On December 25th I am flying from Canada to Maui, with a transfer in San Francisco. We have 1.5 hour transfer time.

I understand that I go through customs in San Francisco.

Is 1.5 hrs during holiday rush enough to make it to our connecting flight?

Inbound and outbound are both with United Air.

  • 2
    From most Canadian airports, you do USA customs and immigration in Canada. I suggest you double-check. If not, you are likely to make it anyway. United domestic flights are maybe ten minutes’ walk from the International Terminal, and a few leave from International itself. My experience is that flying on December 25 proper is less crowded. ("This is Captain Rosenbloom…"—guess pilots trade holidays.) Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 19:08
  • Are you (and any others travelling with you) a Canadian citizen? If so, then US customs and immigration should be no problem. Canadians going to Hawaii at Christmas is certainly not unusual! Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 19:16
  • @AndrewLazarus Has a fair point. Which Canadian airport are you departing from?
    – Bernhard
    Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 19:50

1 Answer 1


You will NOT go through customs in San Francisco.

All Canada->US flights go through US immigration/customs in Canada before you depart. On arrival in the US you are basically treated as a domestic passenger - no need to go through customs/immigration, no need to re-clear security (presuming your flights are not in different terminals that are not connected airside), and no need to collect your bags presuming they have been checked all the way through.

In your specific case flying United on both flights you will land in SFO in either Terminal 3 or International Terminal G, and your outbound flight will also leave from one of these two terminals. These terminals are connected airside, so at worst you will need to walk between them which is at most about a 15 minute walk. United will check your bags all the way through, so you will not need to worry about them in SFO.

1.5 hours is plenty for this connection, presuming that your inbound flight isn't more than an hour or so late.

December 25th is normally one of the quieter travel days of the year, although that might be a little different this year given it's on a Thursday.

  • 1
    Are you sure that all Canada -> US flights have pre-clearance? I know that all the major Canadian airports do it at normal times of the day. Some reference confirming if all do it at all times of the day or not would be good!
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Nov 10, 2014 at 5:56
  • Certainly all airports that United flies from do. I'm sure there are some smaller airports that do not, but none that United flies to.
    – Doc
    Commented Nov 10, 2014 at 6:07
  • If "United" includes the United Express-branded regional carriers, then this is not true: the UA Destinations list (selecting UA/UAX destinations only) shows them serving a number of Canadian airports without preclearance: Kelowna, London, Quebec City, Regina, Saskatoon, St. John's, Victoria. They even seem to say that St. John's has mainline UA service though I wasn't able to find specific flights. Commented Nov 10, 2014 at 7:05
  • I believe @NateEldredge is correct that some United flights leave from airports without pre-clearance. Into SFO, there is a flight from Victoria and two flights from Vancouver (!) that arrive at the International Terminal. However, a small number of domestic flights also use the International Terminal, so that does not mean the Vancouver flights to SFO Customs. Victoria does not have preclearance. Nevertheless, you would have to be unlucky to miss the Hawai‘i connection. The gates are only 10 minutes apart on foot. Commented Nov 10, 2014 at 7:34

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