Please sign in to post.

Any way to remedy my stupid rookie mistake?

A few days ago I read ferrin's question on this thread about the problems that arose for him/her after AA changed the times on their flight from Nashville to Philadelphia and then on to Prague. My stomach dropped. I checked my AA ticket confirmation for our upcoming (less than three weeks now) trip to Rome via Philadelphia and saw that I was in the same situation, only I had done it to myself (with AA's help). Specifically, our flight leaves from my home city (would prefer not to reveal because I'm such an idiot) on Monday afternoon, April 23, and is supposed to arrive in PHL at 5:13 PM. Our flight for Rome departs 1 hour and 7 minutes later, at 6:20 PM, landing in Rome on the morning of April 24. American sold this ticket as a trip from my home city to Rome, so I guess someone somewhere there thinks this is doable. But what I didn't think about until I read ferrin's thread is that I have to change terminals. The first flight lands in Terminal F and the flight to Rome departs from Terminal A, and we have to get from one to the other by shuttle bus. Further research tells me that the flight from Home City to Philadelphia is late 52 percent of the time, typically by more than an hour. The flight to Rome is late about a quarter of the time, but I don't like the odds.
In ferrin's case, AA's change of flight times had created his predicament, but I willingly booked this flight, naively thinking AA wouldn't suggest something that's not doable. But the more I look at it, it seems highly unlikely that my husband and I will be in our business class seats when the plane takes off for Rome at 6:20 that night. We have tried to get rebooked on an earlier flight that day to PHL, but American refused, saying it was too late and we'd have to reticket the entire trip. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what we might do to increase our chances of getting to Rome around the time we had originally planned? Do we have any recourse with AA when the flight they scheduled is essentially not feasible? I'd appreciate any and all input and/or suggestions.

Posted by
16169 posts

Maybe talk to someone else at American Airlines. If you don't get the answer you want, ask to talk to a supervisor. Ask if it is reasonable that the connection is possible, and what is the recourse if you miss the flight to Rome. Will you get business class seats on the next days flight? Is the earlier flight from your home city fully booked? Accept premium economy or even steerage class if need be.

Posted by
1179 posts

Call AA and find out the minimum legal flight time for your transfer. Let this be your first question. Make sure you mention switching terminals.

If the minimum connection time is larger than your connection time then you have an illegal connection and AA needs to change it.

The AA agent was wrong stating that you needed a whole new booking. It isn’t true. They just said that because they’d need a manager approval for the more complicated changes. Hang up, call back until you get an agent that will work with you.

The key thing to emphasize is that neither of you want you to miss your flight. It becomes a hassle for both you and AA. Work from that angle.

Posted by
2946 posts

Cindy is spot on. Call again and ask them for their MCT minimum connect time limit for this particular airport and terminals.

Posted by
213 posts

So, If I am reading your post correctly, you purchased a ticket from American Airlines to fly from your home airport to Rome, with the connection in Philadelphia? If, for some reason, you do not have the time to make your connection, that is AA’s fault, not yours. First, Airlines typically build in extra time with their flight times, so, if all goes well, you may land in PHL earlier than 513PM. Secondly, AA wants you to make the flight to rome, so even if your first flight is a little late, AA will be aware and don’t be surprised if they help make sure you make your flight to Rome. I agree, your short connection time is not ideal, but if everything goes OK, it should not be a problem to make your flight.

Another option is to simply show up at your home airport far in advance to your scheduled flight and see if you can get on an earlier flight to Philadelphia. Do you or your husband have any elite status with American Airlines? I ask, as I have status with Delta, and I can make same day flight changes without cost on Delta.

Posted by
2341 posts

Call AA back - and if you get another jerk, say you have to take another call (or wait until you're on hold), hang up, and call again - repeat until you get somebody nice. I have used that strategy multiple times with AA.

If you're an advantage member, call that number instead of the main number.

Posted by
267 posts

If you end up on your already booked flights and time is tight, advise the flight attendants before you land. They probably can't do anything to get the next flight held for you but they could ask that other passengers allow you, with a tight connection, off the plane first. Usually other passengers are sympathetic enough to stay out of the way. You may not even be the only ones trying to make a tight connection. Good luck.

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks for all the help. On hold w/ American Advantage customer service right now! Will let you know how it goes.

Posted by
3289 posts

Only used PHL once, but all the terminals are connected airside so you don't "have" to use a shuttle, you can walk. Also note that the shuttle is airside so no need for another security check.

Normally the layout as at PHL would be called concourse A, concourse F, etc., for some reason they are not following the convention.

Posted by
3634 posts

If you miss the connection, AA will put you on next available flight with space available.

Posted by
1179 posts

If you miss the connection, AA will put you on next available flight with space available.

Which could be days later. Planes are flying very full these days. The OP would also lose their business class seats.

I wouldn’t want to take chances like this.

Posted by
5697 posts

Would it be faster if AA put you on a motorized vehicle (as used for mobility-impaired or elderly passengers) directly between gates/terminals ? If they insist the connection is "doable" perhaps they could have the cart standing by at your arrival gate to whisk you away.

Posted by
2799 posts

Let us know how it turns out. My guess is that 60 minutes is the minimum connect time and younare over that so it will cost you to change the first flight. The cost should be whatever the change fee is, plus updating the first flight to the current ( presumably higher) price. But it should not mean re-pricing the long haul flight as well.

Just do not make the mistake of booking yourselves on an earlier flight to Philly and just skipping the flight you have booked. Failure to take that flight (without getting it officially changed) will result in cancellation of your long haul flight and whatever else is in that same ticket ( like return flights).

And if you take the suggestion above to arrive at your home airport early and ask to be put on an earlier flight, be SURE the agent makes note of this and prints you a copy of the new itinerary with all flights in place. Actually I do jot think they will make this change without a fee but I do not know American's policy on same-day flight changes.

Posted by
19 posts

So the guy I spoke with at American claims that the minimum connection time for an international flight at the PHL airport is 50 minutes, conveniently (for AA) within the 67-minute time frame we'll have if our flight from our home city is exactly on time. I asked what would happen if that flight is delayed enough that we miss our flight to Rome and he said that whether the reason for delay is weather or mechanical, we will be rebooked that night on a flight to Rome via London or Spain on British Air, in business class seats if available. He said that rebooking to the earlier flight to Philadelphia at 11:07 AM on the 23rd would be exorbitantly expensive because we are so close to the time of the flight. His only suggestion for getting on the earlier flight was to call AA at exactly 11:07 AM on the 22nd and try to make a $75, same-day change in our flight to PHL because we would be within 24 hours of the flight time.
I suppose someone must be making this connection or they'd stop offering the flight (I booked the ticket several months ago and they're still selling it). But I remain anxious, so I plan to keep calling AA to see if someone will put us on that earlier flight to PHL without charging us an arm and a leg. Thanks for all the help.

Posted by
37 posts

I am assuming that any checked bags will be checked through to Rome when you board in your home city. It is possible to walk airside in PHL from terminal F to terminal A. It is about 3/4 of a mile depending on which gates and is doable if you are able bodied and not schlepping lots of luggage. The concourses tend to get crowded with people so you may have to maneuver around slower walkers but you should be able to get to your gate in time for your flight to Rome, assuming your flight into PHL is on time. I know, a couple of assumptions in there, but I tend to be more comfortable relying on my own two feet rather than a shuttle bus. Of course, if by happy coincidence, one happens to be at Terminal F when you get there then I would definitely hop on!

Posted by
3923 posts

Since you're flying Business Class, your chances are slightly better since you will be deplaning early in the crowd. I would still tell your flight attendant that you're worried about making the connection. They may be able to give you the best advice for that airport.

Second, if you're checking any luggage, I would definitely recommend having an outfit packed in a carry-on bag or large personal bag, so that if your luggage doesn't make the tight connection, it won't impact your first days in Rome.

Posted by
441 posts

Oh no Catherine! I just saw this. I was going to add (but you already know this) that AA says 50 minutes is sufficient. Maybe it is true. I hope it is, for your sake. I was aware that if we missed our connection, they would rebook us but at that point, we'd be missing a whole day of our vacation.
I am so sorry about this-I wish they would not allow to book such tight connections. I'll be anxious to see if you changed your first flight or kept the original and made it by running through the airport! I will say that we had a 1.5 hour connection in ATL on the way to Paris, and we made it with no problems. Didn't even have to run. Got a chance to buy neck pillows. So it might not be an issue. I hope not! I think it all depends on that first flight and how close to on time it is. Good luck!

Posted by
2905 posts

Catherine, stop beating yourself up. This is nothing for you to be ashamed of. You did a great job now of researching this situation, even checking the ontime record of your flight to PHL. Hope this turns out well for you.

Posted by
996 posts

First of all, do not panic. This is a doable connection. Philadelphia airport is a bit of a pain, but it is possible to do a connection between terminals in that airport in that amount of time.

Are you flying first class to Philadelphia? If so, you'll be among the first to deplane. That's good. If you're flying coach, make sure you're ready to GO as soon as you can start moving. If possible, mention to the flight attendant that you're worried about a tight connection. They may be able to confirm your departure gate for you before you land.

No matter when your first flight lands or where you are seated, power walk to the next gate as soon as you're sure which one it is. Do not stop for coffee, water, restrooms, etc. Once you arrive at your next gate, breathe and see if boarding has started. Since you're flying business class, you'll have time to use the restroom if boarding has only just started. You don't have to worry about room for carryons in that class. And usually there are refreshments waiting once you're seated.

IF you first flight is late, still do the power walk to the next gate. If for some reason you miss the flight - and fingers crossed here that you won't! - ask the gate agent to book you on the next available flight even if it means rerouting. Stress that you are willing to change planes in London, Paris, etc., as long as you arrive in Rome the next day. You also have the option of accepting a different fare of seating. (Note that with some airlines, if you accept a lower class of fare for rebooking you may forfeit any difference due between the cost of the seats. Clarify that fact before you take a seat in economy or you could be out $$$. Repeat that you were originally booked in business, and that this was not your fault.)

And next time, you'll know to book a longer amount of time for a connection. I think all of us probably did the very same thing early in our travels. GOOD LUCK and let us know how it goes???

Posted by
87 posts

I go through the Philadelphia airport several times a year, and if your arriving flight is reasonably on time, you should be able to make this connection. Walking from Terminal F to A takes about 20 minutes at a leisurely pace for this 65-year-old, and if you walk fast it should be less. It's all connecting, indoor walkways, well-signed, and there are no barriers along the route, and no stops for security. Personally I always opt to walk this connection, but probably the shuttle bus takes about the same amount of time.

Posted by
5086 posts

If you paid $$$ for your ticket, you may be OK.

As posted upthread, you have a fair chance of making the connection. You can help by being ready to charge off the first flight quickly (tell the cabin crew you have a very tight international connection, ask them to hold the other passengers from jamming the aisles to allow you to flee first - the crew may or may not help with this, and other passengers sometimes ignore the request, but it's worth a try). Be ready, have your things ready to go as soon as the seat belt sign goes off, jump up, grab your stuff, and run. Know exactly how to get to where you need to go, the fastest, most efficient way. As you come charging off the plane, see if you can flag down an airline employee and ask them to call your gate and tell them you're on the way, don't close the door. Then go go go.

If you misconnect, AA should accommodate you (this assumes you're booked as a single itinerary, which it sounds like you did). They will get you there as soon as they can.

The rub may be that they may not be able to put you in business class. (If it were me, I'd insist on that, and I'd take a later flight to get that - YMMV.)

This assumes you are on a paid ticket - paid with $$$. If you have an award ticket (paid with FF miles) then, if you misconnect, getting the next available business class seat may be problematic. Hopefully this isn't the case.

If anything goes sideways, ask them to help. Be polite, but if you don't like the answer you get, ask someone else.

Good luck.

Posted by
645 posts

I just went through Philadelphia for a trip to London and I was pleasantly surprised about how easy it was to navigate. As others have said, you will have no barriers, just "power walk" to your gate at concourse A. Be optimistic - I think you will make it and if not - then don't panic - you will get to your destination - just have AA rebooking on your speed dial. Call and get the next flight to Europe. Its happened to all of us seasoned travelers.

Posted by
19 posts

You guys are great!! Thanks for all the suggestions and encouragement. It's really good to hear that some of you have made this walk and think we'll be okay. I'm feeling optimistic. We'll just keep our fingers crossed, pack an extra outfit and undies in our carryons, and hope for the best!

Posted by
1893 posts

Are you on a small regional jet flying into Philadelphia, or one of the more full-sized planes? That can matter re: reliability of departures/arrivals.

I agree with everyone else.....just keep trying to see if you can get a supervisor to assist you. Tell them you did not realize the original flight has such a low reliability rating, and that you just really, really do not want to miss your connection because of (fill int the blank: trip of a lifetime, that your spouse is really looking forward to his business class seats, whatever...just be human, something anyone else can relate to.

We did an Australia and NZ cruise a few years ago at the last-minute, and because of a terrible delay getting out of BNA, we were extremely late for our connection in LA (or maybe SFO), where we had to go outside security to an entirely different building, then go back thru security (that was before we obtained Global Entry). My husband still had his chemo port device at that point, and we had doctor letter with us. I alerted the flight attendants, and asked if they could make an announcement to let those with tight connections exit first (they told me they would, and they did), but knowing human nature like I do, I figured that would last all of 60 seconds (and it did), so in advance, I asked the flight attendants if I could make an announcement from my seat, if needed, and they said sure.

We had already checked, and if we had not made that connection, our trip insurance company said there were no other seats for two more days....planes were packed.

So, each time many rows in front of us stood up, I politely but with a very professional announcer voice said:
PLEASE REMAIN SEATED UNLESS YOU HAVE A TIGHT CONNECTION. People turned around, looked at me, I restated, and they sat.....repeated the process about three times, we got off, and away we RAN, and I do mean RAN, confirming with 2 second stops along the way that we were headed in the right direction. When arriving at the next security screening, I explained in a very polite announcement to about 30 people that we had MINUTES to make the connection, and everyone parted and sent us thru. We made it...........panting, but we made it!! Some young geologists heading to NZ were on the same flight, and they just followed right behind us.

It also helps that I am tall and can part crowds politely by repeating with a kind, but firm voice: "Rushing to make a TIGHT connection." People moved, just as you and I would for some dear soul. We've all been there.

When we got to the Air New Zealand counter, the agent asked if we might not want better seats. I had tried and tried for Economy Plus on the side with two seats, but could not get them before we departed. By a miracle, that's what she offered to us and we were oh so very grateful.

Things CAN work out...........but, again, I agree with everyone else. Try hard to head off the problem by getting an earlier flight.
And,if all else fails, there could be some forecasted weather issue that allows one to change tickets without the fee. Keep the faith.

Posted by
19 posts

Wow, Maggie! Wish you were traveling with us! Yes, we are flying American Eagle to PHL. Honestly, my biggest concern is the weather in our home city, which can be quite turbulent in late April and often causes flight delays. But I'll keep trying to get on that earlier flight.

Posted by
19 posts

Oh, and I had forgotten that we are on the front row of first class on our flight to PHL, so that will help us get off the plane and on our way to the next gate quickly.

Posted by
1179 posts

There is one other thing I haven’t seen mentioned.

I usually go online ahead of time and look at the maps for the airport terminals. If possible, load the map on your phone. If not, your in flight magazine will have a map of the airport.

I have a couple of apps on my smartphone that provide real time gate and terminal information for my flight. You can load your flights in he app ahead of time. Once the first plane has landed and is taxiing you’ll be able to receive cellular on your phone. Bring up the app and it will update your arrival gate and the gate for your next flight. Then look at the terminal maps to figure where you need to go.

I also check the boards but I find the apps to be accurate. The advantage is I have a couple of minutes during the taxi to plan my moves. And I can start moving immediately instead of searching out a status board.

I use FlightStats and Flight Update Pro. Flight Update Pro has sounds that alert you to flight changes (it also has terminal maps). FlightStats shows the timeline of the flight starting the day before the flight. You can see if they are switching out planes and even the cause of any delays and the amount of estimated delays.

Next time I’m sure you’ll give yourself 3 hours between flights. And American will then cancel your first flight and replace it with another flight with a 50 minute connection time. (How would I know this?).