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Catching Connecting Flights: What You Need To Know

Mar 09, 2009 | Comments 11

Airport layover delays flightsWhen you’re catching a connecting flight, there can be many concerns. How long do you need to catch a flight? Do you need to recheck your baggage or will that be done automatically?

If you’re catching a national connecting flight by the same airline, and most often affiliate airlines, and they will transfer your luggage. Always book your luggage through to the final destination, if possible.

However, if you are catching an international connecting flight, you will have to recheck your luggage at the first port of entry. For example, if you were flying Paris, London – New York – Los Angeles, you will have to re-check your bags in New York, as that is your first port of entry into your destination country.

How long you should budget for your connecting flight depends on a number of things regarding your ticket. Generally speaking, if you buy a ticket with a connecting flight with the same airline, the airline will make sure that you catch your connection or book you on the next flight.

If you buy two separate tickets, however, you should always budget for more time, as you don’t have the reliance of the airline to make sure you connect.

If the connecting flight is international, you may have to re-check your luggage, and go through immigration and security before catching your connecting flight. Also, keep in mind how big of an airport your connecting flight is at. At some airports, there may only be a terminal or two and even if your flight is on the other end of the airport, it may only be a quick walk, however at some airports you may have to take a commuter shuttle or have a long distance to walk to catch your connecting flight (and there is always the possibility that your flight’s gate or terminal may change).

On the day of your flight, you may also want to check ahead to make sure your flights are scheduled on time, so you have time to make any changes if necessary. For any questions or concerns, always call ahead and check with your airline. They will provide specific answers related to your specific itinerary.

For additional layover tips, check out “How Much Time Do You Need To Leave The Airport” , Can I Leave The Airport During A Layover? and “Tips For Making The Most Out Of Your Layover.”

Filed Under: airportconnecting flightgeneralimmigrationlayoverluggagesecurity


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  1. Tricia says:

    I will be traveling alot for my new job and I have not traveled in a long time so hopefully this will be very helpful..

  2. ray says:

    for a connecting international flight – how much b4 flight do i have to be at the airport ? like i have a flight at 8pm to europe – what time do i need to be at jfk ? 2 hrs before the flight is enough?

  3. Valerie Dawes says:

    my daughter is booked on a flight from Tampa, Florida to London Gatwick and then on to Manchester. She will have over 8 hours to wait at LGW before her internal flight to Manchester. I wanted to know if its possible for her to reclaim her baggage at LGW. I am going to see if I can get her an earlier (separate) flight to manchester so she doesnt have hours to wait. Is this possible.

  4. Nikki says:

    I am traveling to Florida from Japan. I fly thru Honolulu – Houston – Florida. My question is for the Houston portion. I know that going thru Honolulu I would have to go thru immigrations and recheck my luggage but would I have to do it again at Houston? I’m flying the same airlines with only a 47 mins transfer time so I hope they could go straight thru but I don’t know the regs coming outta Hawaii. I’m a US citizen with a passport.

    • joseph costa says:

      No, once you enter the USA and have gone through Customs at the first port of entry. You will then connect as any other us flight in the usa and do not need a passport but just a id to board.

  5. Theresa says:

    I have a connecting flight in Atlanta, Georgia from Richmond, VA. International flight from Atlanta, GA, to Nassua, Bahamas. Will I have to get my luggage at Atlanta, and recheck along with going through security due to international flight? My layover is only 1 hour, will that be enough time to get all this done?

  6. Ezzat says:

    I will travel using copa airlines form Cordoba Argentine to Boston. I will change the plane in Newark (US) and I have one hour and 40 minutes connection time. My question is: should I pass in the migration office? Should I looking for my bags when i will arrive to Newark airport? Is my time allows me to my the change of terminal?
    Thank you

  7. Carlo says:

    I will be traveling from Manila-Madrid. The itinerary goes MNL-GUANZHOU-PARIS-MADRID via CHINA SOUTHERN. Question is will my baggage goes straight to MADRID? or will I go thru immigration in Paris then get my luggage and check in again for the flight in Madrid? This is my first time to travel alone & and in EUROPE.

    Thanks guys!

  8. Mary Lam says:

    i will travel on United Airlines from Vancouver, Canada to Los Angeles. I have to change plane at San Francisco. Do I need to go through Immigration and recheck in again? Is this considered an international connection?

  9. Elize says:

    I am flying on one ticket from Indianapolis to Atlanta to South Africa. Where do I go through customs? Do I need to collect my baggage in Atlanta and recheck it? Thank you

  10. USHA says:

    I am flying from Chennai to Pasco via Seattle by emirates.
    From Seattle the emirates have a con connecting flihgtto Pasco by Alaska airlines. The ticket is from Chennai to Pasco. I would like to know whether customs and immigration is done either at Seattle or at Pasco as i have a layover time of 4 hours only.

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