Flying home from Europe

Hi, I have found a wealth of information, mostly on this site but I'm still not clear on the whole procedure. My son will be flying home from MUC (Munich)connecting through ORD (Chicago) and on to BTV. He has been in Europe training (ski racer) for two months and has 7pr of skis (in two bags) along with his other stuff all in one large suitcase so a lot of baggage to deal with. I'm trying to get an idea of what he is going to have to do. All his flights are with United and while according to their site his bags will be checked through to BTV and only one charge for the entire trip home will apply how does that work? It sounds as though he is going to have to go through passport/customs in ORD as it will be his original point of entry back to the US. That seems as though it will mean having to re-check his bags after clearing them for the leg from ORD to BTV. Do they have a special system for that so he can just them off after customs or will he have to go to the regular ticket counter and go through the normal process again as though he were starting in ORD? Will he then need to go through security again and with that be (hopefully) after re-checking the bags? Seems like someone preferably the airline or TSA/US Customs site would clearly state this procedure from start to finish but they seem to stop at clearing customs and continue to leaving the airport and miss the connection step. Does it sound correct that paying for the bags will only happen once and if so how or do they get you twice because "you could have added things" in the hour or so they are in your possession to get through customs? Thanks in advance, people seem really helpful on this site and in these forums.

Posted by Nicholas
Seattle, Washington, United States
282 posts

Hmmmm.. This sounds like it could be trouble. Check the rules: http://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/travel/baggage/sports.aspx?Mobile=1 "United accepts one item of ski equipment per customer as checked baggage." If you have two ski bags, that might be problematic. Also, depending on your status and class of travel, you will be charged to check. First bag is free. Second bag is $100. Third bag is $200 (if they accept it, see the rule). Bags over 50lbs may be subject to additional charges. I would call United and talk with them directly about this to make sure that there will be no issues at check in. However, once you get through, then the procedure (in my experience, usual disclaimers apply) is fairly straight forward. At ORD, he will clear border patrol. He will then collect his bags and go through customs. On the other side, there should be a conveyor belt where he will put his bags. At MUC, his bags will be tagged to the final destination. Putting it on the conveyor belt sends it on its way to the next flight. He will then head to the next flight without having to recheck in or anything like that. This is how it normally goes for me with a normal ticket ticketed to my end destination. YMMV.

Posted by Gwyn
Shelburne, VT, USA
5 posts

Thanks for the heads up on the bags. He flew over with the same bags so we are all up to speed on how many bags and the weight etc. We are fortunate for ticket status reason he gets two free bags at 70lbs and we pay for the third. But I do appreciate you watching out for us and giving me the warning. It sounds like you are saying though that he won't have to cover much ground with his bags in ORD and the Customs check point is next to the baggage claim and the re-check after customs is rite there on the other side. Is this correct?

Posted by Nicholas
Seattle, Washington, United States
282 posts

Ok. Phew. No, in ORD he will only have a short walk with them and there are carts there that he can load them on for free. Shouldn't be an issue.