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PHL vs CLT for international transit and other questions

PHL vs CLT for international transit and other questions

Old Jul 16, 15, 4:12 pm
  #1  
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PHL vs CLT for international transit and other questions

For an international trip (in C) next May/June from SFO to MAD for my wife and myself, we may have the choice between transiting between PHL and CLT. A few questions:

1. Having been through PHL only once (and not on US) and not through CLT at all, am I correct in assuming that CLT is a nicer airport to pass through? (Looks like in terms of schedule and other aspects, the two otherwise work out the same for us.)
2. How far is the CLT airport from the city? And are there places near the airport to get a decent lunch or dinner? I ask because if we have a long-layover there we might see friends or they might come out to the airport to pick us up.
3. A really stupid question from a US newbie: Am I correct in assuming that all the US international C cabins are now the same 1-2-1 configuration, whether flying from PHL or CLT?

Thanks for any help!

Last edited by Thunderroad; Jul 16, 15 at 4:52 pm
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Old Jul 16, 15, 4:46 pm
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1) I fly from Philly--it used to have a nicer international lounge, but it's a wash now. That said I'd rather be here than CLT because if things go wrong there are a lot more international options in the area.

2) CLT is like 20 min from Charlotte, PHL is a 30 min train ride from Center City

3) Not at all--you need to check your plane. A330 good, 757 bad. Others can chime in on the other planes, I usually fly BA Int'l.
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Old Jul 16, 15, 4:54 pm
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Last edited by Geauxtigers; Aug 14, 16 at 10:56 pm
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Old Jul 16, 15, 5:49 pm
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Just get global entry..customs lines are easy anywhere.
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Old Jul 18, 15, 10:37 am
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Originally Posted by Thunderroad View Post
For an international trip (in C) next May/June from SFO to MAD for my wife and myself, we may have the choice between transiting between PHL and CLT. A few questions:

1. Having been through PHL only once (and not on US) and not through CLT at all, am I correct in assuming that CLT is a nicer airport to pass through? (Looks like in terms of schedule and other aspects, the two otherwise work out the same for us.)
2. How far is the CLT airport from the city? And are there places near the airport to get a decent lunch or dinner? I ask because if we have a long-layover there we might see friends or they might come out to the airport to pick us up.
3. A really stupid question from a US newbie: Am I correct in assuming that all the US international C cabins are now the same 1-2-1 configuration, whether flying from PHL or CLT?

Thanks for any help!
1. I used to be a PHL based flyer and if I was in your situation, I'd go for CLT based on the "brotherly love" you're more likely to experience at PHL. I've been through CLT many times and found it to be a better choice in almost all respects. I've also connected to domestic flights from international in CLT and would recommend it over PHL. Mercifully, PHL is my final destination from international. I feel for the poor .......s who have to connect from international through PHL - it's bad on a good day and does not take much for IRROPS to turn it into a complete clusterfrack.
2. Couldn't tell you, never been outside CLT airport unfortunately.
3. Agree with poster above, make sure you're on the A330 for transatlantic portion and you'll be fine. Avoid 757. 767 used to be suboptimal as well but they've retired those I believe.

Also - couldn't agree more with previous poster on Global Entry. Best $100 I ever spent, skip the lines at Immigration plus get PreCheck for domestic flights if you don't already have it. Enjoy your trip!
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Old Jul 18, 15, 12:08 pm
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It's a matter of personal taste. For me...

I prefer PHL over CLT for a number of reasons:

1. If you do have time to go into the city during your layover there is MUCH more to do and better dining options in Center City Philly that there are in Charlotte. Cab ride into Philly is flat fare (into Center City) and takes about 15 min. CLT takes a bit longer.

2. PHL has a bit more to do in the airport if you have a layover and not enough time to leave the airport. I agree that the clubs are a wash.

3. IF there is a travel disruption (and there usually is in PHL) you have a couple more options to get you across the pond from PHL than you do CLT. There are limited TATL flights out of CLT so if you do get stuck you could get stuck for the night. PHL has a couple of flights to LHR and other larger European hubs where you could connect and ultimately find your way to MAD.

4. Clearing immigration at PHL varies. In the afternoon while the TATL flights are all coming in it can be a bit hectic. As others have said, Global Entry is the key. Well worth the money spent.

5. Whatever you do...avoid the TATL 757s on US. THEY ARE AWFUL, HORRIBLE, DISGUSTING, LOUSY aircraft. Flew one last month to BRU and hated every minute of it. Seats do not recline much, service is lousy, planes are falling apart. The IFE is on tablets which just don't fit anywhere if you have a laptop out or your meal.

As an FYI, AA flies 777s from MIA-MAD so if you don't mind going a bit out of your way and can make the connection work that may be a better option as the new 777s are lovely.
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Old Jul 18, 15, 1:56 pm
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Originally Posted by SOBE ER DOC View Post
.
4. Clearing immigration at PHL varies. In the afternoon while the TATL flights are all coming in it can be a bit hectic. As others have said, Global Entry is the key. Well worth the money spent.
While clearing immigration at PHL can be a bit hectic, I've never had any issues. Nearly every time I've been from plane-->immigration-->baggage-->customs-->recheck-->through security, all within 30-45 min.

I've done a few TA flights through CLT, and nearly every time we've arrived early and had to wait for immigration to open. Then there were several A330's full of passengers all waiting. Baggage there seems to take much longer too. Then the security re-check was a total disaster.
At CLT the plane-->security re-check is at least an hour, if not 1:30.
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Old Jul 18, 15, 10:14 pm
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Folks above have much more experiences than me but quick thoughts:

1. CLT is not really nicer than PHL. The AAdmirals Club staff at PHL was nice enough to me but yes, the gate staff at CLT seems a bit friendlier. My CLT layovers have not been long enough to have time to enjoy the lounges so I cannot comment on them.

2. For most European destinations (perhaps all), PHL will offer a more direct routing for folks flying from pretty much anywhere but the Southeastern US. In your case, you will save 202 miles flying. To me, that's less time in the air and that's a good thing: http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=SFO+-+M...FO+-+CLT+-+MAD

3. If things go wrong, PHL offers more opportunities to get you to your destination given that it is an airport with far more TATL flights and traffic.

4. As SOBE ER DOC pointed out, please, please avoid the US 757s if possible. I had an exit row economy seat on one of these and was feeling pretty good going in but the flight was miserable. I didn't sleep for more than 10 minutes and got a muffin top as breakfast. Not even a whole muffin. Just the top of one.
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