SFO International Transfer
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Jan 22, 2013 5:30 PM Last Post By: max_mexico
Jan 20, 2013 7:37 PM
SFO International TransferHello,
I am booking a trip to fly from DC to Australia and New Zealand, which I have done several times before, however have never transferred through SFO, I typically transfer through LAX. I am planning on flying United domestically and then onto Air New Zealand for my across the water flights. Right now the cheapest way to fly on my outbound flights is through SFO, but the connection is only 91 minutes. It looks like it's a short walk in the terminal (which is much nicer than LAX where I have to take a bus to switch terminals) but I am concerned a little about the connection being a bit tight. I'd love some opinions.
I do have the option to fly domestically on United through LAX, but its $268 more. Or fly domestically on Virgin America, which although is a partner of ANZ, is not a partner of United, which is where I earn my frequent flier miles.
Thanks for any thoughts!
Jan 20, 2013 9:43 PM
1Your biggest risk is facing long line at security checkpoint for international departure.
United flights are typically in Terminal 3. Once you go past the security area--even better before you exit it to avoid potential crowds in ticket counter area--in T3, turn right and walk all the way to the end to a small security checkpoint. Exit there and then turn right, you are almost at the International terminal then. The walk to T1 is about 10-15 mins.
Virgin America is in T2 I believe. The walk time is double of T3, also via right.
There are 2 departure wings in Int'l terminal. The G one is closes to T3.
Since Virgin America is a partner with ANZ, I'd check with them on your plan. They are best to tell if you can make it for its partner flight. Will they can do baggage transfer for you? If no, your plan is unlikely going to work.
Jan 21, 2013 6:30 AM
Jan 21, 2013 9:46 AM
3If I fly on affiliated airlines on a domestic route to SFO, then overseas out of SFO, can I go through Customs at my first airport and subsequently have my checked bag smoothly transferred to each plane without my retrieving it from Baggage Claim at SFO, take it through Customs, then recheck it onward? Fortunately, I have allowed plenty of time between domestic and international flights at SFO.
Jan 21, 2013 11:06 AM
Jan 21, 2013 11:24 AM
5Getyoung, what are you talking about? Assuming this is done on a single booking, there is no need to go through security or pick up your bags, and of course no customs on domestic flights. There's a walkway between the terminals, and bags will be checked all the way through. 91 minutes should be plenty IF the flight is on time or even up to an hour late. There is a small risk the flight is more late than that, in which case you will be put on the next flight and given hotel if needed. You will have to weigh that small risk versus the extra cost and extra wasted layover time to book another flight. Personally, I wouldn't worry about it, unless it is absolutely crucial that you make it to Australia/NZ in time in which case I'd allow more time (or book for a day earlier) to be on the safe side.
Jan 21, 2013 2:40 PM
6Best to check with the airlines for accurate answer.
That said, based on my experience, when I have to go through another domestic airport for an international flight, any luggage that I checked in can go all the way to end of my (international) destination. But in the connecting thru a domestic airport--at least in the US, I will have to go through security check point again before I can get onto my int'l flight.
It is the security checkpoint where pattyva is at greatest risk of missing the international flight--beside the weather. Given Virgin America and ANZ are partner airlines, I'd check with Virgin America or ANZ. Maybe ANZ is more open to putting pattyva on another flight for free if the connection is miss because pattyva had consulted with one of them in advanced.
Jan 21, 2013 11:00 PM
That might depend on the airport and terminals. If you arrive with United in T3 and leave on NZ in the Intl Terminal G (as the OP describes), you don't need to go through security. There's a connector walkway.
Jan 21, 2013 11:33 PM
8I live in SF so I don't need to go through T3 to get to Int'l terminal. Thus, I will take your words for it.
Jan 22, 2013 5:37 AM
Jan 22, 2013 5:17 PM
10Double check which gates your flights come into and out of. The post-security walkway works only if your United flight comes into Terminal 3 and your Air New Zealand leaves from Int'l Boarding Area G. If you arrive into Terminal 1 and/or depart Boarding Area A, you'll have to clear security during your connection.
Jan 22, 2013 5:30 PM
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