I am a US citizen. I will be flying from California to New Zealand and back in March 2018. The return leg has a long layover in Honolulu: arrive at 6am, depart at 9pm. All tickets were booked via Air New Zealand, but the Honolulu to California leg is “operated by United”.

I don’t want to spend all that time in the airport when I could see the city instead. But I’m not sure about practicalities. My understanding from this earlier question is that I will need to clear customs and immigration in Honolulu. So my question is, will I need to keep my bags with me all day in Honolulu, or can I drop them off with United at the airport? It would make navigating the city quite tough if I can’t leave my bags at the airport.

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    Which direction are you asking about? On the way to NZ, you don’t need to clear customs as you are still in the USA; your bags will be checked through. On the way to CA, you are entering the USA in Honolulu, and have to carry your bags through customs. Normally, you drop them right off after the customs officer, to an airline attendee; but I haven’t tried this specifically in Honolulu. – Aganju Feb 16 '18 at 23:59
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    I’m asking specifically about the return leg, as the question says. – verbose Feb 17 '18 at 0:04
  • Ok. I read it three times, and missed that piece three time... sorry. – Aganju Feb 17 '18 at 0:05

You will have to retrieve your bags after clearing customs. United typically won't take bags for a flight that is more than 4 hours from departure. There are some luggage storage options available, listed here. The cheapest one will cost $20 for up to 4 bags. The bags are stored off site but will be picked up and returned to you at the airport. They operate from 8 AM to 8 PM, so you may have to wait at the airport for a little while after your flight lands and make sure you're back at the airport in time to collect your bags.

  • Before security got so picky (without actually improving much), you could just rent a locker for a quarter. Now you can take your bag (no matter how dangerous its contents) to a consignment desk and pay a higher sum to have it stuck in a closet unexamined with a lot of others. And if it explodes, your fingerprints won't be on the closet door. – WGroleau Feb 17 '18 at 1:39
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    Given that it's a direct connection, are you certain that the 4-hour limit would apply? – phoog Feb 17 '18 at 7:35
  • @phoog: I can't say for certain, but I wouldn't expect them to and wouldn't count on them doing it. It could be worth a shot to try since OP will have to wait 1-2 hours for the luggage storage to open anyway. – jdouglas Feb 17 '18 at 20:56
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    United checked my bags through in Frankfurt for a nine hour layover. So the four hour limit probably applies only to initial check-ins. – Aganju Feb 18 '18 at 0:01

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