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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.