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Tight connection times - what would you do?

I am looking at two flights with tight connection times. Both are on a single ticket.
One is Zurich to Boston with a one hour layover in Amsterdam (on KLM)
Other is Zurich to Boston with a two hour layover in CDG (on Air France)

The second one costs $65 more than the first. What would you do?

Posted by
6441 posts

The cheapest on this case but only if you have just a carry on bag ; there are plenty of flights to Zurich from Amsterdam in case you miss the connection due to the airline 's fault

Posted by
5010 posts

Far too many people shop only on price, to the exclusion of all other considerations, and IMHO that's extremely foolish.

65 bucks is money, but its not big money.

Which seat is going to be more comfortable? They're not all the same, you know. That's what I'd be looking at.

Posted by
156 posts

What airline are you flying on that you do not get a direct flight? We've flown Boston-Zurich and Zurich-Boston many times direct but it is on Swiss and booked through Swiss or Lufthansa.

Posted by
3455 posts

You might make the tight connection; your checked bag might not. Something else to think about (and I speak from experience.)

Posted by
1508 posts

This is a return trip to the US, correct? I personally would not risk the one hour layover in AMS - if anything goes wrong, there is little to no chance of a second direct flight to Boston later in the same day. Are you trying to avoid a very early morning flight out of Zurich? Then consider flying the night before and staying near the airport (AMS or CDG). A quick Google search shows that Swiss air (United partner) has a direct flight to Boston, avoiding hassles of short layovers might be worth the price.

Posted by
619 posts

I have made connections through both airports and Amsterdam is a better airport for connections than CDG in general. However, an hour layover in Amsterdam give you zero time if you are delayed. If you decide to risk Amsterdam, then I would check on the next available non-stop to Boston that day. If there is something available, then you may want to risk it.

Although I hate connecting through CDG, I personally would feel better with the two hour connection time.

The other option is to book non-stop on another airline from Zurich to Boston.

Sandy

Posted by
675 posts

This is a return flight to the US. If the first flight in either case were delayed it would be up to the airline to put me on the next available flight, but there wouldn't be one that day. So I assume they would have to put me in a hotel? If that's the case then I don't care, getting home a day later on this trip is no big deal. I'm more concerned that the first flight is on time but the hour (or two hour) is not sufficient to get from one plane to the next. Can't remember what type of passport/security checks would be involved in these cases.

No checked luggage.

I know that CDG is a more 'complicated' airport than AMS so I'm thinking 2 hours at CDG is not much better than one at AMS but was hoping someone who has flown through both those airports more frequently than I have could weigh in.

Posted by
675 posts

I'm looking on the Air France site. This is the return leg of a trip with a first leg non-stop Boston to CDG which I definitely want. So can't use Swiss Air. All the possible returns from Zurich are one stop which doesn't bother me at all, and yes, I would rather avoid an early morning departure from Zurich. The two flights I'm looking at leave at 14:00 and 15:00 which is perfect for me. So my only concern is that tight transfer time.

Posted by
464 posts

I'd use a travel agent who understands international airlines and who will find the best deals for me without putting me into any compromising or tense situations. The services of a travel agent cost nothing or very little.

Posted by
2340 posts

Normally I'd go with the longer layover, even if it is more expensive. The peace of mind and lower risk of missing a flight is important to me.

However, I almost think an hour at AMS is the same as 2 at CDG - connecting through CDG is a mess while AMS is much easier. So in this case I'd actually go with the shorter layover. If the longer option was at most other airports, then that would be better!

Posted by
2847 posts

Which seat is going to be more comfortable? They're not all the same, you know. That's what I'd be looking at.

I just assume they're all uncomfortable, so that doesn't figure into my calculation at all. Nor would the $65 difference. But the connection would. I've changed in both airports, and there's no comparison; Amsterdam is much better. The problem is the 1 hour difference. But I'd still choose Amsterdam. Given that your first flight in a short shuttle-type flight, I would normally expect no delays. But given the number of ATC strikes in France, the CDG flight might be more likely to be delayed.

Posted by
2077 posts

Isabel,
We have flown through both CDG and Schiphol. Our last experience with CDG was chaotic. We had a 3.5 hour layover. We spent the entire time in Passport Control. Fortunately Delta held the plane for a number of us. That said, we prefer Schiphol. We usually have about a three hour layover. It's efficient & gives us piece of mind. We now avoid CDG.

Posted by
4450 posts

I hate CDG for connections and avoid it at all costs. I’d take the 1 hour at Amsterdam which I think would be easier to do than 2 hours at CDG.

The cheapest on this case but only if you have just a carry on bag

I always check my bag and this would not concern me. I do carry essentials and a change of clothes with me. I’ve had several short connections with checked bags that made it no problem. Airlines will tag the bag for short connection and they are usually offloaded first. Ironically, when my bags have been lost, it has been on long layovers or non-stop flights.

Posted by
6241 posts

I would definitely pick option one. The constant threat of transport strikes in Paris would be a minus if you're forced to stay overnight and have to get back to the airport; I'd rather do it in Amsterdam. Plus, Schiphol Airport is just so much more efficient and nicer to deal with.

Posted by
4843 posts

I would pick the AMS transfer with the hope things would go to hell and I get to spend an evening in Amsterdam!

Posted by
5010 posts

I just assume they're all uncomfortable, so that doesn't figure into my calculation at all.

Well, it's true that going in with super-low expectations means you probably won't be disappointed, but still...I think it's foolish to ignore the differences between seats. Yes, lots are bad (in fact, most). But while many are bad, some are exceptionally miserable. It's easy enough to find the details of exactly how cramped and horrible different seats are, so you can gauge how much misery they will inflict on you. To me, the difference between just grumbling and actually crying is worth considering, and I'm constantly amazed at how many people can't be bothered to even consider the difference. I get it that people are discouraged and have just accepted that flying will suck, but some seats definitely suck more than others. YMMV.

Posted by
4282 posts

Seatguru let you compare seating on different flights. But I agree with most here that an hour at AMS is better than two hours at CDG. Especially if you don't mind a night at the airline's expense if you miss that tight connection. Obvously, don't dilly-dally at Schiphol, but if you miss that flight because of security delays or anything else not your fault, you should be protected.

Posted by
3144 posts

I would always choose Amsterdam over Paris CDG. Schiphol is a very efficient airport and even though it is only 60 minutes (actually UNDER 60 minutes because your transatlantic flight could close 30 minutes before departure), I would STILL go through Schiphol over CDG any and everyday. Worse, transportation strikes are often a risk in France as mentioned above so that makes CDG even that much more unreliable.

Is there a 3rd option with more layover time?

Posted by
6921 posts

@DavidSeattle— Seat selection is less of a big deal for people flying to/from Boston rather than Seattle. It’s so much shorter than flying from the WestCoast. From where I live in the middle, it begins to be long (8+ hours back, 7+ hours over), but Boston is a breeze and my favorite stop if I have to break up the trip on this side of the Atlantic.

Posted by
675 posts

I decided to go with the tight connection. I don't care if I don't get home that day (as long as they pay for the hotel). I'm a pretty fast walker, and I have an aisle seat near the front of the plane, so if the first flight is on time I should be able to make it - according to the information on the airport's web site. The only way I won't make it is if the flight is late and then it's on them. I hope!

Despite the fact that the price jumped $200 during the booking process (and no it was not the seat res, the price just jumped, and I closed everything out and re-started twice and the same thing kept happening - I guess bait and switch) it was still the best deal I could find, other than the tight connection the times were all excellent for me, non-stop on the way over which I wanted, and priced better than any of the 6 other airlines I checked.

Posted by
5379 posts

And if your checked bag doesn't make it onto the same plane, no biggie -- you're going home where you have lots of clothes.