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Flying through Atlanta

I’m flying chi-atl-cdg. I’ve got 1 hr to get off my flight from chi to get on my plane to Paris at the Atlanta airport. I haven’t been there since I was 12. How bad is this going to be? The reps at delta said they wouldn’t schedule a flight connection I couldn't make. A friend said to take the train and walk fast and I should be able to make it. Has anyone else done the Atlanta airport with just an hour layover? Thanks!

Posted by
2764 posts

You can definitely make it. Get off the plane and take the train

do not be tempted to run for it from wherever you are to wherever the plane is leaving. You’re probably going to be in F and trust me you’re never going to be faster in that train

My suggestion is always go directly to your new gate, and then if you have time you can go get food, you can go shop, you can go to her the bathroom etc. But go to the gate first. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen people in Atlanta miss flights holding their Chick-fil-A bag - they would’ve made the flight if they hadn’t stopped by fast food

Posted by
27 posts

Thank you Carol! That’s what I’m planning on, I’m praying I have time to hit the bathroom before getting into he second plane. This makes me feel so much better, thank you so much

Posted by
4420 posts

The Plane train works really well. I agree that you should not give in to the temptation of Chik-Filet in this situation. On the other hand, when I had a choice between a shorter layover in JFK and a longer layover in ATL, a minor reason I chose ATL was because of Chik-Filet. The other reason was because I could hope to rent a car and drive home from ATL if necessary.

Posted by
115 posts

Agree, an hour is plenty of time. Definitely use the train. You’ll be fine!

Posted by
638 posts

At Atlanta’s airport the signage guiding you from concourse to concourse and from gate to gate is very well laid out. With such a tight connection please be sure to perform check-in using your passport in Chicago. You will also need it to board in Atlanta but you’ll already be in the system avoiding a delay at boarding. If you must change concourses in ATL definitely use the train. One hour is a tight connection but doable if your originating flight departs and arrives on time. Typically international flights leave from concourses E or F. You may be fortunate enough to have your Chicago flight arrive at either of these two. If not the concourses are A, B, C, D, E, F in that order and they are connected by the very frequently running train. When you’re on the train there is great signage above the doors with frequent announcements as it progresses.

There are well marked restrooms along the concourses. Food options abound but when I was there in March and in May the lines were quite long for takeaway. Hopefully it’s better now.

Posted by
7640 posts

For as many gates as Atlanta has, it is incredibly efficient to get between even far flung gates. Flew through there often for business, and preferred it over Minneapolis, even Detroit, and especially JFK.

Posted by
9765 posts

Exactly. That train makes things so easy — pop down to the train at the concourse you arrive at, ride it whatever number of stops, and pop back up at your next concourse. I almost always fly through Atlanta these days on my way to/ from the States.

Edit to add : and if you do miss your flight due to a delay out of your origin airport, there are multiple Delta flights to CDG daily from Atlanta so hopefully that eases the issue of getting put on another one.

Posted by
82 posts

You'll be fine & I agree with others..don't stop for food. ATL is super easy to find your way with great signage. If you're ticketed on Delta for your entire trip, the gate agents will know what flight you're on from Chicago and know the arrival time. Check in all the way in Chicago to Paris. Have them put your passport info in your record as well as doing it online in advance. The gate agent still may want to verify it in ATL, but not a big deal. You'll get food on the ATL - CDG flight as well. And the Delta agent was correct on your booking, it won't allow you to book a connection if there isn't enough time. Have a great trip!

Posted by
2448 posts

I'm so glad to read all these responses that Amanda is getting. I'm transiting through Atlanta next month (all one ticket on Delta) and have a little over 2 hours and was worried that wouldn't be enough. It's been probably about 15 years since I had a layover there so I barely remember the layout, and it's probably changed anyway.

Posted by
2764 posts

Honestly, I don’t think an international flight has left on time from Atlanta all summer.

So you probably have more time than you expected but do not assume it’s going to be late. go directly to your gate and then go shopping, bathroom and whatever you need to do.

Posted by
2448 posts

Oh yeah, I always go straight to the gate and camp out, then my husband and I take turn getting drinks/food/going to the bathroom or whatever else.

Posted by
8159 posts

I would suggest cross packing with your partner if you are traveling with someone else i.e. put an outfit in each other's bags. And definitely carry on a full change of clothes. Whenever your luggage has to be transferred in a short time -- or heck, at all -- there is the option of sending it to Madrid or Moscow instead of Paris. Always be prepared to exist for a day or two with clean underwear and clothes and a dopp kit that you carried on.

Posted by
11371 posts

Use the bathroom on the plane before it lands in ATL

Posted by
1152 posts

One other suggestion: Get the Delta app on your phone. When the Chicago flight lands, you can turn on your phone and you should see the terminal and gate where you will be deplaning (to use that made-up word) at and the terminal and gate for your next flight. That should help a bit, but is not essential because, as others have said, there is good signage in Atlanta.

Posted by
638 posts

@roubrat

I’ve been flying through Atlanta for 51 years. In your 15 year absence the basic layout remains the same. Many things have not changes. New terminals and runaways have been added. Notably older terminals have been remodeled. Better signage is everywhere although archaic looking. The trains are similar with extended routes and with onboard visuals and announcements. The food offerings continue to change. It is a busier and brighter experience airside.

I rarely originate flights in Atlanta, however, last May I overnighted. It took a very long time to get to the TSA area. I had Pre-check and ClearMe and it probably took 45 minutes to an hour on a Tuesday morning just to reach the TSA screening point.

Posted by
27 posts

Thank you all! You have been so so so helpful. I’m feeling much more comfortable. I’m going through security in chi. Since I’m picking up another flight, I won’t have to go through more security will I?

Not planning on eating as I will get food on the plane, it says dinner is served, anyone know what time food is usually served, delta seems clueless? Will be getting on the flight at 10pm edt

Again thank you so much!!

Posted by
202 posts

I have flown through ATL more times than I could count. I agree with having the Delta app -- and keep an eye on it -- they do change gates sometimes. I have even had the gate change more than once, necessitating a change of concourse as well. When we flew to Paris this past January, no sooner had we arrived at our concourse did we get notification that the gate had changed -- to a different concourse.

Posted by
1094 posts

Atlantan here. Good advice earlier. One thing to add - there is another gate called the “T-gates” which is before the A-gates. So if you land at the T-gates, you have to go through A, B, C, D, E, and then F.

Posted by
2448 posts

T gate is still connected to the train though, right?

Posted by
2764 posts

Yes all the "Terminals" T- F are connected by the Train. We just have a strange alphabet in Atlanta T comes before A in our world :)

Posted by
27 posts

Carol, it’s a Southern thing? It’s going to kill me to be in GA and not get some home cooked bbq! 😫

Posted by
4105 posts

Personally, I’d change my ORD-ATL flight to an earlier time. I’ve had too many hiccups in Atlanta with international flights. Would rather be there earlier than miss the flight.

Posted by
27 posts

Sadly I cannot change my flight, it would be almost $800. I guess if I don’t make it I don’t make it. Get extremely really angry and just go home to Iowa.

Posted by
1501 posts

Why would it cost $800?

There are a lot of people here saying you will make it.
I would call Delta and ask nicely to pretty please put you on an earlier flight to ATL. My experience doing this is very good.
If there is a seat available on an earlier flight and it increases the chance of a happy customer I think they will do it without fees.
If one says no, I would call again and ask the next agent.

Posted by
27 posts

I did call yesterday and it was horrible. I’ve never had a bad rep but she was bad. I’ll try again tonight. Thank you all. I’ll let you know how this all pans out. ❤️

Posted by
202 posts

I would absolutely try calling again to get a different representative. I have had some marvelous Delta reps just bend over backwards to help me. Going the extra SkyMile :-)

That being said, if you cannot change the flight to something more acceptable, please stop stressing about it. You'll have done all you could. The worst that can happen is that you don't make the connection and they put you on another flight. I have made some pretty tight connections in ATL that I was just sure I wouldn't make - one was 55 minutes. When we returned form Paris this past January we had a 1 hour and 15 minutes connection which I was just sure we'd miss - considering the time it takes to deplane a transatlantic jet, the lines in immigration, getting luggage, customs, dropping luggage back into system, going through security again, and getting to gate for connection. We somehow made it with 25 minutes to spare. Another thing to remember is that it takes a long time to board the transatlantic flights so sometimes that can work in your favor if you're running tight.

Also, check now to see if you can move your seat closer to the front of the plane. If not, when you board the first flight, talk to a flight attendant about how tight your turnaround is (especially if your first flight is late getting off) and see if they can't move you closer to the exit prior to landing so that you can deplane more quickly. Worth a shot - you can't get what you don't ask for :-)

Good luck and may the travel gods be with you :-)

Posted by
1340 posts

Atlanta is a pretty easy airport to navigate. With the plane train it doesn't take very long at all (unless your plane lands all the way at the end of the terminal). But still, it is very manageable. Don't stress and don't let it ruin your experience,

If your flight leaves late from Chicago, the moment they announce it go talk to the gate agent and request a later connection time.

Posted by
1191 posts

Last October, I had an SNA-ATL-VCE itinerary, with 3h24m in ATL to make my connection. Flight from SNA departed and arrived about 3 hours late. I arrived at gate T2 (at the far end of the terminal from the train), and the next flight was at the end of either E or F, can't remember which. I made the connection, and so did my checked bag. I did speed walk, and took the train of course, but I did make it.

If your inbound to ATL is running late, talk to the flight attendant and let them know you've got a tight connection to an international flight. It's been my experience they'll do all they can to help.

Many, many people make 1 hour connections in ATL. It's huge, but the train makes all the difference.

I also always make a list of potential alternate flights. In case I do get delayed and have to take a later flight, it goes much faster if you can tell the agent the flight(s) you're interested in.

Posted by
27 posts

Again thank you all for the pointers. I called Delta tonight again and got a young man who actually seem to know what he was talking about. He said he’d be shocked if I missed the flight even if my Chicago flight was a bit delayed. He said there should be more than just me getting off the plane going to Paris.

Sadly my flight leaves Atlanta at 10 PM and is the last flight to Europe for the day. I’d have to stay over in Atlanta and get on the one for the next day. Praying all goes well again thank you!!

Posted by
27 posts

I made it! Flight into Atlanta was 20 mins early. I got a little confused on the train. Just had time for the bathroom, no time for food. I’m typing this from my paris hotel room.

Posted by
697 posts

Amanda, that's awesome! Enjoy your trip!

Just to add to the experiences listed here, we've traveled internationally through Atlanta three times this year, and all experiences were great. Each time we transited between B/C gates and E or F, and gate-to-gate, our transit time was 30 minutes or less, including customs/immigration for the inbound flights. Atlanta is our new favorite connecting airport, and we'll deliberately select it when we can for future flights.

Posted by
202 posts

Fantastic! Have a marvelous time! Très envious!

Posted by
1501 posts

I am so happy for you Amanda!
I will be in Paris Friday morning, also flying through Atlanta.
Have a great trip!