PDA

View Full Version : Help needed with Washington Dulles International Airport



Pages : [1] 2

Vash01
10-27-2011, 04:56 PM
I booked a ticket on Orbitz for an international flight that arrives from Europe into Washinton Dulles Airport during the thanksgiving weekend. Unfortunately, before buying the ticket, I missed the fact that there are only 2 hours 20 min. before my connecting flight to Phoenix. I am very concerned that there may not be enough time for me to make it to wherever the United airlines flights leave from. If they have separate terminals for international and domestic flights, that will add to the time.

So I am asking help from fellow fsuers who are familiar with that airport to tell me what are typical times going from international flights to domestic flights (on different airlines- in this case Austrian and United). I looked up the airport map on the internet but I don't see two different terminals. Yet they have a train to move around the airport. I see that it's a huge airport and distances could be an issue. If it takes too long to pick up the bags, get through customs and take a long time to go to my connecting flight, I could miss my connection and may have to buy a VERY expensive ticket to get back in Phoenix. This will be Fri. of Thanksgiving weekend, so not quite as busy as Sunday.

It was my mistake to choose this route, - I should have picked a flight landing anywhere in California- I can always find an affordable connection in CA even if I miss the flight-, but I went for the less expensive option. It is a non-refundable, non-changeable ticket that was bought on Orbitz. So there is no hope of getting it changed. Now I just have to see if it is even possible to make it to the United flight, after the international.

BTW I am waiting to get the ticket confirmed by the airline, but I believe Orbitz would not have sold me the ticket if the seats were not available.

susan6
10-27-2011, 05:08 PM
Getting from point A to point B in Dulles Airport is not the problem. Your hold-up is going to be getting through customs. I'm guessing that 2.5 hours may not be enough time, particularly on Thanksgiving weekend. The line at customs will be looooooong.

Your airline might be able to put you on standby for a later flight to Phoenix if you do miss your original flight, but this is not something you can count on working out (airlines usually overbook their flights, which is evil IMHO).

Whenever flying internationally, plan at least a 3 hour layover at the airport where you will be going through customs. This also helps mitigate problems with late arrival times.

UMBS Go Blue
10-27-2011, 05:52 PM
If, worst case, you miss your IAD-PHX connection, ask if United can search/rebook for any open USAir flights in addition to UA/CO flights... just going out on a limb here as USAir is their Star Alliance/codeshare partner. (Changing any flight can wreak havoc with your bags, though, although I guess getting your own person back home would be the more important thing; just wait for the bags later.)

Rob
10-27-2011, 05:52 PM
http://www.metwashairports.com/dulles/884.htm

If your flight arrives at a C Gate, there is a special customs area in the C concourse for international arrivals with domestic connections. This could save you time especially if your connection is leaving from a C or D gate. If you arrive somewhere else, you'd take a motor coach to the International arrival building, do customs there, then recheck your bag, but then you have to go back through security in the main terminal - I think this would be the slower option. Not sure if you can find out where your international flight will arrive in advance, but they might have some idea.

flyingsit
10-27-2011, 06:34 PM
Is it possible for you to avoid checking bags? By skipping the baggage claim step you can get to the front of the immigration/customs lines and save a LOT of time.

PDilemma
10-27-2011, 06:37 PM
There is a high likelihood on Thanksgiving weekend that your flight to Phoenix will be delayed anyway. When we used to fly for Thanksgiving every year, it was rare for a flight to not be delayed by at least an hour.

Vash01
10-27-2011, 08:04 PM
Getting from point A to point B in Dulles Airport is not the problem. Your hold-up is going to be getting through customs. I'm guessing that 2.5 hours may not be enough time, particularly on Thanksgiving weekend. The line at customs will be looooooong.

Your airline might be able to put you on standby for a later flight to Phoenix if you do miss your original flight, but this is not something you can count on working out (airlines usually overbook their flights, which is evil IMHO).

Whenever flying internationally, plan at least a 3 hour layover at the airport where you will be going through customs. This also helps mitigate problems with late arrival times.

I have traveled internationally MANY times and I always ask for at least a 3 hour layover between flights, although sometimes the airlines do have very short connection times during the international portion. The international to domestic transition needs more time, but at San Francisco, LA, and DFW I have gotten out of customs very fast. I am totally unfamiliar with Dulles international. If it was JFK, I would have allowed 4 hours for the connection. As I mentioned in my OP, it was an oversight on my part that this particular connection did not have a lot of time in between. Typically on international flights my major delay is caused by the slowness of the baggage system, regardless of the airport (although I think JFK is probably the worst in that regard). That's where anyone's personal experience with this particular airport will help me- how long will it take to get the bags and to go from point A to point B (the latter can be very long in some airports).


Since this is a Fri. of the thanksgiving weekend (not Wed. or Sun.) I am still hoping that if I miss my connection, the airline will put me on standby, so I can reach my destination. It will be hellish to get stuck in Dulles international indefinitely.

Vash01
10-27-2011, 08:05 PM
Is it possible for you to avoid checking bags? By skipping the baggage claim step you can get to the front of the immigration/customs lines and save a LOT of time.

Have you ever taken a 2 weeks vacation without checking bags? I have to check bags for even a 2-day vacation.:lol: It is impossible to take a 2 weeks vacation abroad with just carry on.

Vash01
10-27-2011, 08:12 PM
http://www.metwashairports.com/dulles/884.htm

If your flight arrives at a C Gate, there is a special customs area in the C concourse for international arrivals with domestic connections. This could save you time especially if your connection is leaving from a C or D gate. If you arrive somewhere else, you'd take a motor coach to the International arrival building, do customs there, then recheck your bag, but then you have to go back through security in the main terminal - I think this would be the slower option. Not sure if you can find out where your international flight will arrive in advance, but they might have some idea.


I may have to call the airlines to find out where their flights arrive. However, many times airlines don't know ahead of time, and sometimes they change the gate at the last minute. I have seen it all over the years, and I am afraid they may not give me a definite answer, but may be they will tell me what part of the airport their flights usually land. For the domestic flight it should be fairly easy to find out where their flights leave from.

Unfortunately I have to change the airline (From Austrian to United). Hind sight is 20-20 but I would have been better off taking United all the way to SF, but I was blinded by the low fare this route offered me. The stress is just not worth it, to save a few hundred dollars, but it's too late to do anything about it. So I am trying to educate myself about that airport, so that I don't waste too much time there. I hope they have some kind of travelers information desk there.

flyingsit
10-27-2011, 08:35 PM
Have you ever taken a 2 weeks vacation without checking bags? I have to check bags for even a 2-day vacation.:lol: It is impossible to take a 2 weeks vacation abroad with just carry on.

Not for me. :) I've done a 2-week trip to Paris/Northern Italy, 2 weeks in Benelux/London, and 2 weeks in Spain, each with just carry on. Of course all were in warmer weather, so we didn't need coats, etc. I don't mind doing laundry along the way.

Sorry I can't tell you about the connections at Dulles, it's my home airport so it's always my endpoint.

orbitz
10-27-2011, 08:37 PM
Have you ever taken a 2 weeks vacation without checking bags? I have to check bags for even a 2-day vacation.:lol: It is impossible to take a 2 weeks vacation abroad with just carry on.

I think you can do it if you think like a backpacker. If you go to a place with cheap clothings then you can buy them on the fly once you're there. BTW, I use Orbitz all the time for flights tickets :)

mikey
10-27-2011, 09:03 PM
Don't know much about Dulles (I usually fly to Europe via Atlanta, Newark, or Houston), but I usually plan only about 1.5-2 hours to change planes and to get through customs. The Friday after Thanksgiving shouldn't be too bad. I think you'll be fine. United and Austrian both Star Alliance partners, right? Will your bags be ticketed all the way to your final destination? If not, that might be a problem. If they are, the bag drop should be just inside customs.

Vash01
10-27-2011, 09:04 PM
I think you can do it if you think like a backpacker. If you go to a place with cheap clothings then you can buy them on the fly once you're there. BTW, I use Orbitz all the time for flights tickets :)

Of course you do!:lol:

Sorry, I can't think like a backpacker and I don't buy much clothing where I go. I never know if they will have what I like. I am nitpicky when it comes to clothes, so I carry whatever I think I may need, in addition to the necessities.

PDilemma
10-27-2011, 09:14 PM
It will be hellish to get stuck in Dulles international indefinitely.

I was stuck there for nine hours once. It was hellish. Then I got to fly to O'Hare where I was expecting to be stuck until the next afternoon, but the airline gods smiled on me and my connecting flight had been delayed by hours as well and I just made it. Still got home at 3 a.m. instead of in the late evening. Not my favorite trip.

flyingsit
10-27-2011, 09:35 PM
Of course you do!:lol:

Sorry, I can't think like a backpacker and I don't buy much clothing where I go. I never know if they will have what I like. I am nitpicky when it comes to clothes, so I carry whatever I think I may need, in addition to the necessities.

I understand now. I'm somewhere in between; I make sure that everything I pack can mix and match and layer as necessary, I make do with two pairs of shoes, and I do laundry once in mid-trip.