I plan to travel from London to Mexico city on 31st August. Looking at flights American airlines seems to be cheapest option. However I am very confused at the stopover in Texas Dallas / Fort Worth.

I rang American airlines to ask the question will my luggage be checked all the way through from LHR (London Heathrow) to Mexico City without me having to go through customs, but the response I have received is confusing. American airlines say no, i just need to go through to different terminal. However Dallas airport say I need to claim my luggage and go through customs again to recheck in my bag?? The stop over time in Dallas is only 1 hour 59 minutes. How on earth is this enough time to wait for my luggage from first leg of flight and re check in?

Furtheremore British Airways have said something different (since you can book American Airlines through them too) - they say I will have to get my luggage again to recheck in.

Secondly what kind of ESTA do I need? I have an approved ESTA but in the question : 'are you landing in USA for transit' I have put 'yes' - but if I have to claim my luggage and go through customs doesn't this mean I leave the airport?? Therefore making my ESTA redunant.

If anyone from UK has taken this journey any insight into the above would be appreciated.

  • What is your citizenship?
    – jcaron
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 13:40
  • @jcaron i am british
    – Maths12
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 14:17

2 Answers 2


So the case of the US is peculiar compared to other countries when it comes to transit.

There are a few very limited exceptions (and a more frequent one if there’s pre-clearance, but that doesn’t happen for flights from LHR), but in the majority of cases, here’s how things go (in the case of connecting flights on a single ticket):

  • in LHR, you will usually be checked through to your final destination
  • You will often get boarding passes for all flights (sometimes you won’t and will need to retrieve further boarding passes at connecting airports, either at transfer desks or at the gate)
  • Your bags will be tagged to your final destination
  • At your port of entry in the US (DFW in your case), you will have to enter the US, which means…
  • You will need to have the relevant paperwork to enter the US: US passport or green card, or visa, or for citizens from VWP countries, an ESTA
  • You will go through passport control
  • You will need to wait for and retrieve your bags
  • You will go through customs
  • Right after customs, there will be a special bag drop desk where you just drop your bags (which are tagged to the final destination) onto the conveyor belt (very little wait, if any)
  • You will then go to departures and through security and to your gate.

Compared to a non-connecting flight, you will NOT need to:

  • go to departures with all your bags
  • Find the check-in area for your flight
  • Queue for check-in
  • Get new baggage tags and boarding passes
  • Do all that before the check-in deadline of the second flight

Also, if you get delayed in the process, the airline should rebook you on the next available flight, which would not be the case for non-connecting flights.

2 hours used to be very tight even for connecting flights due to the time you could spend at passport control (especially in some airports like MIA), but nowadays it should be doable. If they sell the connection that means they think it is.

  • many thanks for this. as i mentioned below i do have an ESTA (i do not have a print off of it however as i think it's linked to my passport when they scan it) but i did select 'yes' to question 'is usa for transit' hoepfully this is sufficient.
    – Maths12
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 14:25
  • 1
    There should be NO need to re-collect bags. DFW has a special program where many International-to-International connections do NOT require the bags to be collected/re-checked. The passenger still needs to pass through immigrations, but they do not need to collected/recheck bags. Flights from LHR on AA are included in this program.
    – Doc
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 14:41
  • 2
    @Doc ah, so this is indeed one of those few exceptions. Do you have a reference for this? I knew AA had such a programme in place in a some locations but I didn’t remember DFW being one of them (and last time I searched for information on the topic it was rather hard to find and quite vague).
    – jcaron
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 15:09
  • 4
    @jcaron aa.com/content/images/jp/ti/pdf/iti_en.pdf but oddly only on their JP website. Flyertalk has more details in the AA forum. AA (and some partners) do ITI at DFW and MIA. United do it at IAH.
    – Doc
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 15:19
  • 1
    @Maths12 I'd print off a copy of the ESTA anyway. When going through passport control it never hurts to have contingencies.
    – Kaz
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 20:37

As you travel from London, into the US, you will need to go through immigration and customs, no way around it. Then you will drop of your luggage and get yourself to the next flight. (In a comment it is said that this airport does have a 'transfer path' where you do go through immigration but do not need to collect your luggage and carry it through customs, which is a big exception for the USA.)

That is with all flights into the US unless you have had the immigration before you got on the flight as you might get in Dublin, Ireland.

And yes, you need an Esta or a visa, just like you would as if you were going to have a holiday in the USA.

The time allotted is likely enough if the airline sell you this ticket as one ticket, they will be responsible to get you to Mexico City on their cost if you miss the flight.

I personally would look for flights which do not have a stop in the US, direct flights which cost more might be worth the extra money.

  • 3
    Maths, the USA does not have a part of the airports where only international travelers go. All passengers have to enter the USA, even if the next minute they leave the country on the next flight. That is a given for the USA and it is the reason I advise not to have a stop in the USA. Yes, your answer on esta would be yes, you transit to an other country, but the esta you get you would still allow you to enter the country.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 13:02
  • 1
    @Maths12 note that contrary to non-connecting flights where you have to go to the departures area and go through a new check-in process (before the check-in deadline!) in this case you will have a counter just after customs where you just drop your bags (which will already have tags for your final destination, so there’s essentially 0 wait), and from there you just go through security and on to your gate. Also IIRC DFW has a slightly optimised path in this case (compared to most US airports), but it’s been a long time since I did it so I don’t remember full details.
    – jcaron
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 13:40
  • 1
    There is a very limited number of cases where you supposedly can do airside transit in the US. It only works at a few airports, and only for flights from specific airlines (not the same at each airport) and possibly only for some specific combinations of flights. But it’s better to consider you will have to go through immigration, luggage claim, customs, baggage drop and security (and have the relevant paperwork).
    – jcaron
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 13:45
  • 1
    For the ESTA, you are in transit.
    – jcaron
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 14:26
  • 2
    @Doc, if you are sure, (and I think you are) you should post your own answer. I will edit it into this answer as a note.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 16:18

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