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Airport for connecting flight from Paris to Portland

I've been confirmed for the BOE 14 days tour. For my tour next year I have three options to fly from Paris back to PDX (Portland). It involves a direct flight from Paris to one of these airports for a connecting flight to Portland:
ATL (Atlanta), MSP (Minneapolis) and SLC (Salt Lake City).

I have not used anyone of these airports before and would appreciate your recommendation. My key considerations are ease of navigation (from internationl to domestic terminal) and the amount of connection time required (including custom).

Note:
I read something online that the new SLC airport requires long walk (which I don't mind) due to its linear design. If I fly Delta/Air France I will only have to stay in Concourse A; so I think navigation is likely to be not an issue.
Also I am glad that RSE has reversed the tour itinerary (start in Rome and end in Paris). There're simply more direct flights from Paris to the US; for Rome one likely will have to wake up in the middle of the night for domestic Schengen flight.

Posted by
6612 posts

You can see the layout of any airport just by Googling a map layout of it. Customs is something you go through when you exit at your final destination. It has no affect when transiting through another airport. I like Salt Lake City the best and Atlanta the worst (it's the busiest trafficked airport in the US), but it doesn't matter a whole heck of a lot. If you give yourself enough transit time, I don't think it should be an issue no matter which one you pick. I would choose an itinerary based on price and convenience alone, not the transit airport.

Posted by
1140 posts

I usually fly non stop back to San Francisco. But I believe the procedure if connecting from international to domestic flights. You would clear passport/immigration at your first port of entry. Let’s call it Salt Lake City. You collect any checked bags and clear customs there too. The connecting flight back back to Portland is a domestic one. Just grab all your stuff and walk out the exit. No formalities.

Please do note that if you purchase liquids in The Paris airport they need to meet the liquid rule. So anything over 3 ounces will need to be checked in Salt Lake City.

Enjoy the tour.

Posted by
5740 posts

MSP is a great airport to connect in, as the international traffic is not that heavy, and its in the right direction towards getting to Europe.

Posted by
45 posts

Your listing of ATL, MSP, SLC implies you are considering flying Delta/Air France. Have you considered the non-stop CDG/SEA? That way you will have travelled the furthest distance on the first leg and then just a short hop to PDX. I've found that having a long flight for the second leg is murderous; it seems that second flight will never end.

Posted by
28 posts

If I were you I would pick one of the four flights that drop you right back in Portland from the EU. Not all of them are showing yet because they may be seasonal. You don't list when you are going, it might be too early to book.

AMS-Pdx on Delta/KLM is my favorite.

LHR -Pdx on BA or Delta should be back on the schedule next summer.

Frankfurt-Pdx on Condor is great because they sell one way tickets without penalty and Premium Economy is affordable
Reykjavik to Pdx on Iceland Air. I'm not in love with those planes but it is the shortest flight.

Nothing beats going through passport control and waltzing out of the airport in your hometown.

Posted by
6115 posts

Customs is something you go through when you exit at your final destination. It has no affect when transiting through another airport.

In fact, you go through immigration AND customs at the airport in which you enter the United States. For example when I fly from Paris Charles de Gaulle to Atlanta to Tulsa, I go through immigration and customs to enter the United States IN ATLANTA, then recheck my bags for my connecting flight to Tulsa.

It simply wouldn't be possible for me to go through immigration or customs in Tulsa — there's no CBP presence there at the airport that would be able to check me out!

P.s. in terms of which airport is better for your flight — since you live in the northern United States, Minneapolis would be my preference because you are going the “right” direction (the flight within the States doesn’t dip down so far south — you have to make that up by heading back north for the European flight, so you would be losing at least some time on each leg). But I don't know anything about flight transfers in either Denver or Minneapolis.

Posted by
25 posts

Thanks for the comments so far!

Yes that's my understanding as well that any of these three airports will require going through immigration/custom as it's the first port of entry.

Ideally these are my considerations when booking my flights:
* One single ticket for the whole itinerary. This way if I were to miss the connecting flight the airlines will take care of it.
* First flight of the itinerary is a direct nonstop Atlantic flight then follows by a domestic flight; e.g. PDX-AMS-FCO, CDG-SLC-PDX. This way I don't have to worry about missing likely the only daily Atlantic flight for the airlines. If I miss the domestic connecting flight there're likely many later flights I could take.

So my ideal preffered itinerary for this particular tour would have been:
PDX-AMS-FCO
CDG-SFO-PDX

Unfortunately for some reason Delta (that serves the only direct flight between PDX and AMS) and Air France would charge huge sum for the above combinations; i.e. if I transit at SFO for my returning flight.

Delta has a CDG-AMS-PDX flight but the short 1 hour 25 mins connection time at AMS and the very early CDG-AMS flight make it a rather unpresent experience for me. The last time I did this route my CDG-AMS flight was late and I was running in AMS all stressed out; almost didn't make it to the continental flight. No more!

I generally don't like flying on those small Embraer plane that airlines use to flying between PDX and SEA; so the CDG-SEA-PDX option is a no for me. As you can see now I don't like flying :)

Hence the remaining three connecting airports: CDG-ATL-PDX, CDG-SLC-PDX, CDG-MSP-PDX
Judging on the comments so far, I probably will take the CDG-SLC-PDX route. It will give me a chance to check out the new SLC terminal which is stunning!

Thanks again everyone!

========= edited =========
Second thought I probably should keep CDG-SEA-PDX as an option.
The shorter total travel time for this itinerary makes it an attractive option! I just have to get used to flying small plane :)

Posted by
77 posts

Also live in PDX. I've found I want to enter the US as close to home as possible. The times I've come back via the east coast the last leg is the worst. It's roughly 5 more hours from the east coast. If I've already gotten up early somewhere in Europe to make the connecting flight, then the transatlantic leg, I'm already dead when I hit the east coast. Another five hours, it's just shoot me. The last time I even had 1st class; it didn't help.

Posted by
3198 posts

I just checked the Alaska website. 5 of the 12 daily flights between Seattle and Portland are on larger jets. You can usually tell which is which by the flight number. Three digit, Alaska jet. Four digit Horizon Turbo Prop.

I think you should look at the SEA option for a few reasons. First of all, you get a big chunk of your flight out of the way all at once. The multiple fights daily between Seattle and Portland mean that flight disruptions won't have too much of a domino effect. Miss one connection to Portland, another is likely to be right behind.

Finally, if you want to drive, take the train or a bus to SEA instead of fly it is another option.

Posted by
25 posts

@AlanJ
Hear! Hear! It's definitely unpleasant to have to fly another 4-5 hours after a 10-hour flight across the Atlantic.

@Carol
Alaska Airlines is not part of the Sky Team (Delta is a member). I would prefer to book my whole itinerary as a single ticket.

My flight to Rome is all set in stone: PDX-AMS-FCO
For my returning flights it's likely going to be either CDG-SEA-PDX or CDG-SLC-PDX. Both have a short flight time for the domestic leg; and relatively shorter total travel time.

Appreciate everyone’s input!

Posted by
238 posts

I have been in all of those airports. The smallest and easiest to get around will be SLC. MSP is not bad, but larger. If you have enough time there are nice places for a meal. I'd avoid ATL unless you have a lot of time. It is just very large. The upside to ATL is your flight to CDG will be shorter. The upside to the other 2 is more time to have dinner, then sleep...or try to.

Posted by
29 posts

OP, I’m not sure how much time you’ve planned in Paris at the end of your trip, but have you thought of getting to Amsterdam by train and then just flying AMS -PDX on the direct flight home? Obvs you’d lose time in Paris, but it might be worth it

Posted by
3446 posts

Haven't used SLC but can comment on the other two. ATL (our home airport) is big. Customs and immigration will be very busy. You will have to take the plane train from the international terminal to the domestic terminal for your final leg. MSP is much smaller. Customs and immigration are not that busy compared to ATL. And it's small enought that changing terminals has never been a problem.

Posted by
25 posts

@AmandaR
That's an interesting idea; but it does require me to arrive the day before and find my way around to the airport early in the morning. But you just give me another idea, which is to fly in late the day before (give me more time in Paris) and layover at the Yotelair Amsterdam (airside). Since AMS is my last port out of Schengen region; I assume I will still have to go through the AMS passport control. I should point out that I plan to stay extra days in Paris after the tour; so this arrangement won't cost me time and money if I fly to AMS the evening before.

@Becky
My takeaway from all the comments is to avoid ATL and to use connecting airport that's closer to PDX for short second-leg flight. So I'm going to use SLC or SEA for my connecting flight; the alternative is to arrive in Amsterdam the day before and catch the AMS-PDX direct flight the next morning. The latter option at this point is gaining an edge :)

Appreciate everyone’s input! Thanks!

Posted by
377 posts

Rather than flying from Paris to Amsterdam why not take the train? It's about a 3 hour trip on the high speed train (Paris Nord to Schiphol Airport). Considering the time needed to get to and thru the airport in Paris the train might be faster.

Thalys website: https://www.thalys.com/

Posted by
25 posts

@tdw @AmandaR
Hah! Just realized the Thalys train actually stops right at Schipole Airport. This is the winner :)
Thanks!!

Posted by
377 posts

Glad to help. Depending on when your flight leaves AMS, you might be able to take a late train arriving a few hours before the flight and not have to get a room for the night there. Have a great trip!

Posted by
637 posts

Just realized the Thalys train actually stops right at Schipole Airport. This is the winner :)

If you're going to take the train to AMS and fly out a few hours later be sure you're comfortable rolling the dice this way. If your train is delayed and you miss your flight then it's on you to book & pay for a new flight. There are some air-rail routes that cover you end-to-end but I don't think this is one of them.

I'd choose instead to arrive in Amsterdam the night before the flight and go to AMS the following morning; or maybe that's what you have in mind since you mentioned a hotel at AMS

Posted by
120 posts

Ok dumb question. This is our first trip to Europe (Italy/ France October 2021) We are flying home from Paris to PDX with a stop in Seattle via Delta. So when we land in the US even though we have a connecting flight. We have to get our bags from baggage claim, after clearing passport control and than go out the main terminal re check our bags to the domestic flight and go back in the terminal. our bags don’t automatically go to the next plane you are taking? Been reading some comments and a little confused 🤔.

Posted by
888 posts

I don’t know if this helps in terms of connections to PDX but just want to mention that Cincinnati CVG is a smaller Delta hub and does have a direct flight to Paris CDG. The booking system may not give you that option? Could be worth considering.

Posted by
16832 posts

Edryer - At Sea-Tac, you don’t go back out to the main terminal to re-check your bags. Right after picking them up and taking them through customs, there is a handy luggage belt where you re-deposit them. (They of course should already be tagged to your final destination.)