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Where you’ve probably done this before
All passengers arriving into the United States must clear immigration and customs on their first port of entry. If that first port of entry isn’t your final stop, you’ve probably utilized the transfer desk. For instance, if you’ve flown from London to New York on American Airlines, and then continued on to Chicago, you had to clear immigration, collect your bags, clear customs, and then go to a transfer desk where you leave your bags for your next flight to Chicago.
If you’re on the same airline, or a partner that interlines, this was more than likely explained to you at check-in.
I’m not talking about these instances which are routine and fairly straight forward. I’m talking about instances whereby the airlines you’re flying don’t know about each other and you need to connect.
A couple of examples of where you may need to utilize this tip
- you’ve booked two separate award tickets and need to recheck a bag, etc
- you booked via a consolidator that sold you a ticket with two airlines that have no partnership
- Another tip is to look at each airlines baggage policies…consolidators will often package airlines that allow checked bags, but because they don’t have an interline agreement, will market these flights as fly without baggage. This isn’t true, you just need to collect you bags prior to customs and recheck-in with your next airline.
My Situation and how I couldn’t have made my connection withoutq the transfer desk.
I needed to fly from Paris to Indianapolis. On a single program the points prices were outrageous, so I wanted to pair award programs.
- I spent 55k Air France flying Blue to fly business from CDG to IAD
- Another 8k Aviance Lifemiles to fly United from IAD to IND.
What was I thinking?! A 45 minute connection involving immigration and terminal changes. Parental discretion advised 😉
Utilize the transfer Desk.
I made it with a minute to board
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- How I utilized the transfer desk to make a tight international connection