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USA - Customs and onward flight with different airline

Sydney, Australia
6 posts
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USA - Customs and onward flight with different airline

Hi there,

I'm booked to fly from Sydney to Las Vegas via San Francisco in June. The flight from Sydney to San Fran is with Air New Zealand and the flight from San Fran to Vegas is with Virgin. I understand that I'll have to go through customs at San Francisco (terminal 1) as it is our point of entry into the USA. I assume then that we will have to take our luggage through customs and then re check it onto the Las Vegas flight with Virgin (terminal 2). Is this correct? If this is correct I'm a little concerned that we won't have enough time as there is only just over 2.5 hours between the flights. What do you think?

Also, we sourced the tickets through the Helloworld.com.au search engine and when selected the tickets were directed to the individual airlines to book directly with them. However we only have one ticket number for the entire journey. Given this, if there are any delays with the first flight which result in us missing the second (assuming that we are able to make the second anyway given the tight layover) would we be just placed on the next available connecting flight with Virgin or would we have to purchase new tickets given that they are two different and non alliance airlines?

Thanks in advance for your time and help :)

San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
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61,198 posts
67 reviews
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1. Re: USA - Customs and onward flight with different airline


It sounds like you are traveling on one through ticket. Virgin America has a partnership with Air New Zealand sooo after you land in San Francisco and go through immigration(passport check) and collect your luggage and go through customs, you should be able to hand your luggage back in right there for it to be transferred to the Virgin America flight.

Make sure when you leave Sydney that the bags are checked through to Las Vegas and that part should be OK.

You will also have to go through security again but the good news is that San Francisco is a big hub for Virgin America so if you should happen to miss your flight they should be able to put you on another one . You write that they are "non alliance airlines" but on the Virgin America web site Air New Zealand is listed as a partner.

IF you are concerned about this I'd call Air New Zealand and ask them to reconfirm.

Sydney, Australia
6 posts
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2. Re: USA - Customs and onward flight with different airline

Hi Riff,

Thanks so much for your feedback. Through reading it and some other posts I'm feeling confident now that we can make the connecting flight. I've done some more research and found out that it is indeed a through ticket which is great because I was suspecting that it wasn't. I've also found out some more about the whole immigration/customs and baggage movement process which makes me be able negotiate it more calmly...very important with a 4 year old child and stressful husband in tow! I also didn't realise that Air New Zealand and Virgin are partners as I only looked at the start alliance companies (which Virgin isn't part of) and didn't realise that other partnerships existed. Thanks again!



3. Re: USA - Customs and onward flight with different airline

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