Airlines

Beware Short Connections in FLL

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I wound up connecting in Ft Lauderdale for the flight down to my parents this weekend. Going through FLL didn’t cost much more than my usual US Airways connection in CLT and it meant arriving earlier in the evening and more EQMs. Also I’d hoped that I would have a better chance of getting upgraded on a 3PM flight to FLL than I would a 6:30 PM flight to Charlotte.

Well, my US Airways Platinum upgrade window came and went. No announcements were made at the gate. I boarded in economy and settled in. Halfway through the process a guy shows up at my row with the same seat assignment. Hmmm. I give him my boarding pass and the poor soul fights his way upstream to the front of the plane to see what’s happened. Sure enough, a few minutes later a flight attendant makes her way back and tells me “You’re up there.”

And it was really fortunate, because our flight was delayed taking off and my 50 minute connection to my United Silver Express flight shrinks to 40 minutes. When I’d first boarded my original seatmate had assured me FLL was a small airport and everything was close together. And fortunately the stewardesses were kind enough to let me retrieve my carry-on from the back and store it in the coat closet so I could be ready to run the minute we landed. I was hoping that would be enough.

We land and I start pulling up my gate information while running for a departure info monitor. No United flights are listed…I pull up the United Flight info on my phone, “Gate not yet assigned.” I start to panic.

I run back to my original gate to ask where United flights depart from. Terminal 1. Not the one I was in.

I walk briskly out of security and look for signs for a shuttle bus while pulling up a map of the airport on my phone. Terminal 1 is the farthest away from Terminal 3. I find the shuttle stop at the far right end of Terminal 3 and wait. It says it runs every 15 minutes…I now only have 30 minutes until my flight takes off.

5 minutes later I decide i’m going to try to hoof it to the terminal. A very kind bus dispatcher (probably seeing the fear in my eyes) calls after me that the bus is coming. I go back, I board. He tells the driver that I only have 25 minutes to catch my flight and not to wait for anyone at the stops before mine. Bless him!!

Enroute another kind man tells me to follow him off the bus and he’ll show me where the United gates are. Bless him! Turns out they are  at the farthest point (all the way left) from where the bus stops. At this point I’m taking off at jog in my 4 inch heels, ignoring the amused looks in the sparsely populated terminal. My flight is the last one out that night and I didn’t want to overnight in FLL just because I wasn’t willing to run.

I make it sweating and out of breath to the security lines. The TSA agent checking IDs tells me I made it and I have plenty of time. She also tells me my gate number, which United has yet to list on the website. 3 lanes are open with no more than 2 people ahead of me in each. Fortunately one of lanes didn’t have the nude-o-scope so I didn’t even half to waste time opting out.

I grab my stuff and go — my gate, C5, is at the far end. I arrive at 6:45 for my 6:55 flight completely dishevelled and pathetically grateful that they’re still letting people in. 2 people off my previous flight arrive seconds after I do and we all board the tiny plane full of  anger at US Airways for thinking that was a reasonable connection.

Sooo, tips for connecting in FLL:

  • If one of your flights is a code-share check the terminal map in advance to be prepared for where to go
  • Terminal monitors only show the flights arriving/departing out of that terminal, so you’ll need to have other means for finding out what gate you’re at.
  • 50 minutes is unpleasantly tight for a connection if you’re switching airlines. Any delay and you’ll probably have to run for it.
  • The buses to get to each terminal stop at the far ends of the terminals, so look for the signs outside to see whether to go left or right.
  • All the airport staff I encountered were super nice, so ask them for help! (It probably doesn’t hurt to look completely lost and panicked either)

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  1. Pingback: Beware: Silver Airways Segments Only Credit to MileagePlus.

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