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Booking international flights in stressful business...

DH and I are trying to figure out when Irene and I should fly out, how much it will cost, and how I want the layover process to work.  I told him that I would prefer that the first stop be in the U.S.  Considering our past history with nearly missing connecting flights, I would prefer it to happen back in the States if it has to happen at all.

Re: Booking international flights in stressful business...

  • Do you HAVE to connect? 

    I agree it is stressful - and I agree with you that you should connect in the US, unless you connect in Narita.  It is just a hop-skip from Seoul, super easy to navigate, and the Japanese almost never run late.

  • The non-stop flights are super expensive, plus we're flying into a non-international airport, so we're pretty much stuck with it. 
  • I'm neurotic about flight connections - I'm always afraid we'll miss our connecting flight. I make sure that the layover is never less than 3 hours, to minimize the chance of missing a connection. Do you have a few different options as far as layover lengths are concerned?
  • I might have found a decent one with only one stop.  It stops in Atlanta and then connects to Knoxville.  That wouldn't be too bad at all.  I hope I can get that one.
  • That sounds like a good option. Make sure you plan enough time in Atlanta, since you'll need to haul yourselves and all your stuff through customs there, as it is your first point of entry into the US.

    We just booked our flights back to NL for december - we were able to get a great deal using a personal travel agent my parents used to book their trip here in July. Yay for cheap flights!

  • I still feel confused about the whole customs process.  Nothing was really checked when we arrived in Korea: the agents were too busy cooing and laughing at the baby!  All they did was stamp our customs cards which we gave to another agent after leaving baggage claim.  Is that really all that goes on?
  • I think it is like that in some countries. We hardly had anything happening at customs when we moved here, either.

    Now, customs in the US, on the other hand... The forms, the fingerprinting, iris scans, and, mostly, the insanely long and never-ending lines - yuck! Make sure you give yourself plenty of time, so you won't have to stress about making your connection. Especially if you and Irene are traveling alone - you want to minimize stress ;-) 

  • Thanks for the heads up.  I'll take a look at that itinerary and see how long the time between flights is.  You're right.  I definitely need minimal stress.
  • I think you're incredibly brave to fly on your own with an infant! We're going to attempt it in december for the first time, but there will be two of us. Then again, it's almost 20 hours - there's no way I'd do that alone!
  • Believe me, brave has nothing to do with it.  It's more like I don't have any choice but fly alone with her. 
  • Is your DH staying in Korea longer? Will he be joining you in the US?
  • They're trying to find another job for him so they don't have to pay severence.  Boo!

     Tell me, do you think a 3 hour 35 minute lay-over is long enough to deal with customs crap? 

  • Customs coming into America if you are on an American passport is not bad.  American citizens don't have their fingerprint or iris scan (at least not since I flew in last, in Oct).  That is only for non-US citizens because FI had to do all that when we went to NY.  The only thing I have had to do is fill out the form (which they give you on the plane).  I have never even had my bags checked, although its always a possibility.  But again, you never know how long the lines are going to be or how long the luggage will take to come through.
    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
  • Thank you for the information.  I'll definitely check and see if that is still true.  I hope so.  :)
  • I've gone through customs in Atlanta and it's not bad. ?You have to collect your bags, walk through with them, and then put them on a conveyor belt again so they get on your next flight. ?There are signs AND people everywhere telling you what to do and where to go, so it's not bad at all.

    ?And yeah, you absolutely will not be fingerprinted or scanned coming in on a US passport. ?And all the people being fingerprinted are in the other line, so you usually don't have to wait *quite* so long. ?Worst case, they ask where you were, for how long, and why. ?That's about as much as they ask unless you give stupid answers about illegal activity or something.

    Atlanta airport is (IMO) one of the few reasonably laid-out airports in the world and it's pretty easy to navigate. ?I think it's a good choice for connecting flights!?

  • Thanks.  So they don't transfer your luggage to your connecting flight?  Sorry, I've never flown back into the U.S. before, so I'm still a bit overwhelmed with all of this.
  • They do not transfer your luggage from an international flight.  You have to collect/claim it in baggage then clear customs before transferring it on to your next flight.  Usually the transfer baggage area is right after customs. 
  • neepsneeps member
    Seventh Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Atlanta is always my port of entry it works like this: Exit plane, stand in line for immigration - no fingerprints, eye scans for American citizens - they may ask a few questions, they stamp your white customs card (that you filled out on the plane), you go to baggage claim downstairs, claim your bags, walk your bags through customs, give the customs agent your stamped white form, walk your bags to the right leave them by the conveyor belt, they will be sent to your connecting flight, go through security, check the screens for your connecting terminal, go downstairs for the inter-terminal train.
    [IMG]http://i43.tinypic.com/vdtv8.gif[/IMG]
    I'm bi-coastal. I live on both sides of the Atlantic.</br>
  • Well, that's going to be all kinds of fun with an infant, carry-on, and diaper bag.  I hope they provide carts to get luggage from point A to point B.
  • Talk about stressful!  I hope you're not too worried about everything - it'll be fine, I promise.  If you give yourself enough time during your layover, it'll be golden.  You should ask the airline when you check in for your first flight if they can transfer your luggage for you - it doesn't hurt to ask.  The only reason I suggest this is because I've never had to pick up luggage after flying internationally and then domestically - it's always been checked through to my final destination.

    Also, will you bring your stroller to the airport with you?  And they will definitely have carts to help with your luggage, that's for sure.  

    Good luck with everything!  

    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
  • image MarlaDossett:
    Thanks.  So they don't transfer your luggage to your connecting flight?  Sorry, I've never flown back into the U.S. before, so I'm still a bit overwhelmed with all of this.

    No, they don't.  :(  We were 10 seconds away from missing our flight back from our honeymoon (we came here and also went to Thailand) because of this.  We flew into Chicago, and they are pretty worthless there.  One of our luggage bags was missing.  We thoroughly checked around for it, but couldn't find it.  We asked someone to help with locating it, and all he did was go around in circles saying, "Is this it?  Is this it?"

    I can't remember the layover time, but we had to go through customs (a nightmare for us), attempt to get our luggage, recheck it and go through security again.  Going through security took FOREVER.

    Customs was a nightmare because no one told us that my husband (a non-citizen) could go through the citizen line with me since we were family, but they told us we only had to fill out one of the forms.  We only had one form filled out, which was with him, and I couldn't find him in order to show her who I was with and flag him to come join me.  She had me step aside to fill one out for myself, but the one she gave me was in German.  She was just awful.

    We were on the SUPER last call for people to board flights.  We seriously got on, and the plane started moving moments thereafter.  @[email protected];

    Anyway, it shouldn't even be half as bad for you, but to echo others, give yourself plenty of time.

  • I know there are carts because everyone just leaves them wherever and you have to navigate the maze of abandoned carts to get to the place where you drop off your luggage again. ?The one thing I was really annoyed about.

    If you can wear Irene and free up your hands that way, it's a lot easier than messing with a stroller.?

  • image BizarroLiz:

    Talk about stressful!  I hope you're not too worried about everything - it'll be fine, I promise.  If you give yourself enough time during your layover, it'll be golden.  You should ask the airline when you check in for your first flight if they can transfer your luggage for you - it doesn't hurt to ask.  The only reason I suggest this is because I've never had to pick up luggage after flying internationally and then domestically - it's always been checked through to my final destination.

    Also, will you bring your stroller to the airport with you?  And they will definitely have carts to help with your luggage, that's for sure.  

    Good luck with everything!  

    Really?  I always have had to claim it then re-check it when entering the US from a foreign country!  I want to fly into Boston now...

  • image dubliner:

    Really?  I always have had to claim it then re-check it when entering the US from a foreign country!  I want to fly into Boston now...

    For real.  And you should want to fly to Boston - it's the greatest place in the world. ;)  When we flew to Dubai from Dublin they checked our luggage through the whole way - Dublin to Heathrow, Heathrow to Qatar, Qatar to Dubai.  This whole claiming and re-checking thing is confusing and bizarre to me.  Maybe I am just lucky?  

    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
  • I think the rechecking nonsense is a flying into the US from a foreign country thing ...re: the Dubai flight I think that had to do with the special relationship between ROI and England...like how you don't really need your passport to go from here to England. Mr BizarroLiz would be so proud of my aiport knowledge!

  • neepsneeps member
    Seventh Anniversary Combo Breaker
    image BizarroLiz:

    For real.  And you should want to fly to Boston - it's the greatest place in the world. ;)  When we flew to Dubai from Dublin they checked our luggage through the whole way - Dublin to Heathrow, Heathrow to Qatar, Qatar to Dubai.  This whole claiming and re-checking thing is confusing and bizarre to me.  Maybe I am just lucky?  

    You and your luggage never left the international terminals in that situation. It's because you're changing from the international terminal to the domestic terminals. If you flew Dublin - Atlanta - Hong Kong (or any other international destination) you'd would not have to claim your luggage, because it is just passing through and doesn't have to clear US customs. It would be subject to customs in Hong Kong.

    [IMG]http://i43.tinypic.com/vdtv8.gif[/IMG]
    I'm bi-coastal. I live on both sides of the Atlantic.</br>
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