Los Angeles - How much time to clear LAX TBIT on a Saturday morning?
AZ Travels the World
Oct 18, 10, 1:54 pm
I'm meeting some friends flying from China via ICN on Asiana Airlines into LAX on a Sunday morning. Their flight is scheduled to arrive at 11:10 AM. They're Chinese nationals who have a single entry visa -- but have been to the US multiple times over multiple years, so I don't expect any issues at immigration.
They're flying Business Class, so they should have something of a jump on the immigration lines, though I've been on this flight myself a couple of times and both times we came into a remote gate, so that off-the-plane advantage is quickly mitigated.
I'm wondering about how much time I should expect for them to process, claim their bags and exit customs/immigration. They speak very little English, so there is some confusion factor to the amount of time it will take them.
I'm flying from PHX to meet them and there is a flight on US arriving at 11:40 AM -- 30 minutes after they are scheduled to arrive. I'd like to take that flight, as the prior one arrives two hours earlier. I'll have to walk or bus from Terminal 1 down to TBIT. I've done it plenty, so that should take me max 15 minutes from T1 gate to TBIT.
I'm thinking it will probably take them about an hour, best case, to get through the entire process, but don't really recall what TBIT is like at 11:00ish on a Saturday morning. I don't mind them waiting for me for 10-15 minutes. I'd rather that than my having to wait 2+ hours for them.
What do you think? Should this work out ok? What kind of timing should I expect for them to get through the process?
It appers you really want to take the later flight, so you don't have to wait as long, but want others to tell you it's okay. You seem to have as much info as anyone else would have. Will it likely take them more time to get through Immigration and Customs, or you to get off your flight, on a Saturday morning then on any other day? Look to see what other flights arrive at about the same time. You've done the walk between the two terminals so know how long that will take. The shuttle bus will likely take as long as it does on any other day, or mayb a bit less since it's not a work day.
The time it will take them to get through Immigration and Customs also depends on how many other international flights using TBIT land at the same time. No way to know in advance. Your past experience is a good a gauge as any. As you know, once you're through with Customs, you leave the secure area at TBIT. If they get there and you haven't arrived yet, presumably it's just a simple matter of them waiting for you (with, hopefully, a Plan B if you don't show up due your fight being delayed, or something else). If it would be upsetting for them to arrive at the meeting place before you, then you know what you need to do (earlier flight).
You can find sites listing arrivals and departures for any airport. They may just list them on the same day, so take a look this Saturday. LAX is such a large airport, however, that it might be an awfully long list.
AZ Travels the World
Oct 20, 10, 10:59 am
It appers you really want to take the later flight, so you don't have to wait as long, but want others to tell you it's okay.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the matter. While I definitely prefer to take the later flight, I honestly don't need anyone to tell me it's ok. I'm a big boy. Much as you walked through them, I understand the risks, and would have a clear plan and back up plan with them. They would have no problem at all waiting for me, but it's me that doesn't want them to have to do that for long, especially if I were to learn from my friends here that it was bound to happen.
What I was really hoping for was some experience at TBIT that I don't have. I've never arrived there as a foreign national. I rarely arrive there at all and it's been well over a year since the last time. Knowing some of the world travelers we have here, it wasn't beyond the realm of possibility that someone would say, "I take that flight every month -- it's consistently really crowded in immigration on the non-US side at that time and it will take at least an hour." Input from someone with more experience would just help me weigh the risks a little better.
Since posting this, I did find a great tool on flightstats.com. I can take any given day and see actual arrivals, in hour blocks, sorted by terminal. Unfortunately, with all the code shares, you see the same flight reported multiple times, but with some time studying it, I found that between 10:30 and 11:30 on the same day last week, five widebodies arrived at TBIT.
Finally, while I said Saturday in my original post, it's actually a Sunday I'm looking at. If that makes a difference to anyone.
Oct 20, 10, 11:33 am
I think it's a tough question to answer. I've done at least 15 trans-pac pickups at TBIT in the last 3 years and the greatest variability has always been landing times. Depending on airline ops & the jetstream I've had planes arrive 2 hrs early to 2 hrs late of the posted arrival time even if they departed on-time. Fortunately I'm about an hour away from LAX and can check the real-time arrival info before leaving home.
That said IF the plane arrives on the dot expect int'l Biz class pax to be cleared and be walking up the exit ramp about 1:15 or so after the plane lands and is towed to the arrival gate. Of course YMMV, but if it were me I'd take the later flight and apologize if their airline and US customs were 'too efficient" :)
One other thing, landing at terminal 1 is cool because you can jump on either the blue "A" airport loop bus or the "C" long-term parking bus as both will stop at TBIT. ("B" long term parking lot is shut down for maintenance)
AZ Travels the World
Oct 20, 10, 12:00 pm
Thank you, Zarf4, that's very helpful. I've looked at the arrival times for this flight over the past month and it's consistently within a few minutes of schedule, so hopefully I don't have to worry about a wild swing -- or if so, it will be on the late side, rather than the early side. Your 1:15 approximation is about what I was guessing, so it's nice to have that validated by someone who has so much more experience at this than I do.
Of course, it's well within US Airways wheelhouse for my flight into LAX to be 2 hours late -- or canceled altogether. But that's what backup plans are for. :)