Member since 20 May 2014
Total posts 92
Connecting on two Oneworld tickets.
I am currently booked on a US Airways award ticket to fly from LHR - MIA on American Airlines. I have a three hour layover in Miami and then am booked on a paid ticket from MIA to SJO (Costa Rica) also on American.
Can my bags be checked all the way through to San Jose? And if they can, does it require I grab them in Miami and go through customs, or can they get checked through without being offloaded and reloaded.
To that end, I'm assuming I will have to enter the US to connect to the flight to Costa Rica? Or is there an international - international transit facility in Miami?
Member since 12 Apr 2013
Total posts 870
I have paid ticked LED-BKK by Finnair and separate one BKK-MEL by Qantas that I get on points. They check baggage from LED to SYD, no probs. Just ask politely.
Member since 21 Apr 2012
Total posts 2,059
Your bags can be checked through to SJO i.e. the AA check in agents at LHR can label the bags through to SJO. However upon arriving in MIA, you will have to go through immigration, collect your checked baggage and clear US Customs. You will then have to deposit your bags with AA for the onward flight. So, it is pretty much pointless to check it through since you have to collect your bags anyway. The only benefit is that by checking through all the way at LHR, is if there are any issues on your LHR/MIA sector and the flight is delayed, AA at MIA will be aware that you may have a misconnection and the ow Global Support team may be on to your case.
Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer
Member since 13 Jul 2012
Total posts 150
There is no such thing as International transit facility anywhere in the US.
You will have to go through the US immigration and customs for your connection in Miami.
However, you luggage will be check straight through to Costa Rica, you will not have to collect it in Miami.
AA/USAir will label your luggage as "international transfer - do not return to the passenger in the US" or something of that sort and put a sticker on your passport.
That is factually inaccurate. All checked baggage will need to be collected at the first US port of call. Both body and bags will need to go through US customs. The only time that does not occur is when your bags are left behind and is transported by the airline as unaccompanied baggage, which means you will not get your bags when you land at your final destination (the airline will courier your bags to you).
I often travel via the US from Europe and have had to collect my bags in all cases, except once when my bags were left behind. Unless the control procedures at MIA are different (the weakest link?) or if procedures for onward Central American flights are different (irrational), I believe bags need to be collected at the first US port of call.
RealBabushka, passenger's luggage certainly has to be collected if the itinerary includes a domestic leg through the US (i.e. SYD-LAX-JFK-LHR) - that is without any doubt.
I travelled through NRT - DFW - CUN and back on AA just a month ago and my luggage was labelled/sent straight to the final destination both times without my having to collect it in DFW.
In fact this presented a big problem for me when my flight was delayed by over 20 hours in DFW on my return leg - they refused to return my bag because it was labelled straight to Japan without collection in the US.
So no, it is not always true that the bags always have to be collected on arrival to the US. AA is capable of routing it to the final destination without pick-up/customs in the US.
Thanks for taking the time to post! Your experience sounds pretty close to my itinerary, so hopefully they can just check it on through.
Do advice us of your travel. I'd be keen to know if there are exceptions.
When I travel MEL/LAX/LHR bags had to be collected at LAX even when LHR is not a domestic US port.
PS: Make sure you see them put that label on your luggage and give you the sticker.
Otherwise you will have to collect your bags in Miami before you go through customs.
Member since 28 Jan 2015
Total posts 94
I have done this exact trip, but to Peru rather than Costa Rica, LHR to MIA on BA then from MIA to LIM on AA. They can check your checked luggage all the way through so you dont need to collect it in the US, however the most important thing is to make sure you see them tag it with an international transfer tag, otherwise it will be treated as though you are collecting your luggage in Miami then re-checking it through.
Long story short, you can, just make sure you see them tag it.
So much controversy. TRB is coming down hard on the collect your bags at port of entry rule. I travel to the states about twice per year and I always have to collect at LAX, but I've never done the international - international transfer through the states before.
Im hoping the bags will check through. I'm sensing that there is 100% no way I can just stay airside in the international terminal without going through immigration?
Member since 29 May 2013
Total posts 46
I agree with TRB, speaking from many international-international transfers at LAX: you will need to collect your SJO-tagged bags on your first port of entry to the USA (in your case, MIA). This collect-your-bags-then-go-through-customs procedure applies to all airports in North America that receive international flights, Canada included, when said country is your first port of entry. Although I've not been through MIA in such an arrangement, the depost of your bags for an onwards baggage-tagged connection usually occurs within a secure area of the airport (e.g. at an international transfer bag drop), vs. going to the check in agents in the main terminal. Whether or not you can stay within the secure area after said deposit, I cannot speak to for MIA.
That may have been the case several years ago - things are changing (thankfully).
Vancouver airport handles luggage transfer for flights from Australia/Asia to the US or to a third country without pick-up on arrival (their website is quite explicit about it).
My recent experience with transiting through DFW (as well as Hayden's transit through MIA) shows that some of the US airlines/airports are at last flying into 21 century too.
Hopefully this will become the norm for other US airports too.
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