Your guide to United Airlines flight connections at LAX

By Chris Chamberlin , February 22 2016
Your guide to United Airlines flight connections at LAX

Los Angeles' LAX Airport acts as a virtual springboard between Australia's east coast and the rest of the United States, allowing easy and one-stop access between Down Under and major cities like New York, Chicago, Houston and Boston.

With United Airlines flying daily to LA from both Sydney and Melbourne, we hopped aboard to see what the transit experience is like for passengers jetting to and through North America.

Connecting from Australia to other USA cities

Even though United normally flies from Terminals 7 and 8 at LAX, its early morning arrivals from Australia pull up at the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) – the same familiar terminal used by Qantas and Virgin Australia.

As you disembark, business and leisure travellers entering the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (with an ESTA) may be able to speed through the Automated Passport Control lanes if they've visited the USA at least once since 2008 on the same passport.

Alternately, first-time visitors or those with pre-arranged US visas can join the traditional passport queue, while those with tight connections may be offered a time-saving orange 'Express Connection' card for access to the fastest queue:

In any case, you'll then need to collect your checked baggage and clear Customs – even if your bags have been tagged through to your final destination – and then follow the signs to the connecting flights counters:

It's a quick walk down the corridor...

... and if your onward boarding pass was already printed in Australia you can quickly drop your bag off, head outside and follow the signs to the United terminals.

LAX does operate a free terminal transfer shuttle, but after sitting for 13-14 hours on flights from Australia, a 5-10 minute walk is a great way to stretch your legs and often gets you there faster than waiting for the bus.

Connecting from the United States to Australia

Things are easier in reverse as there's no need to clear Customs or passport control in the middle of the journey.

On checking-in at Newark Airport for our trip home from New York to Melbourne, our bag was again tagged through and both boarding passes were issued: one for our Newark-Los Angeles flight, and the other for Los Angeles-Melbourne.

As you arrive in Los Angeles, keep your eyes peeled for these purple 'transfer' signs...

... which tell you where you've landed and how to get from the other terminals:

United's flights to Sydney and Melbourne usually depart from Terminal 7, so there's no need to clear security again nor to collect your baggage and re-check it in LA: simply walk from your first flight to a United Club lounge and await your departure.

However, just be mindful that some domestic United flights do arrive in Terminal 8 – such as our flight from Newark/New York – but as it's linked 'airside' to Terminal 7, just follow the signs and you'll be in the right place in no time.

On the downside, neither of United's Los Angeles lounges have showers, which we'd frankly expect to find in such a major transit hub and can only hope are installed as part of United's $620 million overhaul of its facilities at LAX.

Also read:

Chris Chamberlin travelled to New York as a guest of United Airlines.

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Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

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30 Oct 2015

Total posts 55

What is classed as a tight connection at LAX? I visit the USA every few months and am finding wait times at immigration at LAX longer - used to be able to get through in 20 minutes. Last time, was 2 hours - after sprinting round to Terminal 5, just made my connection. How do you get those express connection passes - who do you see? 

It's determined by each airline if the connection is booked on the same ticket, and if eligible they'll be waiting for you at the end of the aerobridge as you step off your inbound flight. Each pass is written for a specific passenger so glance across the table there or ask the staff there to help find it. :)

21 Feb 2016

Total posts 3

Just remember... All connecting UA international flights from places like Mexico, still have to get processed in TBIT. Nothing like pulling into the Gate at Terminal 7, next to the gate where the UA flight to Melbourne is waiting, only to be told you have to get on a bus and go to TBIT....

Does anyone know if there is still an 'Express Connection' pass available with United Int to Dom at LAX


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