I fly soon from San Diego-LAX-SYD (in Australia) on United all the way and back. Will I have to pick up my bag on the way over to Australia when I arrive at LAX ( and pass through TSA again) since I am going from domestic to International? Flying back it is SYD-LAX-SFO-SAN and the same questions apply as from LAX I then change from int'l to a domestic flt.

  • When I've flown SAN-LAX-AKL (New Zealand) the bags were checked through from SAN, but coming back you collect your luggage in LAX then re-check for your domestic flights. It's been a while though so not sure if that's still the case.
    – Midavalo
    Apr 19, 2023 at 22:33
  • That said though, in my opinion/experience LAX is close enough to San Diego that it makes the drive better than the messing around and extra waiting at the airport. Sure that flight might be quick, but the re-check and wait etc. can be REAL slow. These days if I can't get a flight (from/to San Diego) that skips LAX then I'd just flag San Diego and fly from/to LAX just because it's easier, and drive between the two cities.
    – Midavalo
    Apr 19, 2023 at 22:36

1 Answer 1


If all your flights are on a single ticket:


  • In SAN, you’ll be “checked through” to your final destination.
  • You will most likely receive both boarding passes
  • Your bags will be tagged to your final destination
  • You won’t see them again until SYD
  • In LAX, you will arrive directly in the departures area, just go to your gate. Depending on your specific flights, you will arrive and depart from either terminal 7 or 8, but they are actually two piers of the same terminal, no need to go through security again
  • You will not see your luggage in LAX
  • And you’re off to SYD!

It’s more complex the other way around:


  • In SYD you will be checked through to SAN
  • You will likely get both boarding passes
  • Your luggage will be tagged to SAN
  • In LAX, you will arrive in TBIT, and will first go through passport control
  • Then you will have to retrieve your bags
  • Then go through customs
  • Right after customs, drop your bags at the counter for this
  • No need to go to check-in
  • Go to your departure terminal
  • Go through security
  • Go to your gate

Note that while it’s possible to go through security between TBIT and Terminal 4, and then get to terminal 7 or 8 while remaining airside, that’s a pretty complex route which involves underground and overground passages. It’s probably a lot easier to get to Terminal 7 landside (outside security) and only go through security at Terminal 7 (but I’ve never done either, maybe someone has a different take on this).

  • You may need to check-in again at LAX and exchange boarding pass (received in Sydney for LAX-SAN) for a new boarding pass for the flight to San Diego. This is what I've had to do on similar trips. Something to do with it being commuter service so it's almost first in first served. I don't know if that's the actual reason but that's what I was told on one occasion.
    – Midavalo
    Apr 20, 2023 at 1:34
  • @Midavalo one thing which can happen is that they are unable to issue the boarding pass for the second flight at the origin airport (this usually happens if the first flightQ+layover are quite long and check-in for the second flight hasn’t opened yet), so you indeed need to get it when you arrive in LAX. But you can probably get it on your mobile as well. Also depending on what document you get for your second flight, you may be able to go through security and get the final boarding pass at the gate.
    – jcaron
    Apr 20, 2023 at 6:10

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