Atlanta Customs and Transfer time

Feb 17th, 2010, 08:18 AM
  #1  
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Atlanta Customs and Transfer time

My daughter is flying home for a visit from the Peace Corps in Africa this June. So far best flights are Delta from JNB through Atlanta to Newark on the way home and out of Chicago on the way back (though Atlanta as well.) The shortest time between both flights in Atlanta shows 1 hour 50min on way here and 1 hour 19 on return.
I have emailed and called Delta (long wait) and got the same rote answer: "They wouldn't post the flight combination if it wasn't enough time." The next ones are over 4 hour layovers which seems like alot, but better than missing the flight to Joberg.
Any advice? She will have checked luggage. Also, flights much less through Orbitz than Delta.
Thanks.
Pinotmom is offline  
Feb 17th, 2010, 08:49 AM
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1 hour and 50 minutes is marginal but doable. I would probably risk it.


Customs/Immigration/TSA in Atlanta can often be a nightmare. (They appaently do NOT want us to come home)

The line for immigartion can easily be half an hour or longer. Customs is normally a breeze, but then you have to go BACK through the TSA screening.... along with everyone who lives in Atlanta and just wants to go home. We have no "direct" exit out of international without going back through the airport.


Going back's not an issue. 1 hour is fine. All she has to do is change planes. None of the "idiotic" stuff

Now, the other kicker. I have read a lot of whining latey on "when I push the buy button on Orbitz it's 'not giving me the ticket" so "cheaper" may not hold. Just give it a try.
CarolA is offline  
Feb 17th, 2010, 02:02 PM
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In Atlanta, if you have less then one hour left, the employees will take you out and take to the head of the line - I saw this happened in Atlanta.
Dayenu is offline  
Feb 17th, 2010, 05:57 PM
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Is she terminating at Newark and originating in Chicago or traveling on from there to another final destination?

I would definitely book the 1hr 50min coming in. It should be OK unless her flight is late, lots land at same time, or customs looks more closely at bags from JNB. Even if she is delayed, are there later DL flights to Newark the same day that would work?


The 1 hour 19min connection to an international flight that one doesn't want to miss is tight if she were to draw the longest physical connection--arrive on T concourse and depart from E concourse and her arriving flight happens to be late due to summer thunderstorms. She won't have to bother with luggage, but she might want to maximize her time for transfer. If she has status, then she can reserve a seat at the front of the cabin so she will can get off the plane quickly in ATL. She can check her gates before departing to know where she has to go once on the ground at ATL.
Kay2 is offline  
Feb 17th, 2010, 07:16 PM
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As someone who has made a couple of dozen intenrational connections in Atlanta. DO NOT assume that what Dayenu saw is the norm it's not. I have seen folks having hysterics told "BACK IN LINE" (And honestly , if they start moving person A then the next thing you know the folks who had 90 minutes are now screwed....) I have never seen it happen (I have seen lots of panic but no reaction)

I did T to E last summer in 25 minutes. It's not ideal but you can do it. That does mean you go DIRECTLY to the gate, you don't stop to "shop", call mom and let her know you are OK, etc....
CarolA is offline  
Feb 18th, 2010, 06:15 AM
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I understand it that she has 1:50 between arriving from JNB and heading to EWR. This should be enough time. It might get a bit tight, but it should be enough time. Given that there are flights at 9:40, 10:45, 12:05, etc. that she can be accomodated on if something went wrong (not to mention something to PHL or JFK or LGA or HPN if it came to that), I would definitely feel pretty good booking this connection.

On the way back... This one is a bit tougher. This is definitely enough time under normal circumstances, but the risk is somewhat high. Unfortunately, there is no delay data available that I can find for this flight. If she absolutely must be back in JNB on that flight, then I would probably book the extra time and plan on hanging out in the airport.

If she wants the time to pass quicker, maybe buy a day pass to the lounge, where there will be some light snacks, free drinks, free wifi, and some decently comfortable seating. The second of the two lounges in the E terminal is really quite nice. Also, given the departure time, she could grab an early dinner rather than relying on whatever muck they choose to pass off as food during the flight. One Flew South is excellent for a sit-down sort of place and Paschals has good Southern food.
travelgourmet is online now  
Feb 23rd, 2010, 07:12 PM
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Johannesburg arrives early in the morning and although it is when Dubai,Tel Aviv and some of the South American flights arrive I think that she will be fine.If the flights are booked on the same airline if there is a problem then that will be their problem with the luggage,etc.
I would advise her to speak up at customs if it gets to be around 40 minutes before her next flight time and also ask for the golf cart transfer if her flight is at the end of A or B if time is short.

After that long of a flight she won't want to be sitting around for 4 hours!
dutyfree is offline  
Feb 24th, 2010, 11:42 AM
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Three weeks ago, I spent 1 and a half hours in line at customs at the Atlanta airport. One hour and 50 minutes is a very close connection in ATL in my opinion, and I fly to/through that airport almost 10 times a year.

Your daughter is at least 21 right? If so, I recommend the longer connection and buying a lounge pass (there are Delta sky Clubs everywhere in Atlanta airport). There are maps on the Delta website which lists their exact locations in all the terminals.
freeman0819 is offline  
Feb 24th, 2010, 02:36 PM
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If the flights are booked as one ticket, I would risk it. Delta will put you on the next flight if it doesn't work out. However, if you have two seperate tickets, give yourself more time.
wally34949 is offline  
Feb 24th, 2010, 09:55 PM
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wally - I agree for the inbound flight, but the issue with risking it on the return is that it would put you into JNB at least one day later. And, unless she is an elite or is flying in business class, I would think she would be on her own in finding (and paying for) a place to spend the night.
travelgourmet is online now  
Feb 25th, 2010, 11:40 AM
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Why? I've never seen any line at customs and I've been through Atlanta countless times. Almost everyone just walks right through; the only people who stop are those who have something to declare.
Luisah is offline  
Feb 28th, 2010, 05:13 AM
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I've had to wait for checked baggage from Delta fro one hour to go through customs one time at ATL. Usually I do only carryon if possible, so I do not know if that wait was normal.
Kay2 is offline  
Feb 28th, 2010, 05:20 AM
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The big delay that we ran into in Atlanta was not clearing customs or luggage, it was the TSA screening -- poorly organized and not enough stations open given the number of international flights arriving.
artsbabe is offline  
Feb 28th, 2010, 05:51 AM
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I don't think it's "normal" but it could certainly happen occasionally. I had that experience at JFK and LAX.

Like artsbabe, the TSA screening was the problem the last time I connected in Atlanta. Immigration was fairly quick, luggage came out within minutes, customs, as usual, was just a walk-through -- but long, slow lines at TSA screening. I don't know if that's normal these days.
Luisah is offline  
Feb 28th, 2010, 07:47 AM
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My experience was in January 2009.
artsbabe is offline  
Feb 28th, 2010, 07:50 AM
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My experience was late October 2009.
Luisah is offline  
Feb 28th, 2010, 08:34 AM
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Expereinces in December 2009, October 2009, December 2008, August 2008 etc...

Still would never refer to ATL as "fast" in any way.
CarolA is offline  
Feb 28th, 2010, 08:38 AM
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Not only would be 1h50 typically be sufficient for me to transit immigration, customs, and re-screening for security, it would be enough for me to get all the way to my home in Atlanta, either by MARTA or waiting for my husband to come fetch me (and he never ever leaves the house until I'm through security, so I always have to wait for him).

If you hustle you can easily get from the farthest point on A to the farthest point on E in 15 minutes (and yes, I've done this). "Golf cart" not worth the trouble unless the passsenger has some sort of physical impairment.

My last experience with ATL international arrival was a couple of days ago, picking up a passenger arriving from London on a UK passport. Total wait time (immigration, customs, TSA) was 30 minutes (I asked him to time it for me).
Therese is offline  
Feb 28th, 2010, 09:45 AM
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I timed my last one too, because we landed late and he had 50 minutes to get my mother to her TYS flight. She made it, but she was the last boarder on the flight to Knoxville. I however, took longer. My luggage had been tagged with Delta's Priority tag which meant it was the LAST off the plane (a continuing theme)

It is however, much faster if you have a non US passport. The lines are shorter! I have watched them fly ahead.

If checking luggage,,, we have very poor luggage handling here!
CarolA is offline  
Mar 1st, 2010, 05:10 AM
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I've always connected in Atlanta so wonder: Do passengers leaving the airport have to go through TSA screening? I have not in other airports.
Luisah is offline  

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