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The flight would be Europe -> Newark (1 hr, 55 min layover) -> another U.S. airport. All on same airline/same ticket. U.S. citizen with one checked bag and some carry-on bags.

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My take on a transfer of an hour and 55 minutes (at any airport) is primarily that the chance of your actually having an hour and 55 minutes to make the transfer is very small. Planes routinely arrive late. They also frequently arrive early, thanks to schedule padding and occasionally favorable winds (a factor that is more significant on longer flights).

The airline sold you the ticket, so if you miss the connection, they will put you on another flight. (A commenter mentioned the next flight, but this isn't guaranteed because the next flight could be full.)

My approach is not to be anxious about making the connection. If the first flight arrives a bit late such that the connection time is shorter, and they tell me to hurry, I'll make a good faith effort to get to the gate as quickly as I comfortably can, but I won't feel obliged to run. It is the airline's responsibility to get you to the final destination. Sometimes ground staff (who are often understandably stressed by having to rebook passengers) will adopt a scolding tone; the good-faith effort is mostly so I can shut that down by saying "I did the best I could, now please put me on another flight."

Of course, the calm approach only works if you aren't on a tight schedule. If you're going to a meeting or a wedding or what have you, it won't be so easy to relax. But if you're going to an important event, you should keep in mind that it's also possible to be delayed even when your itinerary doesn't include a tight connection. Planes are sometimes delayed by several hours; flights are sometimes cancelled entirely. It's not that uncommon; I fly only a few times a year, with usually only one long-haul flight, and I would guess that I have encountered a significant delay of this sort maybe once every five years or so (and rebooked connections because of less significant delays maybe every two to three years.)

Oh and you mentioned a checked bag. Ground handling at JFK is frequently horrible. Even if passport control goes smoothly, you can be stuck waiting for your bag for a long time. Once I received my bags two hours after the plane touched down.

So you should expect a reasonably good chance of missing the connection. If you need to be at your destination for some event that is occurring within 24 hours of your scheduled arrival, consider rebooking your flight. If someone is going to pick you up at the airport, let them know that they may need to be flexible. It's all about the contingency plan.

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No one knows for sure. If things go reasonably normal, that should be fine.

If you are interested you can look up historical wait times at immigration for your specific week day, terminal and time slot here: https://awt.cbp.gov/. Unfortunately it varies all over the place with lots of different factors.

A big accelerator is Global Entry (which also comes with TSA Precheck) but if you don't already have it, you are out of luck, wait times for new applications are in excess of a year by now.

If you miss the connection (due to delayed incoming, slow or lost bags, unusually long lines at immigration, customs or security etc), the airline will just put you on the next available flight. It may be a good idea checking out what that is: that makes is easier to negotiate with a gate agent, in case it actually happens.

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  • Thank you. I realize I made a mistake and it's not Newark, it's JFK. Would that make a big difference? Also, how do you find out what the other flights that day for that route are?
    – Chelonian
    Oct 14, 2023 at 20:32
  • awt.cbp.gov. has data on both airports. Just do a flight search on Google flights for a one way from JFK to your final destination. Look for flights that depart after your scheduled connection ideally from the same airlines. The airline can rebook you on a different airline, but that depends a lot on the details (route, status, type of ticket, partnerships and alliances) and to a certain extent on your negotiation skills.
    – Hilmar
    Oct 14, 2023 at 22:11
  • @Hilmar the last time a flight of mine was cancelled the airline rebooked me on another airline that was not a partner airline nor even a member of the same alliance; no negotiation necessary (but it was an EU airline and the flight had been cancelled because they didn't have enough planes available, so I suppose they were resorting to paying the other airline to fly their passengers because it was going to cost them less than it would to try to recover with their own equipment).
    – phoog
    Oct 15, 2023 at 16:59

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