I am traveling from South Africa to Sydney. My first flight is from South Africa to Los Angeles via Dubai on Emirates.

After nine hours I have a second separate ticket departing to Sydney, Australia on Delta Airlines.

Although I have both Pfizer shots, I understand that entry into USA is still not allowed, but transit is allowed within 24 hours. Can this interconnection with two tickets work, assuming I transit ONLY airside with no checked luggage from Emirates to Delta?

I do have a USA visa and Australian regulatory approval to enter Sydney so the main issue is the no entry into USA landside currently in place.

  • 2
    "but transit is allowed within 24hours" source?
    – user102008
    Commented Oct 10, 2021 at 19:15
  • 13
    LAX is in the USA (as far as I know the codes) and the USA does not do 'transit area only' transits, only transits in which you enter the country and then next leave the country.
    – Willeke
    Commented Oct 10, 2021 at 19:17
  • 15
    I think you've got some bad information. The US doesn't have airside transit at all; you always have to enter the country, no matter how short your transit is. And the entry ban for South Africa has no exceptions for travelers in transit. So your "transit is allowed within 24 hours" doesn't seem to be correct. Commented Oct 10, 2021 at 19:27
  • 4
    This is also a quite complicated route, if you don't need to go to LA specifically - SA > Dubai > Australia would save a day or more in transit time and avoid the whole US layover issue. Commented Oct 10, 2021 at 19:35
  • 3
    @Andrew if normal times that would most definitely make sense. But these days flights to Australia are extremely limited, and it’s nearly impossible to get a flight from DXB to SYD, do people need to be “creative”. This route doesn’t work, though.
    – jcaron
    Commented Oct 10, 2021 at 20:07

2 Answers 2


I'm afraid that the answer is, at this time, clearly, resolutely, and absolutely, no.

There are no exceptions for transit to the current travel bans, whatever the duration of transit.

There is no airside transit in any airport in the US. All passengers, whatever their final destination, will go through immigration (passport/visa control), reclaim their luggage, if any, and go through customs, before they can move on. In the vast majority of cases (and that includes LAX), passengers will end up landside in the public area, before they go to departures and then go through security to go back airside.

Even if the two flights were on the same ticket, you would not be allowed to board a flight to the US if you have been in any of the banned countries in the last 14 days and you are not an exempt person (US citizen or permanent resident and a few other similar exceptions).

Even if there was an exception for transit (which doesn’t exist), with flights on separate tickets, the first airline would consider your final destination to be the US, and again, you would not be allowed to board.

There is talk about lifting restrictions for some countries, but I have no idea if South Africa is supposed to be part of those changes, there is still no date ("early November" is all we have)ù, and no details.

  • It probably won't help OP due to COVID restrictions, but it's maybe worth noting that under specific circumstances (right airport, right gates) airside transit is possible in Canada, even though it's never possible in the US. Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 20:07

I have done several international arrivals at LAX. The sequence of events is:


Baggage claim.


The exit from customs will be groundside--it has to be, because there are items permitted in checked baggage that are not permitted airside.

Some airports have a setup right as you exit customs for connecting passengers--a baggage conveyor right there that if your bag is properly tagged you can just drop it on the belt rather than go to the check-in counter. Those belts are groundside, though.

Furthermore, US international departure gates are not isolated. I have walked from an international departure gate to outside any building (although still on airport grounds) without encountering any barriers at all. I then returned to the gate without encountering anything more than normal airport security. There is no outgoing border control in the US. (8 hour mechanical delay, I didn't like the food choices within the area I could access airside.)

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