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Rome to Tampa - connect through Amsterdam or Atlanta?

I'm working on booking a multi-city ticket on Delta for my RS Best of Europe 14 Day tour in September. I am not an experienced traveler and I travel solo. Booking connecting flights is new to me and knowing how much time to allow for connections in airports I do not know is scary. I do not check luggage.

On my return leg, I am looking at two possibilities:
Rome to Amsterdam - layover 1h 30min - flight to Tampa - is this connection too short to the international flight to Tampa?
Rome to Atlanta - layover 2h 29min - flight to Tampa - I assume I go through Immigration & Customs in Atlanta as my point of entry and is this connection time too short? I have connected through Atlanta to an international flight, but have never arrived in Atlanta on an international flight.

Any advice or opinions from the frequent fliers who have gone through Amsterdam and Atlanta would be most appreciated.

Posted by
6617 posts

I'd go with the Rome to Atlanta - layover 2h 29min. Delta would just put you on one of the 3 direct flights to Tampa leaving after 8pm if you missed the 2h 29min connection. Delta has 15 direct flights to Tampa a day. Your chances are better

Posted by
5010 posts


All other things being equal, I'd rather connect in Amsterdam than in Atlanta (just for the quality of the airport experience) but in your case things aren't equal. While 1:30 might be enough time to connect in AMS, if you miss that, you have fewer good options for getting home. In ATL, with 2:29 you have more time to connect (even though ATL is a far less efficient airport), but most of all, if you missconnect there in ATL, you will have many more/better options to get home.

Only questions I would ask is, what time of day is your arrival in ATL, and how many flights to Tampa are there after you arrive, in case you miss your last leg? In both cases, I'd be looking to avoid getting stuck overnight in ATL (getting stuck overnight in AMS might not be such a bad thing). If your flight into ATL gets there deep into the evening (late enough that you have no good options if you misconnect), then I'd give it a hard look.

Posted by
16815 posts

Yes, you would go through Immigration & Customs in Atlanta, which should already be accommodated by that longer connection time. (With the caveat that I don't know the Atlanta airport.)

1h 30m also sounds fine to connect at Amsterdam Schiphol under normal circumstances, with bags checked through. Their minimum time for an international connection is 50 minutes. (I've done it in 45 minutes, due to a flight schedule change, and with the help of transfer staff, but that was also several years ago, so not the most relevant example.)

Posted by
700 posts

Sorry but this one is a no brainer.
Atlanta. Period.
OP has acknowledged she is not experienced with transfers, apparently doesn’t know Amsterdam’s airport, and is flying solo. Add in a delayed departure out of Rome and she is toast on making that connection (and I have been delayed getting out of Rome).

OP- go directly to the US/Tampa. Lots of opportunities for the next” flight if by some slim chance you miss your connection. You will also gain “safe” experience with the transfer experience and will be in a better knowledge/emotional position next trip regarding transfers within Europe.

Travel safe,

One Fast Bob

Posted by
8008 posts

I'd agree with the longer connection in Atlanta. Your international flight will start boarding about an hour before departure and they will generally close the boarding process about 30 minutes before. That's vague but I've generally had them stop boarding 30 minutes ahead with an exception in Paris where there was a security issue that held folks up and they allowed people to board nearly up to the scheduled departure time. You'll go thru departure Immigration at Schiphol although they have a "fast lane" if you have a short connection and there is another security check before boarding US bound planes.

I do understand it is "possible" and that others have done it.

Posted by
141 posts

A Gainesville vote for the Atlanta connection. If you have a delay or missed flight it is much easier and more frequent flights from Atlanta to Tampa than from AMS to TPA. Immigration in Atlanta is not bad, not as fast as Charlotte and not as terrible as Philadelphia .

Posted by
55 posts

You guys rock! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience. I hope I get as experienced as all of you some day. Atlanta it is!

Posted by
11230 posts

Since this is your first time connecting international to domestic in the US, here's how it will go:

You will arrive in Atlanta and line up for passport control. Assuming you are traveling on a US passport, be sure to go to that line.

You then go to baggage claim and claim all your checked baggage. If you have no checked baggage, proceed to the next step.

You then go through customs. Sometimes you are "randomly selected for additional screening," and sometimes they just wave you through.

Just outside the customs door, there will be a baggage recheck area. You deposit your checked bags here, and they will be transferred to the next flight. Note that if you have acquired anything that will not be able to go through security (liquids, sharp objects, etc), be sure to transfer them to checked luggage before re-checking your bags.

Now you find your next gate, passing through security on the way.

At any point, if have any questions or are confused, don't hesitate or get nervous - ASK. Atlanta airport is filled with Delta personnel who do this all day, and will be able to sort out any problems. For instance, if due to a late arrival from Rome you miss your flight to Tampa, head immediately to a Delta service counter so you can be rebooked.

Posted by
1178 posts

In general, it’s always best to connect closest to your final destination. That way there are more options if something goes wrong.