I have the following itinerary:

  • ULN - ICN through MIAT (Mongolian Airlines)

  • ICN - ORD with United and it changes plane at SFO.

Looking through some questions already answered here, it seems that I have to pick up my luggages at SFO before going through Customs and Immigration and then drop them off before exiting.

But I recently decided not to board to my last flight to Chicago and spend a few days in San Francisco. So what are the options that I can pick up all my luggages at SFO?

I hope that I can just walk out right out of SFO having picked up my luggages before the Customs. But I was not sure if this is viable.

Also, when I first check my bags at ULN, would they be able to tag its final destination at SFO, not ORD?

EDIT: Not that I care much, but none of the 9 answers in the possible duplicate question completely answered my question. Otherwise, I would not have asked it.

  • Domestic/international doesn't really matter in this case. May 30 '17 at 8:05
  • Domestic/international makes no difference. If you don't show up for a leg of your inbound flight, the rest of your itinerary will be cancelled. It also doesn't matter whether you're forced to pick up your luggage or you're just choosing to. May 30 '17 at 9:09
  • @Henrikn it is different because on a domestic flight, i am not forced to pick up my luggages and I could be accused of abusing hidden-city ticketing and may not get the luggages at all, if I ask the agents to retrieve them.
    – dezdichado
    May 30 '17 at 11:51
  • @DavidRicherby: The difference is that upon an international arrival in the US you will have your bag delivered to a carousel at the connection point without needing to convince an airline employee to short-check it first (which might be difficult if the connection is shortish and the check-in agent suspects hidden-city shenanigans). May 30 '17 at 16:13
  • For clarity's sake, that only applies to an international arrival if you're not coming from a preclearence airport. If your bags have already been through US Customs in say, Vancouver, it will be checked through to your final destination and you won't be able to pick it up at the connecting point. May 30 '17 at 16:27

As SFO is your first port of entry into the United States, you will have to pick up your checked luggage after immigration and take them through US Customs. If you were continuing on with your itinerary as scheduled, you would then hand your bags back to an airline representative where they would be rechecked to Chicago.

However, there is nothing stopping you from exiting the customs area and walking right out of the airport with them instead. This is true even if your bags are tagged through to Chicago, and there's no need to mess around with asking them to short-check your bags, which is just advertising your intent to violate the conditions of your ticket. They are your bags and you are free to leave with them if you want.

Note though that if you do this, the airline will automatically cancel all of the remaining segments on your itinerary. The SFO-ORD leg will be wasted and you'll need to find another way to continue your journey. If this is the first-half of a round-trip ticket, your return trip will be cancelled. Let me say that again because it often leads to misunderstandings and heartbreak: if you miss one segment, the entire rest of your itinerary will be automatically cancelled.

As noted in Do you have to take the second leg of a domestic flight?, this typically violates the airline's contract of carriage, and they may take action against you if this is something you make a habit of. Your connection in SFO also is not guaranteed: if there are delays or cancellations, the airline is contracted to get you to Chicago, not San Francisco, and so you may be rebooked on a routing that doesn't go through SFO at all.

  • thanks for the answer. It does answer my question. Also, I am aware of the repercussions of forfeiting a part of my itinerary.
    – dezdichado
    May 30 '17 at 11:52

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.