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US Airways - changing at PHL

Morecambe, United...
Level Contributor
3 posts
12 reviews
US Airways - changing at PHL

Hi all,

We are looking at booking MAN to MCO via Philadelphia, but on the outbound flights we have a choice between 2 and 4 hours stopovers. Never having changed internally in USA before which is better? Also I'm assuming on the return leg, the majority of the work gets done in MCO and MAN so we won't need as long in Phili?

Normally go direct but the flight prices are ridiculous now so willing to give US Airways a chance after reading the reviews on here!!!

London, UK
Level Contributor
1,502 posts
1. Re: US Airways - changing at PHL

On the outbound you'll clear U.S. immigration, claim your bags, go through customs and then recheck your bags at the counter just the other side of customs. 2 hours will be fine, and if you miss it US Airways will just move you to the next flight anyway, so no stress.

On the inbound, at PHL you will be let out into the terminal building so you just walk to the next gate.

Morecambe, United...
Level Contributor
3 posts
12 reviews
2. Re: US Airways - changing at PHL

Ok, maybe another question now....

If we have to recheck bags at Phili, do we have to pay for them? Transatlantic bags are carried 'free', but domestic need to pay....where wud we fall?

San Diego...
Level Contributor
1,113 posts
1 review
3. Re: US Airways - changing at PHL

You will not need to pay for bags on the domestic legs of your trip if all the flights are part of the same booking. If so, when you arrive at PHL and pick your bags, after clearing customs, there is a bag drop area just down the hallway. Simply place your bags on the luggage belt and then head off to clear TSA security to gain access to the domestic gates -Note if you brought any duty free alcohol into the country, you will need to place the bottles into your checked luggage after you clear customs and before you put your checked luggage back onto the recheck belt.

On the way home you will check your luggage at MCO (no charge so long as you stay within the limits for your ticket) and you wont see your bags again until you land at MAN

Warrington, England
Level Contributor
243 posts
93 reviews
4. Re: US Airways - changing at PHL

I think how long you want in PHL depends on whether you prefer to have a relaxing first flight, knowing that, barring unforeseen delays, you will have plenty of time at PHL (and maybe more than you want) or whether you are prepared to accept being put on the next available flight if you miss your connection. We had to wait 1hour 30 mins to get through immigration when we connected there and, although we would probably have made a 2 hour connection, I'm not sure our bags would. PHL is a nice airport, and if we connect there again, we would allow at least 3 hours. I realise, however, that we are the kind of people who usually allow too much time and many people would be quite happy to go with 2 hours.

Liverpool, UK
Level Contributor
16,619 posts
24 reviews
5. Re: US Airways - changing at PHL

"2 hours will be fine, and if you miss it US Airways will just move you to the next flight anyway, so no stress."

I wouldn't agree with this statement - yes it's possible to make a connection in 2 hrs but equally it's possible as seen from other posts to spend 60 - 90 minutes waiting to get through immigration.

It's a variable issue and I normally allow a minimum of 3 hrs for this process to keep stress levels low.

If you go for the 2 hr connection and miss the connection then US Airways will put you on the next flight with available empty seats which isn't the same as the next flight.

In this situation I'd go for the 4 hr connection - the worst that could happen is a couple of extra hours relaxing with a drink in the airport.

Whatever you decide to do keep an eye on your schedule as changes to flight timings which can affect your connection window are common.

Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
1,921 posts
141 reviews
6. Re: US Airways - changing at PHL

I would agree with Tom C. Immigration in PHL can take a long time. If your inbound is late arriving, your window narrows. You also have to consider which Terminal/gate your connection flight in departing from. It may take 20 mins + to get to your new gate.

4 hours is much more realistic.

Fortaleza, CE
Level Contributor
9,182 posts
381 reviews
7. Re: US Airways - changing at PHL

Two hours for Immigration, gettingyour bags, going through Customs and then going through security to your next flight could be tight in two hours. 4, no problem. If you miss the connection, US Airways would put you on the next flight with available seats, but that may not be the next flight (been there, done that). But you should still get to MCO the same day. Returning to MAN, connecting at PHL should be seamless, easy, quick.

Edited: 5:22 am, January 10, 2013
Glaisdale, United...
Level Contributor
6 posts
28 reviews
8. Re: US Airways - changing at PHL

Having just completed this trip over the Xmas rush, I can confirm that Philadelphia immigration (and security) is a nightmare. You can do it in 2 hours, but if you have the 4 hour option, then take it.

Would strongly recommend that you read my post "US Airways - Seat Allocation"

If you fly budget, expect a budget service

San Diego...
Level Contributor
1,113 posts
1 review
9. Re: US Airways - changing at PHL

A note I wrote from another thread. Our connection time was 2hrs and 15 mins which I felt comfortable with when I booked the flights. Of course, ones mileage may vary.....

I came through PHL on Sunday on the US Air LHR service. Total time from touchdown to arriving at the Envoy lounge in terminal A was around 25 mins! I doubt that will ever be beaten by me again. We arrived at gate A25 which was right by the runway exit used by the pilot. We were in Envoy so were first off the plane and there was no line whatsoever at immigration. Our bags came through 2-3 minutes after we entered the baggage hall and there was no queue at customs, so we waltzed through there. Again there was no queue at bag drop and as our connecting flight was in first class, we got to use the priority line at the TSA security recheck line. Our layover was 2hrs and 15 mins, so rather than heading to the gate for our SAN flight, we headed over to the Envoy lounge in term A and hung out there for an hour or so.

Northampton, United...
Level Contributor
94 posts
8 reviews
10. Re: US Airways - changing at PHL

I've never had an issue at Philly...

I have nearly always been able to get to the boarding gate on my next flight within one hour of touching of my European flight with US Airways through PHL.

I think it really depends on how busy passport control are... As I know at some stages during the day, a number of European flights all arrive at once.

As you have not transferred through a US airport before off an international flight let me explain the process. You first clear passport control at the first US airport you land at, you then go to the baggage carousel and collect you luggage and clear customs.

Once this is done you check your baggage onto the next flight. This doesn't mean you need to go to a check in, like you would do at Manchester, but you simply hand your luggage to an agent who puts it back on to the belts for its next flight, as it will have been labelled up at Manchester for it final destination of MCO.

As the US has very strict security requirements, you will then need to clear security again like you did at Manchester. All internatonal passengers have to do this, and can sometimes be a little queue here.

I think two hours at PHL is perfectly doable to transfer, but if you do easily get nervous and just want to relax as you go through the airport choose the four hour stopover option, that way you can get a bite to eat and just chill.

Slightly off topic, I know US Airways is usually very competitive with flights to the USA, but have you checked direct flight options to Orlando from Manchester as Virgin fly there and probably be 3-4hrs less travelling, by time you have done the stopover.

Also you have chartered flight options with the likes of Thomas Cook, Monarch and Thomson. I do however think they fly direct to Orlando Sanford, instead or Orlando's main airport. Also the likes of Thomson have greatly improved their legroom and service on long haul flights in recent years and are comparable with the scheduled carriers with seat back TV's etc...

If you are searching on websites like Expedia or Opodo, they don't usually show chartered flight options and have to check these prices through the tour operators own website.