Here are the best flights to New York which skip that LAX stopover

By David Flynn, July 18 2018

When a business trip to New York beckons, most high flyers instinctively look for – and simultaneously dread – a connecting flight through LAX.

Both reactions are understandable.

The former, because Los Angeles is Australia's gateway to the US. Qantas, Virgin Australia, United, American and Delta all fly from Australia's east coast capital cities to LAX, with the second leg to New York made either on their own aircraft or that of a partner airline.

The latter, because – despite the improvements made to LAX's primary international terminal in recent years – this remains one of the worst airports to transit through.

By law, you've got to collect your bags on your point of entry into the USA.

That means waiting for your checked luggage, going through customs, dropping your bags back onto a transit belt or checking them in with your connecting airline, and then going back through the always-crowded TSA security checkpoint.

And depending on which airline you fly with, it can also mean changing terminals.

Losing the LAX leg

There are better and smarter ways to get to Gotham which let you skip LAX entirely.

The most obvious ones: head for a different US city. United Airlines has daily flights from Sydney to its hubs at San Francisco and Houston, while Qantas offers a daily Airbus A380 from Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth with onwards flights to New York (and dozens of other destinations) on partner American Airlines.

Unwinding at United Airline's San Francisco Polaris lounge
Unwinding at United Airline's San Francisco Polaris lounge

(Qantas also flies to San Francisco, which is one of my favourite US cities, but LAX and Dallas are far better for connections on partner American Airlines.)

Alas, no matter which non-LA gateway you choose, you still have to to through the rigmarole of collecting your luggage once you land in the USA before it (and you) can continue to New York.

Plan B, then, is to fly straight into New York – even if there's a non-US stopover along the way.

New York via Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific currently rates as my favourite way to head to New York.

Cathay has four daily flights from Sydney to Hong Kong, so I can leave at a time which suits me – similarly, Cathay has three flights from Melbourne (and also flies from Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth).

From Hong Kong, there are four non-stop flights to New York. While this path takes a little longer than going via LAX – around 26 hours compared to 21 – it's worth it.

Cathay Pacific's Boeing 777 business class
Cathay Pacific's Boeing 777 business class

Not only can you can skip the whole domestic transit experience, you get a consistent business class experience all the way (no downgrading of product on the domestic US legs) and can relax in some superb lounges at Hong Kong, or even break your journey in the Asian metropolis for some add-on business and/or pleasure.

New York via Singapore

From October 11, Singapore Airlines will begin non-stop flights from Singapore to New York.

SQ currently goes the long way around, via Frankfurt, with a massive Airbus A380 doing this 24 hour marathon.

But a new ultra-long range version of the fuel-efficient Airbus A350 will let Singapore Airlines dart directly from its home town to New York in 19 hours.

The globe-striding A350 is designed for distance, carrying just 67 passengers in business class and 94 in premium economy – there's not an economy seat in sight – but as you'd expect from what will be the world's longest commercial flight, these are the airline's very best seats with plenty of legroom and comfort.

Go non-stop in style: Singapore AirlinesAirbus A350 business class
Go non-stop in style: Singapore AirlinesAirbus A350 business class

Qantas is of course aiming for non-stops flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to New York (and London) in 2022, as part of its ambitious Project Sunrise, but is shooting for 300 passengers along with first class suites and economy class seats, and perhaps even bunk beds in the cargo hold.

New York via Vancouver

An option which many travellers overlook is to fly with Air Canada via Vancouver.

The Canadian flag-carrier has daily flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, with the later two cities featuring the jetlag-busting Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Air Canada's international 'Signature Class' business class
Air Canada's international 'Signature Class' business class

On arrival at Vancouver Airport, head to the USA 'in-transit' facility so you can be checked through for US immigration screening before boarding your connecting flight on Air Canada (or Star Alliance partner United Airlines) to New York.

New York via Honolulu

Okay, this one's a little bit of a cheat because you still have the same baggage pick-up-and-drop-it-again as you would at Los Angeles.

The big difference? You're in Honolulu!

Most Australians consider Hawaiian Airlines as a 'holiday airline' because, well, Hawaii. But Hawaiian flies to a dozen cities on the US mainland, including New York, making this one of the more relaxed ways to head stateside.

Hawaiian Airlines international business class
Hawaiian Airlines international business class

You'll arrive at New York as a domestic passenger on a domestic flight, so there's none of those international arrives headaches.

What's more, this route provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy some well-deserved downtime in Hawaii on the way back home.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

oldfolky

oldfolky

02 Mar 2013

Total posts 30

Tokyo and Seoul both deserve a mention. Tokyo especially because JAL in any class is a step up from the competition. Tight connection from Sydney and a bit of a long one from Melbourne (trip to Narita city on the layover is a good option).

dimi

dimi

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Jul 2012

Total posts 116

New York via Seoul?

New York via Tokyo?

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2336

Tokyo and Seoul are certainly good options too! That said, the aim of this article isn't to detail every non-LAX option, it's just to present a handful of the 'best' of them to help traveller break of that LAX 'muscle memory', and that the ones chosen are also for varying reasons different in nature.

Damien00

Damien00

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Feb 2016

Total posts 24

Emirates via Dubai is also one I've tried and quite liked. You end up with roughly 2 x 14hr flights (from Melb) separated with a few hours in the Lounge if you're in Business.

Plus on the A380 you get that nice little bar down the back in which to stretch your legs out mid-flight. Hard to beat that!

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2336

That's an interesting take on flying Emirates to New York. I know that some people from Perth find it works for them, but from Melbourne – yeah, a longer way but 2 x 14hr legs is an interesting approach, on those flights that bag would definitely be handy!

fgilch1

fgilch1

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

30 Mar 2011

Total posts 7

Hi Chris, This has actually become my preferred way to travel now last few years to DC and New York from Sydney as time wise it is about same as flying Cathay Pacific via HKG. The extra comforts of the bar/lounge in flight make it a decent way to go.

eminere

eminere

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1136

Agree. If booked in J on the A380 (or even better, in F) it's a very comfortable way to travel, if you don't have to get to the US in the fastest routing possible.

s4172249

s4172249

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Feb 2018

Total posts 7

Can confirm New York via Honolulu is a great option. Quite like Hawaiian Airlines too.

stmaus

stmaus

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Nov 2017

Total posts 102

New York via Taipei!

Pallydou

Pallydou

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

02 Jul 2018

Total posts 35

I vote for JAL SYD-NRT-JFK or ORD for these marathon journeys.

mviy

mviy

05 May 2016

Total posts 527

I can't imagine that SYD, MEL & BNE to LHR and JFK will all start in 2022 as QF would likely get the aircraft over a period of time. If they do all six of those routes I guess they'd need about 15 aircraft give or take a few.

It will be interesting to see when the JFK routes start.

Considering QF1 is SYD-LHR I expect they'll do that first which will alone require 3 aircraft when you take into account curfews at each end.

pan129953

pan129953

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

01 Aug 2012

Total posts 7

I have flown this route - MEL - NYC on Cathay, Singapore (A340), JAL, Qatar and Etihad. Cathay and JAL are great but the return journey was not the best for US lounge access at JFK. Qatar is always good but Etihad has a special advantage of clearing US immigration in Abu Dhabi.

Hornet

Hornet

17 Jan 2017

Total posts 4

Etihad via AUH has the advantage that you can pre-clear US customs in Abu Dhabi then arrive in NYC as a domestic passenger. It saves a lot of pain.

BatteryBen

BatteryBen

08 Aug 2017

Total posts 37

I don't agree that LAX is such a horrible transfer. It used to be, and the numbered terminals range from OK to terrible, but Tom Bradley International Terminal is great: transiting on QF11/12 is a breeze; early morning security in TBIT is fast and painless, and the One World Lounges are great. And at the end of the day, it's the shortest trip. Travelling from SYD to NYC via Asia or the Middle East that is just so much longer just does not make sense to me.

Nick Sydney 2

Nick Sydney 2

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 223

Inclined to agree. I usually take QF7 to DFW and onwards which for me works well. DFW is easy to get around. LAX is fine these days and the transit to QF 15 is no drama. If I had the time to spare then CX definitely

aggie57

aggie57

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 152

I agree. With all the improvements getting through Tom Bradley is generally faster than Melbourne. I don’t generally have to do the transit bag drop there but I do fly AA out of terminal 4 which is fine.

Nick Sydney 2

Nick Sydney 2

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 223

The Connector from T4 to TIBT is great

Arcanum

Arcanum

21 Jul 2012

Total posts 125

From SYD, AC via YVR is actually about half an hour quicker than QF11 via LAX because of the faster transit. They're running a 789 on the transcontinental flight now too, so no downgrade on that leg. The only catch is they land at EWR instead of JFK.

A1C

A1C

18 Jul 2018

Total posts 1

DFW can be an absolute nightmare. There can be extremely long lines at immigration with very few staff. QF7 is often delayed meaning the stress of transit is even higher.

Nick Sydney 2

Nick Sydney 2

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 223

Surprising as you arrive mid afternoon when it's pretty quiet. With an ESTA and the automation it's painless. Last week was out of the airport in around 40mins. Now agreed that you need to leave enough transit time if connecting. QF 7 is not great on reliability so I take a 4.30 pm to LGA just to be sure.

Himeno

Himeno

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 931

The only time I've entered the US via DFW I didn't have any issues from CBP/TSA. Had more issues that trip with the JL check in at ICN (they tried to claim my valid ESTA wasn't and demanded a visa that I didn't need. They quickly shut up and checked me in when I pointed to the CBP entry stamp from 3 months before.)

Chris_PER

Chris_PER

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

SFO is definitely another to avoid, also.

Traveller14

Traveller14

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

What about JFK via MNL? Philippine Airlines starts with new A350 nonstop at end October 2018.

grov

grov

QFF

19 Sep 2013

Total posts 151

From the west cost, the quickest option is Cathay. The other slightly longer options are Emirates and Qatar.

Himeno

Himeno

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 931

I normally go via Tokyo. But then, I'm also usually changing tickets there as well.

I've done the SYD-JFK once, back when it was still the same aircraft QF107 through LAX.

flyOFTEN

flyOFTEN

24 Apr 2015

Total posts 129

no one wants to go anywhere near bloody awful SYD to get anywhere. Changing terminals is a major pain in the arse. I rather fly on all bleck air, even though they don't speak English

BevanMcBevan

BevanMcBevan

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 135

What timing. Sincere Thanks, David. Well, this discussion is really helpful, thanks one and all. We've just won work in Guyana and need to be there reasonably regularly and the jump-off point to GEO is JFK. This is what I've worked out;


QF - Yes QF11/12 is straight through but the pricing is nasty and I'm just not keen on clearing in LAX (or DFW for that matter via QF7/8) - (22hrs)

SQ - When they do go SIN/JFK will be awesome, but not till year end 2018. I'd be a 'yes please' in 2019 - (unknown)

CX - This looks to be good for us as the timing is very nice and the CX product quite good. I understand that many people quite like CX & NYC - (29hrs)

JL - Nice Seating all the way and I like the pain free JAL approach. Lovely people, but SYD only - (29hrs)

QR - Yes nice product if you can get the new Business seats. I can get people in and out of other AUS cities too. Would I go QR over EK & EY? - (32hrs)

EK - They've got something for everyone and A380 all the way. Plus the car either side helps. My only issue is there is no EK Lounge in JFK (and hasn't been for nearly 12 months - (29/31hrs)

EY - Personally I still like the EY Business product in the A380. No complaints. Connections might be a bit out but I do believe you can clear US Customs in AUH (I believe) - (32hrs)

So there you go. I don't fly US Airlines (sorry to say). And at the moment I'm leaning towards CX. But, very much open to ideas. Sincere Thanks David for a great discussion point. Cheers!

oxy

oxy

03 May 2017

Total posts 19

Don't forget JL also fly out of MEL now too, usually departing just after midnight so pretty easy to connect to after a work day if needed.

icanfly

icanfly

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jul 2014

Total posts 7

I would love to fly via ICN or PEK and do the polar route and on a 748 as well!

Russjking

Russjking

12 Aug 2017

Total posts 75

I tried the Air Canada business product and it was good. Fastest route too at 19hrs. Excellent To be able to swan through clean easy empty Vancouver for US Immigration. Then walk out at Newark as domestic passenger.

Return is slightly longer but as it is a night flight it really didnt matter.

AC not plush but functional.

I'd do it again although now prices are rather high.

alecfabio

alecfabio

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jun 2018

Total posts 8

I’d go for the new SQ service on A350 ! I’ve done the CX option a couple of times on 773ER - the return is hard and lounges meh, catering on CX needs a major upgrade

BevanMcBevan

BevanMcBevan

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 135

Speak to me Grasshopper. 'AlecFabio' are you saying CX was 'average'? I thought the CX Lounges were quite world class and the First & Bus product quite up there. Am I mistaken?

alecfabio

alecfabio

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jun 2018

Total posts 8

The CX lounges in HK are excellent , but ex NYC I had to use twice the AA loinge at T7! CXs product has deteriorated which reflects their drop on Skytrax ! I am now HK based and use them near weekly !

alecfabio

alecfabio

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jun 2018

Total posts 8

Apologies @BevanMcBevan for being short yesterday, was on the go. To reiterate, apart from the HKG lounges and good seats in J - which are certainly a good attribute for long flights, CX is not as good as it used to be: frequent delays, staff morale, their catering is terrible, 777s vs 787s/A350s on other a/l etc. Also cost, ex-HKG they charge A$11K-A$19K in J for that privilege. I have now switched to JAL and mirror what @biggles69 mentions. Dreamliners, great consistent service, good sleep and excellent transfers. Maybe I am a perfectionist ? The best out there is SQ, I have switched to them for 50% travel now and its worth exploring the new A350ULR to NY soon. Cheers

BevanMcBevan

BevanMcBevan

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 135

Not a worry at all. We all do the best we can to assist. I do appreciate the follow through. As a heads up, we're probably going to do QR and do the QSuite all the way through. All the best AF.

keips

keips

15 Mar 2017

Total posts 3

For those in ADL the CX Hong Kong route saves the awful LAX transfer but also saves the equally annoying SYD or MEL transfer in Australia. No need for any domestic flights on any continent which is a big plus.

11sjw

11sjw

11 Mar 2012

Total posts 293

Love the PER-HKG-JFK route. Can choose between 2 - 12 hours in HKG and the CX J lounges are great.

gumshoe

gumshoe

04 Nov 2012

Total posts 216

We always go CX via HKG in J using points and have a short stopover each way and with so many US cities to choose from, its a no brainer. Tip stay at Regal Airport in HKG its attached to the Int. terminal and grab fast train ticket into town for a day or night out in this top notch city with so much to offer. In fact doing just that early next week to JFK.

doctorjosh

doctorjosh

10 May 2018

Total posts 14

If you're flying into New York (whichever airport it is), best to make that the one and only US airport you go through. There are plenty of options available.

jcr737

jcr737

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

28 Feb 2017

Total posts 14

The ability to have US Customs preclearance here in OZ would negate this whole process. Canada, Ireland, the Caribbean & the UAE can all do it, why not us?

Traveller14

Traveller14

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

Os it too costly for the USA to send staff here (or engage we locals?)

Arcanum

Arcanum

21 Jul 2012

Total posts 125

The only thing stopping Australia from doing this is money.

About 85% of the operational costs for these facilities are paid by the host airport, not the US government. In addition, US-bound passengers need to be segregated from other international flights as they have effectively "entered" the US. In most cases, that involves building a separate wing or area for US-bound flights (e.g. the transborder piers at YYZ and YVR), which means duplication of food courts, shops, lounges, etc.

With most airports being for-profit entities, they will naturally pass these costs on to the airlines, which will then pass them on to the passengers. SYD has about 8 flights a day to the US with maybe 2,500-3,000 passengers. That's not a lot of people to spread those costs over. By comparison, YYZ's transborder pier handled just under 19,000 passengers per day in April.

I would also mention that one of the biggest advantages of preclearance is being able to fly into domestic US airports that don't have CBP facilities such as LGA or DCA. Australian airlines wouldn't get that benefit though since those airports generally don't handle long-haul planes.

biggles69

biggles69

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2015

Total posts 27

In March I did a 5 day SYD-JFK return Bus Cl on QF/JL via Haneda. It was the easiest smoothest trip ever with a single 4 hour stop at Haneda's superb first class lounge each way. Even the morning arrival at JFK T1 was amazing - though baggage, customs and immigration in 30 minutes.

alecfabio

alecfabio

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jun 2018

Total posts 8

Oh I agree , almost forgot - I did it ex HKG and the JL option was excellent !

BevanMcBevan

BevanMcBevan

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 135

That sounds nice bigglles69. You liked the JL product?

anthony watts

anthony watts

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Mar 2015

Total posts 80

Syd and lax are definitely the worst two transit airports. Given most of my flights are melbourne /canada and just hanging on to qantas platimum looking at JAL and Cathay as best options. Just wish qantas would start more direct to canada flights.

biggles69

biggles69

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2015

Total posts 27

JL was excellent - lie flat beds, good privacy, excellent menu & movie choices, and smooth Asian service. Best is the Haneda stop-over with superb 1st lounge (I'm QF Platinum) situated less than 50 metres from the arrival and departure gates. (Their JFK lounge is not to the same standard but adequate.)

BevanMcBevan

BevanMcBevan

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 135

Good on you Biggles. Many Thanks. Cheers to you.

Tim E H

Tim E H

19 Jul 2018

Total posts 1

For me JFK via Narita or Haneda with JAL is the way to go. Seamless transfers, great J class product and excellent lounges. Way better than the disruption at LAX.

BevanMcBevan

BevanMcBevan

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 135

Question. I've got staff keen to go via the Middle East. Any experience out there on EK, EY, QR? Much Appreciated.

EKdevotee

EKdevotee

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

05 Jun 2017

Total posts 29

See my previous comment re EK. I have done this route several times in F and J, but never Y. One stop, easy transit in Dubai, great service and super comfortable, private seating. And a bar if yoiu need it! I would not cross the Pacific unless I was staying on the east coast, as the EK legs become much longer to LAX, SFO or SEA..

biggles69

biggles69

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2015

Total posts 27

I actually found the Haneda route on Expedia. They were also offering options via Beijing on Air China or HGK on CX........and I paid just over A$7K return for QF/JL c/f over A$13K quoted by QF via LAX.... win /win !!

TZB88

TZB88

QFF

16 May 2016

Total posts 44

For me it's all about speed, therefore SYD to DFW or IAH to NYC.

I do think LAX has improved a lot, and is easy on the return leg. My pick of the routes through is UA SYD-IAH-EWR. Good connections, 787-9 most of the way, and EWR is quick to downtown. Obviously, ideally want to be in J class on the lengthy SYD-IAH leg!!

jch

jch

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

15 Nov 2017

Total posts 53

Just did the morning flight from SYD with UA at 6am just before customs opening. Dragged my bags between terminals but was though security and in the United Club at T7 within the hour. After a coffee to wake up had a quick shag in a canoe (i.e Budweiser) before boarding to ORD.

TZB88

TZB88

QFF

16 May 2016

Total posts 44

Yep, LAX is much better than it used to be. Pretty painless really when arriving that early. Place is empty.

lind26

lind26

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 269

If Air NZ ever does AKL to New York, that would be a good one stop route from Melbourne.

CWT Traveller

CWT Traveller

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Sep 2011

Total posts 14

It is a pity that the article ignores the West Coast of Australia, but I am happy that we do have great options to NYC out of Perth that avoid the dreaded LAX transit. My top 4 would be SQ via SIN at a swift 25 hours including transit, CX via HK in 25.5, QR via DOH at 28 hours and EK via DXB in about the same. All of these options with a single international transit are better than any options via the east coast of AU with two transits in woeful airports & longer overall travelling time!!

BevanMcBevan

BevanMcBevan

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 135

Understand the predicament CWT Traveller, but in Chris & John's defence, the East Coast market is the 80% plus of travel. I have staff in WA and work this issue often.

On Sunday night I have someone going EK (PER/DXB/JFK). Yes QR could have been an option too. SQ will come into play once that route opens up - it's not there just yet. That would be my pick. Cheers.

CWT Traveller

CWT Traveller

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Sep 2011

Total posts 14

I agree that they do a great job Bevan. But occasionally it would be nice if Perth was not left out of an article like this. 4th busiest airport in the country!!

EKdevotee

EKdevotee

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

05 Jun 2017

Total posts 29

Don't forget Emirates. Yes, the longer way round, and I wouldn't recommend doing it if you're stuck in Y, although the EK A380 Y seats get a consistently good write-up. However in J or F, there is one stop in Dubai, excellent seating and service. And no LAX!!

BevanMcBevan

BevanMcBevan

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 135

Jeez you are a EKdevotee. I just landed in JFK and did First all the way. Raving? No. I think the EK product needs improvement (in particular the ICE). Cheers

EKdevotee

EKdevotee

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

05 Jun 2017

Total posts 29

Haaa haaa yes. Each to their own. My name rather gives it away

QantasFlyer

QantasFlyer

20 Nov 2015

Total posts 2

Honestly LAX is the best way to get to New York (if you are flying Qantas). It is the quickest way even if the connecting AUS flights are delayed (which they usually are). The Bradley terminal is a really cool experience, and in the morning there are hardly any lines, so clearing immigration/security is not a problem. Also the transcontinental flight is on the same QF jet (formerly 747, now 787) so you get the same high quality on both legs

BevanMcBevan

BevanMcBevan

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 135

Hi QantasFlyer. Love the loyalty, bravo. I'm in the US at the moment and came through via BNE on the 787 - very nice. Can you please confirm that QF now have the 787 doing the US Domestic leg (LAX/JFK) now having replaced the 747?

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