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Newbie to Connecting flight?! LHR - SFO - YVR

London, United...
posts: 9
Newbie to Connecting flight?! LHR - SFO - YVR

I'm off to whistler and have already booked my flights through lastminute.com, the best/most cost effective flights seemed to be however a connecting one! Only problem is, I've never flown a connecting flight before :S

Therefore I ask your asssitance in whether I've got enough time and how it works?

1st leg - LHR to SFO - UNITED Airlines - Depart - 13:35 Land - 16:30

2nd leg - SFO to YVR - AIR CANADA -Depart - 18:55 Land - 21:10

My connecting time is therefore: 2hrs and 25mins.

Thanks in advance!

FYI, It's posted in the Canada section but was told I'd get better responses here.

Bingley, United...
Destination Expert
for Edinburgh
posts: 26,123
1. Re: Newbie to Connecting flight?! LHR - SFO - YVR

Sooner you than me. I would NEVER recommend a connecting flight through the US for anyone unless they had no other alternative.

You'll need to get an ESTA or possibly even a visa even though you are only spending a few hours in the US

You'll have to pass through US immigration even though you are only spending a few hours in the US kicking your heels waiting for a flight

You will have to collect your luggage even though you are only spending a few hours in the US kicking your heels waiting for a flight

You will have to pass through customs even though you are only spending a few hours in the US kicking your heels waiting for a flight

You will have to recheck your luggage even though you are only spending a few hours in the US kicking your heels waiting for a flight

You will have to be ritually humiliated and sexually assaulted even though you are only spending a few hours in the US kicking your heels waiting for a flight

Assuming you are returning the same way you will undergo the immigration process and ritual humiliation & sexual assault at YVR due to "pre-clearance".

As for 2h35m - it may be enough, it may not be. Check what other flights there are to YVR that day as neither AC nor United will give you much help if you are delayed - EU rules do not apply

Edited: 8:31 am, December 04, 2012
San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
posts: 41,613
reviews: 57
2. Re: Newbie to Connecting flight?! LHR - SFO - YVR

Do you have your ESTA for entering the USA??

There is no such thing as "in transit" for planes landing in the USA so you need to have all the documents you need as IF you were going to the USA even though you'll only be in the airport in SFO for a few hours.

The time between planes is probably OK.

The time to ask these questions though would have been before you purchased them as changing flights after booking is sometimes difficult and expensive.

Bingley, United...
Destination Expert
for Edinburgh
posts: 26,123
3. Re: Newbie to Connecting flight?! LHR - SFO - YVR

Forgot to mention - US immigration can & do refuse people entry to the US even on connecting flights to somewhere else.

In that case you will be held in detention until they can find a flight back to the UK - which will be at your expense.

In really bad cases you will be detained overnight in which case you will have the opportunity to perfect your Gitmo shuffle as you are orange coveralled & manacled.

Liverpool, UK
posts: 9,000
reviews: 14
4. Re: Newbie to Connecting flight?! LHR - SFO - YVR

Before Alanrow puts you off this plan this is what you need to do and what will happen.

Before your flight you need to apply for an ESTA to enter the US if you don't already have one - it costs $14 and is valid for 2 yrs or until your passport expires whichever is earlier.

https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/esta.html…

Assuming this is on a single ticket you will clear US Immigration first, collect bags, clear US customs, hand back bags at the transit desk for your connecting flight and get to your departure gate for your flight which will probably involve clearing airport security.

The time required to complete this process is variable as it depends on the queues at US Immigration - I normally allow a 3 hr connection window but it can be done in less so you should be ok with around 2 1/2 hours.

Try to sit near the front of the plane on your transatlantic flight and walk briskly to Immigration after getting off the plane to minimise the risk.

San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
posts: 41,613
reviews: 57
5. Re: Newbie to Connecting flight?! LHR - SFO - YVR

Since you are arriving on an international flight and then leaving on another international flight you should be able to stay within the international terminal and not have to do security again but you DO have to go through USA immigration and customs.

This is all explained on the SFO web site so DO make sure you have your ESTA in place or you won't be allowed through.

Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 8,190
reviews: 40
6. Re: Newbie to Connecting flight?! LHR - SFO - YVR

It's very unfortunate you didn't ask your questions BEFORE booking the flights! You'll know for next time.

SWT

London, United...
posts: 9
7. Re: Newbie to Connecting flight?! LHR - SFO - YVR

Thanks for your comments, I have an ESTA in place which has been updated to reflect my new travels.

In hindsight yes, but didn't strike me as being a rather annoying situation.

I take it it's just like travelling to one place, getting my luggage and then going through the departures all over again.

Liverpool, UK
posts: 9,000
reviews: 14
8. Re: Newbie to Connecting flight?! LHR - SFO - YVR

"I take it it's just like travelling to one place, getting my luggage and then going through the departures all over again."

Apart from the inconvenience of clearing US Immigration/Customs it's actually a bit easier than going through departures again. When you check in at LHR make sure your bags are tagged to YVR and after clearing customs you simply hand your bags back at the United transit desk (assuming this is all on a single ticket)

Houston, Texas
Destination Expert
for Air Travel, Business Travel
posts: 6,935
reviews: 77
9. Re: Newbie to Connecting flight?! LHR - SFO - YVR

The amount of money "saved" by using third party websites is hardly ever worth it. You didn't say who you are flying on. Hopefully they didn't cobble together unrelated itineraries.

London, United...
posts: 9
10. Re: Newbie to Connecting flight?! LHR - SFO - YVR

Maybe this might make things worse....

Outbound -

LHR - SFO - United Airlines

SFO - YVR - Air Canada

Inbound -

YVR - SFO - United Airlines

SFO - LHR - Air Canada

Originally I was using skyscanner but lastminute.com was cheaper on the same flights!

Edited: 11:10 am, December 04, 2012