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When booking flights that have a "transfer" in Europe....how much time should we allow between flights?

If coming from US and connecting in Europe to another European city how much time should we allow for the connection?

Same question on the return...coming from European city connecting in another European city back to the US?

Specifically Amsterdam and Paris...but curious about all. 

Thanks so much. 

(I did a search and didn't find any threads on the topic.  Couldn't find a specific forum for it so hoping my RCCL friends can help me out!)

 

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1 hour ago, skiiergirl said:

When booking flights that have a "transfer" in Europe....how much time should we allow between flights?

If coming from US and connecting in Europe to another European city how much time should we allow for the connection?

Same question on the return...coming from European city connecting in another European city back to the US?

Specifically Amsterdam and Paris...but curious about all. 

Thanks so much. 

(I did a search and didn't find any threads on the topic.  Couldn't find a specific forum for it so hoping my RCCL friends can help me out!)

 

A minimum of 2 hours is recommended for international flights.

Some airports like London Heathrow have several terminals and are a little distance apart.

 

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Amsterdam Schiphol....IMO is better for connecting flights as it is one massive terminal where you don't need to change terminals unlike Paris Charles De Gaulle.

 

If flying from USA you would want at least 3 hours connection time - gives you chance to stretch your legs after a long flight and no need to rush.

Also remember to allow for delays.

 

When I last flew from Scotland to Rome with KLM via Amsterdam I had a connection time if 1 hour and 5 minutes and it was tight and had to run to the departure gate.

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Many such transfers are really no different from changing planes in a large American airport. But it can vary greatly by airport and the exact particulars of the flight. For example, an international flight to a country transferring to a domestic flight within a country may require you to go through immigration/customs so needs lots of extra time. As I said, it depends. Keep in mind the airlines aren’t stupid and (usually!) won’t schedule you with a connection that is impossible to make. However, if you are scheduling the connection yourself and buying separate tickets, all bets are off. 
 

That said, all international flights *to* the US require an additional security screening, so there’s going to be an at least an extra half hour built into the schedule. 
 

if you’ve got more details of the flights you have in mind, we can be more specific. 

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We have avoiding switching planes by doing so in the U.S. first - you can get a direct flight to most places in europe from JFK, PHL, BOS, CLT, ATL, and I’m sure many others. Plus you can sleep without worry of a connection.

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A couple years ago we cruised from Hamburg Germany for a Norwegian Fjords trip.  We are from the midwest and had never flown to Europe before.  Cruise Critic has a Discussion Topic forum called "Cruise Air".  I gained a lot of invaluable information about flights from the US, connecting thru Heathrow and on to Hamburg by reading the threads in that forum.  When we did a TA last year, ending in Barcelona we went back to that area of the forum for information again.  Very helpful

At the top of this page, choose "Categories" and scroll down to "Cruise Discussion Topics", you will find the Cruise Air discussions there.

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1 hour ago, zekekelso said:

Many such transfers are really no different from changing planes in a large American airport

I’ll disagree; not at all like changing within the US. Coming from North America to either Amsterdam and Paris, you will be entering the Schengen zone, and if you are destined for any of the 26 Schengen countries you must wait in an often quite long line to clear immigration and get your required Schengen entry stamp. Then generally there will be additional security before you get to your transfer gate. At busy times this can easily add an hour to your transfer. 

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7 hours ago, zekekelso said:

For example, an international flight to a country transferring to a domestic flight within a country may require you to go through immigration/customs so needs lots of extra time.

No "may" about it.  Transferring from international to domestic WILL require you to clear immigration/customs and often go thru security a second time.

 

7 hours ago, zekekelso said:

Keep in mind the airlines aren’t stupid and (usually!) won’t schedule you with a connection that is impossible to make.

Airlines don't care about your connection time.  Take a look at how many flights connect thru a major European airport with less than an hour connection time.  Allow at least two hours as a minimum,  three hours if you have to clear immigration.

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All terminals worldwide have 'legal' minimum connecting times. But they only work if you are through checked to final destination and if the inbound flight is on time.  If you are on a through ticket and the inbound carrier is late they are responsible for rebooking/rerouting you. But if you hold separate tickets the inbound carrier has no responsibility if you miss your onward connection. Personally, as someone who has worked in aviation for over 40 years, I think the minimum connection times are too tight and would want a connection of at least 2 hours. You have to go through security even thought  you are airside, and even if using the same terminal, and the queues can be long. 

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11 hours ago, claymorefan said:

Amsterdam Schiphol....IMO is better for connecting flights as it is one massive terminal where you don't need to change terminals unlike Paris Charles De Gaulle.

where you are more likely to lose your luggage

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Unlike when entering the USA, European immigration is digitalized, efficient and very fast.

In February we came from the USA to Amsterdam. The legal transition for AMS is 50 minutes. I thought that will never work to reach my connecting flight within Europe. From US plane doors open to connecting gate in AMS it took us including immigration and customs - - - 20 minutes.

Not so for Paris. Indeed if you want to loose your luggage- go for Paris.

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10 hours ago, rcixfan5 said:

We have avoiding switching planes by doing so in the U.S. first - you can get a direct flight to most places in europe from JFK, PHL, BOS, CLT, ATL, and I’m sure many others. Plus you can sleep without worry of a connection.

 

This is really the best advice when you are traveling to a major city in Europe.

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5 hours ago, crazyank said:

Transferring from international to domestic WILL require you to clear immigration/customs and often go thru security a second time.

Schengen Zone immigration is at your initial port of entry (for this discussion Amsterdam or Paris) as in the US, but unlike the US Schengen Customs are at your destination airport. You have entered Schengen when you got your entry stamp, but your luggage hasn’t entered Schengen until it is carried out the Green (or Red) Line door from baggage claim at your destination airport. Generally you will not see a Customs Inspector, but you are probably being remotely surveilled and they do have the right to stop and inspect your goods. 

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15 hours ago, skiiergirl said:

When booking flights that have a "transfer" in Europe....how much time should we allow between flights?

If coming from US and connecting in Europe to another European city how much time should we allow for the connection?

Same question on the return...coming from European city connecting in another European city back to the US?

Specifically Amsterdam and Paris...but curious about all. 

Thanks so much. 

(I did a search and didn't find any threads on the topic.  Couldn't find a specific forum for it so hoping my RCCL friends can help me out!)

 

My rule of thumb is 3 hours.  2 is ok, but certainly nothing less.  First, you are in an airport you do not know.  You might need immigration.  The terminals can be a long walk.  I take care of business, and get close to my next gate, and usually have something to eat and drink.  I have had too many close calls in my life to risk it.  

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Thanks so much to all for your advice/experiences!

Yes, we prefer to go "direct" from a US connection but some of the cruises we are looking at for next year do not allow that option in the air travel so must look at and consider the alternative options. 

 

Thanks again! 

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On 8/4/2020 at 7:10 PM, zekekelso said:

Many such transfers are really no different from changing planes in a large American airport. But it can vary greatly by airport and the exact particulars of the flight. For example, an international flight to a country transferring to a domestic flight within a country may require you to go through immigration/customs so needs lots of extra time. As I said, it depends. Keep in mind the airlines aren’t stupid and (usually!) won’t schedule you with a connection that is impossible to make. However, if you are scheduling the connection yourself and buying separate tickets, all bets are off. 
 

That said, all international flights *to* the US require an additional security screening, so there’s going to be an at least an extra half hour built into the schedule. 
 

if you’ve got more details of the flights you have in mind, we can be more specific. 

 

REALLY?  How many times have you connected?

 

And the part in Red, do you know that the official minimum connecting time for Charles de Gaulle is 45 minutes.  Yes, they WILL book you with a 45 minute connecting time.   Unless you have special status, you will typically spend more than 45 minutes in the line for immigration

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There are several factors.

 

If you are traveling from the US to CDG and then to another Schengen destination, then you must clear immigration in Paris.  So that will add a delay.   You will not need to collect your bags like in the US.

 

If you are connecting to a non-Schengen destination, you will not have to clear immigration, so it a much quicker connection.

 

In Paris, you may have to change terminals, which increases the time needed.  Amsterdam, you do not need to change physical terminals, but the walk from one gate to another gate may take some time.  If you are mobility challenged, let the airline know so they can provide transport.

 

I try to leave a minimum of 2 hours connecting time in Paris.  I will accept shorter in Amsterdam.

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What is the exact flight?  Is it US-Amsterdam-Paris?  Or US-Paris-Amsterdam?  And if Paris, CDG or Orly?  For CDG, will you have to change terminals?   

 

For flying to Europe through Amsterdam, I'd want minimum 2 hours, preferably 3.  I found the lines to be long and slow moving.

For CDG, I'd be fine with 2 if the connecting flight is leaving from the same terminal.  Otherwise, I'd want 3 if changing terminals.  For Orly, I'd allow 2.

 

For flying to the US I'd allow a minimum of 3 hours due to the extra security involved for US bound flights.

 

 

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I fly to Europe often and lived there for nearly 10 years. I will only fly via Amsterdam. Why? They are helpful, it is one large building (always just keep heading to the transfer hall), and immigration is quick. They have three options: 

- the manual stamp/stand in line

-the passport reader 

-the short connection line 

 

that last One is important! They will call anyone on transfers into Schengen with less than 25 minutes and you skip the line! Yes you have to somewhat push and hold up the passport and be listening for your departure time

but it works! We have used it twice. There are a few nice places to grab a snack after immigration so (like monopoly) go directly to Immigration and do not stop to eat. 
 

Now that said, this is all for in bound and sometimes they limit if Americans can use the passport reader to enter the country. 
 

I would book 2 hours to transfer, more if you have mobility issues as the walk from international to Schengen can be long depending on final Gate. 
 

Book you entire flight via the same airline, even if they code share. My last flight was 4 hours late in Atlanta and they had me rebooked before I left Atlanta. The lady next to me simply went to the transfer hall with me and printed out her new boarding pass. 
 

The other poster is correct: no bags or extra security entering Schengen. Pick up and walk out with your bag at the final destination. 
 

coming back, allow for extra security at the gate for USA bound flights, so check into the gate early on. You can normally (In Amsterdam) get the extra security, go on your way and then return to the gate closer to boarding. 
 

Happy travels (when that day comes!)

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CDG is my least favorite European airport.  Immigration lines can be VERY long (even with status when flying Business Class).  I've had a couple of times when I nearly missed a 2 hour connection.  It's also a confusing airport, especially for first timers, and I've lost my luggage there twice.  I'd leave at least 2 hours, preferably 3.  That said, you may breeze through in 45 minutes.  As others have said, Schiphol is easier but can involve a lot of walking.  I also like collecting the little KLM houses. 😀

 

My strategy is the opposite of what others have said.  I try to make my first flight the one that crosses the ocean.  If I land somewhere in Europe and run into a problem there, there will be a lot of options to get me to my final destination.  If I first go from one US city to another and run into problems in that first flight, I can miss my flight across the ocean.  I then have fewer options.  Happened to me a couple of years ago when I was flying Cincinnati to Detroit to Frankfurt.  Detroit had an issue that caused traffic congestion so we sat on the tarmac in Cincinnati for 45 minutes.  Missed my connection to Frankfurt.  The best that they could do was reroute me through Amsterdam and from there on to Frankfurt.  I had a 2 hour drive after landing and didn't arrive at my final destination until 8 hours later than I was supposed to, exhausted.

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I feel best with 2.5 hours or more between flights. As others have said, Paris is stressful for connections. We haven’t connected through London Heathrow, but we have flown out of it, and it was awful. Frankfurt was a bit like Paris. Munich flowed well because they have a separate line for Americans flying to the U.S. that allowed us to bypass the monstrous line. I can see why Amsterdam was recommended; we have only flown into and out of it on separate days, though. To me, shopping and eating in foreign airports is a fun experience, so the longer connections not only reduce risk and stress, they also allow for some fun. 

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