

There's probably no limit to the number of counter-intuitive wheezes airlines have dreamt up to mess you up and force you to spend more in airport waiting lounges.
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Old Dec 19th, 2011, 03:27 AM
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You will need to wait for bags at JFK in either scenario, so if you have checked bags there is no such thing as hitting the ground and running.
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Old Dec 19th, 2011, 05:27 AM
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Note however that the SYD-xLAX-JFK Qantas flight is notoriously late-running, especially on the reverse, where its flight number, QF 108, is named "one-oh-late." I can't imagine, however, that the Korean connection could possibly be faster than the LAX/direct flight timing.
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Old Dec 19th, 2011, 06:22 AM
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When you look at great circle routing SYD-LAX-JFK is much more efficient than SYD-ICN-JFK.

http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=syd-jfk

Curious question about the Quantas flight via LAX. Does this count as a "second freedom" flight from SYD-JFK, and as such do JFK bound passengers actually enter the US? Couldn't there be a case where JFK bound passengers and their baggage simply stay on the plane, and go through immigration at JFK?

This may be one of those odd exceptions to the no sterile/transit passenger area in US airports. I'm not informed one way or the other, just postulating.

IIRC Quantas actually no longer flies the same plane onward to JFK, but rather uses a smaller plane, and that no passengers can board at LAX - all pax must originate at SYD.
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Old Dec 19th, 2011, 08:49 AM
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Curious question about the Quantas flight via LAX. Does this count as a "second freedom" flight from SYD-JFK, and as such do JFK bound passengers actually enter the US? Couldn't there be a case where JFK bound passengers and their baggage simply stay on the plane, and go through immigration at JFK?

Everyone deplanes and goes through I & C at LAX, then continues on to JFK. At times during the year Qantas (no "u") actually changes aircraft at LAX, using an A330 from some other route (e.g. AKL-LAX) on the "domestic" US portion, rather than the 747 that comes from Sydney. No local traffic is carried, but if you're ticketed, say, Australia - LAX - JFK you can ride on the Qantas flight even if you've stopped over in LAX. However you can't buy a stand-alone ticket on the LAX-JFK or JFK-LAX Qantas flights unless the same ticket contains a transpacific sector on Qantas.
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