Earliest LHR to SFO option?

Old May 4, 17, 9:19 pm
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Earliest LHR to SFO option?

i need to come back from London to SFO in June, and I need to arrive in time to pick up my kid, who will be with a group on LH 454 from Frankfurt landing at 12:55pm.

One option is is to take a 6:30 flight to Frankfurt and connect onto the same LH flight, but it's about a 1 hour connection which is tight, and if I miss it I'm way behind.

Another option i see see would be taking United 900 LHR to SFO, which lands at 1:30, and count on a J seat and global entry letting me make up the time on the kid's back of the bus large group. The risk is her having to wait for a few minutes outside customs, but at 15 she can handle that, and the risk of a catastrophic "I'm multiple hours behind her" seems less.

Or or I could just come back a day earlier from London, but even with the latest departure to SFO I'd still have to head to LHR by noon-ish.


Any thoughts? Any options I missed ?

thx
bob
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Old May 4, 17, 9:25 pm
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Assuming both flights are on time, if you're in J and have GE, you will be FAR ahead of her, even arriving 35 minutes later. Worst case, you both end up in the baggage claim area and can designate a meeting point in advance where she can wait for a few minutes before proceeding through the customs check and into the terminal.
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Old May 4, 17, 9:34 pm
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Originally Posted by bpratt View Post
Any thoughts? Any options I missed ?

thx
bob
You could fly to FRA the night before, and then take the LH flight along with your daughter.
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Old May 4, 17, 9:38 pm
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
You could fly to FRA the night before, and then take the LH flight along with your daughter.
I'd overlooked that option, good catch. The challenge with that is that my wife and other kid will be in London with me, and I'm trying to optimize for time with them while still getting home in time.

In some ways it was easier before they were old enough to go off on their own group trips and we always just traveled as a foursome :-)
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Old May 4, 17, 9:39 pm
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The logistically "safest" thing to do would be to fly to FRA, overnight there, and book yourself onto the same FRA-SFO flight. That way if her flight is delayed or rerouted you're in the same situation as her.

It's actually pretty cheap if you book LHR-FRA separately (dirt cheap on BA using Avios on, say, the second-to-last flight of the night); FRA hotels are expensive, but if you book a ticket ex-FRA you don't owe Air Passenger Duty and can often save money vs. booking ex-LHR. It's a pretty expensive strategy if you book a single ticket. And yeah it is a little risky to take the first flight of the morning LHR-FRA.

Another funny option is DUB-LAX-SFO -- the Ethiopian Airlines flight leaves DUB about 6am and lands LAX about 9am, although with minimum connection time you don't get into SFO until about 1:30--2pm depending on the day.

Honestly though the LHR-SFO nonstop is probably fine. Worst case is that it gets delayed a few hours (this does happen) for a reason that is not EU261/2004 eligible (this can happen) and you have to scramble and spend some money & attention to make sure someone takes care of your kid at SFO. It is definitely a good idea to have a backup plan -- if you're on separate flights, one or the other of you might land early/late/get diverted or delayed, probably a 1% chance.
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Old May 4, 17, 9:48 pm
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UA900 is a 744, so I'd be a bit worried about MX delaying it a bit. According to FlightStats, delays average 29 mins with a stdev of 53, so if you need to be getting in at the same time I would strongly consider joining your kid at FRA the night before.
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Old May 4, 17, 10:07 pm
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The right answer completely depends on age & maturity of the kid.

Can your kid handle being alone at SFO if you get hit by a multi-hour delay? If so, book whatever flights work best for you and count on your kid to make things work whatever happens. If not, get yourself home well before they arrive.
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Old May 4, 17, 11:08 pm
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If you're concerned about your kid's safety, you could ask her to wait for you before clearing CBP (i.e. in the secure part of the airport), either before immigration or before customs.
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Old May 4, 17, 11:15 pm
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Originally Posted by bpratt View Post
I'd overlooked that option, good catch. The challenge with that is that my wife and other kid will be in London with me, and I'm trying to optimize for time with them while still getting home in time.

In some ways it was easier before they were old enough to go off on their own group trips and we always just traveled as a foursome :-)
Looks like the last BA/LH flights leave LCY for FRA around 7:10 and LHR at 7:30 - seems like you can still get a decent day in London with those timings. I'm sure your daughter would appreciate being with you and your wife on the longhaul flight back after a group trip.
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Old May 4, 17, 11:37 pm
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Any of the ~6:30a LHR-AMS/CDG connecting to KL AMS-SFO or UA CDG-SFO which both arrive 11:45a, or AF CDG-SFO arriving 12:30p. Very short connections on the KL/UA longhauls, up to an hour+ on the AF option.

Code:
  flt1  | departure | arrival  | conx | flt2  | departure | arrival  
--------+-----------+----------+------+-------+-----------+----------
 AF1081 | 06:20:00  | 08:40:00 | CDG  | UA984 | 09:15:00  | 11:45:00
 BA428  | 06:40:00  | 09:05:00 | AMS  | KL605 | 09:50:00  | 11:45:00
 KL1000 | 06:30:00  | 09:00:00 | AMS  | KL605 | 09:50:00  | 11:45:00
 AF1081 | 06:20:00  | 08:40:00 | CDG  | AF84  | 10:10:00  | 12:30:00
 AF1381 | 06:40:00  | 09:00:00 | CDG  | AF84  | 10:10:00  | 12:30:00
 BA304  | 07:15:00  | 09:35:00 | CDG  | AF84  | 10:10:00  | 12:30:00
 BA902  | 07:05:00  | 09:40:00 | FRA  | LH454 | 10:30:00  | 12:55:00
 LH921  | 06:30:00  | 09:05:00 | FRA  | LH454 | 10:30:00  | 12:55:00
Some of these connections may not be legal, just looked for 30 min+ without regard for MCT.

Last edited by mduell; May 4, 17 at 11:44 pm
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Old May 5, 17, 2:28 am
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Frankly any 15 year old should be capable of waiting in a designated spot, ipad in hand, for an hour or two (I would suggest the food court upstairs as it's more comfortable, especially with some money in hand). Also she should be perfectly capable of monitoring your flight to see when it's due.
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Old May 5, 17, 11:05 am
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Note that the FRA flight (454) due in at 12:55 is very often significantly delayed.

A friend was taking it to meet me in SFO, by the time he got through and to the car rental place it was 3pm; this is common according to the flight stats website. It then took me 5 hours to drive to our destination due to hitting rush hour traffic on the way out.

Fair to say he was pretty tired by the time we arrived - but this is the earliest flight we could find getting into SFO; without leaving a day earlier of course.

Also, I've never had a smooth connection through FRA. The security section there is extremely obnoxious and the boards never seem to show all the connections. MUC or direct (on the BA flight for example) is a much better choice imho.
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Old May 5, 17, 11:20 am
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Thanks for all the feedback

after a bit of pondering, I think I'll just go for the first LHR-SFO flight. Worst case, even if that one gets cancelled there are plenty of later options to SFO, so there is no real risk of not getting back at some point in the day, and kid is fully qualified to get some pizza and wait for me at the airport for a while if she needs to.

Still annoyed there here isn't an 8:30-9am LHR SFO option on some airline, though. I guess all the flights are later to allow for inbound to LHR connections, but one earlier would be nice. Or an evening flight leave London at 8pm and land in SF at 10:30.

oh well.

thanks all,
bob
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Old May 5, 17, 4:33 pm
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I think you made the right call.

I was on LH454 yesterday which left FRA a little late but made up time.

I was through immigration and customs within 15 minutes after the plane pulled up to the gate, and was near the back of the A380 business class section (thanks GE) and beat all non GE passengers who were stuck behind the ICN and PEK flights that had arrived in the half hour before us.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 6:08 pm
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Final result in case anyone cares

As it turned out, LH 454 was about 15 minutes late today, so between that, UA 900 being on time, and me being in 1A vs kid in 90J on her flight, she was walking by my gate as I got off my flight. So we met up even before baggage claim. Worked out perfectly.

I still wish there were an earlier LHR - SFO option, though.

Thx all
bob
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