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Connecting Times for Trip from SFO to Madrid

Palo Alto...
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Connecting Times for Trip from SFO to Madrid

I am getting ready to purchase tickets for a trip for my family of 4 from San Francisco to Madrid in July 2014. I have 3 choices for flights on my preferred airline -- United. One trip has a connection in Toronto with a 62 minute layover. The second option has a 1 hour and 50 minute layover at Dulles and the third has a 49 minute layover in Newark. I don't like the Newark option because I have experienced delays almost every time that I have flown into or out of that airport. I am leaning toward the Toronto layover because it is the shortest and cheapest trip but I am worried that we will not have enough time to make the connection. I have no experience with the Pearson airport and I am wondering what the experts think of the viability of my family making that connections offered by the airline through Pearson, Newark or Dulles. Thanks for your thoughts on this.

Park City, Utah
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1. Re: Connecting Times for Trip from SFO to Madrid

If you like UA, stay online with UA and go through Dulles or Newark. If you go through Toronto, I suspect you'll put yourself through an immigration process and you will be on Air Canada, not UA, to Madrid. Also, and I could be wrong on this, but I have a feeling that the Toronto routing probably goes to Madrid via Frankfurt, which would not make any sense. You also have a SFO-FRA non-stop option connecting down to Madrid that would be about the same travel time overall. Seriously, avoid the Toronto concept.

Good luck.

Palo Alto...
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2. Re: Connecting Times for Trip from SFO to Madrid

Thank you. You are correct that the flight through Toronto would be on Air Canada but it is a non-stop from there to Madrid. The flight came up through United as a code share with Air Canada so we could use our United frequent flier points. I just found an earlier flight from SFO to Toronto giving us a 3-hour layover. With that long a layover and a non-stop flight to Madrid, do you still recommend avoiding going through Toronto?

London, United...
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3. Re: Connecting Times for Trip from SFO to Madrid

Do you know when the next flights out are after your planned connection? Any delays to the inbound flight and you risk missing the next leg, either you, your luggage or both, so worth knowing when the next flights out are ie how long you may have to wait.

Although obviously the airline only has to get you on the next flight with available seats, it may not be the next flight,,,,

San Diego
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4. Re: Connecting Times for Trip from SFO to Madrid

I would never book an international flight with only an hour. to connect from another flight!!

Either book the earlier flight that gives you 3 hours or go through Dulles.

To me adding another country with its own immigration + a code share instead of sticking with United would not be my first choice.

I'd do the Dulles route with United all the way unless you are saving TONS of money by going through Toronto and using Air Canada!!! For me that would mean more than $300 or so per ticket to make up for the extra hassles!

Edited: 01 April 2014, 16:35
Worthing, United...
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5. Re: Connecting Times for Trip from SFO to Madrid

I wouldn't recommend actually flying the long-haul leg on United. Their economy is awful. I'd take the Air Canada codeshare if possible. other than that, have you looked to see whether you can get a United Lufthansa codeshare connecting in Frankfurt? That's another good option.

Park City, Utah
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6. Re: Connecting Times for Trip from SFO to Madrid

The two things I would evaluate if you really do want to go through Toronto would be:

- Can you get a Premium Economy seat with your United status, versus your ability to get Economy Plus on United.

- What are the additional passport control situations you would face transiting Canada on the connection.

I still think you are better served doing the IAD connection or doing the SFO-FRA non-stop and connecting. Beware code shares - you lose benefits.

Good luck.

Palo Alto...
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7. Re: Connecting Times for Trip from SFO to Madrid

Thank you everyone for your comments and suggestions. We are planning to fly business class and based on the suggestions offered here, I am looking at a Lufthansa/United flight with a 2 hour and 20 minute connection time. I thought that the flight connecting in Frankfurt would be much more expensive but it is less than $100 more. I am the kind of person who arrives at the airport 3 hours before the flight leaves so having a connecting flight with less time than that makes me nervous. But, the good news is that getting from Frankfurt to Madrid is a lot easier than getting from Toronto to Madrid if my flight from the US is late. Assuming that there are seats available, there's a flight to Madrid 4 hours later from Frankfurt but we would have to wait one day in Toronto. Again, thanks to all for taking the time to respond.

Portland, Oregon
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8. Re: Connecting Times for Trip from SFO to Madrid

I would go for at least a two hour layover, and if possible with a backup (later) flight, even if that were a one stop via FRA.

In case you didn't know, United BusinessFirst is 100% lie flat beds. There are different configurations, but the only one I'd try to avoid is the 3-Class 777 (the sUA plane with 2-4-2 sardine can, the sCO 777 is 6 across and very nice). All the others should work well for you.

I don't know about AC, but from pictures I've seen their business class looks good too.

As for ... "I wouldn't recommend actually flying the long-haul leg on United. Their economy is awful." ... That's nonsense. The only economy I'd try to avoid is the 747 (no in seat video), and they don't fly those to MAD. Everything else has in seat video and most have full AVOD.

Edited: 02 April 2014, 05:25
9. Re: Connecting Times for Trip from SFO to Madrid

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