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I'm a US citizen flying on a Wednesday from ABQ > JFK (not yet booked) then taking a 7:20pm JFK Terminal 1 > TXL (Berlin) on Aeroflot. Before booking my ABQ > JFK flight I want to make sure my connection time is actually sensible.

I know that I'll have to pick up my single checked bag (unless I'm flying Delta, which can interline) and at least go through security again, then check in self and bag again. (Having never flown international before, I'm not sure about the whole outgoing procedure.) I know JFK is a big airport, but does anyone have ballpark estimates for my (admittedly complex) transfer?

Wikitravel suggests 3-4 hours for JFK domestic > international, but do my circumstances warrant a longer/shorter time?

Possible ABQ > JFK flight arrivals: 4:34p (2h46m gap) 4:05p (3h15m gap) 2:50p (4h30m gap

  • Since it's on two tickets, your biggest risk is probably delays on the 1st leg causing you to miss the second. Do you have travel insurance that'd cover the rebooking fee if that happened? – Gagravarr Feb 17 '15 at 10:07
  • Also, check that your carrier has a later flight, in case you miss your flight. BTW, some carriers let you check your bags for international travel at your originating airport. Since you are changing carriers, that might not be available to you. You could check. Also, JFK is large. So 3-4 hours might make sense. I doubt you would need more time than that. – Yehuda_NYC Feb 17 '15 at 19:12
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You probably already flew, but for others here is some recommendation for caution. You actually are aware of the issues you would run into, but I think you underestimate the time you need.

As the comments suggest, a travel insurance might help you in case of delays. And as Wikitravel recommends, 3 to 4 hours might be necessary for domestic to international connections, but because you have to collect your bag and check it in again, this might easily take longer.

When I go to a rather small airport for an international flight, I usually consider the check-in limit and add a margin of at least 30 minutes for delays and the line at the airport. Given this is a big airport, you should probably allow yourself a bigger margin (for Aeroflot in JFK, I could not find specific information on the check-in/baggage drop-off limit). The limit is commonly 1h to 1h30 before departure time. After that you will have to go through security, through the border, and then through the airport to reach your gate. In such an airport I would take a minimum of 1h30 (probably more based on Wikitravel recommendation, let's take 2 hours). You should add at least 30 minutes - 1 hour to line up at the counter and taking the time to go across the airport to find the counter. That's for the flying out part, without margin.

Now you also have the flying in part. You should arrive on a domestic flight, so you should expect after landing probably some taxiing, some time to reach the terminal (from where you will be able to find the check-in counter/baggage drop-off). If we take the recommendation of Wikitravel, we can estimate this part at 1-2 hours. In your case, you will also have to go to the carousel to find your luggage and wait for it to come. This part might vary a lot, but let's expect 30 minutes- 1 hour more.

So overall you may expect 1 - 2 hours more than what Wikitravel recommends, which leads to an easy 4-6h, and I think that is with limited delays, no baggage loss or any such issue. The problem might be more the time you should go to Albuquerque airport in the morning. But overall for this kind of connection, take a really big margin, 5 hours won't be too much (make sure your smartphone is charged or you have a book to make the waiting not too painful). And, really, take a look at travel insurances, they might be helping a lot as well.

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