Back to Back in San Francisco

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Old Jan 10, 18, 6:48 am
  #1  
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Back to Back in San Francisco

Thanks to schedule changes and a change in my own plans, I have ended up with a bizarre itinerary that arrives in San Francisco on BA285 at 1400 and departs from SFO the same day at 1605 on the same aircraft as BA284.

I am loathe to cancel it given the TPs and avios so intend to travel on it and the booking is all on one ticket.

I will be HBO, but in the event of immigration delays, there is a distinct possibility that I may not make it to the gate in time for the return. In that instance, what would be the likely outcome?
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Old Jan 10, 18, 6:50 am
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With a schedule change can you not look to get a refund or transfer to a later date? Seems somewhat perverse if you cannot given that it is all on one ticket.
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Old Jan 10, 18, 6:53 am
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The schedule change was not significant enough to permit a refund, so the phone agent agreed to book me on the immediate turnaround as described.
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Old Jan 10, 18, 7:03 am
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Assuming you do not have Global Entry?
If you are U.S. or Canadian you can use the Mobile Pass App which seems to have a dedicated queue at most major airports and very few (if any) people waiting.

If timing is that tight, might try and flag down one of the CBP helpers and see if they can expedite.
You will need to re-clear security after immigration as well.
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Old Jan 10, 18, 7:20 am
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Expertflyer shows the MCT as 1h45, and you have 20min more:

Results from https://www.ExpertFlyer.com
Code:
Minimum Connect Times:
Connecting at SFO
Incoming airline BA
Outgoing airline BA
Flight type International to International

STANDARD.D/D...D/I...I/D...I/I.
ONLINE    .50  1.00  1.45  1.45
OFFLINE   .50  1.00  1.45  1.45
** OR * ARE ALL
BA-BA II  1.45 ALL  - FLT 6120 - 6165 
**-BA II  1.45 
BA-** II  1.45 FLT 6120 - 6165 - ALL
If this is one ticket, you ought in principle to be entitled to be protected if you can't make the connection—although the circumstances are so strange I doubt you could be certain of it.
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Old Jan 10, 18, 7:26 am
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SFO used to be one of our favourite entry points because it was fairly slick and efficient. Now they have a mixture of self-service machines and booths and it's a nightmare, with much shouting and intimidation from staff.

If you have Global Entry there are self-service machines and immigration is pretty fast. The self-service ESTA machines looked OK but it was unclear what "first use" of ESTA meant - was it first use of ESTA altogether or first use of a new ESTA? Staff were unable to answer that question and were rude and aggressive to any passengers who looked confused. We wanted to take the global entry interview on arrival and that was a nightmare - the signposting is misleading and in the end we were put to the back of the immigration queue; after immigration we were then allowed to go for the interview, but it felt as if they were doing us a favour and it was down to whether one member of staff was prepared to do it. Staff were shifting people from queue to queue at immigration and were shouting at families who were separated after barriers were moved.

On return to LHR security at SFO was a nightmare, especially in the fast track queue which basically only shifted every time staff opened the barriers to let a few people at a time go to the back of the normal queue. When I got to the lounge the BA staff said they wished boarding passes weren't stamped as Fast Track because it's much slower. I wasn't aware I could have done it differently having just been granted Global Entry - there was no sign to point in a different direction.

So, if you have the right passport with the right permissions and you know your way around, it may work. But staff are not at all helpful and will become aggressive very quickly if you question them in any way. We witnessed this with many passengers in front of us who were struggling with young children; staff appeared to be deliberately humiliating them in order to shut us all up.

Edited to add that this was in December 2017

Last edited by ttama; Jan 10, 18 at 10:25 am
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Old Jan 10, 18, 7:29 am
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Is it possible for you to change to the day after paying a change fee and have a days rest? A few data points of my own. I was through SFO 3 times last year. June, October and December.

If you hotfoot it out of the plane and are also a 'returning ESTA' the process on all 3 occasions was extremely quick with the self serve ESTA machines which always appear to be well manned.

Trip 1) In Y - I walked very briskly overtaking many and the new machines are very easy to use. Landside in about 20 minutes

Trip 2) In F - Again very quick and no queue at all. Landside from leaving the aircraft in about 15 minutes.

Trip 3) In J - Same again as 2, roughly.

Security can have a bit of a wait though but if all goes well getting in your timings should be ok.

My experiences are the opposite of ttama and SFO staff although a bit surly looking were ok and on trip 2 almost had it all done for me!
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Old Jan 10, 18, 7:40 am
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Having followed this forum for quite a while with fascination, I decided to finally register in order to applaud the Original Poster for even considering such a back to back!!
Sounds like a dream (if I had the time)
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Old Jan 10, 18, 7:45 am
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Originally Posted by PETER01 View Post
Is it possible for you to change to the day after paying a change fee and have a days rest? A few data points of my own. I was through SFO 3 times last year. June, October and December.

If you hotfoot it out of the plane and are also a 'returning ESTA' the process on all 3 occasions was extremely quick with the self serve ESTA machines which always appear to be well manned.

Trip 1) In Y - I walked very briskly overtaking many and the new machines are very easy to use. Landside in about 20 minutes

Trip 2) In F - Again very quick and no queue at all. Landside from leaving the aircraft in about 15 minutes.

Trip 3) In J - Same again as 2, roughly.

Security can have a bit of a wait though but if all goes well getting in your timings should be ok.

My experiences are the opposite of ttama and SFO staff although a bit surly looking were ok and on trip 2 almost had it all done for me!
Thanks for this detailed commentary Peter01. Unfortunately it will be a first time ESTA, although my allocated seat is upper deck CW on a 747.

My intention is to give it a go and see what happens - it would not be a problem if I ended up returning on the later BA A380 departure (assuming there was space).

I will report back on how it goes.
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Old Jan 10, 18, 7:47 am
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To concur with PETER01, I have done this route 30 times or more in the past few years, and can only remember one delay or more than 30 minutes at immigration (generally from the front of Y). Departure security is also never more than 20 minutes IME.
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Old Jan 10, 18, 7:58 am
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Originally Posted by Professor Yaffle View Post
To concur with PETER01, I have done this route 30 times or more in the past few years, and can only remember one delay or more than 30 minutes at immigration (generally from the front of Y). Departure security is also never more than 20 minutes IME.
Excellent

With so many flights in your experience I am sure that will be very reassuring for G_CIVV
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Old Jan 10, 18, 8:02 am
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Originally Posted by EDDLEGLL View Post
Having followed this forum for quite a while with fascination, I decided to finally register in order to applaud the Original Poster for even considering such a back to back!!
Sounds like a dream (if I had the time)
Another member joining Flyertalk.

On behalf of the Ambassadors let me welcome you to the BA Board EDDLEGLL. I hope you have enjoyed lurking and reading the BA Board and whatever other forums take your fancy. However this place is only as good as it's members and contributions are always very welcome of any info, tips, views, opinions or/and data points you have. So happy postings now that you have taken the plunge!
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Old Jan 10, 18, 8:38 am
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I've had a lot of schedule changes in past 6 months. After a brief difficult period about a month ago, BA seems to have become more realistic again even for minor schedule changes. If you would rather move it to another time (vs just trying an epic B2B) I suspect that a properly grovelling phone call might get you there.

That aside, I'm very impressed that you're even considering this, good luck!
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Old Jan 10, 18, 8:49 am
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I think you'll likely make it with HBO in two hours, I've previously had some very poor immigration experiences at SFO (arriving behind 2 other 747s and queuing for an hour on an ESTA in the days before I had Global Entry) which was among the factors which moved me to SJC flights instead but I gather it's better now the self-service machines are more numerous....
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