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I am planning to arrive at Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) on Sunday November 28th at 05:20 AM local time, and I have a flight with the same airline (United) that leaves for Las Vegas at 07:30 AM local time. Would that be enough time to get my luggage, clear customs and board the other plane?

Additionally, as pointed out in the comments, my flight is on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, which is typically one of the busiest days of the year for domestic air travel in the US.

I found this question from 2015 and the accepted answer says that with a layover time of 1.5 hours the OP almost certainly has enough time to make the connection (so with 2 hours 10 minutes I should be good), but I'm asking anyway because a lot can change in 6 years (COVID being an example). Also, from that answer I checked the recorded delays at https://awt.cbp.gov and between 5 and 6 am the max delay is very short, but I really don't know what the process of entering entails, so I don't know if that short delay is sufficient time.

I am entering the US from Argentina (I'm an Argentinian citizen) with a B1/B2 visa and a return flight already purchased. I'm entering for the first time in over 20 years, last time I was there I was 10 years old, and to my knowledge I didn't overstay. Also, I don't know if I have to get my luggage and board the new plane or if the luggage is transferred between planes automatically (both tickets were purchased at the same time, both with the same airline).

Thank you for your help.

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    Just so you're aware, your flight is on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, which is typically one of the busiest days of the year for domestic air travel in the US. I wouldn't expect this to cause major delays for immigration, but don't be surprised if the airport is more crowded than you expect. Oct 6 at 21:01
  • @MichaelSeifert thanks for that! I wasn't aware of that at all
    – Blueriver
    Oct 6 at 21:07
  • To be clear, did you purchase the flights as a single itinerary from Argentina to Los Angeles (that happened to transit through Houston), or did you actually buy two separate tickets, one from Argentina to Houston and a separate one from Houston to Los Angeles?
    – Dennis
    Oct 6 at 21:26
  • @Dennis I think it's a single itinerary. I "purchased" the tickets through AWS's system (I'm a recipient of a grant to attend AWS Re:Invent, and that includes the plane tickets). I entered my origin as Argentina and my destination as Las Vegas, and the option I selected happened to go through Houston. I don't know what happens exactly behind the scenes, but as far as I know it should be a single itinerary. Additionally, both flights have the same confirmation code
    – Blueriver
    Oct 6 at 21:34
  • Is your destination Los Angeles or Las Vegas? Re:Invent is in Vegas
    – Doc
    Oct 8 at 14:25
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Would that be enough time to get my luggage, clear customs and board the other plane?

I would give it an 90%+ chance of making it. I came into Houston from Peru about 2 weeks ago. International flights are still pretty empty (as compared to domestics ones, which are often stuffed to the last seat). Since I have Global Entry and no checked luggage it took me less than 5 minutes to clear immigration and customs.

Your timing is helpful, there seems to be a big spike in incoming passengers around 7am although sometimes it spikes earlier as well. A few preperations to make things go faster

  1. Consider travelling with carry on only. United is pretty liberal with their carry on allowance
  2. Make sure you have all documents ready and can pull them out on short notice
  3. Keep up to date on Covid requirements since they can still change anytime
  4. Have the United App on your phone. This will give you easy access on gates, delays, terminals, boarding pass, etc.

If you miss it (by no fault of your own), United will still get you to Vegas and rebook you for free on a different flight. It's early in the day and there plenty of other options to get there.

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2 hours should be plenty of time to make this connection, presuming that your inbound flight isn't excessively late.

Although you will need to collect your bags at Houston and carry them through customs, they will have been tagged at check-in all the way through to your final destination which means that you will simply need to drop them at the bag drop after customs/immigration, which is fast. You'll also have received your boarding passes for both flights at check-in, so again no need to wait.

You will need to clear security again in Houston. The fact you're flying on the Sunday after Thanksgiving means that this could take longer than normal - although at ~6:30am in the morning it should be less of a problem than later in the day.

The good news is that if you don't make your connecting flight, United Airlines will simply put you on the next available flight to your destination. The bad news is that being the weekend after thanksgiving, the next flight with seats available may not be until much later in the day - although looking at the current flights IAH-LAS for that day it currently appears that they are not as busy this year as normal years (but obviously a lot could change in the next 7 weeks!).

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  • In the last paragraph, I assume you meant LAX, not LAS. Oct 8 at 12:40
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    @MichaelSeifert I meant LAS, just like the OP meant LAS when he actually said LAX!
    – Doc
    Oct 12 at 4:10

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