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we'll be flying with Delta airlines next September, and I need a piece of advice from more expert American folks, since the company has changed our flight times. We'll be arriving from Denver, and we have a connection time of 1.40 hours at JFK airport before leaving for Nice, France. We are European citizens. Both flights are due to arrive and leave at JFK terminal 4. Does anyone know if we have enough time? Customs and security are to be cleared again? Thanks a lot to any useful advice!

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    The DEN-JFK is domestic and there is no passport check for outbound international flights, so it should be quite fine. May 8, 2022 at 14:51
  • Is there a fall back option for a later flight that will still allow you to make your connection, in case the inbound flight is delayed?
    – Traveller
    May 8, 2022 at 15:04
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    Do you have one reservation (i.e., a single PNR for both flights), or two ? May 8, 2022 at 15:05
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    The US does not have regular exit immigration checks; passenger ID info for US flights is transmitted by the airline to the US government via the APIS system. Sometimes CBP checks outgoing travelers for correct paperwork, but these checks are extremely rare. May 8, 2022 at 19:13
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    Denver to JFK is a domestic flight (i.e., wholly within the US). You will pass through TSA Security as you board in Denver, and will deplane directly into the terminal at JFK. Because you'll stay in the same terminal at JFK and will therefore remain "airside" at JFK, you will not have to pass security again before boarding your JFK flight for Europe. Because you have one PNR and the same carrier on both flights, the airline should check your luggage through to Nice when you board in Denver; you will not retrieve nor have to recheck your luggage at JFK. May 8, 2022 at 19:17

2 Answers 2

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The bad news:

  • If your incoming flight is severely delayed, there’s no later flight to Nice, so you will either be rerouted via another airport or will have to wait the next day, so the delay may be a bit longer than in other circumstances.
  • 1h40 is definitely enough for a normal connection, actually has quite a bit of margin, but not enough for the longer delays (over an hour or so)
  • Your flight being operated by a US airline, in this direction you won’t be covered by the EU’s strong protections for passengers (EC261) which would have granted you compensation (several hundred euros) for severe delays in many cases (not all).

The good news:

  • In normal circumstances this is more than enough
  • There’s no exit passport control in the US
  • Since both flights are on the same ticket, in this direction your luggage will be checked through to the final destination, you won’t see it, no need to wait for it or re-check it
  • You probably won’t have to go through security, but I’m not familiar enough with JFK to say for sure
  • The airline is selling the connection, so they’re quite confident you’ll make it (because there are quite a few strings attached for them if you don’t)
  • If you don’t make it because the first flight is delayed, it is the airline’s responsibility to rebook you and take care of you (paying for hotels if you need to stay overnight for instance)
  • 1h40 should provide for enough buffer for a delay of up to an hour on the arrival of the incoming flight, possibly more.
  • There is usually a bit of margin on transatlantic flights, so they can often (but definitely not always) wait a bit for delayed connecting passengers
  • There are probably quite a few alternative routes via Paris, London or other places so you probably would be delayed a few hours rather than a full day in case you miss the second flight
  • Delta is a partner of Air France so that gives quite a bit of additional flexibility

All in all, with both flights on a single ticket I wouldn’t even think about a problem beyond a possible delay as in all air travel, so unless you have a strict imperative on arrival in Nice you can just let Delta worry about things for you.

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    There's almost certainly no need to clear security on this transfer. While there is no general inter-terminal airside transit at JFK, almost all Delta flights these days arrive and depart at Terminal 4, and Delta operates an airside bus for its passengers who need to transfer to or from the (relatively few) flights at Terminal 2.
    – mlc
    May 8, 2022 at 23:29
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    @mlc The OP says the arrival and departure flights are both JFK Terminal 4. May 9, 2022 at 0:11
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    To add to the last point: AF carries you to Nice not only from Paris but from London as well (the flight resumes in July). In case OP gets rerouted, I'd expect that route, there are a downright absurd amounts of seats flying between JFK and LHR, the chances are much higher there'll be a free one than either CDG or AMS (yes, KLM via AMS is also a possibility). Also, the GDS says the MCT is 45 minutes for D-I, 1:40 is way more.
    – user4188
    May 9, 2022 at 3:30
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    You can definitely make a 100-minute connection at JFK within a terminal. I successfully made a 20-minute connection changing from T2 to T4 back in January (though there was definitely some luck involved in that).
    – A. R.
    May 9, 2022 at 21:00
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Because both flights' tickets were issued under one PNR, the ticketing (and operating) air carriers are confident that the connection can be made.

If a one-PNR two-flight itinerary fails because the traveler is too late for the second flight, the airline is responsible to get the traveler to the destination, to care for the traveler on the way (food and lodging, if the delay is overnight), and may be liable for monetary damages as well. This is enough pain for airlines to be very careful to sell only ticket pairs with connections the airlines are confident can be made.

No one knows for sure what'll happen on your trip, but the smart money says you'll be fine.

(Text taken from my answer to this question.)

Note that here's also pain and dislocation for the traveler if the connection fails, even if the airline is responsible. And connections do sometimes fail.

For itineraries (like international flights) where missing a flight is a big deal, a conservative approach is to buy both legs' tickets as one PNR (you did this), and in addition seek more connection time. In this itinerary, you could have increased the connection time with an earlier flight from Denver to JFK, even one the day before. There are many more flights from Denver > JFK then there are flights from JFK > Nice. (Traveling a day earlier would make the connection to the second flight more certain, at the cost of a night's lodging and more time.)

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    I suspect that if OP misses their connection in this particular case (which is not overly likely, 1:40 should be plenty of time), they'd most likely be put on a later flight to Paris and then a connection to Nice, which would be, well, not very nice, but not a full day's delay either.
    – mlc
    May 8, 2022 at 18:24

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