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Beware if you are coming back into the US + have to connect through Philadelphia

Beware if you are coming back into the US + have to connect through Philadelphia

Old Jun 25th, 2004, 08:36 AM
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Beware if you are coming back into the US + have to connect through Philadelphia

We just got back from France and had to make a connection through Philadelphia. We have flown to Europe a number of times, and I have never ever seen such a scene of mass confusion as there was having to go through Philadelphis. It was mass chaos! Several planes from Europe arrive at nearly the same time. Then all passengers (after going through customs and immigration and rechecking their baggage) are shunted through 2 security checkpoints. There is no queing up, no information available on connecting flights, no organizational technique at all, and masses of hot and tired and crabby people who are all aware that the time is ticking away and that they are likely to miss their flights. I'd say at least half of those with connecting flights missed their connections because they were stuck in the crowd waiting to get back through security. It took us over an hour and a half to get through the whole process (and we'd been seated near the front of the plane and breezed right through customs & immigration). We ran (literally) through 2 terminals to get to get to our next flight. We were lucky that the flight was still sitting at the gate delayed 1/2 hour after supposed departure time and that they made an exception and re-opened the jetway for several of us who had been jammed up. All in all, it was the worst system I have ever seen in any airport. And, oh yes, of course our baggage had to be delivered to our home the next day because it hadn't made the connecting flight.
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Old Jun 25th, 2004, 08:47 AM
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I did that in April. NEVER again! You're right - it's total chaos. I missed my connecting flight and ended up sitting in the airport for 5 hours - and NO one had any information on what flight I might be able to take out until about 30 minutes before I boarded.
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Old Jun 25th, 2004, 09:54 AM
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Somewhat the same experience returning from Mexico. Luggage took almost an hour to arrive and finding our way around was very confusing. I remember the whole airport as a jumble of poorly marked open space.
I thought maybe I was just bumming from coming back to reality but maybe it was as bad as I remember?!
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Old Jun 25th, 2004, 10:08 AM
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Leaving for Europe out of Philly is not too bad, but returning to connect is a nightmare. Will NOT do it, which means avoiding US Air to fly to Europe since they connect there. I thought there was a new international terminal but guess things are no better. I have vivid memories of the chaos and being told different things about where to go and having to go through security - very badly signed - or not signed at all. I was so upset and exhausted I behaved very badly, for which I was immediately sorry. AVOID PHILLY IF AT ALL POSSIBLE!!
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Old Jun 25th, 2004, 10:33 AM
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I've never flown international through Philadelphia, but it has been so unfriendly, off-putting and chaotic on domestic flights, that I now use BWI when going to that part of the world. The situation was summed up by a Philadelphia native with the words -- As a place to live, visit or pass thorough, Philadelphia peaked out in 1776, and it has been down hill since then.
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Old Jun 25th, 2004, 10:38 AM
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Darlings, you should have phoned me!! I could have driven to the airport (just 20 mins. from my lovely Victorian home) and we could have had cocktails!!!! Actually, I don't think our airport in Philly is that bad! What you have described, Julies, has happened to me at Narita, O'Hare, and Hartsfield. This is what happens when too many planes unload at once. Life is certainly tough here in Philly, though.

Once I missed my connection because an Indian woman's bedding got caught in the luggage conveyor belt. It took 8 technicians one hour to get the belt moving again. C'est la vie!!

My big problem with Philly Airport is that we have terrible fog problems. I can't tell you how many times I have been sitting on a plane, ready for take-off, only to have to return to the gate because of FOG!

Thankfully, I always carry a flask of gin with me for such inconveniencies.

Cheers.
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Old Jun 25th, 2004, 06:06 PM
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When returning from Europe and connecting through PHL you need to do this:

Go outside the terminal building, walk about 1/4 mile and re-enter the main terminal as though you were not connecting but just starting out. Much much quicker than using the international security facility.

Larry J
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Old Jun 25th, 2004, 06:21 PM
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John, isn't it amazing , the medicinal qualities of gin
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Old Jun 25th, 2004, 06:28 PM
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And I was JUST wondering whether I should start looking for flights from Philadelphia instead of Newark. Guess not.

I flew from and to Phila. just once, for short domestic flights, and it was fine and not memorable. I prefer Newark because there are various ways to get there that do not involve MY having to drive, but to Phila the only choices are driving myself (not far, but I just don't like to) or using an expensive door-to-door airport car service.
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Old Jun 25th, 2004, 06:29 PM
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Only if it's three fingers!! Right John?
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Old Jun 25th, 2004, 07:43 PM
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As CMT said, I was also going to start looking for flights out of Philly, because some of the ones to Rome are cheaper than out of Newark. I don't need to connect to anywhere else coming home, but if there is major fog causing delays in Philly, as someone else mentioned, outgoing overseas planes might be delayed, causing possible problems with connecting once in Europe.
So, I'll stick with good old Newark. Plus, I would miss it if I didn't come back through there, after being away. It's kind of like a tradition - my dad picks me up, and we drive down the scummy part of Rte 1, and head back home... ahh
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Old Jun 25th, 2004, 07:52 PM
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Wow, did this thread ever bring back bad memories of Philadelphia Int'l - the confusion, the understaffed customs desks, running for a plane (and tearing the meniscus in my left knee in the process, necessitating surgery when I got home) and the lost luggage to boot (twice as a matter of fact - once on the way home, and once on the way over). No more Philadelphia for us on international flights. In September we're going to Rome by flying non-stop to London from Pittsburgh, connecting via Alitalia to Rome. Have to get the shuttle from Gatwick to Heathrow but it will be worth it to avoid Customs in Philly and we've built in plenty of time for connections.
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Old Jun 25th, 2004, 08:53 PM
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hey, I don't think it would be as bad if you are leaving directly from or returning directly to...but having flown through Philly twice in the last three years the lines and nonsense they put you through if you have to get to a connecting flight within the States is horrendous. It was heaven flying directly from BWI to London this year. ewwww. I just got chills thinking about how much I hated coming home through Philly. ewwww. I'm going to pour myself a glass of port and go to bed now.
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Old Jun 26th, 2004, 01:12 AM
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I posted a nearly identical message a while back. The way Philadelphia handles incoming international flights is a disgrace...this kind of chaos occurs on a near daily basis with planes landing on schedule! Even with a 2 hour window, I missed my connecting flight to Florida. Someone in Philly should take this thread and email it to the travel editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer...the problem has been going on for years and it's well past time for Philadelphia to take steps to resolve it.
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Old Jun 26th, 2004, 03:41 AM
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The situation is very similar in Houston (IAH) for the late afternoon international arrivals, but it has improved a bit in the last year or so.
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Old Jun 26th, 2004, 05:09 AM
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Don't try Atlanta thinking it will be better. It took so long getting through customs that we missed our connecting flight. The lines were really long and it was pure chaos and very confusing trying to find exactly which line to get in.
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Old Jun 26th, 2004, 05:24 AM
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We usually go in/out of Newark for Int'l flights and haven't had too much trouble getting thru immigration/customs, depending upon the number of flights landing at the same time. I have always considered Phila as an alternative, but now I think I will cross it off my to-do list.

I have used Phila for domestic flights and have had no problems. In fact, I think it is very passenger friendly.
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Old Jun 26th, 2004, 05:38 AM
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We try to fly direct non stop at all costs.First choice Phila., then Newark, last resort JFK.Depending upon how much additional driving time reqd. to use a different airport sometimes you bite the bullet. We have used dozens of airports worldwide and found Phila to be better than most.
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Old Jun 26th, 2004, 06:19 AM
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Just want to remind everybody to read LarryJ's reply up in this thread.

Get out of the terminal and walk outside back to the regular domestic check-in area. That would bypass the international connecting security that everybody's talking about here.
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Old Jun 26th, 2004, 06:34 AM
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We live in Philly and fly out of here on a fairly regular basis (both foreign and domestic) and I don't remember having too many fog problems. Are you sure you're not in a gin-induced haze and have us mixed up with San Francisco? As a final destination PHL is not too bad, though a couple of weeks ago returning from Europe I did notice the lousy signage in the Int'l terminal. I was grateful that I didn't have to stand in the horrendous line of the connecting flight victims. The suggestion to leave the terminal is brilliant. We just walked out the door to a taxi and the others could easily have walked out onto the sidewalk as well (so much for security, though if you've already been through customs you're probably all right).
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