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Traveling from PVG (Shanghai) to DFW ... have connection at LAX. Do I need to gather my checked bags before going through customs or will AA transfer the bags to my LAX to DFW flight?

Any tips making this connection smooth will be appreciated.

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Yes, you will need to go through Immigration, pick up your bags and go through Customs before you can connect to your domestic flight. I can't give you exact advice since the shiny new International terminal just opened last week as I type this, and the LAX website is stunningly useless, but there should be an AA service counter after Customs that can advise you on where you can check in and drop ("re-deposit") your bags. Qantas has a vague diagram of what to expect.

And as for what you can do to make your connection smooth... well, connect somewhere outside the US and fly direct to DFW next time. International-to-domestic transfers anywhere in the US are terrible and LAX is particularly bad.

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I have never done it on AA but when I fly through there on UA the bags are tagged to their final destination but they show up on the baggage carousel anyway so you can take them through customs. After you exit customs there has always been a station nearby to drop the baggage at. – Loren Pechtel Sep 28 '13 at 17:52
thanks for your answers. – dan sparkle Sep 29 '13 at 20:00
What Loren said about UA is also true for AA at LAX (or at least it was as of May 2013... I haven't been there since the new terminal opened.) We flew Cathay from HKG-LAX and AA from LAX-BNA. Our bags were checked all the way through to BNA, but we had to pick them up to go through customs, then drop them back off on a conveyor belt just after customs. – reirab Mar 20 '14 at 18:21

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