Con­nec­tions are built into air­line itin­er­ar­ies

The Washington Post Sunday - - TRAVEL - — Carol Sot­tili travel@wash­post.com

Mon­days, at 2 p.m., The Wash­ing­ton Post’s travel writ­ers and ed­i­tors dis­cuss your travel sto­ries, ques­tions, gripes and more at live.wash­ing­ton­post.com. Here are some edited ex­cerpts from a re­cent dis­cus­sion:

I am book­ing my first in­ter­na­tional flight in al­most a decade. How much time would you rec­om­mend be­tween my re­turn flights con­nect­ing at Chicago Mid­way, given the need to go through cus­toms? Also, would TSA Precheck work on the first leg of my de­part­ing flight, which is a do­mes­tic lay­over?

Air­lines cal­cu­late min­i­mum con­nect times and fac­tor them into your itin­er­ary. You might want to check out my Navigator col­umn on the topic from a few years ago, which has a lot of use­ful point­ers on how the sys­tem works. When you re­turn to the coun­try and go through cus­toms, you’ll have to get screened by the TSA again for your next flight. — Christo­pher El­liott

Four friends (two from the West Coast and two from the East Coast) and I would like to spend a week­end to­gether in Que­bec City. Are there any di­rect flights? Do you think you think it is worth it or would we waste too much time stuck in tran­sit/cus­toms, as com­pared with meet­ing in Chicago or some other cen­tral lo­ca­tion?

If you mean a non­stop flight (di­rect flight means you stop at least once but don’t change planes), then no. You will have to con­nect. Most air­lines stop in Toronto from the East Coast and in NYC from the West — though it all de­pends on the air­line and de­par­ture city.

Cus­toms isn’t much of an is­sue but your West Coast friends will need two days for travel — not the best use of time when you only have a week­end. You can reach Chicago much faster on a non­stop flight. — An­drea Sachs

I am con­sid­er­ing trav­el­ing to Ar­gentina with my boyfriend in Oc­to­ber. I have never been to South Amer­ica and would prob­a­bly travel only eight or nine days. Is that enough time to see some of the coun­try’s high­lights?

Also, do you have any ex­pe­ri­ence with LATAM, Copa or Avianca? I like to fly the flag car­rier if pos­si­ble, but I’m not sure how good South Amer­i­can air­lines are. Also, how safe is Ar­gentina? Any and all thoughts on this would be wel­comed. Thank you!

I have flown LATAM and love the air­line. No joke, the pi­lots could land on a the wing of a hum­ming­bird if nec­es­sary. I have heard good things about Avianca. Some pas­sen­gers com­plain about Copa’s ser­vice, but you need to take such com­plaints with a grain of salt.

The new pres­i­dent has been work­ing hard to make the coun­try more at­trac­tive to tourists. Ar­gentina re­cently waived its VAT on ho­tels and elim­i­nated the visa fee. Safety is still an is­sue, but the crimes are typ­i­cal of this re­gion of the world. Street smarts will keep you safe. Stay alert on pub­lic trans­porta­tion, for ex­am­ple, and keep your phone or other valu­ables out of sight. Ex­press kid­nap­pings have hap­pened, so don’t travel with your debit card. And alert your credit card com­pa­nies about your up­com­ing trip, so they can flag any sus­pi­cious trans­ac­tions. Read the State Depart­ment’s back­ground on the coun­try, as well as Canada’s. — A.S.

I am join­ing a river cruise in Am­s­ter­dam in late July, but will ar­rive two days early to see some of the city’s sights on my own. What be­sides the Anne Frank House, Ri­jksmu­seum and the Van Gogh Mu­seum should I not miss dur­ing my stay?

I re­cently did a river cruise that of­fered a full day and overnight in Am­s­ter­dam. Fa­vorites in­cluded wan­der­ing around Von­del­park, a visit to St­edelijk Mu­seum (if you like con­tem­po­rary art) and a canal boat cruise.

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