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switching planes at JFK

I am considering flying Delta via JFK to Athens. I am trying to arrive in Athens by noon to continue on to Santorini and changing planes in U.S. seems best way to do that.

How much time do I need to change planes? I assume I would come in at a domestic terminal and need to go to an international one. The connections are a little less than 2 hours. I recall flying through there a number of years ago overseas and think we had to collect and recheck bags back -but I think that was on way back home. The connection there is 3.5 hours.

Beth

Posted by
3492 posts

When we have a connecting flight, we always make it a point to have the connection somewhere in Europe. If for some reason the connection is missed, at least we will be well on the way to our ultimate destination and will have more options to complete the journey. As for JFK, we avoid it if at all possible. We definitely will not try to make a two hour connection there on the way over.

Posted by
2525 posts

Good advice to avoid JFK if at all possible based on my prior experiences.

Posted by
844 posts

I have had a number of connecting flights from New York to Athens. Not once did I have any problems with long lines or waiting for customs, etc.

I've flown Boston-New York-Athens several times and all were satisfactory.

One good thing about flying via JFK from another US destination is once you go through security at your local airport you won't have to go through it again at JFK . . . you WILL have to go through it again if you have a layover anywhere in Europe.

The only issue is the very long flight from JFK to Athens but it may be worth it by avoiding another security check in Europe which could be very long due to "issues" there.

The layovers I've had in JFK have been around 1 1/2 to 2 hours and never did I miss my flight, not even close. You don't have to worry about your luggage since they will be forwarded to Athens.

However, no guarantees!

Posted by
362 posts

I just returned from Italy to the US via JFK, and I found the experience to be surprisingly quick and easy. My main concern would be that if your first flight is significantly delayed, you may miss your connecting flight. If there is only one flight to Athens a day, you'll be stuck in NYC for another day.

Otherwise, I'd say two hours is a good amount of time, but three would be better. That's just my risk tolerance speaking, though. Yours may be very different!

Posted by
2516 posts

If you have to change terminals (and that is probably your situation), you will need to exit security, board the airtrain to go to the new terminal, and then go back through security to get to your gate. The airtrain is fast - just a few minutes and runs frequently. The biggest timing issue is going back through security - there can be long lines. I have done it in under 2 hours when my first flight was delayed, but I would prefer not to book that short a connection at JFK.

If your flights are all on the same airline/codeshare partner you should not have to re-check your bag on your way out of the US. They should be checked through to Greece.

Posted by
3232 posts

Although there is an international terminal at JFK, it is for international airlines, not necessarily international flights. You will likely arrive and depart from terminal 4 for Delta, but even if you need to transfer between 2 and 4 there is an airside jitney.

Aside: AMS does not require a security check arriving from US transfer to Europe.

Posted by
1458 posts

What is an airside jitney? I think the biggest issue is whether I will have to go through security again. I had to do that once in Boston and missed my connecting flight. But then the two airlines were not the same ones--I had bought them paired together on Orbitz. These are both delta flights.

Beth

Posted by
2127 posts

I flew from Pittsburgh to Edinburgh via JFK (and back) in September. Both times we flew into and out of the same gate. On the way back we only had an hour and a half for our connection (due to a change in the schedule after we booked). We made it with plenty of extra time. Two hours should be enough, but I prefer at least three in case the first flight is late.

Posted by
844 posts

goodorf: It is much better and convenient if you book directly with an airlines' website rather than a third-party website to avoid any issues with scheduling, layovers, cross-flights, etc.

While many third-party websites offer lower prices there is always a "catch" either due to inferior customer service, raising prices for no reason, not getting your chosen seat, etc.

I use third-party websites (sky scanner, Trip Adviser, etc.) only to search for a flight. If I find something that meets my needs I go directly to the airline's website and check prices. If there is a big discrepency then something is fishy about a third party booking.

I have used Expedia and CheapO websites and had no problems. However, since then (2011) I only use a airline's website to avoid any issues, confusion, poor customer service or "unexpected" problems.

Posted by
1458 posts

Oh, I learned my lesson in Boston that day. I too now use search engines to track but buy flights only through the airlines. Fortunately, I was able to get on a later flight that night through a code share. A middle seat never looked so good!

Beth

Posted by
1458 posts

Thanks Tom. I had never heard the term but am very glad to learn of the past security dimension.

And I love the Philippine version!

Beth

Posted by
11266 posts

Some Delta domestic flights to JFK use Terminal 2, and others use Terminal 4. All Delta flights from JFK to Europe use Terminal 4. You didn't say where your home city was, so I don't know where you'll arrive; use Laura's link to find out your arrival terminal, and which jitney to take if you're arriving in T2 and need to get to T4 for the Athens flight.

As said, the jitney will take you between terminals on the airside, so you won't need to go through security. For others reading this, or for your future reference, note that if you have to change terminals at JFK and there is no jitney, you do have to go through security when you change terminals. Even with code shares on the same ticket and same airline alliance, this is a common occurrence - for example, if you're flying into JFK on Delta to Terminal 2 or 4, then flying out to Europe on Air France, which uses Terminal 1.

If you're doing a JFK connection on the way home, remember that you will have to go through immigration and customs at JFK, then security for your next flight. The international arrivals area for Delta is often a madhouse, since so many international flights arrive there around the same time. If you don't have Global Entry, use the Mobile Passport app, which saves an hour or more. If you can't use either of these time-savers, allow several hours - minimum - to connect to a domestic flight.

Posted by
1458 posts

I am coming from ft lauderdale but did not see that certain cities come into certain terminals. My reading is that you can find out shortly before flying.

We do have global entry and tsa precheck so that would help.

Beth

Posted by
11266 posts

"I am coming from ft lauderdale but did not see that certain cities come into certain terminals. My reading is that you can find out shortly before flying."

Interesting - that is indeed what it says on Delta's page. On the official JFK page http://www.panynj.gov/airports/jfk-airlines.html (as well as at the airport itself), it says that flights from LAX, SFO, and SEA use Terminal 4, while other domestic flights use Terminal 2.

I guess they're covering themselves in case of the need for changes (and as at any airport, these things are subject to change at any time for a variety of reasons). But, barring such an unforseen event, you should expect to arrive from Ft. Lauderdale at T2, and take a jitney to T4 for your Athens-bound flight.

Posted by
2516 posts

Interesting. I did not know there was an airside jitney. I often fly American to JFK and then Iberia or British Air to Europe. Sometimes Delta to JFK, Alitalia to Europe. Always same ticket, codeshare, bought directly via one of the airlines.

Anyway, the European Airlines (Alitalia, BA, Iberia) leave from the international terminal. Meaning after domestic arrival you have to go out and then back through security to change terminals. Guess it’s different when Delta itself operates the international flight, not a codeshare partner?

Posted by
11266 posts

"the European Airlines (Alitalia, BA, Iberia) leave from the international terminal."

Important correction - at JFK there are multiple "international terminals." In fact, at at this time, all the terminals except Terminal 2 can process international arrivals. So, you always have to check which terminal your airline is using.

If you go to the JFK website airline list http://www.panynj.gov/airports/jfk-airlines.html, you'll see that at this time, Alitalia uses Terminal 1, British Air uses Terminal 7, and Iberia uses Terminal 7. Which airline uses which terminal does change around, although the "biggies" like British Air or Air France, with multiple flights a day, are more predictable.

When airlines are allied, they are often in the same terminal, but due to the size of the alliances, it's not possible to keep them all together. So for Skyteam (for example), Delta international and KLM are in Terminal 4, but Air France and Alitalia are Terminal 1.

I don't know if there are airside jitneys connecting any terminals other than 2 and 4 (since Delta operates in both). As said, if you are changing terminals and there is no airside jitney, you have to go through security again. This is true even if you are all on one ticket, and even if the flights in question are in the same alliance (like my Delta to Air France example - per Delta's website, no jitney connects Terminal 2 or 4 to Terminal 1). This is one reason that changing planes at JFK can be a hassle; it was designed long before current airline security procedures.

Posted by
1458 posts

I have flown a fair bit but learned a lot from his thread. I can see now that my own airport (ft lauderdale) could be a terrible place to connect because the four terminals are not connected to each other (but a wonderful place to fly in and out of because quick to gate). And the dreaded Atlanta airport is well designed for modern security. I also attributed to having to go through security twice at Boston airport to buying a ticket through orbitz with different airlines for domestic and international flights but now see that at some airports even code shares can require this. And I understand why my brother in law who flies United avoids jfk for international flights why I have had easy times on delta.

Thanks so much to everyone!

Beth