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What do you think is the minimum connection time needed with kids?

What do you think is the minimum connection time needed with kids?

Old Apr 29, 15, 4:54 pm
  #1  
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What do you think is the minimum connection time needed with kids?

I'm searching for flights to Hawaii and finding a lot of flights with 50 minute layovers in DFW. Do you think it's overly optimistic for me to get 5 kids (ages 2-16) off one flight and onto another in that time frame?

Not sure if a short connection is a good idea to avoid bored kids in the airport or if it would be a stressful disaster waiting to happen. Curious what other parents think!
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Old Apr 29, 15, 6:09 pm
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Extremely overly optimistic.
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Old Apr 29, 15, 7:38 pm
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I think it's also a question of how much stuff you'll have to carry. If your have no strollers or car seats it's possibly doable. But when I was a footloose and fancy free single powerwalking road warrior 50 minute layover was a risk.
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Old Apr 29, 15, 7:57 pm
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Yeah, I was kinda thinking that. I usually fly solo so I'm a little lost on what to plan time-wise for the kids. Suppose it's wishful thinking to assume they'd be hustling like me. Do you think 1.5-2 hours sounds good?
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Old Apr 30, 15, 1:23 am
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I'd go at least 1.5 hours. Possibly much longer if the connection fell over a meal time.
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Old Apr 30, 15, 8:22 am
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1 kid = maybe doable and worth risking, but with 5 kids, the likelihood increases that something somewhere is going to go off the rails. I'd do it only if there was absolutely no other option.

I get what the OP is saying about not wanting to sit around a terminal for hours with a bored kids, but he/she definitely needs a buffer of some kind... 1.5 to 2 hours would be the ideal. Should be plenty of time for everyone to use the washrooms, eat, move around a bit, etc., but if there is a problem like a flight delay on the inbound, at least there is still time to dash over to the connection without too much stress or panic.
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Old Apr 30, 15, 8:50 am
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You can't tell a kid that he can't go to the bathroom or stop for some water as you walk between gates. The MCT is not even close to the SCT (Sensible Connect Time) in this instance.

Kids can have a blast at a gate, watching aircraft pull up and depart, jet bridges maneuver, people scream at GA's and so on. I would allow at least 2 hours, make a bio break between gates, and have a picnic at the gate.

A misconnect is a lot lot lot worse than a bored kid at a gate.
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Old Apr 30, 15, 1:28 pm
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For the little kids there is a playground area at the A gates (in the teens, I believe). We set up back there during our long layover. Mr. It'sHip and I took turns minding Little Mr. It'sHip while the other bought food or went to the bathroom.
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Old Apr 30, 15, 4:29 pm
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I agree that 50 mins is way too tight, but how long is long enough would depend on:

1. How old are the kids? If it was 12,13,14,16, and 2, then that's very different than a 16 year old and 2 year old quadruplets. In the former case, the kids are a net positive (can help move the 2 year old). In the latter, a negative.
2. How many adults?
3. How much gear do you have to transport (which is closely linked to #1).
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Old Apr 30, 15, 6:50 pm
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Thanks so much for the insight everyone! Special thanks for letting me know about the play area It'sHip2B!

To answer cestmoi123's questions:
  1. Kids are 16, 14, 12, 5 and 2
  2. Only adult is me
  3. Expected gear would include carry-ons for everyone minus the two year old. Planning to check luggage so carry-ons will most likely be backpacks with snacks/stuff for the journey. We'll have a booster for at least the two year old, and I'm debating about bringing an umbrella stroller (leaning toward it for now).

I'm a widow, and my big kids are awesome about helping out with the little ones so I am not too worried about the kid to parent ratio here. We've traveled regionally before and everything has gone smoothly in terms of everyone stepping up to help out. But this is the first time flying with the kids and definitely the most ambitious trip I've planned for us.

I think at this point, I'll look for something that gives us at least two hours to connect.
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Old May 1, 15, 12:31 pm
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Looking at the ages of your kids, I wouldn't have a problem with a 50 minute connection. As long as your originating flight is on time, you'll have plenty of time to make the next flight. However, you have to go with what you are comfortable with.
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Old May 1, 15, 1:54 pm
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Originally Posted by hopingtofly View Post
Thanks so much for the insight everyone! Special thanks for letting me know about the play area It'sHip2B!

To answer cestmoi123's questions:
  1. Kids are 16, 14, 12, 5 and 2
  2. Only adult is me
  3. Expected gear would include carry-ons for everyone minus the two year old. Planning to check luggage so carry-ons will most likely be backpacks with snacks/stuff for the journey. We'll have a booster for at least the two year old, and I'm debating about bringing an umbrella stroller (leaning toward it for now).

I'm a widow, and my big kids are awesome about helping out with the little ones so I am not too worried about the kid to parent ratio here. We've traveled regionally before and everything has gone smoothly in terms of everyone stepping up to help out. But this is the first time flying with the kids and definitely the most ambitious trip I've planned for us.

I think at this point, I'll look for something that gives us at least two hours to connect.
While 50 mins is still pretty snug, the ages of your kids make it doable. You've got at least three that are functionally (in terms of being able to haul their stuff and understand "we gotta move") adults, and if they're happy to help with the younger two, then I'd go for it.

One other point - if you don't make the flight, AA will accommodate you on a later flight, but you probably won't all be sitting next to each other. They'll definitely get a pair so the 2 year old isn't sitting alone, and probably make sure that the 5 year old has someone with him/her, but the older kids are probably going to be scattered through the cabin. If that's a no-go for you, you should take it into account.

Bottom line, while the ages of the kids make this feasible, if there's an option to have 1.5-2 hours of connection time, would certainly be simpler.
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Old May 3, 15, 11:58 am
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Sorry to hear of the loss of your husband! I lost my dad when I was 10 so you're probably a tough cookie like my mom was. She had the flying with two kids thing down long before my dad passed... then we weren't able to travel much. Glad that you still can!

I have to say that I can kill tons of time in an airport with my similarly-aged children (now 11-15). There's always something to look at, someone's hungry or needs the restroom, etc. I wouldn't schedule a connection to avoid bored kids specifically. Once, on an amusing note, they were interviewed for a video the airport was doing (didn't make the edit but oh well!)

The other Big Criteria for me is how well serviced your connection and destination are. If you're flying SFO to LAX, well, yeah, there will be 10,000 other flights. But Hawaii out of DFW? Maybe but that would be a bummer, especially as someone mentioned, you'd probably get separated.

A shorter layover might work for the way back, if there are a lot of flights. But on the way over, you don't want to miss your Great Hawaiian Adventure!
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Old May 4, 15, 11:02 am
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Thanks Eclipsepearl. He's been gone two years this month. :-( He had esophageal cancer and was sick for about 3 years before he died. After that, I decided we needed something positive to look forward to so I had everyone write a dream destination on a slip of paper, and we drew one out of a hat.

Hawaii was my 14 year old's pick and while it's not a destination I would have chosen on my own, I am fairly geeked now that we're to the point of actually booking it. The flight is really the only part that makes me nervous because it's a bit of a question mark as to how the little ones will do on the plane. I definitely don't want to be in a position where we have to split up so I think I'll go for the longer layover!
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Old May 5, 15, 1:35 pm
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Originally Posted by cestmoi123 View Post

One other point - if you don't make the flight, AA will accommodate you on a later flight, but you probably won't all be sitting next to each other. They'll definitely get a pair so the 2 year old isn't sitting alone, and probably make sure that the 5 year old has someone with him/her, but the older kids are probably going to be scattered through the cabin. If that's a no-go for you, you should take it into account.

Bottom line, while the ages of the kids make this feasible, if there's an option to have 1.5-2 hours of connection time, would certainly be simpler.
We are two adults and only one child but the herd only moves as fast as its slowest member.

I agree that a longer layover is a smarter choice. Many times, we hustled for a 50 min-1:00 layover.

Then our luck ran out. A minor maintenance delay caused us to miss a flight to miss a one hour connection in CLT to Cozumel and the next flight was sold out.

When we were rebooked, we were split up. We did get there the same day but it sucked getting shut out for the next flight.

I now look for at least a 1.5 hour connection and don't mind a 2 hour one. We learned to value not rushing off the plane and sprinting to our next one. And with deplaning and boarding, a 2 hour connection shrinks to more like 1:15 anyway.
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