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How do you feel about EWR?

I will be in Rome in mid-April and am contemplating adding one night to my stay so I don't have to be FCO at 6am. I currently have flights on Lufthansa thru Munich with United miles but could rebook for an 11am flight with a 3 hour connection through EWR. Any thoughts? I really like flying from Europe right back to LA but maybe a domestic flight from EWR to LAX would be worth it to have one more day in Rome. Also, how much time does it take to get your bag and recheck it? Sounds complicated. I do have Global Entry.

Posted by
1322 posts

I have never transferred through EWR but it is our main airport for departure and return to/from Europe. Nothing of any major concern now that the runway refurb work is complete. Delays are about what I would expect at any major airport and mid April there should be no major weather concern either.

Posted by
5572 posts

As a connecting airport? It's not awful (though not a place I'd choose to spend any time). Three hours should be plenty of time for a connection there.

Possibly of interest: United has a very nice Polaris lounge in EWR (all included at no charge: showers, restaurant-quality food, very comfy space). if you are flying on a business class ticket you may have access to that lounge (it depends on the airline and the ticket -- and the criteria may be complcated). If you're not flying business class, you definitely won't have access (don't bother trying, they are strict and do not bend the rules) so in that case ignore the above.

As a destination, EWR is not very attractive to me; as a connection, not terrible. It's a major United hub.

(True story: I know non-native English speaker foreigners who thought they bought a ticket to New York, and were shocked when they landed at EWR and discovered they were not in New York, they were in a different city in a different state....they had never heard of "Newark" and thought it was just "New York" pronounced badly, and concluded they had been scammed...eventually someone explained that yes, Newark really was the name of the place, and the state it was in -- New Jersey -- was right next to New York, and their real destination was just a bus-ride away...but they were pretty freaked-out at first).

Posted by
420 posts

Oh my gosh, David, that is a funny story. Thanks for the info. Not flying Business, so I'll have to give the lounge a miss.

Posted by
1726 posts

We connected through EWR a few years ago (precovid) coming from Athens. We had four hours which was more than we needed. I forgot to dump the water out of my water bottle and TSA wanted to confiscate it. Told me I either had to throw it away or get back in security line after dumping water out. I got back in the line as I had nothing else to do and didn't want to lose my water bottle unnecessarily.

I don't recall how long it took to get our bag and recheck (we were carrying wine home!) but it was unremarkable. We also had Global Entry.

Food as I recall was unusually expensive even for an airport but maybe that is the New York proximity effect.

I would do it but anything to avoid being at the airport at 6 am!

Posted by
218 posts

Not EWR specific, but I flew LIS-BRU-IAD(Dullas)-PDX back in 2019. BRU-IAD was Premium Economy and fine, but even though I had upgraded the last IAD-PDX leg to First, it was six hours of Just. Shoot. Me. Now. I've vowed never make landfall on the east coast again. Of course, I was heading all the way to the west coast; you may have different feelings if heading to the midwest or south. I also had to get up at the Crack of Yawn to make the first leg, which may have played into it.

Posted by
690 posts

Like you Barbara, I prefer to fly out of Europe to the west coast versus connecting US. That said for an extra day in Rome would be worth it. I have transferred many times per COVID through EWR and it is easy to get through customs even without Global Entry and 3 hours should be more than enough time.

As others mentioned, food options are not great, but plentiful. I prefer transferring at EWR versus IAD.

Posted by
2168 posts

I think this airport is in need of a major overhaul. Spent 7 hours there on a layover. Confusing layout, we had to exit security because we were changing terminals and then had to go through security again!! Sheesh!

Posted by
2196 posts

Our primary routes to the USA (pre-covid 4-5 times a year) take us from AMS-ATL - two major hubs of the SkyTeam alliance (KLM & Delta). Surprisingly, because of their prices, we often find ourselves flying United and connecting through IAD or EWR. Often, we can save more than 50% by connecting rather than the SkyTeam nonstop flights. (of course, when we bring our kids over... they fly nonstop!).

So we've connected internationally at EWR many, many times - both coming and going. Entering the USA at EWR, we generally try to give ourselves 2.0 - 2.5 hour connections. We did run onto a few tighter connections when the runway work was going on (due to our AMS planes arriving late- or having to wait for an open gate), but we've never been in jeopardy of missing our second flight. So, three hours should be plenty. Granted, we have Global Entry so the most time-consuming piece is waiting on our luggage and then "rechecking it" to our next flight.

We're fortunate to most often come into and depart from the C Terminal, which makes our transition easier. (I've only flown into the B terminal - the "international" terminal one time! But with longer layovers, I've headed over there to get a look!).

The disappointing things were the prices ($35 for a hamburger and a beer - Welcome to the USA!!) and the lack of Priority Pass lounges (only in the B terminal?). Granted, there are plenty of restaurants, but geez, they are expensive. (First time I ate there, I thought they were joking - that I'd been living in Europe too long!),

Three hours should be plenty - Enjoy Rome!!!

Posted by
8984 posts

All of the sit-down restaurants (with the exception of the Garden State Diner..prices aren't as brutal) in Terminal C are owned and operated by one company, so there is zero competition:(

Posted by
442 posts

I flew out of there in 2019 on Virgin Atlantic, i think terminal B, it was awful. Got there wicked early. TSA Pre check was being half used (so I kept my shoes on in security, but no separate line); a fire alarm was BLARING when I was in the TSA line, everyone ignored it; and it was hot (late June departure). I hated the fact that if I wanted to leave my part of the terminal, I had to go through TSA again. They should have ONE TSA check in for the entire terminal.

Posted by
344 posts

I would always opt for the extra day in Italy and a later departure. We fly into/out of Newark. It's just what we're used to. FWIW, United at EWR has three United Club lounges, two in Terminal C (one is a pop up) and one in Terminal A. I believe that you can purchase entry for $59 if they have availability. You could also purchase Priority Plus for lounges not connected to any airline. I believe there is one at EWR in Terminal B. With just three hours of layover, it might not be worth it, though.
Meals don't have to be expensive at EWR. There are plenty of burger places that do not charge an arm and a leg.

Also, for those poor individuals who think that EWR is in NYC, NY Penn Station is a very short train ride from within EWR. No need for a bus.
I'm not sure EWR deserves the bad rap!! Don't be put off.

Posted by
7693 posts

We like EWR for United international Bus Class flights. Otherwise no different from others. I always hope my domestic flights are in the terminal with the international flights.

Posted by
5260 posts

I try to avoid EWR whenever possible after multiple bad experiences there, but when I think about it I realize most of them had to do with the nasty version of TSA that seems embedded in that airport's culture and the very slow and haphazard shuttles to NYC hotels. I've flown internationally out of there but never in, that I can remember. So if you're flying in from Europe and connecting to another flight none of my bad experiences seem relevant. Three hours seems like a reasonable connection time, especially with GE, and United should have enough LAX-bound flights to give you a decent Plan B if needed.

I've come to appreciate nonstops between the west coast and Europe when available, rather than connections through the eastern US, but I'm breaking that pattern on my next trip in order to avoid multiple countries' Covid rules. That alone could rationalize your decision to fly through EWR instead of Munich. And the extra time in Rome would be icing on the cake!

Posted by
6869 posts

EWR is the preferred airport in the NYC Metro area for flying overseas. But there again, the only other airport flying to Europe is JFK, and it's an embarrassment. Three hours should be sufficient for your connections.

Three times we've flown to Boston for connections--two of which required an expensive airport hotel stay.

Posted by
344 posts

Yes, TSA can be prickly but let's not forget (and TSA CERTAINLY DOES NOT) that one of the planes that was hijacked on September 11th was United and flew out of Newark. EWR and NYC are always on high alert, still. They may have been that way pre-attack, but I've always appreciated the no-nonsense. I just don't let it bother me.

Posted by
3304 posts

You have GE so you should have the time to recheck your luggage for you to enjoy an extra day in Rome. Some people would rather fly nonstop to LAX on Lufthansa so only you can decide if traveling via EWR is worth the extra day in Rome. UA in coach is cramped; it will not be as nice as your int’l flight from MUC. Scant snacks or drinks on UA and the amenities at EWR to pick up food for your transcontinental flight are awful. That is also something to consider.

Posted by
62 posts

I am really missing Alitalia's non-stop to Rome from LAX and back. I do not want to have to change planes on the East Coast. The flight is long enough to the West coast without having a layover on the East coast. I'll check out Luftansa.

Posted by
18302 posts

In 2007, I flew directly from the US to MUC. I changed planes in PHL, and came back through PHL. I swore I would never do PHL again, so the next time I flew to MUC, it was through EWR. EWR was no better than PHL. The flight from Munich came into the international terminal, with immigration and customs. Then we had to go out of security to get the shuttle to the regular terminal, where we had to go through security again, for the flight to Denver.

But this problem is common to all of the US entry airports. You have to do the same thing in ORD. Because you have access to your checked luggage (you need it to go through customs), in which you might have packed any number of items (guns, knives, wine openers - yikes - , hand grenades, bombs) that you can't take on an airplane in the US, you have to go through security again.

This is one of the reasons I will always pay a little more to fly direct between Denver and Europe. When I leave customs and immigration in Denver, I going home.