First Int'l flight...how bad is O'Hare?

Jul 11th, 2006, 12:01 PM
  #1  
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First Int'l flight...how bad is O'Hare?

My soon to be wife and I will be visiting Paris for our honeymoon in August 2006. Neither one of us has flown internationally before. We were able to find a nice deal using the web and flying out of Chicago. It was cheaper (by $600.00) for us to purchase separate tickets for our flight from Detroit Metro to Chicago rather making it an all inclusive trip. Of course this will require us to claim and re-check our bags but I will gladly do it to save $600.00. My question is how bad is O'Hare Airport when it comes to international travel, particularly on American (since it is a major hub). We will try to arrive at O'Hare with plenty of time to eat and re-check in. Since this is our first international flight and the only one of the day for Paris on American we don't want to miss our plane because of long lines. Any information will help. Thanks.
subzero1906 is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 12:23 PM
  #2  
 
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The first obvious tip I could give you is to pack light enough so that you don't have to check bags. That eliminates a lot of headaches right there. Second, I'd get to the Detroit airport early enough that you can check in for your own flight, as well as get to the American counter and get your boarding cards for your Chicago-Paris flight so you don't have to mess with that at O'Hare, or check in online and print your boarding passes. If you do these two things the only issue you'd have at O'Hare is maybe switching terminals and going back through security, which isn't a big deal.

Honestly, flying two different airlines would make me much more nervous than flying through O'Hare.
MerryTravel is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 12:29 PM
  #3  
GoTravel
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You'll need to check in (notice I did not say be at the airport) two hours before your flight time. August is peak season for Europe travel from the US.

I would seriously consider flying in the day before and making a mini Chicago trip.

Agree with MerryTravel that if you can avoid checking luggage, do so. It makes international travel so much more pleasant.

What time is your flight out of Chicago? What is your city of origination? Can you take the train? It is really romantic!

Congrats!
 
Jul 11th, 2006, 12:35 PM
  #4  
J62
 
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You don't say whether the Detroit to Chicago is on AA or not. If it is, you WILL be able to checkin straight from Detroit through to Paris, including your checked bags. If it is not on AA, you should still be able to check your bags all the way through. All major airlines (not discounters) have inter airline bag agreements.

You will NOT be able to checkin online AA for an itnernational flight. This must be done in person.

Checking in for an international flight is really no different than a domestic flight - you are just required to show your passport at checkin, but after that you'll not notice any difference at O'Hare.
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Jul 11th, 2006, 01:11 PM
  #5  
 
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As the previous posters said, there isn't much difference in domestic and international check-in except for passports.

If you're flying NW to Chicago, you'll arrive in Terminal 2, Coucourse E. From there, it's a short walk to Terminal 3 where you'll leave. If you don't check luggage, or can check it through to CDG in Detroit, you'll be able to walk between the terminals without exiting security and being rescreened.

If you fly through ORD on your return, you'll arrive at Terminal 5 to go through Immigration and Customs screening. You'll have to claim your luggage to clear Customs regardless of what airline you're connecting to, but you can recheck it at the counter immediately outside the screening area.

NW doesn't have a counter in T5 but you may be able to check them at the KLM desk. From there, head upstairs and take the tram back to the domestic terminals.

When I've arrived at T5, it's taken about an hour from the time the flight landed until I received luggage and finished screening. Make sure you've left enough time on your return for your connection as well and enjoy your trip.
Citylghts is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 01:35 PM
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I would not count on being able to check bags all the way through. Instead, you will be much better off to assume you will have to collect your bags in O'Hare, take them with you to the International Terminal and check them again. If you can, get a paper ticket for the international leg because then you may be able to check your bags at the curb and save yourself one line. (If not, sometimes the sky caps will cut in line for you so they don't have to wait. If they do this, give them at least $20 as a tip, it will be the best money you spend.)

Be prepared also to take a cab from one terminal to the other. O'Hare is a long airport and it can be quite a walk between terminals.

Finally, you'll have to do the whole thing in reverse on the way home, but the potential delay in clearing customs could make the terminal switching take even less time.

$600 is a lot of money, but your plan is fraught with the potential for stress and perhaps disaster.

You only have one honeymoon (hopefully). I'd spring for the extra $600 to help it be relaxing. Paris is great. You'll love it.
tburke99 is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 02:35 PM
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Just be aware that if this is two different airlines/tickets - as it sounds to be - YOU and not the airline are responsible if you are too late checking in for the international flight at O'Hare. You will be considered a no show and may well have to buy new full-fare tickets for whatever plane you can manage to get on.

I know from experience how thunderstorms can occur in that area in August - and we have had people lose an entire day of a meeting since flights into O'Hare were so backed up.

Agree that getting to Chicago the day before is a good idea. If you must arrive that day check the on-time record of your incoming flight and be sure to give yourself tons of time (at least 5 hours) to allow for weather delays/other problems on the incoming flight - as well as transporting to another terminal, check in, international security etc,
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 03:46 PM
  #8  
GoTravel
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Here's another thought.

You are going to be exhausted after your wedding. Why not fly in the day before and check into a lux Chicago airport hotel? Get massages, catch up on your sleep, reflect on your fabulous wedding, get a good night's sleep, sleep in and be totally refreshed for your trip to Paris?
 
Jul 11th, 2006, 03:55 PM
  #9  
 
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I am a flight attendant for american and can tell you it is a breeze in Chicago. When you fly international on American at O'Hare you do not have to go to the international terminal. After you check in you proceed to to the regular terminal like normal. It is just when you come back you will arrive at the International terminal and go through customs - but you will do that in any city. I think 2 hours prior is plenty of time. P.S. - the burritos at Burrito Beach are pretty good airport fare!
have fun!
juliecavs is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 03:57 PM
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I would not be comfortable with your plan.

Personally I would pay $300 more (per person I assume) to be ticketed on one airline and one ticket. So your bags are checked thru and the airline is responsible for your successful connection.

As others have pointed out, if you miss the second flight *for whatever reason* you're plain out of luck, the airline owes you nothing.

There's nothing special about international flights besides showing your passport... other than you really DO want to be on the plane (especially since you say it is the only one of the day for Paris on your airline).
suze is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 03:59 PM
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flight attendant julie was posting same time i was, thankfully her information is more optimistic and real life experience with O'hare.
suze is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 04:03 PM
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I am going to second what others have already said: fly in the day before. By purchasing two separate tickets, you have alleviated AA of any responsibility at all in the event that you are late arriving at ORD and miss your connection. AA will have no way of knowing that you are coming in on another flight. Additionally, the carrier that you are flying from DTW-ORD (NW, perhaps?) will claim no responsibility, since as far as they are concerned, ORD will be your final destination. If you had purchased one ticket for DTW-ORD-CDG, then they'd have to get you on another flight. That's not the case here.
LPCJr is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 04:55 PM
  #13  
J62
 
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I'm going to disagree with some of the others about flying in a day ahead.

1. subzero has already purchased tickets, and saved $600. Changing flights today will throw away most or all of those savings.

2. the paris flights leaves at 5pm. I don't know about others, but when I'm headed overseas I want to get on my way and go. Flying to ORd the day before means finding a way to kill an entire day at or near O'Hare airport.

3. I don't agree with the a priori statement about needing to claim bags and recheck. It may be true, but I'm willing to bet $1 no baggage claim in ORD is required. Call AA and check on interline agreements.

4. We don't know the airline from DTW to ORD. If AA, then separate tickets is a moot point. AA will combine them at checkin.

5. We also don't know the current DTW to ORD time. It would be good if we heard more details from subzero.
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Jul 12th, 2006, 11:58 AM
  #14  
 
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I don't think any of us can really answer (although I tried) since (unless I missed something) we don't know how long the lay-over at O'Hare is. If it's 3 hours or more, I don't see a problem.
suze is offline  
Jul 12th, 2006, 01:27 PM
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Yes, Subzero, please clarify if you are arriving as well as departing on American. If so, it is as everyone has said, a moot point because you can check in for both flights in Detroit.

Also, please be clear: American's international flights depart from their regular domestic terminal, which at O'Hare is Terminal 3. Only on return will you be coming through the international terminal (Terminal 5), going through customs, and then re-claiming and (if necessary) re-checking your bags.
marilynl is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 06:04 AM
  #16  
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We will actually be flying American for both legs of the trip. I checked the terminals and the flight from Detroit arrives at terminal 3 and the flight from Paris departs from terminal 3!
subzero1906 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 06:05 AM
  #17  
GoTravel
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There ya go. You can check your bags all the way through to Paris.
 
Jul 14th, 2006, 06:42 AM
  #18  
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...I just checked and it looks like there are multiple flight options the morning of that will get us into O'Hare at 7:40, 10:30, and 12:27pm...the flight to Paris leaves at 5:00pm from the same terminal.....coming back we are looking at a 9:45pm flight back to Michigan since you need to give yourself 2 hrs to get through customs..with the flight coming in from CDG arriving around 5:20ish I felt booking a flight back to Det in the 6:00 hour was foolish.....in reality we did the same thing that American Airlines would have done for us except we saved money by doing it ourselves...i looked at our package ( ticketed from Detroit-OHARE-CDG) and the flights all arrive at OHare in the morning.
subzero1906 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 07:10 AM
  #19  
J62
 
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There is no need to take any Detroit - O'Hare flight earlier than the one that arrives at 12:27. You will be sitting in in O'Hare for ~4hrs even with that flight.

As stated above, the boarding the Paris flight is no different than boarding any domestic US flight. You will show your passport at Detroit, but that's about it.
J62 is online now  
Jul 14th, 2006, 08:00 AM
  #20  
 
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Ditto GoTravel's advice. When you check in at the Detroit airport just give them the flight details for both flights and they will certainly check your bags through to Paris.

Now as for the trip - Paris in August will be very hot, very muggy, and very crowded with tourists. For your first trip there I would recommend a nice central hotel convenient to the major sights. Save the fancier restaurants for lunch to save money and (hopefully) cool off in their AC and then spend your late afternoons and evenings strolling and relaxing in public parks like the Tulieries or the Jardin du Luxembourg. Pick up some bread, cheese, wine, and fruit and enjoy some romantic picnics on your honeymoon.
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