A lot of people are asking about flying to Australia via the USA, so I thought I'd add our experiences. If anyone can help me add these to the Wiki it would be great as I'm inexperienced at that.
Flights and luggage allowancesEdit
The flights and luggage allowances went like this -
- London - Miami with BA (Qantas codeshare) - 2 x 23kg each.
- Miami - Cancun with AA - 2 x 23kg each
- Cancun - Los Angeles with Mexicana - 2 x 32kg each
- Los Angeles - Honolulu with AA (Qantas codeshare) - 2 x 23kg each
- Honolulu - Melbourne with Jetstar (Qantas codeshare) - 2 x 32kg each.
We added a double pram to all these allowances with no extra charge.
Combine family allowancesEdit
Note that you can combine family allowances so that individual cases can weigh more than 23 kg; however, note -
No case can ever weigh more then 32kg. If any case weighs over 23kg, AA will surcharge you US$25 per case per flight; however, we found you can avoid this by checking in kerbside which costs US$2 per case (US domestic only).
Also note that on internal US flights your hand luggage alone can weigh up to 18kg (yes that's almost as much as your entire allowance via the East!) and it never gets weighed or checked for weight. This does mean that if there are 4 of you you have a baggage allowance of well over 200kg!
There are also logistics in actually transporting this amount of luggage, especially if some of the travellers are small children who can't carry cases and may indeed need carrying themselves. We managed to get 8 cases and 2 hand luggage bags onto 2 trolleys (2 further hand luggage bags as backpacks), which I was just able to push by myself (Mrs Buzzy was pushing the pram) although we found that if you look like you're struggling people will offer to help. In the US we hired porters. The logistics went like this -
- [B]Heathrow[/B] - there are porter facilities but I wouldn't pay £16 for them. I used 2 trolleys and was assisted part of the way by a helpful fellow traveller.
- [B]Miami[/B] - porters readily available, tip what you like, I gave him US$16 which I later found out was a bit too much.
- [B]Cancun[/B] - porters available, US$2-5 tip normal.
- [B]Los Angeles[/B] - porters available, US$5-10 tip normal.
- [B]Los Angeles (outgoing)[/B] - as we were flying domestically we could check in kerbside which meant no porters necessary, cost US$2 per bag.
- [B]Honolulu[/B] - porters available but I didn't use them as it's a smaller airport and the distance from the baggage carousel to the car rental bus stop was short.
- [B]Honolulu (outgoing)[/B] - porters available, US$5-10 tip OK.
- [B]Melbourne[/B] - no porters at all. I did the 2 trolley thing and was helped, believe it or not, by customs employees all the way to the hotel courtesy bus.
Flight times and experiencesEdit
- [B]BA Heathrow to Miami[/B] 9 hours - absolutely fine. No complaints at all.
- [B]AA Miami to Cancun[/B] 1.5 hours - ditto.
- [B]Mexicana Cancun - Los Angeles[/B] 4.5 hours - stewardesses were miserable and unfriendly. One was tapped on the arm by another passenger and said to her "Don't ever touch me, OK!" Otherwise no problems.
- [B]AA Los Angeles - Honolulu[/B] 5.5 hours - stewardesses were older women who didn't seem to be enjoying their jobs and it showed. But no real complaints.
- [B]Jetstar Honolulu - Melbourne[/B] 12 hours. This is the best airline we have ever flown with. Last time Mrs Buzzy wrote to them to praise them and I'll happily do this again. Nothing was too much trouble and the staff were smiling and enthusiastic.
Please ask if you need any further info. I hope this helps someone.