My family and I are traveling from Auckland to Los Angeles via a stop in Honolulu. Will we have to clear customs in Honolulu or LAX or even both? Will we need to allow extra time in Honolulu for this? Or will the HNL-LAX be considered domestic? Flying Hawaiian; it appears to be different flight numbers for each leg.


The US has no exit immigration, so as soon as you set foot on US soil—and Hawai’i is one of the 50 states thus US soil in the full meaning of the word—you will need to pass through immigration.

Furthermore, the United States require you to go through customs at your first port of entry similar to e.g. Japan or Canada and different from e.g. EU countries (where your final destination handles customs).

Finally, the two legs are not only different flight numbers but also different planes. Taking the data on flightradar24.com for today’s HA446 (Auckland–Honolulu) shows that the plane came from Tokyo Haneda as HA856 before flying to Auckland and will continue as HA16 to San Diego. This is to be expected, considering Honolulu’s Hawaiian Airline’s home base.

For obvious reasons outlined in the first paragraph, the HNL–LAX portion is considered domestic. Thus, after you clear immigration, pick up your bags, clear customs and drop off your bags at Honolulu, you are fully in the US and when you arrive in LAX you will be treated equivalent to somebody who just landed from San Francisco.

It is worth pointing out that if Hawaiian sells you the connection on one ticket, they have already allocated adequate time for you to make your connection and it is their responsibility to get you to LAX if you miss the plane because the connection was to short.


This must be a duplicate but since it's probably a duplicate of two questions I will answer anyways.

  1. You always clear the USA border and customs at your first point of entry.
  2. https://travel.stackexchange.com/a/137216/4188 answers in painstaking detail: yes, HNL-LAX is domestic.
  • 1
    To clarify, this means that OP has to clear immigration, reclaim bags, go through customs, and drop the bags at the counter right after customs, so this will take a little bit of time, but that should be accounted for by the airline in the connection time between the two flights. Of course, this is only if both flights are on the same ticket/booking. – jcaron Apr 26 '19 at 12:10

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