Connecting Flights in Europe

Oct 24th, 2000, 05:08 AM
  #1  
MHS
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Connecting Flights in Europe

Looking at air for next summer, realized that Copenhagen is not a direct flight from JFK. What happens at that mid-flight stop? -- Amsterdam, Brussels, London are some of the choices. Do we need to collect our luggage and go through passport control & customs? Or are the bags shipped through and we simply go to the next gate? How long is adequate time -- 1 hour, 2 hours? Would love time for a good cup of coffee --

Any hints, suggestions?
Thanks
 
Oct 24th, 2000, 05:26 AM
  #2  
Paige
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I recommend allowing at least 2 hours for the connection and more if you're changing airlines.
By the way, it looks like you can go direct from Newark on United or Scandinavian. Oh wait, I think those are code shared flights so they're really Scandinavian but you can get mileage on United.
The last time I connected in Europe (Dallas-Frankfurt-Munich) our bags were checked all the way through. But we did have to go through passport control in FRA. It could be different in other cities with other airlines, etc.
 
Oct 24th, 2000, 07:11 AM
  #3  
Bob Brown
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Mid flight stops in Europe are not usually a problem in terms of customs or immigration/passport control.
In 1998, we flew to Zürich via Amsterdam, Schipohl Airport.
We did not pass through customs control in Amsterdam. (As I recall.) If there was a passport check, it was so minimal that I don't remember it.
As for how much connecting time to allow, early morning flights are not as much of a problem as afternoon flights in terms of being late. For example, the flight from Vienna to Paris, Charles de Gaulle Airport, that leaves Vienna at 10 AM is usually on time. Our flight to Zürich from Amsterdawm was also on time (relatively speaking -- anything within 30 minutes of the published landing time is "on time" in my estimation)

On the flights we took, luggage was checked through to the destination.
When we flew back from Vienna this summer, I did not see our checked luggage again until we went through the customs gate in Atlanta.

Most of the time, customs checking in Europe is relatively routine, unless the officials are looking for something specific. In Paris this September, the customs officer at Charles De Gaulle airport was sitting in the office with a bored look on his face. No one was being checked.
In Switzerland, the official at the checkpoint was waving people through with both hands.

On the return flight, if your flight is leaving in the afternoon and you still have some choice about scheduling the return flights, my recommendation is to leave the originating airport in the morning and allow about 2 hours of connecting time.

We had a bad experience last year coming home from Zürich. Our flight was scheduled to leave about 1 PM for CDG and our connecting flight to Atlanta was scheduled to leave CDG about 4 PM.
On paper we had 90 minutes of connect time. Well, the flight from Zürich was late departing, so we arrived at CDG with 30 minutes to make the flight home. Being ignorant of the layout at CDG, we went to the shuttle bus stop as directed. Big mistake because the bus takes the scenic tour.
There was no effort at all by Air France personnel to help us beyond pointing us to the shuttle bus. The bus took forever to get to the stop and then it roamed all over CDG before arriving at Hall C. (Hall C is the area from which most Air France flights to the US depart.)
We made the flight but only because it was late leaving.
Had I known then what I know now about the layout of T2, halls A, B, C, and D, we could have walked from to Building C in half the time.

For those of you unfamiliar with CDG, T2 has 4 separate halls, designated A, B, C, and D. They are arranged in a figure 8, with connecting corridors in the center of the 8. However, to get from B to C you must go down the stairs and make your way through a shopping "tunnel". The descent to the connecting tunnel is not obvious at first glance, but it is easy to find once you know where to look. We would have saved ourselves some anguish had I "scouted" the place shortly after arrival the first time.
 
Oct 24th, 2000, 07:45 AM
  #4  
Ed
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SAS certainly flies non-stop to CPH from the NYC area, whether JFK or EWR.

As to connecting in Europe, you'll always find a 'transit lounge'. Neither you nor your bags will need 'processed'.

Airlines and airports have extensive tables on allowable connecting times which vary by airport, time of day, whether international, domestic, or internal flight, and between which airline and which airline. I doubt that anyone on this forum can give you the answer on this one, particularly without knowing airlines and time of day. Suggest you rely on the airline/travel agent to know what they're doing, and avoid personally making separate arrangements for multiple flights yourself.

And by the way, making separate reservations for connecting flights is likely to cause diffiuclties, such as inability to check bags through to final destination.

Ed
 
Oct 24th, 2000, 12:18 PM
  #5  
Sjoerd
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I believe SAS fly from JFK or EWR to Copenhagen direct.
Denmark will join the Schengen zone soon (I don't know the exact date), which means that you will have to go through immigration/passport control in the first Schengen country that you arrive in. Customs will be in Copenhagen.
 
Oct 24th, 2000, 12:27 PM
  #6  
Sjoerd
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Just found that Denmark (+ Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland) will join Schengen on March 25, 2001.
 
Oct 24th, 2000, 09:19 PM
  #7  
elvira
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At Gatwick (and imagine Heathrow's the same) you go to a transit lounge with no passport control, and your bags go through to the final destination.

We made our choice on our flight to Venice to NOT check our bags through, and instead to pick them up at Gatwick and re-check. We were going to be in Venice just overnight before we left on our boat, and didn't want to find in Venice we had no luggage - then it would be a nightmare to trace it: did it get lost between home airport and Gatwick, or Gatwick to Venice? By re-checking it at Gatwick, we knew if it were lost, it would be on the leg to Venice.

On the way back, everyone checked their bags straight through, didn't have to go through customs or passport control in Gatwick, and the bags went straight through to our home airport(s).
 
Oct 25th, 2000, 12:51 PM
  #8  
Lesley
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Just a warning about Amsterdam. Schipol airport has had a lot of bad press recently - it keeps losing baggage (especially baggage belonging to people using it as a hub).
 

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