How To Avoid Long Immigration Lines When Flying London to Los Angeles

Some links to products and partners on this website will earn an affiliate commission.

Los Angeles Airport (LAX) has always been a nightmare to fly into, because after 11 hours in the air, the lines at the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) immigration often take well over an hour. No matter what flight I seem to take, I always land after another big plane – so unless you’ve Global Entry, you find yourself stuck in line for what seems like an eternity.

However, by pure chance, I found a solution to my problem. A solution that meant on my last London Heathrow to LAX flight, I was curbside 18 minutes after landing. 

A quick word of warning, this might all be moot currently with the ongoing COVID situation, but keep this information in the back of your mind and I’m pretty sure you’ll thank me for it later.

American Airlines fly BA codeshare flights out of London to LAX which land at Terminal 4 rather than the TBIT. Terminal 4 now has its own immigration and baggage claim that is open for longer hours. Previously on arrival, you used to walk through an underground tunnel into the scrum at TBIT, but now (assuming you land before 6pm) you go to the T4 immigration channels and on my last visit, they were empty.

There was no line to join at any point, in fact, my bag was off the plane so quickly that I had to wait for an immigration officer to turn up at the desk. Fortunately, it was only a 5 minute wait and before I knew it, I was outside in the LA sunshine. A much more enjoyable LA arrival experience than my last trip landing at TBIT and 75 minute wait!

Bottom line 

If you want to stick with a oneworld airline in order to earn British Airways Avios and Tier Points, try flying with American on a flight that lands into Terminal 4 and you might well save yourself hours of waiting around. At least till you hit the traffic on the 405… 


  1. NB says

    You can also fly UA into T7, which has its own dedicated Immigration facilities. I usually beat my bags but that’s because I’m usually first in line for non-US passports. Of course, I haven’t done this since BC (Before COVID).

    • Chris Cox says

      Great tip there NB. I’ve not status with Star Alliance so always go OneWorld as a rule, but this could change that. Anything to avoid those immigration lines. Although, with life being the way it is right now, I’d love to be stuck in an immigration line going somewhere!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *