Beware of VIA San Francisco - you need more time!

5 replies


Member since 08 Feb 2017

Total posts 7

Recently we holidayed in Canada and flew Syd-Vancouver via San Francisco. The stopover between flights was 2.5 hours which we were assured was enough. The flight landed on time.

We sat on the tarmac for over half an hour waiting for a slot to move around to our gate, as at San Francisco only one plane can manoeuvre in or out at a time from the international gates (our pilot explained) because of the confined space. This meant that by the time we had done customs, and caught our flight (only because it was running late) our bags were still at San Francisco (this happened to about 20 passengers flying the same route). They didn't arrive til the next day. A slightly later connnection would have avoided this inconvenience.

In addition WestJet who provide the connection to Vancouver were pleading with passengers to put their hand luggage underneath as the plane was full. We though we would do the right thing. Bye bye hand luggage - it had a nice trip to Edmonton and back, and I had 24 hours without my medications. I do have to say that I wonder what I was thinking letting it out of my sight....

So we arrived in Vancouver with the clothes on our back, on a Saturday night with all the shops shut so no hope of getting anything warm to wear (it was one of those 14 degree summer days...).

It was a great holiday but I think that more time needs to be allowed at San Francisco to avoid these kinds of problems, as they are quite stressful. The impression we got from airline staff at Vancouver is that this happens extremely regularly.


Member since 07 Oct 2012

Total posts 771

While certainly not enjoyable, you could probably do this flight another 50times and not have this happen again. The airline isn't going to allow a connection which isn't generally possible, because it costs them money. But travel has many elements that can go wrong, and even longer connections may not prevent bags going astray.

I always carry one set of clothes in my carry on (yes, learnt that the hard way)


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 27 Nov 2017

Total posts 46

And really good reason why you never ever put required medications in the hold if they are ok to take on as hand luggage (as with keys, important docs etc). Tight connection or not, baggage will sometimes not turn up as expected potentially leaving the passenger in a critical situation.

I do hope it didn't cause you any issues for your health.

Phil Young


Member since 22 Oct 2012

Total posts 253

I avoid tight connections at all costs, especially if it involves immigration & customs in the USA. Whilst 2.5 hours should be enough time for a connection, it sometimes isn't. I'd rather be a little bored in an airport lounge for a couple of hours than being thoroughly anxious during the first flight wondering whether I've left enough time for the connection.


Member since 21 Aug 2019

Total posts 14

SFO is a problem. Have found that for connections DFW is best and most painless of the US ports I travel through. Not great for the North West and Canada but the least hassle


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 29 Nov 2013

Total posts 456

You could also apply the same logic to Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne...

How many times this year (alone) has the SmartGate system run by the (lets dress like Army Commando's because it makes us look tough) Australian Border Force crashed?

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