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Question on Flight Connection Time


wdw1972
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In May of 2025 we'll be flying from Florida to Vancouver to board Nieuw Amsterdam for the northbound sailing. There's actually a flight from our little airport around the corner, which would require changing planes in Atlanta before flying to Vancouver. This would be on Westjet/Delta. The more attractive flight would get us into Vancouver at 11:17 am and the layover in Atlanta is 1 hour & 23 minutes. The other gets in at 8:58pm and has a layover (Atlanta) of 2 hrs & 40 minutes. We're flying in 2 days prior to the cruise.

 

Question - not knowing what extra process/bureaucracy/inspections are needed due to flying international for the 2nd leg, are those layover times "safe"? I'd appreciate any feedback from the many travelers more experienced than us!

 

Sue/WDW1972

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I would feel more comfortable with a longer layover myself. To answer your question regarding any extra processes due to it being an international flight, there won’t be anything in Atlanta except they will view passports while boarding at the gate to verify you have documentation to enter Canada. Customs, etc will be done on arrival in Vancouver.

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I agree with others. Atlanta is a huge airport to navigate and going from West Jet which is likely in another terminal it can take some time.  I’d go with the longer layover. 

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1 hour ago, sunviking90 said:

I would feel more comfortable with a longer layover myself. To answer your question regarding any extra processes due to it being an international flight, there won’t be anything in Atlanta except they will view passports while boarding at the gate to verify you have documentation to enter Canada. Customs, etc will be done on arrival in Vancouver.

Thanks - you've clarified that the customs stuff will be after getting off the plane in Vancouver. I'd like a 2-hour layover, but that wasn't an option (at least not as of now - I realize whatever I book could change several times before the actual trip...grrr). Arriving at nearly 9pm when it feels like midnight to us, and then doing the customs stuff doesn't sound very appealing. I'll have to study the Atlanta airport & get a feel for where we'd be arriving, where we'd have to leave from, etc. If I do the earlier flight it means leaving my rinky dink airport at 6am (likely the first flight of the day) for the short hop up to Atlanta. You'd think that would be safe - and it should be, but nothing is guaranteed when it comes to flying these days. 

 

Sue/WDW1972

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3 minutes ago, wdw1972 said:

Thanks - you've clarified that the customs stuff will be after getting off the plane in Vancouver. I'd like a 2-hour layover, but that wasn't an option (at least not as of now - I realize whatever I book could change several times before the actual trip...grrr). Arriving at nearly 9pm when it feels like midnight to us, and then doing the customs stuff doesn't sound very appealing. I'll have to study the Atlanta airport & get a feel for where we'd be arriving, where we'd have to leave from, etc. If I do the earlier flight it means leaving my rinky dink airport at 6am (likely the first flight of the day) for the short hop up to Atlanta. You'd think that would be safe - and it should be, but nothing is guaranteed when it comes to flying these days. 

 

Sue/WDW1972

flight aware, along with several other sites, will allow you to see the 'normal' gates that each of the flights uses and will give you an idea of how far you have to go inside the airport between flights

 

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My home airport is ATL and I know it quite well.  You'll likely be arriving at a domestic concourse and will be leaving out of an international one.  ATL is the busiest airport in the world but in my opinion, it's the best.  With that said, I would still opt for the longer layover just to reduce the stress.  Coming from Florida, you could arrive on concourse A through D or the T gates. International gates are on D and F but the trains run every few minutes and are fast.  The other issue is that you're switching airlines.  Delta and WestJet are partners but it's not the same as if it were just Delta all the way.

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Using Flight Aware (thanks Rich), it looks like the early flight would arrive at gate C33 (very close to the train thing) and connecting flight leaves from F3. Question - when taking the train thing from terminal C to terminal F, do we have to go through security again at terminal F? If so, perhaps buying TSA pre-check is the way to go, or doing the Global Entry in advance of the trip?

 

It looks like Delta & WestJet are using the same plane for both legs - just with their own flight numbers. I would book the Delta/Delta vs Westjet/Westjet, if that matters at all. We'd be flying on a Friday morning in mid-May.

 

Sue/WDW1972

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In my experience, if any flight on the same ticket AND on the same day is an international flight, all the information is taken at check-in for the first flight, but international personal checks (baggage, customs, passport inspections) are done prior to the international flight.
That said, if your initial airport is a smaller one, all the check may be done in Atlanta.
Time between flights is always a risk, but I never like to have less than 90 minutes. Yes, airports are boring, but better to be there in plenty of time than have to rush. And with connections in what could be different terminals, I never leave myself only 90 minutes.
I would definitely take the longer layover time. But I'm a cautious traveler, your experience may vary.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, wdw1972 said:

Question - when taking the train thing from terminal C to terminal F, do we have to go through security again at terminal F?

All gates in Atlanta are past security. You will not have to be screened again moving from Terminal C to Terminal F.

 

https://www.travelandleisure.com/thmb/uf9hoasjGSXAYOR81Ag4WZra6yE=/750x0/filters:no_upscale():max_bytes(150000):strip_icc():format(webp)/atlanta-airport-terminal-directory-map-ATLAIRPORT0621-a12b51a04762461d812d7f1c4a9378d4.jpg

Edited by richwmn
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9 hours ago, richwmn said:

All gates in Atlanta are past security. You will not have to be screened again moving from Terminal C to Terminal F.

 

Thank you - that's good to know!

 

Sue/WDW1972

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I can remember checking into ATL while on business in the '90s at the UAL counter. The agent told me that my bag would make the flight but I would probably not! Of course the UAL flight was at the last gate of the concourse and the gate agent actually had closed the door. They opened it for me and the FA then told me to take the first available seat. It was like the old OJ Hertz commercial running through the airport.

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It is never fun when you have to worry about connections. And you have to weigh in your comfort level. Me, I would take the longer connection time. You need to decide will there be space on the later flight if you miss your connection. And how good is Delta at moving you to a later flight. You could end up spending the night in Atlanta. Airlines routinely oversell flights now so there are no guarantees you could make it onto the later flight. 

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Posted (edited)

Chances are that your flights and times will change between now and then. Our flights to Boston and back from Quebec City Canada in August for our Volendam cruise have changed at least 4 times since we booked in April. The last change a week ago gave us only an hour connection in Philly to go through customs and change terminals, which is not possible. We got that flight changed so we now have 3 hours in Philly.

Edited by terrydtx
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13 hours ago, wdw1972 said:

Using Flight Aware (thanks Rich), it looks like the early flight would arrive at gate C33 (very close to the train thing) and connecting flight leaves from F3. Question - when taking the train thing from terminal C to terminal F, do we have to go through security again at terminal F? If so, perhaps buying TSA pre-check is the way to go, or doing the Global Entry in advance of the trip?

 

It looks like Delta & WestJet are using the same plane for both legs - just with their own flight numbers. I would book the Delta/Delta vs Westjet/Westjet, if that matters at all. We'd be flying on a Friday morning in mid-May.

 

Sue/WDW1972

I traveled recently to/from Amsterdam and I had Global Entry, while my travel partner did not. I did LOTS of waiting for her since I went through each US security location very quickly, especially JFK where there was no line for me. We almost missed our flight in JFK due to the regular security lines being so long. Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck, which is nice. No need to apply for both. 

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1 minute ago, Navybikermom said:

I traveled recently to/from Amsterdam and I had Global Entry, while my travel partner did not. I did LOTS of waiting for her since I went through each US security location very quickly, especially JFK where there was no line for me. We almost missed our flight in JFK due to the regular security lines being so long. Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck, which is nice. No need to apply for both. 

Last year we returned from Europe through Atlanta and with Global Entry we got through customs in less than 10 minutes. The longest wait then was for our luggage after Global Entry to clear and recheck to home. We made a 1.5 hour connection time with no problem.

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14 hours ago, wdw1972 said:

It looks like Delta & WestJet are using the same plane for both legs - just with their own flight numbers. I would book the Delta/Delta vs Westjet/Westjet, if that matters at all.

I would simply book the entire trip with Delta. Besides, I'm not sure that it's even possible to book the first leg with WestJet as it's a domestic US flight and WestJet is a Canadian company.

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17 hours ago, wdw1972 said:

If so, perhaps buying TSA pre-check is the way to go, or doing the Global Entry in advance of the trip?

Global Entry, which includes TSA Pre-Check I believe, has been amazingly effective. Well worth all the ground glass we had to crawl through to get it.

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On 6/17/2024 at 5:51 PM, McDeb2119 said:

I agree with others. Atlanta is a huge airport to navigate and going from West Jet which is likely in another terminal it can take some time.  I’d go with the longer layover. 

Atlanta has 7 concourses (only 2 terminals, but that's irrelevant when making a connection), and Delta uses all 7.  All concourses are connected airside so you won't have to clear security during a connection (unless arriving from an inbound international flight, which isn't applicable to the OP).  The plane train runs underground and connects all 7 and is very quick and efficient.  The concourses in order are T, A, B, C, D, E, F and you can go from T to F or vice versa in about 20 minutes on the plane train.   Yes, the airport is huge, and is the world's busiest, but with the efficient plane train and all the signage, it's actually very quick and easy to transit at ATL.

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On 6/17/2024 at 2:51 PM, McDeb2119 said:

I agree with others. Atlanta is a huge airport to navigate and going from West Jet which is likely in another terminal it can take some time.  I’d go with the longer layover. 

 

There is only one terminal in ATL, with seven connected concourses.

 

 

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On 6/17/2024 at 3:20 PM, richwmn said:

flight aware, along with several other sites, will allow you to see the 'normal' gates that each of the flights uses and will give you an idea of how far you have to go inside the airport between flights

 

 

Gates are assigned close in to arrival/departure, and are dictated by operational requirements, not by where the flight was yesterday.

 

 

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Thanks everyone.  Turns out the flight I had hoped for has changed to one with 2 stops, so off the table. Instead it looks like a flight with 1 stop, 2.5 hours in Dallas Ft Worth will be the plan. I'm definitely more comfortable with 2.5 hours vs an hour & 23 minutes!

 

Sue/WDW1972

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