Should we rebook this flight?
September 5, 2017 2:35 PM   Subscribe

We booked a flight with an hour long layover in DTW, flying from NYC (LGA) --> DTW --> Tokyo (NRT). The first flight was shifted and now we have a 40-minute layover. Should we change our flight to instead have a 3-hour layover in DTW?

We are flying one airline the entire way (Delta). It seems like all Delta flights leave from the same terminal and we will only have one backpack each so no checked or gate checked bags. We are sitting in row 23.

With an hour, I was safe calling the shots, but the 40 minute window makes me a bit nervous. Delta itself won't recommend a course of action, and they only have one direct flight out to Tokyo daily.

We could shift to a flight that leaves NYC at 6 AM. This wouldn't be too terrible because we live close to the airport, but we would still need to leave our apartment around 4:30 AM.

Would you shift to the earlier flight? I believe it would be free based on the message they sent us.
posted by neematoad to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
Do you have a limited amount of time in Japan? I'd be willing to wake up a lot earlier to minimize the chances of spending one of my vacation days in an airport hotel. If you have many weeks or months I'd probably risk it, a long layover before a really long flight is no fun.
posted by skewed at 2:44 PM on September 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

I would shift to the other flight in order to get a longer layover. I just did an international trip where I had a 40 minute layover in Seoul, which is one of the most efficient airports in the world, and I felt like I was racing from gate to gate (plus a bathroom visit). It was not a good way to travel.
posted by joan_holloway at 2:44 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would shift the flight.

On the one hand, Delta will be motivated to get you on the flight, especially if you're not the only person making this connection, because if their schedule change causes you to be 24 hours late to your destination, I'm pretty sure they owe you money. And Detroit is a great and efficient airport and you probably won't have to go far. So PROBABLY it would work out OK.

But you just don't have much wiggle room and you could lose a whole day. If it's not a huge deal to change the flight, do it. Also Detroit airport is poorly served by public transport so it's a real pain in the ass to get out of the airport on a layover. (I once spent 10 hours in DTW because of a delayed flight that caused me to miss my second leg).
posted by mskyle at 2:50 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Take the earlier flight! You're not guaranteed the 40-minute layover, after all. Any tiny little delay at La Guardia (late crew member, weather in NYC, weather wherever the plane is coming in from, maintenance, computer glitches at the check-in counter, TSA shenanigans) will guarantee that you miss your plane. The cost-benefit analysis is pretty clear here.

(Have a great trip!)
posted by wintersweet at 2:52 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Okay, looks like there is consensus. We'll shift the flight. Thanks everyone!
posted by neematoad at 2:54 PM on September 5, 2017

I hate getting up early in the morning, and I would absolutely shift. Anything could happen and make you miss your plane. Even if there were multiple flights a day I would shift, never mind with just one.
posted by sailoreagle at 2:56 PM on September 5, 2017

Guess im too late but id just roll with it. I fly delta regularly and when they have those short layovers its usually because because they have booked lots of extra time to factor in ground stops, traffic etc.
posted by chasles at 3:12 PM on September 5, 2017

For me, this would depend on what time your LGA flight was - if it left between 9:30am-12:30pm I think that layover is long enough b/c you're less likely to have delays. Once you get into the afternoon, a lot of the NYC airports get backed up, and I'd be more nervous about leaving LGA late.
posted by mercredi at 3:30 PM on September 5, 2017

Going will be relatively easy as you aren't hitting customs so its just a matter of getting from one gate to the other. Even still, I wouldn't give myself only an hour layover but I guess that lots of people do.

What is your layover like on the return leg?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:31 PM on September 5, 2017

All the Delta flights in Detroit do leave from the same terminal, but it's a very large (and long) terminal. I would not want to have to get from one end to the other with a 40-minute layover, especially since boarding begins 30 minutes before takeoff.
posted by shiny blue object at 3:56 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Looks like you've made your decision, but one advantage of the 6:00 am flight is a much shorter security line, if that helps you feel better about getting up at an ungodly hour! Enjoy your trip!
posted by tully_monster at 7:21 PM on September 5, 2017

Looks like the minimum connection time at DTW between a domestic and an international flight that Delta will book is forty minutes. So you have the absolute minimum the airline will even try to get away with. That's cutting it too fine if there's only one flight a day.
posted by praemunire at 10:58 PM on September 5, 2017

I'm Detroit-based and go through the McNamara terminal frequently. Under normal circumstances, 40 minutes is plenty of time. It is a large and long terminal (one mile long), but even if you come in one end and leave out the other, there is an express tram that will get you there quickly. The B/C gates would add a little more time (altho you do get to go through the psychedelic tunnel), but even there, 40 minutes would be doable.

However, as others have said, it leaves you little margin for error, and you don't have a lot of options if you miss the connection. Any little delay could mess you up.

The McNamara terminal is relatively new and it should be easy to kill three hours there. Walk through the aforesaid psychedelic tunnel to the B/C gates and enjoy the fountain at the terminal crossroads. I think there is a place to get a massage. Shop at Plum Market/Zingerman's.
posted by Preserver at 11:05 AM on September 6, 2017

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