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Madrid airport - how long a layover do we need?

Madrid airport - how long a layover do we need?

Old Nov 26th, 2012, 04:40 PM
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Madrid airport - how long a layover do we need?

We are flying from Chicago to Madrid and then changing flights to catch a plane to Alicante. I haven't been in the Madrid airport. Would 1 hour 20 minutes be a long enough layover to catch our 2nd flight or should we take a flight with a longer layover?
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Old Nov 26th, 2012, 04:43 PM
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If you are booking this as a single ticket I would go ahead and take it, but make sure there is a later flight that day for you to take in case you are delayed. If both segments are booked as one ticket and you are delayed they must re-book you at no extra cost. I would do this as long as they have another flight you could take later in case of a delay.

If you are booking this as 2 separate tickets then allow more time.
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Old Nov 26th, 2012, 08:04 PM
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If you have to change to terminal 4, I would give it a bit more time....
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Old Nov 27th, 2012, 05:08 AM
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The critical issue is whether you have to change terminals. The giant and fairly new Terminal Four is a long shuttle ride from the older trio of terminal buildings. If you have to collect luggage and check back in for the second flight, your time could be very tight indeed.
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Old Nov 27th, 2012, 08:29 AM
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If you've booked the flights with two different airlines (two different tickets), and need to check in to pick up your boarding pass, then 1 hr 20 min isn't nearly enough time to make the connection, even if the flights are in the same terminal.

It would still be a tight connection flying on one ticket since you have to clear passport control and security before you can make your connecting flight. They typically close the gate 20 minutes before departure.
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Old Nov 28th, 2012, 02:15 PM
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This is great info. Thank you. We'll have one ticket with American but they may partner with Iberia. I'll look into which terminal they use. We'll have our two kids with us so maybe more time is wise.
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Old Nov 28th, 2012, 03:42 PM
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American does partner with Iberia so you will be in the same terminal - most likely #4.

It is a beautiful, efficient, easily navigable airport. You will have no issues connecting.
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Old Nov 28th, 2012, 03:48 PM
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I had the same concerns in September when we flew AA/Iberia from LAX to MXP through Madrid. We had about the same time, but we arrived and departed Madrid in T4, and had plenty of time. Our flight from LA arrived early and that helped, but navigating Barajas Airport was easier than I thought it would be. We also made sure that there were later flights, just in case.
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Old Nov 28th, 2012, 03:50 PM
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It looks like we arrive in terminal 4 and depart from terminal 4S. Any thoughts on that?
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Old Nov 28th, 2012, 03:54 PM
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Whoops. I have that backwards. Our flight from Chicago arrives in terminal 4S and our next flight to Alicante departs from terminal 4.
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Old Nov 28th, 2012, 04:00 PM
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We departed on AA from Madrid T4 in October. There is a lot of walking involved - but easy to navigate. It is a huge terminal - and you will need to go through passport control. I always allow at least 2 1/4 hrs. 1 hr 20 mins would make me Very nervous and anxious - not a way to start a vacation.

Checking to see if there is a later flight if you miss yours MIGHT work, if that flight is not full. Otherwise you'll have to sleep in the airport or find a hotel in an utterly charmless area of Madrid, if you want to stay close to the airport.

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 28th, 2012, 04:31 PM
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It seems pretty clear that this is a single ticket connecting flight booked on partner airlines. The airlines book this connection because they can make it. If the connection is missed the OP will be put on the next available flight.

There is no need to entertain thoughts of being stranded and having to stay overnight near the airport because one has selected a poor connection.

4S is a satellite terminal (almost as big) connected by a rail ride of about 5 minutes - think of it as Terminal 4A and 4B
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Old Nov 28th, 2012, 05:23 PM
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Aramis - what happens if the "next flight" is fully booked??? That happened to us once & we spent about 10 hrs at CDG waiting past 4 flights until there was one which had seats available. Our bags went elsewhere, and our traveling companions took another flight from Orly.

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 28th, 2012, 05:38 PM
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Barajas is a huge airport. But I agree with Aramis: in all likelihood you should be able to clear passport control, customs and security, and make your connection. If not, e.g., if AA arrives late, you can take the next available flight.

Even if you must stay overnight, do not despair! Once I purposely selected a flight from Rome with a 23-hr layover in Madrid. We stayed at the Best Western Hotel Villa De Barajas, in the "charmless area of Madrid" right next to the airport. Riding the Metro from there to Puerta del Sol in the center city we took in a few sights, had a great meal, mingled, and enjoyed some nightlife before flying back to Boston the next morning. It made for a very memorable evening on the town.
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Old Nov 28th, 2012, 05:59 PM
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>> if AA arrives late, you can take the next available flight.<<

Yep - that's what happened to us. Instead of arriving in Nice before noon, we got there around 10:30PM and to our hotel at 11:45 or so - after sitting on an airport office filling our paperwork so the AF could locate our bags - which went to Zurich. Good thing my wife speaks French. Next morning we spent the entire day trying to "hook up" with our bags - which did not get delivered to us per our instructions. A real mess.

OP - if the next flight leaves within 4 hours of your landing time - I would re-book it ASAP. 1 hr 20 mins is not enough time on flights from Chicago (isn't that the busiest airport in the US???? - lots of opportunities for delays).

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 28th, 2012, 06:39 PM
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Stu - you are describing a personal experience that involved a delay of more than 10 hours. It wold not have been possible for you to book a connecting flight to accommodate that kind of event. There is almost no chance of making any connecting flight after 10:30 p.m, so a 10 hour delay pooches you.

The 4 hour advice you are giving wouldn't even have helped you - you still would have missed a 4 hour connection by 6 hours. Giving advice based a single personal experience involving a massive delay that could never have been accommodated without having planned to book a connection the following day makes little sense.
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Old Nov 28th, 2012, 09:37 PM
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No, no, no.

Our flight on AF from SFO to CDG was about 2 hours late because there were unusual heavy thunderstorms in San Francisco the day before our scheduled flight, and everything that day was cancelled. That meant "double" the people the next day & long lines at SFO. Then someone on the plane couldn't find their passport - so they were let off the plane to try to find it - but couldn't. Their luggage had to be unloaded. This was in 1999. That's how we landed at CDG 2 hours late. The re-booking desks at CDG were overwhelmed with people trying to find other "alternatives" to their final destination. If our connection had been 3 hrs after arrival - we might have made it. Unfortunately, our Nice flight was booked for 2 hrs after arrival, and we missed it. We were on the "waiting list" for 6 hrs, but since this was mid June - every flight from CDG to Nice was full - until about 10:00PM. Our bags went to Zurich, our traveling companions took a bus to Orly for their re-booked flight.

We vacation in Europe about 2-3 times every year. We have had other delays that caused us to miss connections - but were able to take later flights. However, about 5 years ago our SFO to Dallas to CDG flight was cancelled because of a thunderstorm in Dallas. The next available flight to Dallas was 24 hrs later - so we had to re-schedule the TGV from CDG to Bordeaux, and also hotel, restaurant, and gite reservations.

I would never book a connection with only a 1 hr 20 min layover.

Stu Dudley
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Old Dec 1st, 2012, 01:46 PM
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Thanks for all of the advice. We decided not to risk it and booked the flight that had a 4 hour layover. Getting out of Chicago ontime in February can always be risky and I decided to minimize the chance of running into problems since our children are with us. The kids will probably enjoy checking out the airport.
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