A guide to transiting through Los Angeles when flying Qantas

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Transiting through LAX on Qantas

If you are flying to New York on Qantas and you are booked on either flights QF11, QF93 or QF15 and you are confirmed as flying on QF11 between Los Angeles and New York the good news is that you will be flying domestically in the US on Qantas’ own Boeing 747 between Los Angeles and New York’s JFK Airport. The less than ideal news is that you will also be transiting via Los Angeles International Airport, LAX, and depending on who you speak to, this could well be the hardest part of your whole trip.

You may also like: Arriving in New York on Qantas: What you can expect

The truth is that it has never been easier or a better time to transit through Los Angeles with the airport and the City of Los Angeles investing Billions of dollars in upgrading LAX. The airport has in the past been described as one of the worst airports in the world, and that in particular the international terminal, Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT), was the epicentre of frustration and delay amongst visitors arriving into the United States. However after the recent redevelopment of TBIT and the ongoing improvements to almost all of the terminals at LAX, it is quickly changing its reputation, and in fact quickly becoming known as an industry leader in airport terminal design in the United States.

Welcome to Los Angeles

No matter where your final destination in the United States, Mexico or Canada, if you are arriving into Los Angeles (or any US city) from Australia you will need to clear US Customs and Immigration before you can make your connecting flight. Passengers arriving on Qantas from either Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane arrive at the refurbished Tom Bradley International Airport and after getting off the aircraft can make their way via the elevated walk-way (above the departures level) and head down the escalators to the Immigration processing level.

Passengers with immediate (within 2 -3 hour) connections either on QF11 from Los Angeles to New York, or on partner airline American Airlines, will be eligible to collect and express card from a Qantas representative after they disembark the aircraft. This will assist with making connections either through TBIT or Terminal 4, where American Airlines flights depart from.

Related Review: QF15 Brisbane to Los Angeles on Qantas in economy

Qantas flights will generally arrive on the Southern side of TBIT (gates 148 – 159) meaning that as passengers make their way down the escalators to Immigration the processing for US Visa Waiver holders can be done via the automated kiosks located immediately to the right hand side of the Immigration area once they have made their way down the escalators. If you are not travelling on a Visa Waiver, that is, you are travelling on a valid US Visa, or you are Green Card holder, an American or Canadian Citizen you will need to make your way to the left hand side and follow the signs upon entering the Immigration level and be processed entirely by a US Customs and Border Protection Officer.

Inbound passengers proceeding toward Los Angeles Immigration & Customs

Once you have been processed and the usual questions have been asked, what is the purpose of your trip to the United States, how long are you planning on entering the country, what is your address / hotel and any other questions the officer deems necessary to give final approval for your entry into the Untied States you will then make your way down another set of escalators to the baggage claim area.

Related flight review: Qantas Sydney to Los Angeles in Premium Economy on QF11

Due to the scheduled early arrival of the Qantas flights from Australia into Los Angeles, baggage delivery is usually very prompt, and barring any issues on the tarmac the bags are generally ready for collection / have begun to arrive on the nominated carousel once passengers have been processed through Immigration control.

Baggage claim area inside Tom Bradley International Terminal LAX

Once you have collected your bags you will need to make your way through US Customs. The entry hall to the Customs processing agents is located in the middle of the baggage claim area and in the middle two banks of escalators which make their way down from the ends of both sides of the Immigration processing area located directly above. After clearing Customs passengers with connecting flights will need to follow the “Connecting Flights” signage and make their way to the right at the end of the passageway (past the old baggage claim area which is yet to be removed).

Related flight review: Melbourne to Los Angeles on Qantas flight QF93

Passengers with onward flights on either Qantas or American Airlines can re-check their luggage within the lower level of Tom Bradly International Terminal before proceeding upstairs to be processed through security again and enter the brand new TBIT terminal. The Express Path cards can come in very handy when the morning queues in both Terminal 4 (American Airlines) and TBIT can get long once the majority of Qantas originating passengers have cleared Immigration and Customs and added to the mix are other departures from both terminals.

Qantas check-in desks located inside Tom Bradley Terminal, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Onward boarding passes for both Qantas flight QF11 to New York and American Airlines flights to New York and other US destinations should have already been provided upon checking in in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or other Australian ports, however if you are not travelling on an inter-line ticket and transferring to another carrier you will not be able to immediately re-check your bags in at TBIT. If this is the case you will need to make your way to your next airline and check in at their respective terminals.

A list of current (February 2016) terminal listings for Los Angeles International Airport can be found below:

Terminal 1: 
Southwest Airlines

Terminal 2: 
Aeromexico, Air Canada, Avianca, Hanian Airlines, Hawaian Air, Qatar Airways, Sun Country, TACA, Virgin Atlantic, Volaris, WestJet

Terminal 3: 
Allegiant Air, Boutique Air, Frontier, JetBlue, Spirit, Virgin America, Virgin Australia (departures to Sydney & Brisbane)

Tom Bradley International Termnal: 
Qantas, Virgin Australia (arrivals from Sydney & Brisbane), Aeroflot, Air Berlin, Air China, Air France, Air New Zealand, Air Tahiti Nui, Alitalia, All Nippon Airways, Asiana, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Copa (some arrivals), El Al Israel, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Ethiad, EVA Air, Fiji Airways, Iberia, Japan Airlines, KLM, Korean Air, LAN Airlines, Lufthansa, Norweigan Air, Phillipine Airlines, Saudia, Singapore, Swiss, Transaero Airlines, Turkish Airlines

Terminal 4: 
American Airlines, American Eagle

Terminal 5: 
Delta Air Lines

Terminal 6: 
Alaska, American (formerly US Airways), Copa (departures), Great Lakes

Terminal 7 & 8: 
United Airlines, United Express

Map of Los Angeles Airport Terminals. Courtesy: Los Angeles World Airports 

LAX Airport provides free inter-terminal buses which can be boarded just outside the arrivals concourse of LAX, simply look for the Blue Airline Connection signs located outside the terminal.

Once security has been cleared in either Tom Bradley or Terminal 4 passengers can relax while they wait to board in multiple eateries, restaurants, bars and airline lounges. For Qantas passengers flying in Business or First Class, as well as Gold, Platinum and Platinum One Frequent Flyers and Chairman’s Lounge members the following lounges are available:

Tom Bradley International Terminal lounges

  • Qantas First Lounge
  • OneWorld Business Lounge

The Qantas Lounges are located on level 5 inside the new Tom Bradley International Terminal. The OneWorld Business lounge is located next to the escalators leading up to level 5 (from level 4 the main departures level) and the First Class Lounge is located at the end of the pier opposite the Korean Air First Class Lounge.

Entrance to the Qantas First Class Lounge in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX
Dining and seating area at the OneWorld Business Lounge, LAX

Terminal 4 Lounges

  • American Airlines Flagship Lounge
  • American Airlines Admirals Lounge

The Admirals Lounge and Flagship Lounges can be accessed opposite gate 40. The Flagship Lounge can be found inside the Admirals Lounge and entry to the Flagship Lounge is made via a special key card accessible from the Admiral s lounge reception on main Admirals Lounge level.

American Airlines Admirals Lounge reception
Dining area and buffet of the American Airlines Flagship Longe LAX
LAX Terminal 4 Admirals Lounge

Los Angeles Airport is currently in the final stages of building a secure passageway which will connect TBIT to Terminal 4 which will mean passengers will no longer have to exit and re-enter either terminal for connecting flights, which will dramatically cut down on connection times, allow passengers more time to relax in the terminal or lounge prior to their connecting flight. Once the connector is completed in 2016 passengers will have full access from TBIT to all of the Southern side terminals of LAX from TBIT all the way through until terminal 8.

If you are connecting from any Qantas flight from Australia (QF11, QF93 or QF15) and you will be connecting through to New York on QF11, VisitingNewYork.com.au highly recommends that you make your way as quickly as possible through Immigration, Customs and re-checking your luggage for a number of reasons.

  1. Given the turn around time constraints of the Qantas aircraft on the ground in New York (it immediately returns to Los Angeles after arriving into JFK, for the outbound flight QF16 from Los Angeles back to Brisbane that same night), it is not uncommon for late arriving passengers, particularly those who have found themselves at the back of the arriving flights) to be re-allocated onto an American Airlines flight later in the morning, to minimise the disruption to other passengers, and to also ensure that the flight back to Australia from New York is not delayed by too much time.
  2. IF you are flying to New York on QF11 the new Tom Bradley terminal at LAX is a spectacular new terminal with stunning architecture and some fantastic restaurants and shops – and the new Qantas Lounges are easily two of the best in North America – so the more time to enjoy the terminal the better!
  3. If you have lounge access there is nothing better than getting in and having a nice shower in any of the Qantas or American Airlines lounges before your onward flight to New York.

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