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Philadelphia layover

Hello everyone,
My sister and I are looking to take a quick trip to Rome in early December. The return leg has a 1 1/2 hr layover in PHL. We will have a carry on, will this be enough time? I’m used to Dulles but unfortunately PHL is our only option & I'm not familiar with this airport. We will be booked on 1 ticket straight through & will use the mobile passport app


Posted by
21718 posts

Should be with normal cautions -- if your arriving plane is on time. We have done Philly a couple of time. It is OK.

Posted by
18302 posts

As Frank says, a whole lot depends on your flight from Rome arriving on time or early. Since it is on the same airline (American, I assume), they should know you are coming, in case the connection is close.

I came back from Munich on USAir in 2007; I doubt that too much has changed since then.

My biggest complaint is that coming from Europe, you'll go through customs and immigration in Philly. Like most (all?) US airports, customs is not a secure area, so you will end up outside of security and have to go back through to get to your gate. That will take the most time. But I think that is true of IAD as well.

I assume you are flying from PHL to CHA. It looks like flights to Chattanooga leave from Concourse C, which is roughly across the hall from where you come out of customs & security.

In 2007 I also had only a carry-on, I had 1½ hours or a little less, as I remember, and I was leaving for Denver from B or C, and I made it with time to spare. Since 2007, I've made several domestic transfers at PHL without a problem.

PHL is a long airport. If you are going from A (international flights) to F, you might have a problem. Check the flight status to see what gates you are using.

Good luck.

BTW, security personnel in PHL were easily the most verbally abusive I have experienced anywhere in the world. Half the personnel seemed to have no other assignment then to yell at the passengers.

Posted by
4931 posts


BTW, security personnel in PHL were easily the most verbally abusive I have experienced anywhere in the world. Half the personnel seemed to have no other assignment then to yell at the passengers.

I guess I've been lucky the few dozen times I've been through PHL over the years and never encountered any like that...

Posted by
4931 posts

Amanda, I'd also look to see if there are any later flights on to your final destination from PHL (directly flights best of course), in case you do miss your connection. If you know there's another flight two hours later, most likely you'd get put on that so much less of a worry vs. it being the last flight of the day so little chance of getting home same day if you miss your connection...

Posted by
712 posts

I have been through PHL several times. As you will only have a carry-on, then it will improve your chances of making your connecting flight. It will also depend on where you are sitting on your return flight from Rome. A fully packed European flight might take you 20 minutes or more to deplane. If you are in comfort class and one of the first groups off the plane then you can get ahead. Upgrading to at least comfort class may be helpful on your return trip to Philly. Using the mobile passport app really helps speed you through immigration. Also, by December, your flight schedule may very well get changed several times by the airline as they adjust post-covid schedules. so don't worry too much yet.

I agree that checking to see if there is a later flight would be beneficial in case you need a plan B. I find Philly a pretty easy airport to navigate. I always prefer about 3 hours on a transatlantic transfer but if the plane is on time coming into Philly, then you have a decent chance of making the flight.


Posted by
914 posts

Unfortunately, the last time I flew back to the U.S. thru Philly (from Munich), I had a TSA agent experience similar to Lee’s. That was years ago. Perhaps it’s better now, but I’d go in mentally prepared that you may not get a cheery “welcome home.” If anything, the opposite. I think it helps that you have carry on only. In general, PHL is okay.

Posted by
1216 posts

Ugh. Philadelphia is just slightly worse than Dulles. And yes, many of their TSA people seem like they are having a perpetual bad day.

Posted by
167 posts

Thank you everyone for your replies.

Lee, we will be flying into Knoxville. I would have preferred Chattanooga but I would have too many layovers (with a higher potential of the airline moving flights around).

I looked and as of right now, the last flight to Knoxville is the one I hope to make. I told my sister that we need to prepare for the possible missed flight but my MIL (travel agent) seems to think we should be fine.

As for rude TSA agents, I had some bad ones in Paris when it came to my son’s baby wipes. Otherwise I have it go in one ear and out the other. I pity them most of the time; having to deal with rude travelers who can’t seem to figure out the basics of putting your items in a bin.

Posted by
489 posts

As long as your inbound flight is on time, you should have no trouble making the connection.

I’ve flown thru Philly maybe a hundred times; it’s one of my favorites because connections are fast and easy — unless you’re connecting way out in the F gates. Those take some time to get to, especially if you’re coming in to the A gates (where international flights land). Walk fast if you’re headed out there!

And yes, I find airport staff at PHL to be extremely….. um……. brusque. But they are efficient and will get everyone on the plane quickly, nasty as they might be. So I’m good with that.