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I have a flight from Greensboro, NC (USA) to Melbourne (Australia) coming soon and this is my first time leaving USA. I am not a US passport holder, just have a visit visa. The legs look like this:

  1. Greensboro, NC -> Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, TX (layover: 59 minutes)
  2. Dallas, TX -> Sydney (Australia), and so on.

Given the layover time is less than one hour, I was concerned and asked my travel agent to change it. They are asking for a quite a bit of money and said it is still over the the minimum connection time so a 'legal' connection. I am not overly confident about their remarks.

Can anyone tell me exactly what steps are involved in a outbound domestic to international connection in USA?

Specifically, do I need to:

  1. Collect my luggage at Dallas?
  2. Depart domestic terminal, go to international terminal and re-check the luggage?
  3. Again go through the Immigration and Security to board the international flight?

I have a bad experience when I was coming to USA due to a short layover time. The first flight was delayed from Melbourne and I missed the connecting flight due to wrong instructions from airport staff. I was put on standby and AA gave me a flight after 18 hours.

Disclaimer: I have searched quite a bit and mostly found questions involving international to domestic transfer, which does not apply to me.

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    The existing answers are correct regarding steps required, but I wanted to add one additional note: just because an itinerary is valid (i.e. connection >= minimum connection time,) doesn't mean it's wise. Long-haul international flights frequently start boarding an hour before scheduled departure. Your connection appears to be allowed by the rules (and so the airline would be on the hook to re-accommodate you if a delay caused a missed connection,) but a schedule where, if on-time, my next flight will be boarding before I arrive at the connecting airport is too close for comfort IMO. – reirab Jan 9 '17 at 20:53
  • I completely agree. And I tried to change my flights for that reason. Now, there were 2 issues. The only available flight that can reach me to Dallas has a layover more than 9 hours. I decided to go with that. But my travel agent is asking more than $600 to change the schedule. Unfortunately, I had to arrange the schedule at the last working day before the Christmas through the university designated travel agent, it also required a bunch of other approval. And they did not give me many options to chose from. – Sal Jan 9 '17 at 21:03
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    Yikes, that's no fun. I'd probably keep the schedule rather than pay $600 if those were my choices. Perhaps try calling the airline and see if they'll change it for free? Not sure about American, but I've generally had good luck with getting Delta to change schedules without fee, especially if the short connection came about as a result of a schedule change on their part. I usually book with the airline directly rather than via a travel agent, though. – reirab Jan 9 '17 at 21:10
  • Have you tried making the change directly with American Airlines? An alternative, not guaranteed, is to show up for the earlier flight to DFW, and do the change at the airport. The change fee is, purportedly, $75 to do it on the day of the flight(s). I've had problems with AA and its tight times for both domestic and international connections. – Giorgio Jan 10 '17 at 1:07
  • well. I did not try to do with AA as my ticket has been arranged through a travel agent and I was able to choose a seat through Qantas. I tried this with Qantas and it did not let me change. It specifically asked me to contact my travel agent. – Sal Jan 10 '17 at 1:13
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Assuming that you have booked a single ticket, you will not need to collect your luggage, recheck luggage, enter or exit the terminal, or go through security or immigration. You will simply need to get yourself to the gate for your next flight before boarding closes. When you check your bags in Greensboro, simply confirm that they are "checked through" to your final destination of Melbourne (you will likely need to pick them up in Sydney and take them through Customs there, as that is your first port of arrival in Australia).

If this does involve changing terminals (which is, according to Michael Hampton, inevitable), you can do that with the Skylink train inside security, which runs every two minutes. The ride between the farthest points takes nine minutes.

This should be doable if your flight isn't significantly delayed, but doesn't leave a ton of time if things go wrong. If you do find yourself running late, it's worth informing the airline staff of the situation, as they may be able to facilitate a cart ride to get you to the gate faster, or at least inform them that you're on the way.

  • He's going to have to change terminals, guaranteed. – Michael Hampton Jan 9 '17 at 18:19
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    Similarly, if your departure is at all delayed in Greensboro, talk to the gate agents there. If your connection gets too tight, they may have the ability to re-book you with a connection in a city (or cities) other than DFW. – Michael Seifert Jan 9 '17 at 19:54
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    it's worth adding that a 1-hour layover in the US is actually pretty long. you will certainly have plenty of time to spare. – ell Jan 10 '17 at 0:26
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    @sgroves, well, I did not feel 2 hrs 20 minutes as a long time when I was transferring from international to domestic flight at Los Angeles and airport staff specifically asked me to go out of the terminal instead of the transfer lounge and I was trying to run towards AA counter at a different terminal. At the end, they kept me waiting more than 18 hours and spared me a ticket after repeatedly explaining the issue and mentioning multiple times that I missed the connection due to a delay in my international flight. Is there any particular reason about why you feel 1-hour layover is pretty long? – Sal Jan 10 '17 at 1:17
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    International to domestic is different (due to the need to go through immigration and customs), but I still wouldn't consider an hour "pretty long," especially when catching an infrequent longhaul flight. Many airlines officially close boarding at least 15 minutes before departure (though they may still let you on after entirely at their discretion, depends on the gate agent and where they are in the boarding process) and the gates could be far apart. It's enough time if everything is on time, but doesn't provide much margin for error. – Zach Lipton Jan 10 '17 at 1:23
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  1. Collect my luggage at Dallas?

No you will not. Almost certainly, your luggage will be checked through to Melbourne, or at least to Sydney. You won't need to collect it in Dallas.

  1. Depart domestic terminal, go to international terminal and re-check the luggage?

No, as noted, you won't have to recheck your luggage. Your flights will not be at the same terminal. (Thanks to Michael Hampton for this information.) I don't know DFW well enough to know how much time you will need for the transfer.

  1. Again go through the immigration and security to board the international flight?

No, there is no immigration control when leaving the United States. You normally should not have to go through the security check again, because the train linking the terminals connects the secured areas with one another; the train is said to be "inside security" (see Zach Lipton's answer for the link). If for some reason you do have to clear security again, the airline should be able to expedite your transfer if it is necessary.

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    AA flies into all five terminals at DFW; they are something like 80% of all flights there. Qantas uses exclusively terminal D (the international terminal). On this itinerary a change of terminal is guaranteed. – Michael Hampton Jan 9 '17 at 18:17
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    @MichaelHampton thanks. I've edited my answer. – phoog Jan 9 '17 at 18:21
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    Hi, thanks for your answer. I had a hard time choosing which one to mark as the accepted answer. You answered first and I was inclined to mark your answer as accepted. However, considering Zack Liption clarified my own question by adding the single ticket factor and mentioned that I only need to "get myself to the gate", which besically summarizes the answer, I am going to mark his answer as accepted. I have upvoted your answer, but it does not show as I don't have enough reputation – Sal Jan 9 '17 at 18:40

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