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Connecting Flights

We are planning a trip for March 2021 from FL to Italy. As of now our choices come down to a combo of British & American Airlines with a connecting flight at London Gatwick Airport to Venice, or a Lufthansa Flight from FL to Frankfurt and then to Venice. Our returns flights are from Rome, but would stop at the same connecting Hub. What is everyone's experience with connecting through these airports? I've never done a connecting flight, and I am nervous about how long we will need in each place. I did look at each airport's website, and I think b/c we would be traveling on the same airline throughout the trip either way, we shouldnt have to collect bags and go through security again. I am confused however about the Immigration Control process along with security. What is everyone's experiences at these two airports? On our return on the British route, we have a 3 hour layover in Philly, how will that process work? Thank you

For context
Layover at Gatwick is 1 hr 20 minutes to Italy , on return we have a 3 hr layover in Philadelphia
Layover at Frankfort is 1 hour 15 minutes

Posted by
6039 posts

If you are on a single ticket, the airline has figured out how much time is needed.

If you are buying multiple individual flights then the 'common wisdom' is at least 3 hrs.

I am 99.9% certain that any stop over in UK involving a a flight that originated outside the UK will require a security screening before you get on the outbound flight.

Posted by
14 posts

It's all one ticket. I stopped looking at sites like Expedia b/c of that. I wanted 1 ticket with 1 airline company, and will just buy directly through them especially with all that is going on.

Posted by
1043 posts

I am 99.9% certain that any stop over in UK involving a a flight that
originated outside the UK will require a security screening before you
get on the outbound flight.

Correct, the UK does not participate in the On stop security, so when connecting in the UK you will have to go through security again. You should not have to go through security again in Frankfurt, but I'm not sure if the airport can separate "safe" and "non-safe" non-Schengen arriving transfer passengers. But there should be no security on the way back.

Immigration is handled at your first/last airport in Schengen. I.e Frankfurt, or Rome if flying via London. Your bags will be checked all the way to Rome and customs handled there.

Posted by
16608 posts

Others will have better advice about those two airports than I do, but I'd be a bit concerned (perhaps unnecessarily?) about buying a ticket this early with the possibility, especially in this era of COVID-19, of a schedule change that might leave you flying into Heathrow rather than Gatwick. That could mean a transfer between the two airports in order to get your flight to Venice. There are such connections offered, but in my view they are to be avoided.

I prefer to have at least two hours of transfer time when I travel eastbound to Europe.

Posted by
2000 posts

When you come into Philadelphia, you will go through Immigration and Customs this initial entry into the US, before your final flight, and you will retrieve your baggage and have to re-check it, even though you will be on one ticket. But 3 hours will be plenty. When you end your final flight you will walk out, except for having to retrieve your baggage. Also note that if you are connecting in Frankfurt on hour way home from Italy, that is where you leave Schengen and you have to go through their passport control. While this is just go through the line and get stamped out, the last time we did this the line was enormous, our first flight was late and we had been put on a legal 70-minute connection (the flight was rescheduled from the original 80 minutes). We almost missed our flight, although I suspect Lufthansa knew they needed to get some late-comers boarded. We have never had a problem outbound through Frankfurt, and that included making a connection when our flight from Philly was way late and we made it even though the cabin door opened less than 25 minutes before the second flight was scheduled to leave and we were being bussed.

Posted by
14 posts

Acraven, thank you for your input. I am nervous as well in general about booking. it's a no win, if I wait too long I may be priced out of what I can afford when the airlines try to recoup their money, but yeah times can change. I feel a little more comfortable with American/British, just becaue i could reuse those tickets stateside. However, who knows. We live in unusual times.

Posted by
1043 posts

Others will have better advice about those two airports than I do, but
I'd be a bit concerned (perhaps unnecessarily?) about buying a ticket
this early with the possibility, especially in this era of COVID-19,
of a schedule change that might leave you flying into Heathrow rather
than Gatwick. That could mean a transfer between the two airports in
order to get your flight to Venice.

That is a good point. Arriving at Heathrow and having your next flight depart from Gatwick or vice versa it not something I'd recommend.

Larry, do you like Lufthansa?

While I'm not Larry, I have to say yes. They are in my opinion one of the best airlines in Europe.

Posted by
2000 posts

Since we are in Philadelphia, PHL is our logical home airport, though we have left from Newark a few times. Philadelphia is limited, only about 14 airlines, and the main player is American. United and Delta do not fly international from here. As for Lufthansa, they have exactly 1 flight per day from Philadelphia--to and from Frankfurt. And we have taken that round-trip 6 times since we started traveling 11 years ago. We have been happy with it, their cabin service is excellent, they even use metal utensils, several trips with the beverage cart, not just at meal time, wine is complimentary. Except for one year they use an Airbus 340 for this route, seating is 2-4-2, so you never get a middle seat. The food quality on the plane is better coming inbound from Europe, I have always attributed that to the food put on the various flights of of PHL is serviced by Aramark, and I have never liked their quality (they also have a monopoly on our sports venues, and franchised chains have to get supplied by them). Regarding Frankfurt airport, for all the complaints here over the years about how huge it is, if you are simply doing a Lufthansa-Lufthansa connection it is very straight-forward, not terribly far apart. and well signed. Clean. Along with restaurants there are several bakery/deli chains that are not overpriced with good quality food. We generally count on a good breakfast when we are outbound. We have found the customer service in Frankfurt Airport, at least as Lufthansa is concerned, and that is LH's main hub, to be excellent. On the late inbound flight that I mentioned, most people with connections were taken care of before they even left the plane. We were directed on entry that our gate was not yet closed and we hoofed it. They even assisted us in getting off the plane ahead of the crowd, at least they tried to, but since we did not gate and had to board a bus, it pretty much did not matter.

Flying from US to Europe, you are pretty much assured of needing a connection, unless you are flying into that specific city. Lufthansa will land in Frankfurt or Munich, BA in London, American has several gateway cities, Delta I assume will go to Paris, SAS to one of the Scandinavian hubs, TAP to Lisbon, Turkish to Istanbul, and so. And then connect on their network to your destination. We once flew into London by overshooting it on Lufthansa into Frankfurt and then jumping back, but our return was then out of Amsterdam, and Lufthansa, even with the "wasted" miles (they would not stop and let us off in London as we flew over it) was still the best overall routing and flight.

Noting Badger's comment, I believe Lufthansa is always rated in the top 10 (which includes no American Airlines), just behind the Arabian luxury carriers et al. Or to us, the top-rated airline that we would actually be using.

Posted by
4866 posts

jcu1210, I would choose the Lufthansa flight, connecting in Frankfurt. No doubts. Any checked bags should be checked through to Venice, but you would still have an immigration check in Frankfurt.

Both airports are large and busy in normal times. But I find Frankfurt to be better to connect in.

I ran your itinerary through Orbitz, and I see that there was also a Lufthansa option with a two hour layover, arriving in Venice not much later.

Posted by
14 posts

Thank you both. It sounds like Lufthansa had the better service, and I heard the good was good. Plus a complimentary drink is always good. How long of a layover is enough time do you think?

Last question, would you say booking through the airline directly is the best bet? And do you know if there vouchers are good on United? I believe they are part of the same group. Again, thank you so kuch!

Posted by
2000 posts

I would not book anywhere BUT the directly from an airline, especially in this time of uncertainty. Remember, if there is any problem, it is the obligation of who you bought the ticket from to help you. And the airline is by far the best. You will find near unanimous agreement on this here. And unless you are putting together a concoction of flights from two different airlines that can't combine tickets, you will not find them cheaper on online-travel-agent sites.

As for voucher questions, I would suggest you check Lufthansa's policies online regarding their use for United. They would certainly be good for any United flight that Lufthansa was selling.

Posted by
4866 posts

jcu

And do you know if there vouchers are good on United?

I don't know, but my guess is no. Are you familiar with codesharing? Its where some some flights are showing with one airlines number, but are actually flown by one of their partners. In this case, some flights flown by United can be booked through Lufthansa and if you play around with that enough, you might get the voucher to work. Maybe someone has knowledge.

Connecting times are always a guess, because you never know when your first flight will arrive - late or early. But if its booked on one ticket, Lufthansa will get you to Venice on another flight if you miss your connection. On one ticket, they know who is arriving and when, and so sometimes may hold up a departure if they know several people are delayed.

I am one of many who prefer to book directly with the airline, because it cuts out the middleman in case there is a problem. Sometimes the third party sites will come up with some cobbled together itineraries, with unreasonable connection times.

Posted by
14 posts

Thank you. I am leaning towards the Lufthansa route, And I would rather pay more to go through them directly. I am new to this forum, do I appreciate the feedback.

Posted by
4155 posts

Last year I flew Lufthansa from Seattle to Barcelona via Frankfurt, on one ticket with a checked bag. At Frankfurt I went through passport control for the Schengen area and straight into the gate area for my next flight. I don't recall any additional security process. My connection time was longer than yours and the flight landed on time, but Lufthansa would have gotten me and bag to Barcelona regardless.

If you travel through Gatwick or Heathrow you'll have another security screen there (for you, not the checked bag). I haven't had problems with that at Heathrow, and I've never used Gatwick, but it would be another step that could complicate your trip if there's a delay.

My few Lufthansa flights have always been good. And when they had a strike the day I was to return from Spain, the airline quickly rerouted me on other carriers, with very helpful staff at the Madrid airport. So I'm a fan.

Posted by
1043 posts

Noting Badger's comment, I believe Lufthansa is always rated in the
top 10 (which includes no American Airlines).

I think so too, they are usually rated as one of the best (if not the best) European airlines.

Last question, would you say booking through the airline directly is
the best bet?

Yes. Especially with the current situation, if you need to rebook or cancel it is always easier to deal with the airline instead of a 3rd party company.

And do you know if there vouchers are good on United? I believe they
are part of the same group.

Lufthansa and United are both (founding) members of Star Alliance, so they code share a lot. But I'd be surprised if you'd be able to use a Lufthansa voucher when buying a flight from United.

Posted by
14 posts

Thank you Badger me I am really leaning towards Lufthansa. It's also the quicker route. My past experience on American has been blah at best. British I've read alot of mixed reviews on. The American/ British flights are about $400 cheaper than Lufthansa, that is really my biggest hold up. I've come to the conclusion it is a better idea to book now, rather than wait for prices to skyrocket. I anticipate that cruises, airlines, hotels, will all raise their prices to recover the lost money. I know there is a chance of a second wave, but it is a risk, hopefully there is not a 2nd wave of we have a vaccine in place by then. I mean it is 9-10 months out

Posted by
5552 posts

My experiences with American, British Air and Lufthansa all have been good, reliable.

Posted by
1043 posts

I've come to the conclusion it is a better idea to book now, rather
than wait for prices to skyrocket. I anticipate that cruises,
airlines, hotels, will all raise their prices to recover the lost
money.

Maybe, or maybe demand will still be low and hence prices will be low as well? Who knows?

Posted by
2655 posts

Delta I assume will go to Paris

Yes, but Amsterdam is their bigger European destination.

Posted by
1043 posts

Yes, predicting airline ticket prices is never easy. And at the moment probably harder than normal.