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International to Domestic Connection SFO

International to Domestic Connection SFO

Old Feb 23, 17, 2:42 am
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International to Domestic Connection SFO

We are scheduled to arrive at SFO on an international flight on Qantas from Sydney, Australia, at 9.30am on Monday the 10th of April, 2017. I would like to book a connecting flight to Las Vegas on Virgin America leaving SFO at 11.50am on the same day. Just wondering if this is doable or not - any advice would be much appreciated.
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Old Feb 23, 17, 10:37 am
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Originally Posted by Jacaluke View Post
We are scheduled to arrive at SFO on an international flight on Qantas from Sydney, Australia, at 9.30am on Monday the 10th of April, 2017. I would like to book a connecting flight to Las Vegas on Virgin America leaving SFO at 11.50am on the same day. Just wondering if this is doable or not - any advice would be much appreciated.
Ought to be fine
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Old Feb 23, 17, 12:32 pm
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Originally Posted by rob_flies_ua View Post
Ought to be fine
I agree. Keep in mind, OP, that if you want to walk over to Virgin America checkin (Terminal 2), you'll need to go clockwise via Terminal 3. Due to construction, you cannot walk from International to Terminal 1. If you have heavy bags, it might be easier to take the Airtrain, two stops on the Blue Line.

I'm not sure if Qantas can set you up for re-checking bags on your Virgin flight after you clear Customs. I doubt it, but maybe someone will correct me.
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Old Feb 24, 17, 2:53 pm
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If it were me attempting this connection, I'd have no problem with it. But I have Global Entry and travel without checked bags. Hence, I get through the process very fast.

For a foreign national with checked baggage, I wonder if it is as straightforward as the above two posters think. It would make me nervous.
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Old Feb 24, 17, 4:40 pm
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I haven't booked the flight yet as I am worried about it - is there any way I can find out if this would work or if it is too risky - I suppose if I asked a travel agent they would have a fair idea. I just don't want to hang around the airport for most of the day waiting for a flight out - the next flight is 2+ hrs later.
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Old Feb 24, 17, 7:50 pm
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Originally Posted by Jacaluke View Post
I haven't booked the flight yet as I am worried about it - is there any way I can find out if this would work or if it is too risky - I suppose if I asked a travel agent they would have a fair idea. I just don't want to hang around the airport for most of the day waiting for a flight out - the next flight is 2+ hrs later.
I think the risk is low that you miss the connecting flight, but keep in mind that VX has several flights each day on the SFO-LAS route. I think you could probably talk your way on to a later flight if you miss yours, and worst case, it's not that pricey to buy your way on some other SFO-LAS flight. The riskier proposition is potentially missing an intercon connection.
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Old Feb 25, 17, 10:25 am
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I think the OP's connection is doable if the stars align. I've seen some pretty horrendous immigration lines for "A" arrivals at times, and also, transpacific flight times can be an hour + early or late due to the winds at time of travel.
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Old Feb 26, 17, 12:25 am
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I'm presuming your two flights are booked on different tickets? If they were actually booked together please let us know as it changes a few things below.

QF73 is technically the first flight of the day into the Intl-A arrivals/immigration area. The problem is that it's a tie with the 2 or 3 other flights that land at exactly the same, and one or two more that land within the next hour or so.

3 or 4 widebodies all of them foreign airlines (which normally means more non-US citizens going through immigration, which is thus slower) means a bit of a backlog. If your flight happens to land first, you'll be through within 5-30 minutes (depending on where you are on the plane). If you land 3rd, it could easily be an hour or more.

If you've been to the US before on the same passport then you can use the kiosks which will make things faster, but there can still be a bit of a backup.

Once you exit immigration/customs, It's maybe a 5-10 minute walk with your luggage around to terminal 2 for Virgin America. (There is a bag drop right outside the arrivals area, but as your bags won't be checked through you won't be able to use it). Then through checkin/security and to your gate.

Presuming your flight is on time, 2h20 is fine. Maybe a little tight if immigration is slow, but doable.

If your flight is late even by only 30 mins then you'll hit the end of the immigration line, and it's going to be very tight.

Now, the good news is that the major US airlines, including Virgin America, are very good when it comes to things like missed flights. If you do happen to miss your flight, they will almost certainly put you on the next available flight at no charge. The catch here is that the next available might be half a day or more away if there even are any (SFO-LAS is massively variable depending on the day of the week, time of year, and whats on in Vegas).

Personally I'd probably take the risk, especially if you can use the immigration kiosks, but then again SFO is my home airport. The only exception might be if you're arriving on a Friday, in which case I'm not so sure as the LAS flights could be much busier making things more difficult if you do miss it...

(Copy-n-pasted from another forum where the OP asked the same question...)
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Old Feb 26, 17, 8:40 am
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Originally Posted by Jacaluke View Post
I haven't booked the flight yet as I am worried about it - is there any way I can find out if this would work or if it is too risky - I suppose if I asked a travel agent they would have a fair idea. I just don't want to hang around the airport for most of the day waiting for a flight out - the next flight is 2+ hrs later.
I would go for that later flight so you're not stressing. Four airlines fly that route frequently; today (Sunday) there's 24 nonstops SFO-LAS on Virgin America (8), Southwest (6), United (8), and JetBlue (2), so there's no shortage of options.

I came off a BA flight a while back and the non-US passport line was backed up waaay down the hall. I bet 85% of the passengers were in that line. Looked like an easy one hour wait from the back. And that was with no other aircraft arriving at the same time.

Don't forget to factor in the cutoff for checking bags/checking in if necessary.
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