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Old Apr 26, 06, 10:29 am   #1
 
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Consolidated "What to do during layover/stopover at SFO" thread [merged threads]

Hi
on monday I'm flying LHR-SYD via SFO. I have 5hrs in transit at SFO, and have a friend who lives 15 minutes from the airport.

He's offered to take me out for a beer/some food, but what are my chances (and will it be worth it) to get out of the airport and back in. I can't imagine customs would be too pleased with it....

any ideas/experience please?

Any help appreciated

cheers

PS - I'm a UK passport holder......
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Old Apr 26, 06, 10:35 am   #2
 
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You're going to have to clear customs no matter what since you're transitting the US... There's really no other option. Once you pass immigration, you're in the US anyhow since the exit from the immigrations hall @ SFO dumps you streetside. Go out and have some beer and fun
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Old Apr 26, 06, 10:38 am   #3
 
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I've never transitioned from one foreign country to another through SFO and I think you might have to go through customs anyway -- the planes don't land at the int'l boarding areas, unless there's another way from arrivals to departures; I've never had to look. Customs is pretty quick at SFO and the int'l terminal is awesome. 5 hours? You're fine. I've arrived for int'l flights one hour before departure w/o problem. The int'l terminal has an int'l food court by the check in areas you could meet your friend at.
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Old Apr 26, 06, 10:38 am   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Axey
You're going to have to clear customs no matter what since you're transitting the US... There's really no other option. Once you pass immigration, you're in the US anyhow since the exit from the immigrations hall @ SFO dumps you streetside. Go out and have some beer and fun
What he said on all counts!
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Old Apr 26, 06, 10:48 am   #5
 
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There are lots of bars and restauarants around SFO, so go out and have some fun! Every once in a while I even see uniformed flight attendants in nearby grocery stores (stocking up for long int'l flights?), so a quick jaunt out to nearby areas is very feasible.

I've never transited SFO as it's my own airport. Will you go through customs without claiming and rechecking baggage? If so, you could probably get back to the airport an hour before departure and you'll be fine, since you'll already have a boarding pass. If re-checking bags, I'd personally allow a little longer, but that's just me.
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Old Apr 26, 06, 11:08 am   #6
 
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is that definate then? You have to go thru customs no matter what?

I've only once been in transit without stopping in the US, but that was back in 2000 and I have a stamp in my passport.......???
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Old Apr 26, 06, 11:15 am   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sludge82
is that definate then? You have to go thru customs no matter what?

I've only once been in transit without stopping in the US, but that was back in 2000 and I have a stamp in my passport.......???
Yes. You definitely need to go through customs.
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Old Apr 26, 06, 11:25 am   #8
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Originally Posted by Sludge82
is that definate then? You have to go thru customs no matter what?
Yes, the US now requires all international transit pax to disembark and clear customs--no exceptions. Stupid policy, but it is what it is.
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Old Apr 26, 06, 11:35 am   #9
 
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Remember there are MANY countries where it's very hard to get a visa and you must obtain one just to TRANSIT that country.

I just got a Russian visa... not too bad, but a pain. I've heard that Chinese visas are harder (and that they require one to transit China).
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Old Apr 26, 06, 12:35 pm   #10
 
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thanks for your help guys....

was wondering what to do with that 5hrs anyway - looks like I might get a taste of San Fran after all
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Old Apr 26, 06, 12:54 pm   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goplaces
I've never transited SFO as it's my own airport. Will you go through customs without claiming and rechecking baggage? If so, you could probably get back to the airport an hour before departure and you'll be fine, since you'll already have a boarding pass. If re-checking bags, I'd personally allow a little longer, but that's just me.
You should be able to check your baggage through to LHR when you check in at SYD, and then you pick up your luggage after immigration but before customs, and then drop it off at the counter just past customs, so all of that will be taken care of before you leave the airport.

I've never had any trouble with SFO international security -- I think getting back to SFO an hour before your flight will be plenty of time...

Definitely get out of the airport when you're here!
In fact, even if your friend ditches you, you should hop on BART and head into SF anyway (it's a quick hop-skip-and-jump (assuming you've dropped off your luggage; otherwise the skipping is a bit more difficult) from the International terminal)...

Dan
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Old Apr 26, 06, 1:21 pm   #12
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qasr
Yes, the US now requires all international transit pax to disembark and clear customs--no exceptions. Stupid policy, but it is what it is.
US airports are simply not designed for international to international connections. In many cases, there are domestic and international flights leaving from the same terminal.
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Old Apr 26, 06, 2:35 pm   #13
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qasr
Yes, the US now requires all international transit pax to disembark and clear customs--no exceptions. Stupid policy, but it is what it is.
In general, so does FRA when coming inbound from the US and connecting to other countries in Europe.

The only airports that you don't seem to need to do this are aisian airports.
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Old Apr 26, 06, 2:45 pm   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sludge82
He's offered to take me out for a beer/some food, but what are my chances (and will it be worth it) to get out of the airport and back in. I can't imagine customs would be too pleased with it....

any ideas/experience please?

Hi there

You would be wise to follow all the above sagely advice! I do this very same thing about three times per year. Yes you do need to clear custom and yes it it is well worth while getting out of the airport. Even if you were not being met the Bart will drop you in town and if you really need it, the travel agency will look after your bags for a fee

Customs will of course not bat an eyelid. Also, given you have an onward international flight you will have a lower chance of the dreaded SSSS

Jeff
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Old Apr 26, 06, 6:54 pm   #15
 
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Originally Posted by jswong
.......Customs will of course not bat an eyelid. Also, given you have an onward international flight you will have a lower chance of the dreaded SSSS

Jeff


SSSS????
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