Allow 5 hours between flights in LAX, or indeed any US airport. Normally 3 hours but with the current issues, 5 seems advisable especially if as seems likely there will just be the one flight to NZ so if you miss it, you have a full days wait at least.
I'd fly the other way to skip the US.
Check out the reviews of the same route on the airlinequality website.
Very few if any of those reviews will be since the sequester came in though, which anecdotally has immigration times anywhere from 2 - 4 hours now, plus on top of that is the security getting back into another terminal.
Even the official statistics from last month show nearly 2 hours as the maximum wait and that was *before* the sequester !
I have just booked this flight for next February and already worrying about it!
We have 3 hours outward and 6 hours inward. I'd be interested in any handy hints but no negatives as paid my money.
As you have paid, no point in worrying now
"I'd be interested in any handy hints but no negatives as paid my money." - Flying in February should improve your chances as it's not peak season, if you're flying Premium Economy you have the advantage of disembarking before the Economy passengers reducing the wait time at US Immigration.
If you're flying Economy try to sit as close to the front of the plane as possible and walk quickly to Immigration - every person you pass will save you around 3 minutes.
As an aside I assume you know that even though you are just in transit that you will need an ESTA to enter the USA.
Thank you for not being too negative! Very useful information. We've travelled to NZ several times but not through USA since 9/11.We are Premium Economy so might help. Do you know whether Virgin flies into the same terminal as Air NZ (2) as that would, take some of the pressure off? Air NZ has info on their website but not from Virgin.
Feb seems a distance away but I do like to be prepared.
Thanks a lot and if you have any other thoughts let me know.
Just a suggestion - why not fly with Air NZ the whole way? Then you will be on the same plane for the whole trip and you will have less worry about connections. They fly London-LA-Auckland and the same on return. Their premium economy space seat is one of the best premium economy seats on the market.
It was £2K more expensive than the flights we've booked and couldn't quite bring myself to spend that much more. We've flown Air NZ several times and always good. we have flown with partner airlines before and never had to collect luggage and the formalities always seemed minimal. I suppose I am just trying to get a picture of what you have to do in LAX so at least I won't be faffing about not knowing the process. I'm beginning to understand and as long as there are no delays hopefully OK. They wouldn't sell the tickets if it was impossible-or would they!
Thanks for you comment though.
Virgin Atlantic and Air NZ share the same terminal at LAX for now (Air NZ moves in mid 2014), so it should be possible to clear immigration, pick up luggage, clear customs and drop off the bag at the transfer desk, if it is tagged all the way through from Heathrow.
Don't worry too much about being held up. Air NZ always flies two and sometimes three flights a day from LAX to AKL. If you are connecting onto NZ1, there is a later flight as well as if you are through ticketed Air NZ would rebook you onto the later flight. However, the Air NZ flight sits at LAX for two hours so you should have enough time to get through.
Quite simply, being on the same ticket means you should be fine. At the very worst and you miss the connection because of the transit, then I'd expect Air NZ to place you on the next available flight, which if it is the next day means paying for a hotel stay.