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55 minute ATL layover

Hi all,

I want to book a flight for me and my boyfriend from SFO to London Heathrow.

The best deal right now is a flight with a 55 minute layover in ATL. Both legs of the journey will be on Delta and we will be checking one piece of baggage (essentials in carry-on; non-essentials in checked bag). Do you think there will be enough time to make the connection? If we end up missing it, what are the protocols?

Thanks so much!

Posted by
1357 posts

Is your layover on the SFO - Heathrow leg or on the way back? Going over shouldn't be a problem, you don't have to go through customs and passport control. But coming back is another story.

Just so you're prepared -- ATL is the world's busiest airport. It gets crazy crowded in there. And you'll have to go to a different terminal for the flight to Heathrow. But just go down to the transportation hall and hop on the train.

Posted by
3247 posts

Hi Yolanda,
Especially since you're on Delta flights both legs I think that you should be o.k. I'd study the map of the Atlanta Airport Layout so you don't waste any time once you get off the plane. You will probably arrive at Concourse A, B, or C and will probably depart from Concourse E. You have to go from your gate, down an escalator, and then take a train to Concourse E. It can be a bit confusing and take 10 minutes or so to get to your departing gate. Just be prepared to go quickly to your departure gate!

Posted by
10 posts

We've flown through Atlanta pretty frequently. I've noticed that if it's earlier in the day flights are more likely to be on time. Later and you run more chances of delays. Good news is that if the inbound flight is delayed due to traffic in ATL, the outbound flight probably will be also. We've run through the airport more than once only to find our next flight delayed.

Travelocity has information on on-time status for flights - you can enter the days and route you want to travel and see the Delta flights. I picked a random day and it shows SFO-ATL at anywhere between 65-100% on-time with an average of 82% on-time. Good news is that the ATL-London leg I found was only 87% on time - although it's not clear if it leaves late or arrives late.

Posted by
7 posts

Hi Maureen. The flight in question will be out of SFO to Heathrow.

We'll be flying open jaw so the trip coming back is from Madrid (MAD) to SFO and will have a 2+ hour layover.

Thanks for all the responses, guys. :)

Posted by
2193 posts

If Delta offers this itinerary, your connection time should be fine as they take the different segment flight times, time to get from one concourse to another (to E in this case), etc. into account when building their schedules. I’ve flown to and through Hartsfield dozens of times, and I must say that flights have always been closer to on time for me than not (not necessarily right on time but close enough). I have had delays, but I’ve never missed connections because of them. It’s a big and busy airport, but the people mover/tram will get you to Concourse E quickly. Your checked luggage will check through to Heathrow. You may wish to call Delta with your questions if you’re still concerned…they’re your best resource.

Posted by
135 posts

Yolanda, be sure and get a seat in the front of your flight from San Francisco, because it can take quite a while to get off the plane. Also let your flight attendant know that you have a very short connection time and need to get off quickly. Additionally, look up the other Delta flights to London that leave after yours, so if you miss it, you can try to get on the next one and know your time frame. You can ask in SFO when you check in what the next flight out of ATL is and are there seats. Put one outfit and your tooth brush in your carry-on in case your bags don't make it. Good luck!

Posted by
1455 posts

I had a similar flight from LAX to Milan. The one hour is tight.. but we did make the connection without problem.

You will transfer on their "monorail" from one terminal to the other, but as long as you keep moving, you will be able to transfer on time.

Posted by
3247 posts

Hi Yolanda,
Carol makes a good point about the return flight--we just made a connecting flight through JFK though and it's not much better...

Posted by
2715 posts

Is the 55 minute connection going to London or coming home.

Going, it's possible.

Coming home, NO WAY! They don't want you to come back to the US in Atlanta, Delta's luggage handleing is horrid (and you have to claim and go through customs)

Do not give youself less then two hours on a return through ATL and I like 3 hours!

Posted by
486 posts

Return trip though Atlanta

You arrive at Terminal E

It takes forever to get off plane

You walk forever to get to customs and immigration then wait on lines - usually not too long.

You then pick up your bag and go through Security (located in Terminal E) just like as if you walked into the building from outside as we don't trust their security.

You catch a tram that runs to A/B/C (or D or T) to catch your next flight and then walk to the gate.