Flying through PHL Has it improved?

Apr 10th, 2006, 03:09 AM
  #1  
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Flying through PHL Has it improved?

I'll be flying on USAirways to and from Gatwick next week and have to change at PHL.

I've read so many horror stories about lines at security (when returning from overseas) rude Customs/Immigration officials, long waits for baggage, etc., that I'm becoming more concerned than I normally would be.

I'd really love to be able to travel with just a carry-on but it won't be possible this trip so I'm hoping for no luggage disasters.

Has anyone flown through PHL lately? Please tell me the bad and the good.
I'm not going to change the itinerary but I'd like to know what to expect.

Thanks very much.
Intrepid1 is offline  
Apr 10th, 2006, 03:25 AM
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Intrepid,

Last Sunday, my DD flew from Miami to PHL on AA...arrived twenty minutes early, but had to sit on the runway as there was no available gate....once finally inside, the wait for luggage was one and a half hours long...they were told there was no available ground crew to off load the baggage...so you see, horror stories continue....
Traviata is online now  
Apr 10th, 2006, 03:29 AM
  #3  
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Gee...I'm already thinking about the trip report...what fun!
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Apr 10th, 2006, 05:39 AM
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US Airways in Philly is a total disaster. The airport itself is horrendous, and for some reason the airline cannot get its act together there at all.
rick_c is offline  
Apr 10th, 2006, 05:56 AM
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I'm honestly beginning to seriously re-think the checked baggage notion.

Since, for once, I am flying First/Envoy I am looking carefully at USAirways' rules for carry-on baggage sizing and weight and thinking about how I can absolutely minimize the stuff I need to take along.

I may be able to "push" the "small backpack" description just a bit (when I see these people getting on planes with all their worldy goods it drives me nuts) in order to cancel out the probelms with waiting for luggage/mis-directed luggage, etc.

Nothing to be done about long lines at Customs/Immigration except be patient.

Thanks again for the input.
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Apr 10th, 2006, 06:01 AM
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You're always going to get polar responses to these type questions. I live in Philadelphia and so I use PHL all the time. I don't encounter any more problems at PHL than at any other large airport in the US or in Europe. I wouldn't get yourself in a panic. Stay calm, be friendly and you'll have a much better experience.
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Apr 10th, 2006, 06:13 AM
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I came through PHL returning from Rome in February. There is a new international wing since the last time I made a nightmare connection through there (in 2003) and it is much improved, though it was a longer distance to walk to the domestic gates.

My flight was late, so there were no other planes arriving at the same time (all international arrivals are scheduled for around 3 p.m.) and the trip through immigration and customs was very quick. The walk from the arrivals hall to the other terminals was long, but the security screening area was much improved over the old bottleneck arrangement and there was no line at all. That could be a result of my flight's late arrival, but the set-up seemed far better (more screening gates, better line management) than what I remember from 3 years ago.
It was only about 30-40 minutes from getting off the Rome flight to arriving at my next gate in Terminal C.

In short, PHL is not as bad as it used to be, and probably no worse than any other airport for luggage wait or rudeness of personnel (my only recent comparison is Dulles).
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Apr 10th, 2006, 07:20 AM
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I have only been through the US Airways terminal in PHL for a domestic flight recently.
It has been two years since I had to connect through there for Europe.
But I understand there is now a bus that will take you from the US Airways terminal area (around gate F10, I believe) to the International terminal for a connection.
This has to be an improvement over that long, long walk.
We will fly US Airways to Lisbon through PHL from PIt in October. What I would suggest to you if you can is this. Allow yourself more connect time than you think you will need. PHL is always congested with the air traffic around New York. Flights are sometimes late arriving.

You are right about the return. If I remember correctly, the nightmare was on the return connect with the luggage. Our luggage on the out going flight was checked through from PIT. On the return you had to pick up the luggage, haul it through customs and then recheck it for the last leg of the flight home. Plus we always had a long walk to the flight which should be eliminated with the bus.

Will you be able to take a later flight home or is that a concern?
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Apr 10th, 2006, 07:26 AM
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something I forgot to mention in my reply above -- the drop-off for checked-through bags, after you exit customs, is also improved over the situation I remember from 2003. Good signange, well placed conveyor belt, staff to help passengers heft heavy bags onto the belt.
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Apr 10th, 2006, 07:35 AM
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Thanks for the additional replies.

Kayd: I am not so concerned about being delayed on the return out of PHL to DCA as I know there are later flights I can get on but, of course, I would like to keep the possibilities of delay to a minimum.

I hope I'll actually have time to chil out in the USAirways Club/Envoy Lounge going in both directions but we'll see how things go.

I am very familiar with Dulles and have had few, if any, problems there. If it weren't for the fact of using FF miles for this trip I probably would have flown directly from Dulles but I'm determined to minimize risks on this trip.
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Apr 10th, 2006, 11:48 AM
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Let me tell you that I am concerned about missing my PHL- LIS flight.

My experience with PHL as a connect has not been good. And like you, once I am home, I don't care. It is getting there that has me wondering.

We are flying into PHL at 3:00 and the flight out to LIS does not leave until 8:30...the one we are on anyway.

I think the reservation person thought we were nuts, but we are using miles also and I just do not want to take a chance on the connect. They wanted us to go into PHL at 6:50 to fly out at 8;30 and there is not way I would do that.
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Apr 10th, 2006, 12:15 PM
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I came home this afternoon and measured the dimensions of the proposed carry-ons and they both are under the required max dimensions listed on the USAirways website. I'm a bit wary of the "small personal item" but since the dimensions for that are listed as 36" max I am going to go for it.

Of course, I realize that a lot of this depends on individual gate agentinterpretations at times but I've decided to be "adventurous."

I was hoping not to have to do any laundry on this one-week trip which is complicated by needing some clothes which will be appropriate for three theatre evenings as well as needing a pair of coveralls and "stouT footwear" for the scheduled steam locomotive driver's course I'll be taking. Having a size 12 foot doesn't help.

At least if I am forced to check the second item at the last minute I can be assured it is actually on the same plane and rest assured we will be the first people boarding so we can commandeer the overhead bin storage.

Stay tuned because I'll definitely be doing a trip report about which will certainly include this aspect of things.

Thanks again for all the replies.

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Apr 10th, 2006, 07:30 PM
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I connected in Philadelphia flying on USAirways from New York to Paris and back in February. I was a little nervous about it because of the reports here, but it went utterly smoothly. Our flight from LGA on the way out was slightly delayed, and I was a little nervous about it, as we had to get across the whole terminal to catch the flight to CDG, but it turned out that practically the whole plane from New York was on the way to that flight, and they clearly would have held the plane for us (within reason, I assume). We actually ended up leaving a little early, as once the group of us arrived, apparently everyone was there. On the way back, all was well organized. We were directed by multiple staff persons through customs and security and security seemed well staffed--there were no long lines. (This was a Monday afternoon, fwiw.) We did not check luggage on this trip, so I can't speak to that, but all in all I found the reports of chaos in PHL to be greatly exaggerated.
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Jul 10th, 2006, 11:13 AM
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topping
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Jul 10th, 2006, 11:16 AM
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If you check the 'ontime' times out of Philly they are never good. We fly in & out on business a lot (from CLT) & are always late coming home on Friday (to the point we've started scheduling earlier flights in hopes we'll be out by the later one).
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