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United's 30 min stopover in SFO. Enough time to make the next flight?

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  • Jul 23rd, 2015 6:23 pm
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[OP]
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Jul 12, 2015
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United's 30 min stopover in SFO. Enough time to make the next flight?

Hey, guys, I have never flown United before. Do they make you go through customs and security again at the Stopover? Is that enough time to catch my flight to Vancouver? The flight is super cheap, but I am wondering if I am taking a huge gamble. It's going to be Austin to San Fran (30 min stopover), then San Fran to Vancouver.

6:38p - 11:21p
United
6h 43m
AUS - YVR
1 stop
31m in SFO
United 5648 operated by Skywest DBA United Express
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C$189 .05
38 replies
Deal Guru
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Mar 1, 2004
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Barely possible, but I doubt it. Last time in SFO, I had to go from one end of the airport to the other by shuttle and they drove around in circles. I wouldn't have made that flight. The last stopover I had with a time like that was not successful either...
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Don't do it
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Depends on how critical it is to get to YVR on that flight. If it doesn't matter when I arrive, then I'd book it. If a missed flight causes me to miss a day of vacation, then I'd avoid it. I've had a quick connection in SF where I was delayed inbound but my outbound was 2 gates over. Shouldn't have to go through any customs but I think it would be a different terminal.
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Feb 23, 2004
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I think all United gates are in the same terminal in SFO.

However, it's a risky connection. What if the first flight is delayed? What if it takes a long time for the plane to get to the gate after landing?
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way too risky.. enough 1hr 30 min feel risky to me.. considering how United delays are lol
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Balduno wrote: I think all United gates are in the same terminal in SFO.
But the inbound would be domestic and the outbound is international. Or do flights to Vancouver leave from the SFO domestic terminal?
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Assuming its the same itinerary, and both flights are United. I think you'll be fine...if you miss the fight, United will just book you on the next one to YVR as it would have been United's fault, etc.

If you're saving a lot, I'd take it.
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i6s1 wrote: But the inbound would be domestic and the outbound is international. Or do flights to Vancouver leave from the SFO domestic terminal?
Good question.

That I don't know.
[OP]
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Thanks a lot , guys. I was precisely worried about the 30mins not being enough. The good news is that it's not a big deal if I miss the Vancouver flight as the schedule is pretty flexible there. The thing though is if the next flight to YVR is not until the next day, does United put you in a hotel for the night, or you are SOL and stuck sleeping at the SFO airport?
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May 7, 2015
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Did you buy the ticket directly from United? Or from a third party?

The reason that makes a difference is if you bought it directly from United, then United is saying that it's a legal connection and they stand behind it, and will reprotect you on the next flight to YVR if the first one is delayed (however, if the next flight isn't until the next day, they're not obligated to pay for any extra hotel/meal costs).

If you bought it from a 3rd party, United COULD say "this should never have been booked in the first place" and not do much to help you.

One thing you won't have to worry about is luggage and customs. Bags should get checked through, and you'll just be going gate to gate. If you like I can check at work tomorrow for you what the minimum legal connection time is in SFO for Domestic to International.

Ultimately though, it all depends on how badly a delay would affect the rest of your life. Generally I'm more open to taking risks like this on the way home, rather than starting a trip. Better to have a vacation extended than cut short. :)
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BaconBaron wrote: Did you buy the ticket directly from United? Or from a third party?

The reason that makes a difference is if you bought it directly from United, then United is saying that it's a legal connection and they stand behind it, and will reprotect you on the next flight to YVR if the first one is delayed (however, if the next flight isn't until the next day, they're not obligated to pay for any extra hotel/meal costs).

If you bought it from a 3rd party, United COULD say "this should never have been booked in the first place" and not do much to help you.

One thing you won't have to worry about is luggage and customs. Bags should get checked through, and you'll just be going gate to gate. If you like I can check at work tomorrow for you what the minimum legal connection time is in SFO for Domestic to International.

Ultimately though, it all depends on how badly a delay would affect the rest of your life. Generally I'm more open to taking risks like this on the way home, rather than starting a trip. Better to have a vacation extended than cut short. :)
If you could check, that would be great! Thanks, man! But I am starting to think maybe that 30mins is going to be more trouble than it's worth. I am in no mood to sleep in the airport a la Tom Hanks if United can't book me on another flight until the next day and won't be putting me up in a hotel for the night.

I don't have to worry about luggage as I'll only have a backpack carry on. The ticket itinerary is straight from United's site, but I was thinking of booking it through Expedia to jack up my points. So maybe it's not such a good idea to not book through United then in case I do get delayed and miss the flight?
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May 7, 2015
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AlexiRos wrote: If you could check, that would be great! Thanks, man! But I am starting to think maybe that 30mins is going to be more trouble than it's worth. I am in no mood to sleep in the airport a la Tom Hanks if United can't book me on another flight until the next day and won't be putting me up in a hotel for the night.

I don't have to worry about luggage as I'll only have a backpack carry on. The ticket itinerary is straight from United's site, but I was thinking of booking it through Expedia to jack up my points. So maybe it's not such a good idea to not book through United then in case I do get delayed and miss the flight?
If it's a legal connection time it doesn't matter who you booked it through (at least in terms of responsibility for it). What you have to watch out for is some third party sites will combine two flights together as a connection even though they shouldn't rightfully be combined together.
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I believe if the delay is their fault, they pay for a hotel. If they can blame it on the weather, then you're sleeping in the airport.

FWIW, when I transferred at SFO, walked off one plane onto the one 2 gates away, and then the gate was closed behind me, I was amazed that my luggage made it to Hawaii. I thought for sure I'd spend the first day of vacation without it. But on the way home, that's no concern.
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I always had the impression that SFO has a lot of weather related delays (fog), so inbound flights can easily be late


edit
most major us aiports have twin runways allowing both to be used simultaneously.

SFO twin runways are very close together. During low visibility (fog), FAA regulations force SFO to only use one runway at a time. This effectively cuts the max flight capacity by 50% causing a huge backup of flight schedules.
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I've flown through SFO more times than I can count on United.

In general, 45 minutes is enough to move from one United flight to another for domestic provided of course there are no delays in arrival. The majority of times the flights to YVR is consider domestic as customs is cleared in Vancouver and it's from one United flight to another United flight.

Sometimes, the "United" flight to YVR is actually a code-share flight on AC which may or MAY NOT be in the same domestic terminal as United. At that point, you will have to leave the terminal to go to another terminal to catch that flight which means that you will need at least an hour between flights.
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I flew United once (with a stop over in Houston) and had a bad experience. I prefer not to fly with them anymore, but if I have to, I'll make sure I choose flights with a few hours in between connections.
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Jan 12, 2005
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I wouldn't recommend it. Most international flights board 30min earlier, so when you land, the other plane is prob. already boarding. Also SFO is a pretty big airport. UA use multiple terminals, so I'm not sure if you're going to make it even if you run.
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Dec 31, 2005
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30 mintues is a risk for two things: 1) you and 2) luggage.

As for delays, keep in mind you could land on time and still have several delays that are not the airline's fault: 1) waiting for a gate to be available, 2) waiting for someone to open the door, 3) exiting the plane can take time....none of these would be the airline's fault. In most circumstances, you will not be covered for the hotel.

Depending on the terminals, even if you run, there is a chance that your luggage does not make it. Just keep that in mind.

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