We are travelling from Zurich (Switzerland) to Kona (Hawai'i) and have the following flights to choose from:

ZRH-SFO-KOA with 1.5h connection time in SFO, all flights operated by United or ZRH-SFO-KOA with 2h connection time in SFO, first flight operated by Swiss, 2nd by United.

We are wondering if those connection times are enought? We are both swiss citizens and we will have a checked in luggage.

Do we have to go through customs? and do we have to get our luggage in SFO anyway?

Has anyone experience with those flights or would you recomend an other option?

  • United currently has three daily SFO-KOA flights, (four on Saturdays) with the last one of the day leaving in the 5 pm hour. Jun 5, 2019 at 19:14
  • Book the longest connection possible. SFO has been having serious lines at immigration (2+ hours for non-US citizens), especially in the early afternoon when these flights arrive.
    – Doc
    Jun 5, 2019 at 19:15

2 Answers 2


It makes no difference if the first flight is United or Swiss as long as it's a single ticket from ZRH to Kona.

In either case, you need to collect your bags, clear US immigration and customs and recheck your bags.

1.5 hours is tight but doable unless your incoming is delayed or lines are unusually long. Personally I would go with the 2 hour option.

If you miss the connection, United will put you on the next flight to Kona. It may be worth checking if there is another one later the same day. If not, you'd have to stay overnight in San Francsisco

  • thank you. we wanted to go with the 2h connection as well. Since the two flights are only 30 minutes aparat and we are on the last flight to Kona that day we will try if it works out.
    – GiGi
    Jun 6, 2019 at 12:03

I would not worry.

Often intercontinental flight arrive earlier. Timetable are about bad (but not extreme) conditions. Delay are departure are usually shorted for intercontinental flights (usually they do only one or two flight per day)

But things could go wrong. It happened to me. Bad weather and immigration was so long (1 hour waiting) so I arrived at gate late (airplane already departed).

I asked some people of airlines, and they redirected me to the right gate, where I got the boarding pass for next flight (so just one hour delay). I think it is was the best solution. By hurrying, you risk to wait at arrival airport for your luggage, which have more probability to miss flights.

So be prepared to miss the flight, and maybe bring some essential items (for one night) on you cabin baggage, but do not worry too much.

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