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View Full Version : flying indirect - some advice for 1st timer please


buzz for boys
09-06-2009, 04:24 PM
Hi,
I have been messing at getting flight prices to see how much savings compare if you travel indirect and wasastonished to find that for our dates this year (but we go next!!) i could save 900 by stopping for 2 hours in chicago
Now we have 4 small kids one of whom has aspergers and i clap my hands at savings like that but then worry dreadfully if its absolutly stress nightmare.

So I have some questions for u -
1) if u travelling with same airline do you have to collect bags and put them back in again at the changeover ?? or is it done automatically for u??

2) what are the chances of missing the connecting flight ?? is it rare or common occurance??

3) We always use special assistnce with virgin who has always been fantastic with us will wwe have a similiar service on us airlines??

Any advice would be fab - if u were me would u try this with 4 kids or pay the extra and go direct ??/
Thanks Louise x

wayneg
09-06-2009, 04:42 PM
Over half of our trips have been indirect been doing it since DS was small but we only have 1 child so can't comment on more than that. For us it makes absolutely no difference to us if the flight is direct or indirect, last Oct I even drove to London(3-4 hours) then went indirect, cost 240 indirect from London, 800 direct from Manchester. Travelling is part of the holiday, even if we had to do 3 changes we would.

1, you have to collect you luggage going out and recheck(usually a few yards from collecting, very easy) coming home they go direct.

2, Never missed a connection, our friends did in July, only gave themselves 90 mins and it wasn't enough at Atlanta, put them on next flight about 90 mins later. We did the same route last month but I opted for the later connection on booking knowing how busy Atlanta gets. Give yourself 2 hours for connection, especially in the very busy hubs.

3, Cant help with special assistance, never used it.

Personally I would go indirect but I know many wouldn't.

karentan
09-06-2009, 04:46 PM
we're flying indirect with delta via atlanta on saturday. it was 400 cheaper than going direct. to get the cheapest flight we've got a 4 hour stopover.
you have to clear immigration and customs on your first point of entry into the states. that means you need to clear immigration in your stopover city. once you've gone through immigration, you'll need to collect your luggage, go through customs, then you can drop it back off again and go on your way. i've heard a lot of people on here say they get through all that and can have a 90 minute stopover and still be fine.
me and my pessimistic little self thought that knowing my luck something would go wrong, so i opted for the longer stopover. we plan to look round the shops in atlanta airport (its HUGE!!) then go for soem lunch and a few drinks in the TGI fridays in the airport. on the way back you dont have to go through customs so your luggage will be checked all the way through to the UK, you wont have to pick it up during the connection.
if you've got a connecting flight and have booked it as one flight (ie: gatwick to orlando, not gatwick to atlanta, then atlanta to orlando) i think the airline is obliged to put you on a later flight if you miss your connection. i'm sure someone will come along soon who can confirm this.
i'm not sure what special assistance is, but i'm sure someone else will come along who can help.

i weighed up all the options when booking and i just couldnt justify the extra cost to go direct this time.

karentan
09-06-2009, 04:48 PM
sorry to hijack, but wayne, who did you do the atlanta stopover with? we're flying indirect with delta on saturday and was wondering what to expect (never flown with them before, and never been through atlanta airport - i hear its a huge airport)

wayneg
09-06-2009, 05:01 PM
We flew with Delta, Immigration is the worst part, I guess they had about 50-60 desks all working away, never seen so many. We were lucky(unlucky for Karen) a lady saw Karen struggling to stand in the line with her bad back, before we knew it she was in a wheelchair and whisked off to a line with no wait, saved us about 20 mins.
It is a huge airport but there is a fantastic underground shuttle every few mins. It was simple to navigate Terminals are lettered A thru E. Plenty of boards telling you where you want to be, although with a 4 hour connection yours will probably not be on, I asked at information as we were early, they found it on computer no problem.

barryunwin
09-06-2009, 05:40 PM
Also Karen - ask at the Delta desk in Atlanta if they could put you on an earlier flight down to MCO. We once had a really cheap flight, around 260 from memory, which depended on a long stopover. Claimed our bags and asked nicely if there was an earlier flight and was on the plane within the hour!

karentan
09-06-2009, 05:54 PM
yeah might do that, i booked through netflights and they said i couldnt change it because of the rate i got. whereabouts is the desk? do i do it before i drop the luggage back into the system after customs? could you tell me what i need to do and where i need to go? this is my first time going indirect and i'd love to cut down the stopover to get more disney time. did they charge you to do this?

barryunwin
09-06-2009, 06:07 PM
Our tickets were booked through Airline Network and also couldn't be changed.

We asked at the Delta desk in Manchester and were told no can do.

Asked again at the desk in Atlanta and were put on the next flight, even before standby passengers!
No extra charge and saved us 5 hours.

Just lucky, but never hurts to ask.

karentan
09-06-2009, 06:10 PM
just checked, there's 2 earlier flights that we could manage to catch if we can swap, whereabouts is the desk? also what happens with the luggage, as presumably by the time i get to the delta desk, our cases are going to be somewhere round atlanta airport with the later flight details on them.
also we've got magical express booked. can we turn up for that earlier than expected?

barryunwin
09-06-2009, 06:12 PM
Sorry - yes before you put the bags in. Actually when you do at check in.
She just looked at her screen and printed off the boarding passes, took the bags, job done.

They were calling standby passengers at the gate and I think they all got on too.

Just ask.

karentan
09-06-2009, 06:38 PM
(sorry if i'm annoying you with all the questions but...) so i go through immigration, pick up baggage, go ask at delta desk, then drop the bags back off?
i really want to change to an earlier flight but thought i wasnt allowed to, i hope i can do this!

grannyed
09-07-2009, 01:03 AM
Another thing which I think is worth considering when flying indirect is to try to make sure that your changeover is in America.

We flew in 2003 from Leeds/Bradford to Amsterdam and then from Amsterdam to Florida. We were delayed in Amsterdan for about 5 hours on the way out which wasn't so bad because we were excited and reasonably fresh only having had a short flight from Leeds.

However on the way back our connecting flight from Amsterdam to Leeds was changed and we had a wait of around 6 hours. This was very unpleasant since we were all very tired from the long 8 hour plus flight...and had to sit around for hours waiting for the connection.

disneyholic family
09-07-2009, 02:29 AM
Hi,
I have been messing at getting flight prices to see how much savings compare if you travel indirect and wasastonished to find that for our dates this year (but we go next!!) i could save 900 by stopping for 2 hours in chicago
Now we have 4 small kids one of whom has aspergers and i clap my hands at savings like that but then worry dreadfully if its absolutly stress nightmare.

So I have some questions for u -
1) if u travelling with same airline do you have to collect bags and put them back in again at the changeover ?? or is it done automatically for u??

2) what are the chances of missing the connecting flight ?? is it rare or common occurance??

3) We always use special assistnce with virgin who has always been fantastic with us will wwe have a similiar service on us airlines??

Any advice would be fab - if u were me would u try this with 4 kids or pay the extra and go direct ??/
Thanks Louise x


I've done it many times, with 2 kids. It's not difficult. However, I wouldn't do it in your case. Not with 4 young kids, including one with aspergers. Maybe when your kids are older, but it will be nightmarish for you now.
Especially if for some reason there is a delay between the two flights (e.g. weather).
I strongly advise against you doing this (at least for now).

Feel free to PM me if you want to discuss this in greater detail.

If you do want to do it, I would give yourself 3 hours for the plane change. Our travel agent always recommends 3 hours for international connections involving clearing customs.

CHRIS F
09-07-2009, 07:06 AM
Hi
You have been given great advise, just adding my thoughts and comments so you are re-assured about indirect flights.
We have taken three indirect flights to Orlando in addition to this for work I have to fly to Rochester NYS and all flights are indirect have done this 30+ times and I have never missed a connection!
We have flown to Orlando once with UA via Washington and twice with Delta via Atlanta, ok I have to be honest the only flights that have been close to missing have been the Orlando flights where we did make it but we had to run to make the flights but it was because we only had 1.5 hours and 2 hours connecting, I have learnt my lesson now and will only book with a minimum of three hours connecting.this allows for delays and immigration hold ups. The last time we flew via Atlanta on a four hour connection, we got through in 20 minutes!! The early flight was full so we just chilled out had something to eat and drink etc!
We did the flights with my 2 sons, the first time they were 7 and 11, all ok we made it part of the holiday let them choose t-shirts or something from the shops at the airport.
Once you get through everything is well signposted and bag drop off is really easy, the local flight company reps (customer service)are always helpful.
One thing I have always done before booking is go on the carriers own website and look at their flights to Orlando timed after my connection time so if the worst happens at least there are alternative options.
Just one more point my wife is scared of flying and takes medication to fly and she has no problem with indirect flights.
Hope this helps

buzz for boys
09-07-2009, 09:19 AM
Thanks guys x
As expected a mix bag of opinions thats why I love this forum everyone is honest !!
The biggest fear i have is that if we miss the connection we will end up being split up and 3 of us go one plane and 3 on another !!
Part of me thinks give it a go and see what happens and the other half thinks are u mad woman ??? My kids are quite good at staying by our sides but maybe it is just too much to ask of them ???
Still tempted by the savings though !!
Louise x

rosiejo
09-07-2009, 09:28 AM
We usually fly indirect from Bristol to MCO via New York (Newark). For us the change over is worth the savings as we'd have to travel to Gatwick to fly direct anyway.

The only concern I would have for you is the 2 hour layover - 2 hours isn't very long to make the change esp with so many of you. We only travel as two adults and make 2 hours our minimum layover. You only need the outbound flight to be a little delayed or slow baggage handlers, or long immigration lines and you've had it.

If you think the savings are worth it then make sure you plan plan plan. Work out which terminals you'll need and the quickest way to get there. And try and sit near the front of the plane so you can get off quickly.

disneyholic family
09-07-2009, 11:14 AM
it also depends which airport you'll be doing the changeover in..

each airport is different in terms of difficulty factor..

some are much more difficult than others...

if i were you, i'd get the opinion of everyone here regarding the different airports...

we often enter the US via JFK in new york.
sometimes, it's smoother than smooth..
other times, it's not...

on several occasions we've had very longs waits for suitcases....
since we always have a 3 hour layover, it doesn't matter..

however, once, even the 3 hours wasn't enough..

the cargo door of the 747 we were on couldn't be opened, so no ones luggage arrived at the baggage carousels..

after waiting in baggage claim for 2 hours, the airline finally told everyone they would have to leave the customs area and go to lost luggage services to claim their bags...
anyone continuing on, had to put in lost baggage claims in the final destination (for us, that was orlando)..

however, by the time we left customs (without our luggage), we had already missed our connecting flight to orlando (despite the 3 hour cushion)..

i pushed my way to the front of the line (of 400 passengers from the 747) to tell the ground agent that we'd missed our flight..

she already knew that...the airline had already arranged for everyone who'd missed their connections to make it onto other flights..

however, in our case, the only flight left that day for orlando was out of La Guardia, not JFK...
so the airline piled my daughter and me (we were on a solo trip that time, for her auditions) and another mother and her son into a bus and off we headed for la guardia airport in the middle of new york rush hour traffic...

well....we made it...but by the skin of our teeth....
when we got to la guardia the bus driver told us to RUN for it....
and we did....ran to security....cleared security and RAN full out for the gate...

we just made it....barely....naturally, we couldn't sit together by that point....but we were on a plane headed for orlando....without luggage, but on our way..

once in orlando, we had to go to the baggage claim office to tell them our suitcases had never made it off the plane in new york..

in the end, our luggage arrived the following afternoon...

not exactly a nightmare, but not something i'd want to do with 4 little tikes in tow...

disneyholic family
09-07-2009, 11:24 AM
it might help if everyone gives their experience at the various ports of entry.
I'll start.

from my experience:
-- New York - JFK - avoid this one - too difficult to navigate with 4 small children (we almost always enter the US via JFK, but i wouldn't recommend it with 4 little tikes)

-- Newark is a pretty good choice - one terminal that's relatively easy to navigate

-- Detroit is a pretty good choice - one terminal that's not too difficult to navigate

-- Chicago - not that great in my opinion - i find O'hare to be somewhat user unfriendly (i.e. difficult to navigate)...

-- Minneapolis - avoid at all costs - terrible terrible terrible terrible terrible airport (but i don't think anything goes there from the UK anyway - it used to be a northwest hub, but delta's dropping it

buzz for boys
09-07-2009, 01:26 PM
Thanks disneyholic we have had a good chat about this this afternoon and have decided that we are going to stick with flying direct for the foreseeable future just too much scope of things going wrong - and s the unluckiest family in the world we have decided its just not worth the risk !!
Virgin are fab with my ds special needs so why change??
Basically we decided in our circumstances money isnt everything and lets get there stress free with 4 relativly happy kids.
Thanks for all the advice has been invaluable too us
Louise x

disneyholic family
09-07-2009, 03:55 PM
Thanks disneyholic we have had a good chat about this this afternoon and have decided that we are going to stick with flying direct for the foreseeable future just too much scope of things going wrong - and s the unluckiest family in the world we have decided its just not worth the risk !!
Virgin are fab with my ds special needs so why change??
Basically we decided in our circumstances money isnt everything and lets get there stress free with 4 relativly happy kids.
Thanks for all the advice has been invaluable too us
Louise x

when your kids are older, you can reconsider.

one good thing about going indirect? You can make a stopover in that city for a visit.
In other words, combine a trip to orlando with a few days in whatever your stopover city is - e.g. New York city or chicago.

again, not something to do with little kids, but once they're in their teens, it's a really fun thing to do.
I don't recall the first time we stopped with the kids in new york on the trip back from orlando. We were only in New York for 3 days, but it was sufficient for a fun time.
Oh, i do remember when it was. 10 days before 9/11. We didn't make it to the top of the trade center and i said, no biggee. We'll do it on our trip next year, "it's not going anywhere". yes, so that was in 2001, when my kids were 16 and 14 years old.
we did it again the following year. really fun.
Then a few years later we did the same in chicago. Also fun.

So it's something to look forward to when your kids are older.