Why do airlines allow so little time between flights?

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Apr 23, 2018
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I am searching for flights between Vancouver, BC and Fort Lauderdale, FL for later this fall (flexible dates). I am finding a fantastic return deal on Delta with just one stop in SLC....but it only allows 44 minutes to change flights...and surely, I will need to go through immigration and customs first as the 2nd leg is international. Why do they even do this? What's my risk if I miss the connecting flight if I know there are later flights that day?
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#3
I am searching for flights between Vancouver, BC and Fort Lauderdale, FL for later this fall (flexible dates). I am finding a fantastic return deal on Delta with just one stop in SLC....but it only allows 44 minutes to change flights...and surely, I will need to go through immigration and customs first as the 2nd leg is international. Why do they even do this? What's my risk if I miss the connecting flight if I know there are later flights that day?
many US bound flights from Canada have pre-clearance -- however it is not the same in reverse -- if the return is FL to SLC to Vancouver BC the clearance is in Canada,
 
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johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
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#4
@VISERENDIPITY Keep in mind that Vancouver is a US Pre-clearance airport so you'll clear US CBP in Vancouver before you board the flight. At that point, your flight is treated like a domestic flight.

I still wouldn't like a 45 min connection
 
May 1, 2018
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#5
US Customs and Immigration checks are completed at the CBP pre-clearance facility in Vancouver before the flight even takes off.

Frequent travelers who sit in First, or at the font of the plane and don't have checked luggage demand short layovers so the airlines offer them. Those itineraries are not designed for leisure passengers traveling with a family, their dog, and 5 checked bag. This forum strongly advises against short layovers unless you travel on a weekly basis and really know what you're doing.
 

Barry Graham

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Jan 7, 2015
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#7
Also shorter connection times give you more choices, you don't have to go with the shorter times if you don't want to, but then you may miss the opportunity for a bargain like the one you found.
 
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Apr 23, 2018
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#10
Mea Culpa - I wasn't clear in my original post. I am referring to the return flight. FFL -SLC - YVR. Great deal but only 44 minutes between flights in SLC. I do know about US pre-clearance in Vancouver.
 
May 1, 2018
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#11
Then you would go through Customs and Immigration at YVR to re-enter Canada. There are no checks required to fly out of the US.

If I were flying in First or on the airline where we have high status (United), then I would personally take a 44 min connection on the way home, but not on the way to my vacation.
 

Barry Graham

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Jan 7, 2015
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#12
Flying to Canada is no big deal from the USA. Sometimes for the early morning flights you can't check your bags more than 60 minutes before departure. I think you'll be fine.
 
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Patina

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Dec 22, 2015
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#13
Last weekend we had a 41 minute connection through SLC and barely made it.....sitting in first, literally running from one terminal to the other, having our names called for the 'final' time as we approached the gate. They were just about to give our seats away. If your arriving flight is delayed slightly, it would be super difficult to make it before the gate closes. Our flights were with Delta as well. Now, if you know that the arrival gate and departing gate are in the same terminal, you have a much better chance of being okay with a 44 minute connection.
 

Barry Graham

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Jan 7, 2015
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#14
Last weekend we had a 41 minute connection through SLC and barely made it.....sitting in first, literally running from one terminal to the other, having our names called for the 'final' time as we approached the gate. They were just about to give our seats away. If your arriving flight is delayed slightly, it would be super difficult to make it before the gate closes. Our flights were with Delta as well. Now, if you know that the arrival gate and departing gate are in the same terminal, you have a much better chance of being okay with a 44 minute connection.
Delta is one of the most reliable airlines for on-time flights. Unless your flight was delayed (I've missed flights when I should have had more than an hour to spare when they were late), 41 minutes in SLC should have been plenty of time to make a connection.
 
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Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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#15
Delta is one of the most reliable airlines for on-time flights. Unless your flight was delayed (I've missed flights when I should have had more than an hour to spare when they were late), 41 minutes in SLC should have been plenty of time to make a connection.
We had a bit of a delay getting to the gate and getting the door opened. Not a lot of wiggle room for issues.
 
Dec 19, 2014
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#16
With regards to your specific situation, SLC is a small and compact airport. A 40 minute connect time should not be a problem if your arrival flight is NOT delayed.

The factors to consider are:
- What is the true risk of your arrival flight being delayed? Have you looked at the on-time stats for the flight? What is the risk of weather delays?
- What are your options if you miss the connecting flight? Is there a later flight? My approach would be different if I were connecting in ORD for a flight to LAX (multiple flights a day) versus NRT (1 flight a day). If I missed the flight and I have 5 other flight options, I will risk a tighter connection versus if the next flight were the next day or later, I would not risk a connect time of less than 2-3 hours)
- Are you in a situation where you MUST return to work the next day or else? (If I had flexibility, I would risk a shorter connect time)
- How "mobile" are you? Are you traveling alone or with an experienced companion? or are you toting your family with a member that will require a bathroom break or mobility assistance? (nothing like watching a business traveler in a suit or someone wearing high heels sprint down the concourse)
- What airport are you connecting at? (Going from terminal T to terminal C in ATL or terminal C to terminal B in IAD is going to take more time than a connection in SLC.)
- Peak vs non-peak travel (If you are flying the week before a major holiday, I would not risk a tight connection, because plane loads are going to be full and the next flight may not be for a while)

To answer your general question, every airport has a minimum connect time (MCT). Now MCT doesn't mean realistic connect time. An experienced travel will know what is reasonable and what is not. A novice travel will have no clue. Just because a connection time meets MCT doesn't mean it is a good idea. The bottom line is.... you can mitigate risk by choosing a longer connection time, but everything goes out the window if your arrival flight is cancelled or delayed.

Personally, I would take the risk and book the 44 minute connection on the way HOME, not on the way to a cruise.
Before you take off from FLL, know your arrival gate and your departure gate, and plan your route. Once you deplane, immediately look at an arrival/departure board to verify that there isn't a gate change, and promptly head to your departure gate. Once you arrive and assess the situation, then you can look for a bathroom, snacks, etc.

If you are on a single PNR (ie linked ticket), if you miss the flight due to inbound delay, the airline will put you on the next available flight. Sometimes.... but not always, if there are a significant number of passengers delayed due to inbound flights, the airline MAY hold the outbound flight to accommodate the delayed passengers, but this is NEVER guaranteed.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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Maui Hawaii
#17
Download the Delta app on your phone so you can check the status of your flights while flying (via wi-fi) and when you land so you will know what gate you are going to and if your next flight is delayed.

As noted above if your travel is all on one Delta PNR ticket and there is another Delta flight later the same day, I would accept the 44 min interval. If you are flying on two tickets (even if both are on Delta) or the flight you are trying to catch is the last of the day, I would not accept 44 min.

Looking at the FLL-YVR route on Delta, there is another one-stop route through MSP with a longer (safer) connection time.

It is all about your risk tolerance for delayed flights and possibly spending a night in SLC. One thing in your favor with the 44min time is that the FLL-SLC flight is ~5 hrs and the pilot can make up time if there is a departure delay. They can't do much on a one hour flight to make up time.
 
May 1, 2018
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#19
Yeah, I was like - uhhhh… they always scanned my passport when I flew back to Japan - but yes, it was super quick. I think it's just that "is this thing valid? Valid for long enough? Not on some watch list? Good to go!"
The airline only cares that your passport (and visa, if needed) is valid because they get heavily fined if they transport passengers without valid documents. They don't care or check to see if you're on a list. They're not law enforcement.
 
Dec 17, 2018
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#20
Delta is one of the most reliable airlines for on-time flights. Unless your flight was delayed (I've missed flights when I should have had more than an hour to spare when they were late), 41 minutes in SLC should have been plenty of time to make a connection.
Yeah, the couple of times I went through SLC, it was SUPER easy. It's a very nice airport and I think you should be okay as long as your flight leaves on time. And honestly, I love Delta so much. I once flew Delta from Osaka to LAX with a stop in Seattle and my daughter was sick, and the only reason I flew was because I actually HAD TO get back to California for something. Not that exact day, but within a day or two. My Seattle to LAX flight was super delayed and probably going to be cancelled (I think it was actually, eventually, cancelled). So while I'm waiting in the airport - I can't go anywhere to even sleep except the USO and even THAT wouldn't have worked at that point because I'm waiting to see what is happening. My mom took it upon herself to call Delta, she told them about my daughter being sick (don't get me wrong, she didn't need a hospital or anything, but she did have a respiratory lung infection - RSV I think since she was baby - she had that "seal" wheeze but the steroids she got before we flew really helped).

Next thing I know, like 20 minutes later, I'm called to the Delta desk, they hand me a packet of papers for UNITED, tell me to book it over to the other terminal (flight was leaving in like 45 minutes), and to get the boarding pass at the desk. I'd actually had a bassinet for my daughter on the Japan to Seattle flight and one booked on the LAX flight and I didn't get that obviously when I went to United... but Delta VOLUNTARILY endorsed my ticket to United after my mom called them and told them my daughter was sick and needed to get home.

And Delta once honored a $1800 roundtrip fare from Osaka to NC, NC to LAX, LAX back to Osaka (it was a weird multi city ticket because I was visiting my husband who was deploying and he was in NC and I was still in Japan but I also planned to go home to CA for a few months after visiting him, so thus, the Osaka to NC, NC to LAX, LAX to Osaka multi-city). At that point, ALL tickets on ALL airlines were running $3,000 but this ONE trip was $1800 on the Delta site. I called and asked why I couldn't book it (and no, it wasn't a fat finger fare... that was a NORMAL fare for a Japan to US flight... the $3,000 ones were absurdly expensive) and I ended up on the phone for 3 hours while they researched. They were able to also see the fare, but also couldn't book it. Since they could recreate the fare, they honored it AND gave me another $200 off because of the 3 hour phone call.

I LOVE DELTA. So normally I wouldn't take a layover that short - SLC is easy since you're clearing customs in Canada, and Delta will take care of you if something does go wrong, I truly believe that.