Tight Connections, Part Two

Tracy Stewart, December 06, 2010
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q. I just read your previous Q&A about tight connecting flights.  We had an experience with a flight this year.  We came back from Europe on Delta and we had a flight change in San Francisco.  They gave us 50 minutes between flights.  We were very lucky as our flight out of San Fransciso was 2 ½ hours late.  We found out that the connecting time starts when the wheels hit the ground.  It took 10 minutes to get to the gate and 25 minutes to get off the plane.  We then had to pick up our luggage and that was 30 minutes.  Then we had to go through customs and that took 30 minutes.  We then had to take our luggage to the baggage chute and that was another 10 minutes.  It took us another 20 minutes to get to the gate.  In total that was 2 hours and 8 minutes.   What is wrong with the airlines?  They should know better.

    A. That’s a good question, and I don’t have a good answer other than flights with longer connecting times were fully booked, or the fares were higher on those flights. But airlines should know better, and maybe that’s why more and more travelers are booking with travel agents, who do know better. A good travel agent would never have allowed you to accept a connection time of 50 minutes at San Francisco between an international flight and a domestic flight. You can protect yourself next time by requesting a longer connection window.