What is Delta’s legal connection time domestic to international flight through ATL?

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Dec 27, 2018
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I have a reservation to go with my mother and daughter to Europe on June 1st with reservation #1xxxxxx by Gate 1 Travel. Our originally scheduled international layover was @1 hour and 15 min. which was a legal connection (Delta's has told me that for international travel the legal connection time is 1 hour, although Gate 1 said it was 40 minutes ). Delta changed our original flights and the connection time is now under 1 hour. When I called Delta, the representative was very nice and said that since this was a schedule change made by Delta and it changed my originally legal connection, to a illegal one, I could call Gate 1 and ask them to call Delta to ask for a wavier code so that I could have a legal connection again.
I called Gate 1 and spoke with Joanne on January 11 between 2:45-3:15 and she said that she would call me back that evening. I never received a call back and when I called them back on January 12 at 10am, Gate 1 had informed me that Delta said that they would waive the change fee, but not any fare differences (over $400 per person currently). I'm not sure why they can do one (change fee waiver) and not the other (fare difference) since the schedule change was beyond my control?

Note: Edited by a moderator to remove reservation number
 
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Barry Graham

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Since they have created the illegal connection then they should waive the fare difference too. Did you ask for a supervisor when you called Gate 1? You could try calling Delta back and see if they will make the change for you. Otherwise you will need to escalate, but I am not sure whether you should be escalating to Gate 1's senior management or to Delta's. Maybe one of my colleagues will answer that.
 
Dec 27, 2018
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Yes, I did speak to Helena which was a supervisor from Gate 1 and she said that Delta told them that they waived the change fee, but would not waive extra money for the change in flight because she said that 40 minutes was legal domestic to international connection time. (Delta said that legal connection time was 1 hour).
 

Barry Graham

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Thanks Carrie. I thought that would be the case.

On its web site Delta advises customers to be at the gate 45 minutes before an international flight. In some ways the fact you are making a connection is not important, since the boarding procedure for you and for others that are not connecting is the same. What matters is when you get to the gate and from that perspective, the connection time is important because if you have a 40 minute connection then you can't possibly be there 45 minutes before unless your connecting flight is early. To get from one concourse to another (if necessary) can take 20 minutes from gate to gate. This doesn't take into account deplaning. If the flight is on-time you stand a chance but if it's only a few minutes late, you may not make it. You still have plenty of time to sort this out so I would go back to Gate 1 using our contacts here https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/gate-1-travel/
 
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Sep 19, 2015
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Unfortunately it appears that Delta's legal connection from domestic to international is 40 minutes at the Atlanta airport.

Domestic flight - international flight: 40 minutes
Exceptions:
  • If your inbound flight is on a 330, 767, or 777, then the minimum connection time is 50 minutes for a domestic-international connection.
  • The minimum domestic-YYC connection time is 45 minutes.
  • The minimum domestic-HAV connection time is 55 minutes
That is not what I would call a sensible connection time.

The domestic to domestic connection time is 35 minutes --
 

Barry Graham

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Thanks, I was looking for something like that, Christina, was that on Delta.com? If Delta claims it's a legal connection time then they will obviously put you on the next available flight for free if you miss it.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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"Legal connection time" is not a synonym for "mandatory connection time." One can arrive earlier. One is not required to make a mad dash through the airport, leaping over chairs, small children and other obstacles.

The fact that it is a legal connection will be of little comfort to our OP if they miss their flight. Delta's legal obligation is to put them on Delta's next available flight. Will that be later that same day or later that same week? We don't know what will happen June 1. How many days of OP's vacation will be lost.

Complicating that is the ambiguity in Delta's terms. On the one hand, 40 minutes is a legal connection. On the other hand, our OP is required be at the gate for the transatlantic flight 45 minutes ahead of time. Unless our OP is Cher, with the ability to turn back time, that's not likely to happen, even if OP's inbound flight is early. Moreover, we don't know where someone will check OP's passport and issue the boarding passes for Europe. Will it be in the originating city, or will it occur at the gate in Atlanta. If OP and her companions arrive 40 minutes in advance, through some miracle, what happens if the gate agent says, tough, my computer is locked because you weren't here 45 minutes in advance. And I'm assuming that they arrive and deplane behind security so they don't need to build that into the time. (That's seems likely in Atlanta on Delta.)

Our OP is willing, it appears, to take an earlier flight in order to assure adequate time in Atlanta. OP should continue to press with OP's agent, Gate 1, including building a paper trail. so that if the connection fails, OP can show Delta and Gate 1 their efforts 4 months earlier to avoid the problem.

Since Delta changed the times, someone at Delta, at the prompting of Gate 1, can put our OP on an earlier inbound flight. At no charge.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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SoCalTraveler I believe the travelers will receive the boarding passes and have the passport checked when checking into the first flight -- this is what I have experienced.

Here is what Delta says about schedule changes

to qualify the arrival time delay must be 30 minutes or more

If the affected PNR meets one of the schedule change guidelines above, in order to process the schedule change, the travel professional must:
  • Reconcile the agency PNR by removing (cancelling) old or changed segments in the PNR (Please contact your GDS help desk as needed to determine the proper status codes).
  • Determine if the schedule change is acceptable:
    • If the Schedule Change is acceptable and the ticket is revalidated, no further action is required.
    • If the Schedule Change is acceptable, but the ticket has not revalidated, the ticket will need to be reissued. Please follow “Required Documentation for Reissues” below.
    • If the Schedule Change reaccommodation is not acceptable you may reaccommodate the customer as follows:
      • The new flights must be rebooked using the same origin and destination, the same class of service and the same date as the original ticket.
      • The ticket must be reissued as an even exchange and the customer must be contacted with the new flight information.
      • In addition, the PNR and ticket must be documented with Required Documentation as noted below.

What I am not sure is if GATE 1 has a special bulk fare that is not available on the other flights. -- I do not know if same class of service mandates same ticket fare class.

What is the difference in the arrival delay -- the original was 75 minutes, and the new one "less than an hour" -- if it is 55 minutes, then the schedule change of arrival delay of 20 minutes does not qualify.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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My general experience is that I receive boarding passes and passport check at my initial flight, but I'm typically flying out of LAX. Our OP has not told us where the flight origination is, which might inform our view, nor has OP told us of the difference in time, which might also inform our view. And it may well be a Gate 1 problem because Gate 1 has a bulk fare. I don't think OP (or us) would have anyway to know that.)

My principal comment is that our OP should build a paper trail that OP at least tried. Hopefully, nothing will go wrong and OP will have a wonderful trip.
 

jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
I went through gate 1 and delta waived my change fee, but I paid Gate 1 $400 pp for change of fare fee and now have a 3 hour connection. Thank you to everyone for your helpful advice!
I'm glad you got the immediate problem solved. These "legal connection" times make me grind my teeth. It's international, there's baggage, ATL is a huge airport. Who makes these decrees about connection time? Why can't these travel providers take care of their clients? Sure, "most flights arrive early" these days, but what if yours arrives late? Now that you have the proper amount of time in ATL, see if you can get some information out of Gate1 about what will happen if you don't make your connecting flight. You should know exactly what to do in that case. Theoretically, Delta should rebook you but you need to know. I hope nothing negative happens and you have a wonderful trip.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
Its too bad the air was through Gate 1 because I have been able to talk airline agents into changing flights at no charge when the connections were tight. I have had agents tell me "the connection is still legal" and I've said "but is isn't realistic. Can you take a look at such and such flight number and see if you can move them at no charge?" And I've had it done.
 
Dec 27, 2018
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Yes, especially with my 80 year old mother- and most likely being without luggage once arriving in Amsterdam.
 
Mar 29, 2016
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For what it's worth, Delta pads their schedule and their Atlanta operation is pretty well tuned. There are things you can do the help ease your fears. Sites like flightaware.com can be used to check your airplane's flight status, including where the plane you are catching is coming in from and it's on-time schedule. Get the Delta app on your phone and know both your landing and departing gates before you get off the plane and plan your route. Also with the Delta app you generally get luggage transfer updates so you'll know that your bag is on your plane or not. I try to avoid the Delta 40 minute connection in Atlanta but when I can't, I've never missed a flight. Just keep calm and know if there is a problem connecting, Delta is generally helpful in getting you rebooked.
 
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