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I fly out of Beijing and land at LAX in one itinerary on Air China. I had to book a separate domestic itinerary From LAX to go to DFW on American Airline. Once I clear the custom and immigration at LAX,

  1. I believe I have to pick up checked bags at the baggage claim in Terminal B, is this correct?
  2. Do I need to carry all my bags to check in at a domestic terminal (likely T4 or T5) and check the bags? Do they have shuttle or train? Or can I use the overground tunnel?
  3. Do I have to go through security line again for the domestic itinerary?
  4. How much time I should reserve for this connection from landing in LAX to the LAX-DFW departure? I have to go through the non-citizen line at the Custom and Immigration.

Thank you.

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  • The connection is entirely at your own risk (why do that? Money savings? It's no savings if you miss the connection and your investment in those tickets is wiped out and you have no onward transportation). You might want to plan a layover in L.A. so that if anything goes wrong, you have a buffer (scrapping a side trip to Hollywood instead of the trip to Texas falling apart). May 13 at 0:04

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To answer your questions, and for a little more info to add to jcaron's Answer:

1. I believe I have to pick up checked bags at the baggage claim in Terminal B, is this correct?

Yes, this is correct.

2. Do I need to carry all my bags to check in at a domestic terminal (likely T4 or T5) and check the bags? Do they have shuttle or train? Or can I use the overground tunnel?

Yes, you must carry all your bags to the LAX terminal from which your flight to DFW will depart. You can walk between terminals, and there is a free shuttle bus that runs 24/7 between terminals on the Lower/Arrivals level. You can read about these alternatives here. The overground tunnels are post-security; they will not be available to you as you'll be changing terminals while you are outside the secure area.

3. Do I have to go through security line again for the domestic itinerary?

Yes.

4. How much time I should reserve for this connection from landing in LAX to the LAX-DFW departure? I have to go through the non-citizen line at the Custom and Immigration.

I cannot improve on jcaron's comments here. Longer connection times are safer for you, as you're wholly on your own if the connection fails.

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  • Thank you for the detailed answers. This is extremely helpful!
    – Lydia
    May 12 at 18:17
  • DavidSupportsMonica, I looked at the shuttle. Seems I need to use Route A (for terminal connections). Then I saw different colors on this map below. Should I look for the pink bus? flylax.com/-/media/flylax/ground-transportation/…
    – Lydia
    May 12 at 18:35
  • @Lydia Looks like Route A to me. I don't know if the buses are pink. The LAX webpage I cited says: "To use our shuttle service, travelers should board the LAX Shuttle under the LAX Shuttle & Airline Connections blue sign on the Lower/Arrivals Level islands in front of each terminal." May 12 at 18:39
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As these are flights booked separately (a “self-connection”), you will:

  • Go through immigration (passport control)
  • Wait for your bags
  • Go through customs
  • Arrive in the public area (“landside”)
  • Need to go to the departures area of your departure terminal
  • Check-in your bags before the check-in deadline (45 minutes before departure)
  • Go through security
  • Go to your gate

TBIT to Terminal 4 is about 150 meters (one tenth of a mile), terminal 5 a little bit further. You’ll need to get from arrivals (lower level) to departures (top), exit the terminal, and follow the pavement.

You can’t use the TBIT to Terminal 4 connector as you need to check-in first.

Since AA has flights departing from TBIT (including flights to DFW, but those depart probably way to early for you to be able to use them), it may be possible to check-in there, though I doubt it (and AA check-in in TBIT is actually closed at this time).

Since you are self-connecting, if for any reason you miss the check-in deadline for your LAX-DFW, you’ll be considered a no-show, and your ticket will most likely be cancelled. You’ll have to book and pay for a new flight, at last-minute prices, which can be very expensive.

That’s why you should have quite a lot of buffer between the flights. 4 hours is the rule of thumb here (with the second flight being a domestic flight, quite frequent, and with hopefully reasonable prices), but the longer the better.

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  • Thank you for the detailed answers. This is extremely helpful!
    – Lydia
    May 12 at 18:17
  • As an aside, the US does not have a distinction between "landside" and "airside." All passengers off an international flight will immediately process customs and immigration and then enter the "unsecured area." To make any connections, all passengers must go back through regular security to enter the "secured area." Sometimes the secured area gets called "airside," but this term does not mean the same thing as it does in other countries. There is no way to make international connections in the US without clearing customs and immigration.
    – Andrew Ray
    May 13 at 20:03

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