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MAD-SFO, which airport for my connection, FRA or EWR?

San Jose
Destination Expert
for California
posts: 10,840
reviews: 82
MAD-SFO, which airport for my connection, FRA or EWR?

I am going to be flying from Madrid to San Francisco and have the option to connect in Frankfurt or Newark, NJ. Any thoughts on which would be a better airport for a connection? Lay over times for both options are right around 3 hours and total travel time is very similar (within 45 min one way or the other). I've flown to and from both of these airports, but never connected through them. How is immigration at EWR? Decent? Total mess?

London, United...
posts: 1,983
reviews: 508
1. Re: MAD-SFO, which airport for my connection, FRA or EWR?

Which airline are you talking about?

Bingley, United...
Destination Expert
for Edinburgh
posts: 28,302
2. Re: MAD-SFO, which airport for my connection, FRA or EWR?

EWR means standing in a queue waiting to go through immigration, collecting luggage, going through customs, rechecking luggage, then security - can easily take 3 hours and can be somewhat stressful.

For FRA you have something to eat, wander round the duty free, have something else to eat, have a drink, make your way to your new gate and get on the plane. All the really nasty stuff is saved until SFO

Chicago, Illinois
posts: 7,892
reviews: 75
3. Re: MAD-SFO, which airport for my connection, FRA or EWR?

Absolutely Frankfurt. USA immigration is bad at every airport. The lines are long so it's best to do that in SFO instead of in EWR where you're trying to catch a connecting flight. Less chance of being delayed.

San Jose
Destination Expert
for California
posts: 10,840
reviews: 82
4. Re: MAD-SFO, which airport for my connection, FRA or EWR?

I am flying United and/or Lufthansa, depending on the routing.

I was thinking that the connection in FRA would be better too because of immigration issues if I fly through EWR. I have applied for Global Entry to make it easier, but I don't think the process will be completed before I take this trip.

Chicago, Illinois
posts: 7,892
reviews: 75
5. Re: MAD-SFO, which airport for my connection, FRA or EWR?

Global entry will make immigration much easier, but still better to do at your final destination. One less thing to go through while trying to make a connection.

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Sydney, Bargain Travel, Food and Travel
posts: 19,470
reviews: 58
6. Re: MAD-SFO, which airport for my connection, FRA or EWR?

Hands down FRA, there's almost no point comparing the two options.

London, United...
posts: 1,983
reviews: 508
7. Re: MAD-SFO, which airport for my connection, FRA or EWR?

FRA is less hassle.

Italy
Destination Expert
for Livigno, Lombardy
posts: 39,391
reviews: 159
8. Re: MAD-SFO, which airport for my connection, FRA or EWR?

Another vote for Frankfurt imo much less stressful.

Worthing, United...
posts: 1,531
reviews: 27
9. Re: MAD-SFO, which airport for my connection, FRA or EWR?

Neither of them. London Heathrow is the best.

Portland, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 19,900
reviews: 5
10. Re: MAD-SFO, which airport for my connection, FRA or EWR?

Frankfurt without a doubt. You may not even need to clear security at FRA, although that will be dependent on the arriving and departing gates. You will then clear US immigration at your final destination (SFO). Immigration, Customs, possible terminal change and security at EWR is not far off the "total mess" you refer to.

I would prefer FRA over Heathrow for transit, though it may be possible to book a through ticket with United using the Little Red feeders from MAN. But not BA, as you'd have to do a bus transfer from T5 to T1.