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Another 'is the layover time enough' question

Singapore, Singapore
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Another 'is the layover time enough' question

Hi, I will be flying in to DTW from Narita so as it's the first US port and being a non-US citizen, I would be required to clear immigrations, customs, re-check my luggage before going to catch my connecting flight to Boston. My flights are all via Delta, no separate connecting flights. I'm arriving at DTW, McNarama Terminal, on a Monday afternoon and my scheduled layover time is 1 hour and 37 mins. Would that be sufficient time to clear immigrations, customs, etc? Provided the flight from Narita lands in time, of course!

I have read up similar questions on this and answers usually are divided, some yes, some no. As some of the questions are dated since 2009, I wanted to post and hopefully get some recent feedback on whether my layover time would be doable as I'm flying in a few weeks' time. Thank you!

Edited: 11 April 2013, 08:33
Dearborn, Michigan
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1. Re: Another 'is the layover time enough' question

You should be OK, though more time would be preferable. As you noted, the imponderables are the flight arrival time and potential delays in Customs. You cannot do anything about either, other than change your flights.

That said, one hour, 37 minutes is enough time for the connection, particularly as your Narita flight and your connecting flight to Boston are in the same terminal and both are with Delta. Sometimes, Delta will hold the connecting flight if there are a number of passengers coming in on an international connection, but there is no guarantee that they will do so. Also, you will want to move quickly when you exit the aircraft. Customs generally should take 30-45 minutes on average (I have sometimes managed it in 20 minutes coming in on that same flight).

Once you clear Customs, there is a Delta desk for you to check your baggage to Boston. If you are carrying on instead of checking baggage, all you would need to do is go directly to the gate for your Boston flight.

Others may have different views.

Detroit, MI
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2. Re: Another 'is the layover time enough' question

It should be enough time, but it is impossible to say that you won't end up behind six 747s that just landed. Your bag will already be tagged to BOS, so you don't have to stand in any additional line to recheck it - just drop it on the belt. There is also a dedicated TSA checkpoint for international arrivals. You will get deposited back into the terminal by Gate A38, so you are central to your connecting flight, wherever it may be.

Singapore, Singapore
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3. Re: Another 'is the layover time enough' question

Thank you for your replies! Here's hoping my plane will land in time and custom queues are manageable.

new jersey
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4. Re: Another 'is the layover time enough' question

My suggestion is to request a seat near the front of the plane if you intend to go with this tight connection. Your problem will not be customs it will be passport control. Passport control happens first upon entry into the US and rarely, if ever, is it fully staffed at least at the airports in which I enter the US. (90 percent JFK and EWR and 10% MIA) After you go through passport control, you will collect your bags then go through customs...usually a quick process. You will then recheck your bags to Boston, again, generally a quick process. It sounds like DTW moves much more quickly than the NYC and Miami airports. In NYC and MIA, if many flights have arrived at the same time, it can take up to an hour to 1.5 hours to clear passport control. And, just to make those traveling on foreign passports feel extra welcomed, US Citizens are handled in one line and visitors in another. There are generally fewer passport control agents for the non-US citizens.

With the sequester coming, the time to clear passport control could be a bit longer as generally there will be fewer agents. If you can book a flight with a longer connection, that would be far preferable to the short time you have scheduled.

Again, maybe my experiences in the New York and Miami airports are very different from the experience with passport control at DTW but I would not ever book an international connection with only an hour and a half. By the way, I am the wife of an international airline pilot who has been blessed to travel internationally several times per year. I spend a lot of time in passport control lines.

If you do go with this connection, make sure you are sitting as close to the front of the plane as possible and de-plane quickly. Then, briskly walk to passport control (no, don't stop to use the restroom, tie your shoes or get a drink of water). You will then be in front of the line and assuming no other flights entered at the same time, you should be fine.

Edited: 12 April 2013, 20:45
Singapore, Singapore
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5. Re: Another 'is the layover time enough' question

Thanks momstravel for the advice, I have reserved a seat as near the front of the plane as possible and while not exactly sprinting, I will definitely be walking very very briskly towards passport control!

Ann Arbor, MI
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6. Re: Another 'is the layover time enough' question

I agree with the above advice and would only add that Delta has many flights to Boston each day. Unless you are on the last flight of the day, there is a very good chance you'll still make it that day if you miss your original flight (since it sounds like you're traveling alone). If anything goes wrong, any Delta agent at a computer can help with rebooking a flight (not just the ones at the Service Center), though not all are helpful.

Ann Arbor, Michigan
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7. Re: Another 'is the layover time enough' question

FWIW, I fly into DTW on an international flight a few times a year, mostly on Delta. I flew Narita to DTW a few months ago. I've never experienced a long wait for passport control or customs at DTW. I don't think Detroit has the volume of international travelers that JFK or LAX or similar airports experience. I think you'll be fine.

Singapore, Singapore
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8. Re: Another 'is the layover time enough' question

Thank you all for taking the time to reply to my question. I'm actually thinking of asking Delta to change my flight from Detroit to Boston to a later timing now, due to the Boston marathon explosion. I'm assuming airport security would be tightened and clearing customs at Detroit before flying off to Boston might take a longer time than expected as a result.

My deepest condolences to the families of those harmed by these bomb attacks. I'm a bit fearful of travelling to Boston in less than 2 weeks' time, to be honest. And my hotel in Boston will be near Copley Square where the bombs exploded. But I don't want the senseless actions of horrible people to stop me from visiting a beautiful city either.

Singapore, Singapore
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9. Re: Another 'is the layover time enough' question

Just a note that I called Delta to enquire about changing my flight to Boston to a later flight and I was firmly told by Delta it cannot be changed because of restrictions on my fare. And the staff said tightened airport security is not at DTW, so my 1 hour and 37mins transit time would still be fine...

Ann Arbor, MI
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10. Re: Another 'is the layover time enough' question

Sorry you couldn't change your flight, but I wanted to say that Boston will be very safe when you visit. Unfortunately, security is very tight after an attack.

We flew just a few days after the planes started flying again after 9/11 and I was very scared. I talked to a flight attendant and she said to me that I was in the safest place in the whole USA in that plane because they were on high alert. It helped me put my fears into perspective.

I hope you'll still enjoy your trip to Boston. It is a great city and it definitely needs the good energy of visitors right now.