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What is a game changer these days? Well, sometimes not a whole lot. But — when you fundamentally change the way something in travel is done — I’d say it applies.

Delta is working with US authorities to put an end to one of the most annoying parts of the passenger experience on international arrivals into the USA. This latest ambitious plan for luggage entering and transiting the United States could save significant time and hassle and open up new transit possibilities.

In a significant change of events, customers arriving into the United States from select international gateways on Delta and connecting onwards in the U.S. will be spared the painful process of waiting for luggage to arrive and then re-checking it. Instead, bags will zip along on their own as you re-clear security, allowing you to do the same.

This won’t be everywhere right away and there’s a lot that needs to go right for things to eventually get there, but this is probably the most positive change to transiting to an onward flight when arriving in the US since Global Entry.

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US Luggage Procedures On International Arrivals And Transit

In many countries, when you arrive from an international flight and connect onwards your luggage automatically does too.

Many countries require you to go through additional security screening before boarding your onward flight; but most save you the hassle and time loss of waiting for your bag at the carousel and presenting it to be checked back in to the next flight.

Historically, not the United states though. Here, we let you stand idly for 15-30 minutes until your bag arrives on the carousel, all so you can proudly walk it about 50 feet past peering DHS eyes, and slap it onto a conveyer belt so that it too can make your onward flight.

Delta & Homeland Security Luggage Trial

Delta and US authorities are set to trial a system where, like many other countries, luggage automatically connects to its onward domestic flight when arriving in the United States.

The first trials will take place this year on flights from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (HND). Someone arriving into say, Los Angeles International Airport, and connecting onward to Salt Lake City, would be able to simply clear immigration and security in LA without needing to re-collect their luggage. The checked bag would automatically end up on the onward flight from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City.

According to View From The Wing, further rollout of the trial is planned for flights arriving from Seoul, London Heathrow and Frankfurt. This would be a significant move for passengers, with more implications than many may initially realize.

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Potential Wins For Travelers

Assuming the trial goes well, which I’d think it would, many positives could follow. Currently, passengers face tough “minimum connection times” when arriving in the US, meaning airlines aren’t allowed to sell tight connections of a certain time frame.

The need to wait for international checked luggage to arrive, to then re-check it and all the unknowns in that process are a significant part of the minimum time equation.

If luggage can keep moving along as you do, that could eliminate 30 minutes or more from minimum connection times, allowing airlines to sell tighter transit times. As a very frequent traveler always happy to get home earlier, this could be the difference in being home for lunch or having to camp out in an airport until after dinner.

Rollout, Risks And Thoughts

It’s highly likely all US airlines will be cut in to this trial at some point in the near future and their international joint business venture partners too. For now, with initial trials set to start in 2024, it’s a very positive sign that entering the US and carrying on may not suck quite as much as it has, basically forever.

So much of the luggage screening process takes place behind the scenes that I can’t really imagine there’s even the slightest bit of change in risk factors. I know dogs are often sent around international arrivals carousels in the US, but that could just as easily happen behind the scenes.

Sure, you might not be able to read people’s body language as they interact with bags as much, but the ability to survey the contents doesn’t change in the slightest.

If successful, this could be one of those joyous occasions where everybody wins. US airlines can be more competitive by no longer being as hindered by connection times, while passengers simultaneously shorten their journeys.

HT: Enilria

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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1 Comment

  1. Who is going to ensure TSA doesn’t confiscate liquids purchased duty free at the departing international airport since not collecting the luggage prior to clearing TSA won’t afford the passengers the opportunity to place duty free alcohol and perfume, etc. in their checked baggage before going through? I understand TSA “isn’t supposed to” take duty free purchased and sealed liquids even if they are over the liquids max but, they have and will continue to do so either becuase of ignorance or “discretion”.

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