Triangle Trip

Tag: airports

Best Airports for Connecting Flights

by Captain G on Sep.07, 2012, under Airlines

In response to Terminal D’s latest post regarding minimum layover time best practices, here is a list of airports that are best for layovers:

1.  Charlotte Douglas International Airport — Aside from rain during hurricane season, Charlotte, North Carolina has decent weather so you’ll not have to be concerned about being stuck. CLT is a USAir hub with gates that are fairly close to one another. USAir does a pretty good job managing connecting flights and making sure your gates are close together. If you’re switching airlines, you do not need to go through security screening from terminal to terminal. Finally, CLT has a decent food court.

2.  Salt Lake City International Airport – Like CLT, SLC is pretty efficient where all terminals are connected. Salt Lake City doesn’t have much delays compared to Denver if you are choosing a connecting flight in the mountain region. SLC is great for Delta flights as it is their secondary hub.

3.  Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport – Although PHX is huge but weather is always on your side. You’ll never be delayed due to weather. Have ever you heard of bad weather in Phoenix? Ever? The downside to PHX is having to go from Gate A26 to B25 (see below) which is quite a walk. The trick is to look for one of the gate cart agents to give you a ride. Just tip the driver a few bucks and he’ll get you from gate to gate in a matter of minutes. PHX also has free WiFi service.

4.  Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson – Despite being one of the busiest airport in the US, I have never had any issues connecting in ATL. ATL’s terminal tram system is also fast compared to other tram systems (i.e., Denver, Houston, etc.).

5.  Las Vegas McCarran. This is probably the best place to be stuck if you missed a connection. LAS has are plenty of machines (video poker, Wheel of Fortune, etc.) to keep you busy while you wait for your connection. If you’re stuck overnight, go try your luck on the Strip. In addition, almost every major airline has a non stop flight out of LAS. So worst case scenario is for you to bring your cancelled flight ticket to another airline and beg them to let you on their plane.

For more information about our point of view on airports, here’s a list of the Top 5 Worst Airports in the US and the Top 5 Airports in America.

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Minimum Layover Time Best Practices

by Terminal D on Aug.28, 2012, under Airlines, Business Travel

While the answer should be “direct flights only,” sometimes work sends us to places where we don’t have the luxury of options.  I’ve become an avid user of Hipmunk when it comes to booking complex travel, but have run across issues with what they deem to be appropriate layover windows.

While Detroit (DTW) is a perfectly fine airport and getting from gate A1 to A77 is a surprisingly easy affair when utilizing the indoor tram, getting from Concourse A to Concourse C requires no less than several sherpas and a dune buggy.  On a recent layover (connections on the same airline) I had 32 minutes to get from an A gate to a C gate.  Only for the providence of a flight delay did I make my flight.

So I have three questions for this community:

1. Can flight aggregators better predict sufficient layover times based on historical gate placement of flights?

2. What is generally the right time threshold for a layover?  45 min?

3. What airports are your personal torments when it comes to bad layovers?  (ORD, LAX and ATL are too obvious)

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TSA security checkin time at LAX for 2009/2010 holiday travel

by Captain G on Dec.31, 2009, under Airlines, Business Travel, Vacation

With heightened security measures at US airports, Los Angeles International’s (LAX) TSA staff can appear to be slower than usual over the 2009 holidays. But the situation isn’t all that bad. I got to LAX at 11:10AM for a 12:30PM flight in anticipation for delays and bag check. With Medallion status, it took me 50 minutes to check my bags and clear TSA security at LAX’s Terminal 5 for a Delta flight (I had to check a bag because I was carrying California wine back to the east coast.).

Here are some statistics and best practices for your December 2009 and January 2010 holiday travel at LAX’s Terminal 5:

*  Give yourself at least one hour to get through TSA security regardless if your airline status. It still took me exactly 50 minutes to check my bags and get through TSA security; this is despite the fact that I’m a Medallion member, and I know my way around LAX terminals.

*  Forget the status line and just line up with everyone else. I was on the Delta Medallion/First Class line and waited 35 minutes to pass the first TSA security checkpoint - where they check your ID and ticket. The regular line was a lot faster as people who got in line with me passed me on the first checkpoint. There were 3 screeners checking IDs on the normal line vs 1 screener for the Medallion/First Class line.

*  If you’re checking bags and don’t have status, give yourself two hours to check your bags and get through TSA security. The regular bag check line was wrapping around the doors outside the departure terminal at LAX Terminal 5. I also noticed issues with the checkin kiosks as people were complaining.

*  Note that LAX’s Terminal 4, 5, 6, and 7 are all interconnected. You can always checkin at Terminal 5 and use the walkway to get to Terminal 7 or 4.

I dropped off friends at LAX Terminal 6 and noticed the United line was also wrapped around the doors of Terminal 6 and terminal 7. I suggested our best practices (see previous posts: use Terminal 6 vs 7 and quickly get through Terminal 7) to my friends and they were able to clear TSA security in 20 minutes.

Happy 2010 everyone!

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