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Is this a good plan (short vs. long layover choices)?

Bloomington
posts: 54
Is this a good plan (short vs. long layover choices)?

Hi, I posted the questions on Narita forum and was suggested to post the questions here. We, a family of four, will be traveling from Taiwan to Chicago using American Airline via Narita airport next May. Two of us are using AA miles (free tickets) and we'll need to buy two additional tickets with the same itinerary. We are faced with two choices for the section from TPE to NRT (code share with AA): (1) Cathay Pacific: 1 hour and 5 minutes layover in Narita, (2) JAL: 3 hours and 55 minutes layover in Narita. We would prefer option 1 as it is a much shorter wait and the price is also much cheaper than option 2 (both options will connect with the same AA flight from NRT to Chicago). But we are obviously concerned with the short connection time with option 1 (By the way, all three airlines are located in terminal 2). I called AA and they confirmed that 65 minutes is legal for Narita. They also said that if we miss the connecting flight, they will put us on the next available flights (and I assume that we’ll have to cover hotels, meals, etc. if we have to spend a night). The ticket with 65 minutes layover is $300 USD cheaper (per ticket) than the ones with 3 hours and 55 minutes layover. We figure that if unfortunately we miss our connecting flights due to the delay, the hotel and food bills will not be more than $600 for the four of us. Someone on the other forum suggests that we buy flight delay insurance. I just checked AE card and the premium is $9.95 per person (and cover up to $250 per person per day). So, I am thinking about going with option 1 (i.e. 65 minute layover) and purchase flight delay insurance, just in case. Are we making the right choice? Anything else I may be missing here? Thank you for any thoughts you may be able to share!

australia
posts: 2,551
reviews: 17
1. Re: Is this a good plan (short vs. long layover choices)?

recommended connection time by most airlines is 3 hours ...I always thought 90 minutes was the minimum the majors would let you book...however could be wrong.

As it is a fair way off there could be a schedule change

Edited: 12:45 am, November 25, 2012
New Delhi, India
posts: 938
reviews: 23
2. Re: Is this a good plan (short vs. long layover choices)?

I would go with the 65min connection and a travel insurance that covers for flight delays.

New Delhi, India
posts: 938
reviews: 23
3. Re: Is this a good plan (short vs. long layover choices)?

Jagjetfly, Several airlines now have legal connection times ranging from 45mins to 60mins at their hubs. CX-HKG, LH-MUC/FRA, SQ-SIN come to mind.

Nannup, Australia
posts: 3,605
reviews: 23
4. Re: Is this a good plan (short vs. long layover choices)?

If the airline sells a 65 min connection, I'd buy it, particularly on one ticket. I'm afraid jagjet is wrong when she cites 3 hours for most airlines. MCT is an airport, not airline, thing and depends on the situation (domestic to international, change of terminal, etc). In this case, same alliance, same terminal, modern airport I'd be comfortable with 65 mins.

Further to vbh's post - the SQ to SQ MCT at SIN is only 50 mins.

Edited: 1:27 am, November 25, 2012
London
posts: 1,512
reviews: 73
5. Re: Is this a good plan (short vs. long layover choices)?

Even shorter at HEL. 25-35 for domestic and 35-40 for International.

Hong Kong, China
posts: 2,268
reviews: 130
6. Re: Is this a good plan (short vs. long layover choices)?

Go for the shortest transfer time. Travel insurance is a necessity for all trips, but make sure you have it especially for this trip.

If you miss the connection and it's due to an airline delay, they might put you up in a hotel if need be?

Detroit, MI
Destination Expert
for Detroit, Travel Gadgets and Gear
posts: 5,174
7. Re: Is this a good plan (short vs. long layover choices)?

I would also go for the short layover. It might be a good idea to book one adult and one child with FF miles, and the other adult and second child with a paid ticket - if possible. If you do miss the connection, it might be easier to get to your destination by splitting up. It is also a good idea to book this directly with AA and NOT go through a third party site.

Personally I would skip the insurance. While it is "only $40", it adds up over time. In my last 20 international trips I have only been stranded overnight once (snow at destination). That would have been $800 in insurance to pay for one $150 hotel room. Everyone has their own personal risk tolerance.

Italy
Destination Expert
for Livigno, Lombardy
posts: 39,245
reviews: 139
8. Re: Is this a good plan (short vs. long layover choices)?

I would go with the short layover as you're not really losing anything, if you don't make the flight you'll be put on the next available flight and if you have to stay overnight the airline will put you up and give you vouchers for food so you can't loose really.

Bloomington
posts: 54
9. Re: Is this a good plan (short vs. long layover choices)?

Thanks to all! All the positive responses on the short layover make us feel more comfortable about this choice. By the way, is there anything we should be doing to ensure that if we did not catch our flights and are put on the next flights that they won't split our family up?

Salisbury, United...
posts: 2,992
reviews: 69
10. Re: Is this a good plan (short vs. long layover choices)?

Ymafree, do remember that you will be put on the next 'available' flight. That maybe the next flight or one in several days time. It's all about your attitude to risk. If you have to be arrive on time you may better to book the longer layover, if arrival time and day is not important, then the shorter layover is fine so long as you understand the risks.

I'm not to sure there is anything you can do to make sure you don't have to split up, hopefully most planes will have 4 spare seats but they may not be together. I am sure they will try and seat you together if they can.

Good luck.

Edited: 11:45 am, November 25, 2012