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Advice for flight home from Amsterdam

Hello,

My wife and I had a bad experience flying home from Prague to Minneapolis this year--we missed our connection in JFK. Fortunately I did not have to work the next day so it was okay.

Next year we are flying home from Amsterdam to Minneapolis and we have a couple options. The nonstop flights are too expensive. Our first option is to fly from Amsterdam to Paris with either a 1:45 layover or a 2:55 layover and then direct from Paris to MSP.

Our other option is to fly from Amsterdam to Detroit with a layover of either 1:51 or 4:36 and then direct from Detroit to Minneapolis.

Our priority is to avoid missing the connection. We both have Global Entry. But even with Global Entry and a one hour time between our plane landing in JFK and our connection taking off, we missed it. It was very long to get around JFK airport.

If experienced flyers could offer advice, that would be appreciated. One other thing to note is that the Detroit connection has the later flight so perhaps if we miss the 1:51 connection we could get on the next flight which would essentially turn it into the 4:36 layover.

Thank you!

Posted by
4959 posts

When and where are you going? Just round trip to Amsterdam?

Next year is still a ways off - unless you are going in January, it's still way too early to be pricing/buying plane tickets now.

I'd still try for that direct flight to Minneapolis, unless the cost is double. Are you pricing as round-trip or multi-city flights vs. just one way flights?

Posted by
13 posts

We book with points so I would prefer to book the flights as they become available. We have Skymiles and points with Amex to transfer to Flying Blue. The return flight is on 7/1/19 so not yet bookable with Delta but can on Air France. The options for Delta is what I'm seeing for the most previous Monday available which is 6/17/19.

These are one-way tickets home as we already booked our flight into Venice on American Airlines. We'll be moving around a lot. I didn't see an advantage to booking an open jaw trip.

I should also note we don't check bags.

Edit--the price in miles is about triple. It's not responsible for us to pay that much.

Posted by
5594 posts

I'm surprised that you don't have more options than Paris - say, Frankfurt or Brussels. You only said "Paris", but presumably you mean CDG. There was a recent thread here suggesting poor operations at CDG this year. Do you plan to "buy" a ticket that lets you check in for the Transatlantic flight upon first checkin-that is, would you be a Transit passenger in Paris?

Although it has also been my experience that two-segment flights are the easier to get with mileage awards, you don't want to be in a position where you have to ask for good treatment from the airline (say, you miss your second flight) on non-revenue tickets. One unspoken question is whether your carrier will put you on another airline ("for free") if you miss the connection in Detroit. Of course, I wouldn't connect there in the winter if I could avoid it.

Posted by
13 posts

There are other options but none nonstop to MSP. Paris-MSP is nonstop but other than Paris and London I don't know where else is nonstop to MSP. Amsterdam is part of our vacation so we need to fly home from there--our plans are now set and Amsterdam is our last stop.

If I book on Delta with skymiles they will put us on the next available flight to MSP--if missed connection--but I don't want to deal with that if I can avoid it. It might be less stressful to deal with the security and whatnot in Detroit than Paris. That's where I'm looking for advice mostly.

Posted by
8020 posts

I would not want to change planes at CDG. The Detroit option looks much safer especially with CDG’s not so great reputation.

Posted by
259 posts

Given the 2 choices you have stated, I would most definitely connect in Detroit rather than CDG. In my opinion, CDG is not a user friendly airport due to its somewhat confusing layout, poor signage, unhelpful employees. Many others have written on the Forum that they avoid changing at CDG if at all possible.

Posted by
2930 posts

I do as Harold does. I shoot for a 3 hour layover when I change flights. Not only does it allow me to catch my flight, but it allows my luggage to make it as well...without me having to carry it on.

Posted by
5269 posts

I'd look at this from a worst-case standpoint -- if you miss that connection, where do you want to be? Still in Europe, or in the good ole USA where they talk your lingo and you have lots of ways to get home? ;-)

That means Detroit. Plus, my experience with CDG connection has been as described above, and my (very limited) experience with Detroit has been fine. If you're booking the return trip on one ticket you could go for the 1:51 connection. Without checked baggage and with Global Entry you might make that second flight if all goes right. If not, Delta should put you on the next one with seats available (not necessarily the very next one). Or be conservative and go for the 4:36 connection, but if you're like me you'll be tired and grumpy and unhappy sitting around an airport for two or three hours at that point in your marathon.

Posted by
7276 posts

A no brainer go direct to Detroit ; looks like there is no point for a leisure traveler getting Global Entry when there is still a potential for problems and when one is able to walk and stand for an hour

Posted by
242 posts

I may be a bit late to this thread, however, MPLS is my home airport, Delta is my primary airline and AMS is usually my gateway airport, so I will chime in nonetheless. One other option is to simply wait. Taking the time to analyze when to use your earned Skymiles effectively can lead to ulcers. I understand getting your trip booked straight away checks off one thing from your vacation "To-Do" list, however, by waiting, you may very well secure that direct flight home from AMS to MSP in July for an low Skymile amount. I tend to hold onto my miles and wait to book flights to Europe when the value of the flight I want appeals to me, much as what you are attempting. Currently, in my view, Skymiles to Europe are a pretty good value in the Main Cabin, but using Skymiles for First Class has been a terrible value in the last year or so. So, waiting for the price of Skymiles for the flight is a good option. One thing you can do to stay on top of this is when you are searching for a flight you want, start the booking process and see the seats available in the Main cabin for the flight home you are interested in. If most seats are available, that is usually a good sign that pricing will come down at some point (However, some rumors are out there that airlines manipulate their seat map to have potential customers think they are close to being full).

Also, please be advised that Delta does fly direct MSP to KEF (Iceland) seasonally. On two occasions, we booked a cheap flight from Europe to KEF (flights can be as low a $59 on Iceland Air or other budget airlines) and did our own planned Iceland stop over for a night or so, then flew home from KEF to MSP on Delta. I find flights to and from MSP/KEF to be cheaper and of more value than AMS, CDG or London.

Last, I will pass along something I learned on one such trip which was a lesson learned. I sometimes book two separate one way trips to AMS on Delta for various reasons. Delta has their own extra security step at AMS (all Delta flyers to the US have an extra line up of security at gate D1). On your way back home, they will want to know how and when you arrived in Europe as they will not have access to your ticket information for your one way ticket to AMS. So, make sure you save a copy of your flight from MSP to AMS on American in your backpack as I promise you they will want to see that when you try to head home. I always do that now as I failed to have a copy readily available and it led for a rather lengthy delay to find it on my smartphone to show the Delta agents.

Posted by
228 posts

Whatever you do , try not to transfer at CDG in Paris . About 5 years ago we were with a small group . Arrived with Delta around 7:00 am ( early ! ) for our 10:30 am connection to Basel on AF. The walk through the airport was very long and had poor signage For our Basel flight there was one delay after another and no explanation . At 1 pm we received a voucher for lunch . Had to go through security 2 x . Security agents asked why we were going through security twice and were treating us very rudely , like we were criminals . In the mean time French passengers were boarding the plane to Basel . In my rusty French I asked why ? It was because we were a group of 6 and no room for 6 more passengers was left .
In the afternoon we were handed a bottle of water and had to show our boarding pass which then got marked with an X so no one was getting a second bottle . At 9 pm we finally could board for Basel . We thought . Plane was too heavy so everyone had to get out . All luggage also of course . We were given the options of going for free on a bus to Basel or staying at a hotel in Paris but for that we would have to get up at 3 am for the bus to pick us up in Paris , take us to CDG and get the first flight to Basel . NOT . Shortly before midnight we finally arrived at Basel . That airport was completely empty but the lights were on . We looked for the baggage carousel and found our luggage sitting in there so we did everything ourselves . Wrote to AF and received a $100- voucher on AF only , not to be used on Delta or KLM , their partners , and within a year . AVOID CDG at all cost !

Posted by
3356 posts

Do not change planes at CDG.

Take the 4:36 layover at DTW even though that sounds horrible. DTW is much smaller than JFK, easier and closer to your final destination. I would advise NOT aiming for the 1:45 layover thinking you can grab the later flight if need be. If that second flight is sold out, you're out of luck unless there is a flight to MSP even after that with available seating.

If anything, if you are traveling with carryons only and you arrive early enough to go through immigration with plenty of time to spare, you can always try for the earlier flight. If your later flight to MSP is oversold, they might move you to that earlier flight at NO COST to you.

Other options: Delta has I believe at least 2 flights to BOS from AMS. Look at the layover times there for flights to MSP. Keep in mind, immigration is at Terminal E and you would need to leave security to get to Terminal A for MSP. Also check AMS flights to CVG and the layover times to MSP. ATL is out of your way but you can always look at that too. ATL is even more of a zoo than JFK.

Posted by
8870 posts

Our other option is to fly from Amsterdam to Detroit with a layover of either 1:51 or 4:36 and then direct from Detroit to Minneapolis

Given the two options you present, this is my choice.

Posted by
9930 posts

"On your way back home, they will want to know how and when you arrived in Europe as they will not have access to your ticket information for your one way ticket to AMS. So, make sure you save a copy of your flight from MSP to AMS on American in your backpack as I promise you they will want to see that when you try to head home. I always do that now as I failed to have a copy readily available and it led for a rather lengthy delay to find it on my smartphone to show the Delta agents."

Jay MN, thank you very much for posting. I did not know this. I do know about the supplemental screening but would not have put that together with knowing your arrival method. Same goes, I imagine, for those taking a trans-Atlantic cruise over.

Posted by
307 posts

We used a travel agent and flew Air Canada from Toronto and return.
In Toronto you go through Canadian and then they have US customs, so you can skip that step in your home airport
Had no problems.
If you are worried about missing a connection, purchase trip insurance.