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How early for Madrid/Barajas departure?

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I read many complaints on one of the air travel websites about this airport--how much walking there is even within the new terminal 4, etc. so am concerned about how early to get there, and this then affects my flight choice.

Have narrowed down my choices to: #1) Madrid-Atlanta-LAX on Delta with 4-hour layover in Atlanta leaving Madrid at 11:00 a.m. versus #2) Madrid-CDG-LAX on AF with a 4-hour layover in Paris, leaving Madrid at 12:35 p.m.

First choice saves me $25. However my concern is do I need to get to the airport more than 2 hours in advance for a transatlantic flight? Choice #2 is in-Schengen on the first leg to Paris. So in that case, maybe I only need 2 hours in advance, or should I get there earlier anyway--is 2-1/2 hours early enough at Madrid?

There are options with shorter layovers in both Atlanta and Paris but I could find none that were over 2 hours--so between 1 hour and 30 minutes or so for either one and 4 hours, I chose the long layovers just to keep my stress level down and since I'm really not in such a big hurry.

What say you, Fodorites?

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