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Celia Jan 21st, 2004 04:39 PM

short connection
I'm looking at flying from Indianapolis to Johannesburg, going through JFK. The flight from Indy arrives at JFK at 4:42 pm, and the one to Jo'burg leaves at 5:55 pm. A travel agent told me this is too short a connection, and he'd have to route me through Atlanta instead of JFK. But when I try to book it on the airline's web site, it looks ok.

So is this really too short a connection, or is it legal but just not wise, or what. Anybody know?


Flyboy Jan 21st, 2004 07:13 PM

If it is all on the same carrier and your baggage is checked through to your final destination, then you should be able to make it. The potential problem is that there isn't much of a margin if you run should into a delay. International flights begin boarding earlier than domestic flights and they frequently want people in their seats 30 minutes prior to departure. I've often booked similar connections to Europe without incident, but I think you would be wise to call the airline and ask directly so that you're sure of the situation before you pull the trigger online.

Celia Jan 22nd, 2004 05:57 AM

Thanks, Flyboy.

It's on Delta and South African Airways, and since they're partners, theoretically it should work as if it's the same airline. But I'm a sceptic, and I think it's entirely likely that either ourselves or our luggage would not make the flight.

I'm thinking it might be better to fly into JFK the day before, and enjoy New York for a day before leaving for Africa.

clevelandbrown Jan 22nd, 2004 08:04 AM

Since you would already have passed through security, you don't have to worry about that delay. Since you say it is all on the equivalent of the same airline, I would think they would accomodate you and make every effort to perfect your connection. Also, your first flight is relatively short, so I would think its chances of being on time, or even early, are better than for a longer flight. We have had similar connections at Newark without problems. I always check closely when transiting NY, as it is not uncommon for an airline to deliver you to one airport and expect you to make a connection at another.

WillTravel Jan 25th, 2004 09:37 PM

I guess what you need to consider is what happens if the worst case scenario happens and you miss the connection. I'm assuming there are no flights to J'burg until the next day, and if that flight was full, who knows? I'd prefer the security of more time for the connection. Your plan of going the day before is exactly what an overcautious person like me would do too :).

sandi Jan 26th, 2004 03:43 AM

Hi Celia -

That is a short connection time. For what time of the year is this trip scheduled? You certainly don't want to take the change in winter months.

Did you check that both flights arrive and depart the same terminal at JFK. I know for Int'l flights Delta and SAA share terminals, but Delta "might" have a separate terminal for domestic flights!

What issue is there departing out of ATL if the connection is better? And what do you mean by "on the airline's website it looks ok?" - longer connection time? Why not speak to the airline directly instead of depending on the website. Isn't there an earlier flight from Indianapolis?

If you can't get answers that assure you, I would go with your second thought and arrive in JFK a day earlier, but you'd still only have a half-day to enjoy New York. And in that instance you'd have to decide whether you want to stay at an airport or in-city hotel.

wpcx2 Jan 26th, 2004 07:52 AM

Having lived and travelled overseas for most of my life (50+years as it turns out!), this is one aspect of travel I understand but many do not. Every airport has its own legal connection times depending on many factors - which airline(s) involved, domestic to international, international to domestic, you get my drift. I would call the airline directly and ask for their international desk and get it straight from them. However, I imagine your travel agent is correct. Personally, I avoid the northeast airports - have you tried to do this via Houston? Miami is a torture chamber and Atlanta, while efficient leaving the USA, is a hassle for returning passengers (go through security after clearing customs prior to boarding train to connecting terminal). Can you get to Amsterdam and use KLM to go to JBurg? That'd be my choice......Happy contrails...

Celia Jan 26th, 2004 08:44 AM

Thanks, everyone, for these helpful replies.

What I mean about the web site saying it's ok is that the Delta web site would appear to let me book the flight. (I went as far in the process as you can without giving credit card information, so I assume it was really going to book me.)

I don't want to go through Europe, because I just can't take a night on a plane, a whole day layover, and then another night on a plane, without feeling absolutely miserable. I've done it, back before SAA could land in the US, and I did it last year because of a good ticket price, but I really hate it.

My plan was to go out through New York and back through Atlanta, because if you leave from JFK, you arrive in Johannesburg in the late afternoon. If you leave through ATL, you arrive first thing in the morning. I'd prefer to arrive late, have dinner and go to bed early -- it seems better to me than trying to stay awake all day when I'm so jet lagged. In either case, I'll go the day before -- if JFK, because of the short layover; if ATL, because I'd have to get up in the middle of the night to get from IND to ATL in time to catch the SAA flight.

Then I planned to come back through Atlanta because there are good connections from there to Indianapolis, whereas there's only one from JFK, and the layover is about 8 or 9 hours.

The Atlanta flight leaves at 10:30 am, and arrives at 7:50 am. The JFK flight leaves at 5:55 pm, and arrives at 2:50 pm. Anyone have thoughts on the pros and cons of each of these times?

NoFlyZone Jan 26th, 2004 08:57 AM

Many times an airline's reservations computer will schedule connecting flights which violate the Minimum Connecting Times established for the airport, and specific carriers involved.

In this case, your travel agent is correct as a full 2 hours are specified for DL domestic to SA international connections. So your connection is not l"legal".

I don't know what entity establisheds the minimums, but apparently Delta's computer is not aware of it. And, of course, should you book it on their site they will tell you they are not responsible if there's a problem...

sandi Jan 26th, 2004 12:52 PM

Celia -

I've done both the arrive in morning and/or evening. While I'm ok if arriving in Europe in the morning, managing to get out into daylight and stay up as close to dark before laying my head on a pillow.

That said, when we did this on flight to SYD, we were fine till about 5:30pm on day of arrival and then hit the bed. Of course, we were up at 3am, but did manage to get back to sleep till about 7:30am and no jet lag after that.

On our flight to BKK arrived 11pm, so we went right to bed and were fine the next morning. Thereafter, it was the heat and humidity that kicked our butts, but not jet lag.

So I agree with your rationale, that especially on the long flight to SA, would prefer and we did do the flight from JFK arriving JNB about 5:15pm (we unfortunately got caught up in the post-9/11 when they changed out non-stop to the one-stop in Cape Verde) then the layover to connect to flight to CPT arriving at hotel about 10pm. Showered to get rid of the "eau-de-Boeing" and to bed; we were just fine the next morning. As to jet lag, none until (are you ready) 7-days later when we were already in Botswana.

I'd rather be safe and arrive the day before - many people who do cruises, try to arrive at port of departure earlier, "just-in-case. And NY is fine to spend the extra time beforehand.

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