Catch Me If You Can (A Layover Story)

2014-08-04 14.40.29

Here’s the thing. You wanna fly to the States? Fine. You booked a flight with a layover somewhere? Let’s talk about that.

Like most of the people, if I have the chance I always try to book direct flights. Needless to say it’s much easier. But it might happen for one reason or another, that’s not possible. It could be because of the money, since sometimes a flight with a layover is cheaper. But also because the place you’re going doesn’t have a direct route to your home. That’s a bummer.

Now I just wanted to tell you, if you’re going to the US, and you have a flight with a layover, you just make sure either the layover isn’t in a US city, or, if it is, you have at least three hours available between the two flights. Because I’m telling you, once you land in the US, two hours to pass the US Customs aren’t going to be enough. I know because, as brilliant as I am, a couple of years ago, I got the nice idea to get a two hours layover in Philadelphia, before getting to Miami. Wanna know what was it like? There you are.

During my flight from Rome to Philadelphia, I was a little anxious because I already knew the US Customs line might slow me down. But you know, I tried to stay positive. I was confident I could get it over with in an hour. But as soon as I got out of the aircraft and reached the US Customs, I realized I was just fucked.

Now, I’ll let you imagine how the hell I felt those two hours waiting in line, checking my watch every minute and swearing in my mind. A moment the line seemed to go ahead well and the moment later got completely stuck. And I was running out of time.

Bottom line, it finally came my turn at the precise time my flight to Miami was supposed to leave. I want you to believe me when I say that night, I did my best performance ever, as a runner. Which by the way, I’m not. So here’s how was the situation.

I don’t remember exactly the gate numbers, but trust me on this, I’m going to be pretty close. The US Customs was like close to the gate, let’s say A4, and after checking on the monitor I found out my flight was leaving from the gate Z18. Ok, I made that up to make it sound bad, it wasn’t Z18 it was more like H26. But trust me, it was very far. So, what would you do in a situation like this? I thought since every time I have a flight, it practically never happens it leaves on time, I still might have a chance to catch that flight. At least I had to try. And at that point I started to run.

Basically I had to cross all the airport. I was kind of halfway when my legs started to be sore. By the time I eventually made it to the gate, my asma, which I forgot I suffered from because I hadn’t had it since I was a kid, decided it was time to come visit me again. I couldn’t blame it. I was supposed to go have a great vacation, not training for the fucking Olympic games. When I eventually made it to my gate, turned out the airplane was still there but full, and there were other 5 people who had my same problem, that were yelling at the flight attendants because obviously they didn’t want to let them in. The aircraft was full because since not everyone showed up, they sold the vacant seats. Apparently, there was only one seat available, so I got lucky because among the late passengers, I was the only one who was traveling alone. Then they let me get in.

I don’t know how I managed to reach my seat, but I do remember, once I sat down, I practically fainted. The best sleep on a flight ever. 3 hours in a row. Awesome. Since I have always problems to sleep on board when I fly, rushing to catch a flight might be a solution even for the future. But I don’t like stress. So, now that I learnt the lesson, no more short layovers if I have to pass the US Customs. Be aware people!

John Reese


About Gianluca8675

I'm an Atypical Italian Traveler, born and raised in Rome. View all posts by Gianluca8675

14 responses to “Catch Me If You Can (A Layover Story)

  • thatssojacob

    It’s a crapshoot, I feel. I was flying from Quito, Ecuador to New York City via Houston, Texas, with three others. Me and one other guy were the first two to get our bags and sauntered leisurely to our flight, while the girl and the other guy were dead last and almost missed the flight. The only other time I can recall doing that is when I flew alone from Vienna to Philadelphia via Toronto. I had never flown through Toronto before, and was warned that it’s the worst. Other than an elderly, crotchety, non-English speaking Albanian couple that were holding everything up, security was pretty efficient, and I have that nifty stamp that says that I entered the USA in Toronto, miles from any land border.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gianluca8675

      Yes, it is a crapshoot… But maybe 2 hours isn’t exactly a good idea 🙂 I take it you can enter the US landing in Toronto… Is that right? That’s news for me. Thanks for sharing your experience! 🙂


  • LifestyleswithLia

    OMG I read your post, hoping you’d make it! I completely agree about layovers and budgeting enough time to get to the second plane,… I’m glad you made it and Miami was surely worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Mike S

    We just flew from Sydney to LAX with a 2hr layover before flying on to New York. We quickly learnt 3 hours is the minimum!! We only just made it onto our second flight, but like you, we were checking the watch every minute and I think we were just lucky the airport wasn’t as busy as it could have been!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Moritz

    Wow, what a horrible experience. Yet, gratz for your amazing run! 😀 I hope you’ll be able to enjoy your vacation in a little less stressful way 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  • relationspdbeverly

    Man, I HATE layovers! I once had to do the cross-airport run through Hartsfield-Atlanta years ago when I thought that I was supposed to take my luggage from the flight I was on and put it on the plane I was about to board. Oops! This was before the advent of cell phones and every time I got to an airport phone, someone was on it. I love your take on it.

    Love Italy! I once visited Rome, Florence and Venice.

    Just popping over from Ritu’ s blog-beque.. I’m http://


  • thegreyeye

    I had worse experience with French customs. The custom officer counted every single note of euro I was carrying to determine whether he would let me pass or not, while almost every other passengers had left. Then he said your hotel booking does not show dates. I was slowly understanding, he is doing that on purpose, so I started talking back showing him the number of days perfectly well written , then I told him to call the hotel if he has any doubts. Thank god he came to his senses (?) and I managed to get the next flight.

    Liked by 1 person

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