Only an hour to get to our layover flight out of Los Angeles. Is it enough?
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Firstly, What is a Layover?
A layover is a term used in air travel. It is when you have to connect between two flights.The first plane lands and you have some time at the airport to get to your connecting flight which will then take you to your destination. Think of it as changing lines on the metro or tube. Sometimes, as in our case, the time in between is as short as an hour, while other times it can be four hours for domestic flights or up to twenty-three hours on International flights.
And What is a Layover Flight?
The flight that you takes you to your destination. Our international flight was from Auckland to Los Angeles (LAX), and our layover flight was a domestic flight from LAX to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
If you’re flying internationally you will no doubt experience a layover along the way. We were flying to Miami from New Zealand to start our year-long adventure and so had a stopover in LA. It was only an hour, and I was worried that we would miss our connecting flight.
Brian had done a layover in LAX years ago and delighted in telling me it was horrendous. Stories of bully immigration officers making his Mother cry and endless queuing were the norm, so naturally, I was panicking.
However, although I had my big girl pants on – ready for the onslaught, it was easy peasy. No bullying, no long sweaty lines, no pushing or shoving or missing our connection. Much to my disappointment, I didn’t even get a body search.The whole procedure was straightforward and smooth.
We are travelling with two teenagers, and apart from the occasional (every 5 minutes) of barking at them to get off snapchat, put your hoodie down, and don’t get us dragged into a tiny room and interrogated, everything went smoothly.
You may be travelling from elsewhere in the world, but we left Auckland, New Zealand so here’s how it looked.
The Airport Hotel in Auckland. The Jet Park.
We stayed overnight at the Jet Park hotel.
It was an excellent hotel for convenience. The shuttle is 24 hours and its included in the price of the hotel. If you’re flying into New Zealand go outside the main gates to stand number 7, they will come and pick you up. The bus runs every 15 minutes.
The room is spacious. Two big queen size beds, spotless and new. We were in the original part of the hotel, but we have stayed in both, and they are always up to standard.
The breakfast is a self-service buffet as seems to be the way in all airport hotels.
The food was fresh and ample. I tried to persuade the kids to get some muffins and put them in their bags for later at the airport but they wouldn’t. Apparently, that’s not cool.
There is a distinct lack of staff in the restaurant. You will have to track someone down and ask for tea or coffee. I prefer this as it means you can pile your plate up without anyone looking at you thinking ‘what a greedy pig’.
Whenever else you would choose to have slices of melon, sushi and some creamy mushrooms with salmon for your breakfast I don’t know, be it the brit in me – my plate was piled high.
Be warned, if you book through an agent on the internet as we did, they may try and charge you for the kid’s breakfast. We booked a family room for bed and breakfast, but apparently, in the small print, it states that the price only includes two full breakfasts.
They charge according to age. If your kids are five and seven, then you will pay the equivalent in dollars.
Now, my son can eat for Britain, but even he wouldn’t be able to eat the equivalent of 16 dollars – well, maybe, but even so, dispute it as I did. It’s not clear enough on the Expedia website and is misleading. After complaining, the manager very wisely told us that the kids could eat free. Good job.
All in all, not cheap – we paid $312 for the night for the four of us- hence the reason I was determined not to pay for breakfast. But for the convenience of the shuttle bus, the immaculate comfy rooms and the fact that you can eat enough at breakfast to see you through until dinner, thus saving you from forking out for lunch at the airport, it’s worth it. Even if your kids won’t smuggle a muffin. For your information, there is a Burger King at Auckland airport. I know.
You can book this hotel or others similar to this here.
Leaving Auckland Airport for Our Layover Flight
When you leave New Zealand, you will fill out a short form before going through to immigration. It’s a name, date of birth and address thing, but I’m just telling you so that you allow another 5 minutes onto your time. Don’t do what I did and try and squeeze a homeschooling opportunity into the filling out of the form. For some reason, my kids suddenly couldn’t remember their address or where they were born. Acted like dimbos. Just fill out the form yourself. Nobody’s watching.
Getting out of New Zealand is straightforward. Nothing to worry about there. I’m not going to tell you the stuff you will already know about batteries and liquids, although something to mention is that you are allowed to take makeup in your flight bag.
I was under the impression that you couldn’t carry mascara and lipstick, but they were okay about that. They weren’t in a clear plastic bag or anything either. Not that I needed to bother. After a nineteen hour flight, I still looked like a panda bear who’d been dragged through a bamboo forest backwards.
Flying American Airlines From New Zealand to Los Angeles.
We flew with American airlines. The upside, the plane was impressive. Brand new, with very high lockers, so that it felt spacious, leather seats and what seemed to be more leg room than usual. The glass of wine that they served with dinner was both delicious and huge – always a winning combination. The downside was that the food was either too salty or too sweet and the stewardess’ were bordering on being rude.
The reason for this may have been because it was Thanksgiving the next day and they were understaffed. I used the call bell to ask for some water and was told to go to the back of the plane and get it myself. Probably a blessing in disguise as my calves was starting to throb and that walk to the gally may just have saved me from the onslaught of deep vein thrombosis.
Another tip. We flew on Thanksgiving, and the fare was substantially cheaper. For the sake of missing out on pumpkin pie, it was worth it. It’s a win-win. You will be thin and wealthy.
Ten minutes before you are due to land, you will watch a short video on how to use the new kiosk immigration system APC (Automated Passport Control). The APC has replaced the old way of doing things. No more paperwork and questioning by an immigration officer making your whole experience more relaxed. If it is at all possible to remain relaxed when going through immigration.
Arriving at LAX With an Hour to Get to a Layover Flight.
When you arrive at LAX and have a quick connecting flight as we did, don’t worry. When you get off the plane walk along the corridor, and you will see a bunch of bright orange tickets pinned to a wall. Concerned you might not see them? Don’t. You will see them.They look like this.
There is a member of staff shouting to all ongoing passengers, and your name is in big bold letters on the orange cover. Take them off the wall. They are like Willy Wonkers golden ticket apparently. You are supposedly given priority – although I didn’t see any evidence of this, regardless, we didn’t need it. The process was super fast.
Go to the APC kiosk and scan your passport. Choose your language. There are nine to choose from. Tick a bunch of questions – the usual stuff like where you are staying and for how long.
It will then ask for a fingerprint scan and take a photo of you. As tired as they were, my kids still managed to explode into fits of laughter when they saw my picture. They are cruel. That’s all I can say.
When you have finished, the kiosk prints out a piece of paper with all of the information and the photo. Put it in your passport and move on.
Luckily, you still get to go and meet the nice immigration officer with his slicked-back hair. He will retake your fingerprints and look at your photograph to see that’s it’s you. (More sniggers from the cheap seats) and then will tell you to have a nice day and off you go. Thank you, officer. After being abused by my scornful teenagers for fifteen hours you have shown me some love.
Find a screen – no, not the one attached to your son’s hand, the one with all the flight departures on it. Find your departure gate and make your way to it. Ours was 47, so we had to go outside of the building and into a grand looking hallway. Don’t panic. There are signs everywhere.
Just before your departure gate, you will go in another line, but again, it moves quickly. This part is where you will check your luggage back in. Or so I thought. In reality, a burly looking chap grabbed it from my trolly and threw (literally – luckily my brother in laws birthday bottle of whiskey didn’t smash) onto a conveyor belt. You won’t see you bag again until you disembark your connecting flight.
Last part, and then your layover is over, and you will be onto your connecting flight.
Next is where the airport security staff check you and your hand luggage. Unlike in New Zealand, you will be told to take your shoes off and empty your bag of any electronic items and food. Our family failed on both of these counts. I didn’t remove the laptop from my bag, and Sonny left an apple in his. Because of this, we were delayed five minutes more than was necessary. No matter. I pretended we were Ma Barker and Fred and felt dangerous and young for a moment. Then the apple was given back and we trudged on our way to gate 47- all the while arguing as to why snapchat is crap.
And that’s it!
So, is an Hour Long Enough For a Layover Flight?
All that worry about an hour layover between flights not being enough proved to be pointless (as is all worrying). LAX is not what it used to be Brian. The whole process was smooth and easy. Much more so than having a long layover between flights and being made to wait around for hours (costing you a fortune in food for the kids).
Had it not been for the free wifi within the airport – all my kids had to do was watch a short video, and they were in – providing unlimited snapchat galore and so taking their attention from carrying the bags, I’d go as far as to say the layover flight experience was quite enjoyable. Quite I said. Until I can afford to fly first class, it will always just be a quite.