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Catching Connecting Flights: What You Need To Know

| March 9, 2015

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.

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Category: airport, connecting flight, general, immigration, layover, luggage, security

Comments (55)

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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.

  11. sam says:

    I am traveling from dallas, doing to aberdeen. I have 1.40hours between flights. Do i have enough time? Advize pls

  12. sam says:

    travel from dallas to abredeen, got 1.40 hours between flights. Do I have enough time? please advise

    • AJ says:

      I’m making a similar trip in Feb 2016. I was wondering how your layover turned out?

    • susan grave says:

      I have 2 seperat tickets, one fpr AA and one for AirBErlin. I am fling from TPA to Mia, I have to retrieve my luggage then recheck security clearance then go to AirBerlin gate. How much time do i need, thanks for any help you can give, Susan

  13. Manishka says:

    I have a flight from trivandrum india to doha then doha to manchester in England. When I will reach doha , I will be having only about 50 mins to get the other flight to Manchester. Will I get time to take the other.flight?

  14. sandeep says:

    Hi there
    I am travelling from Clermont Ferrnad, France to Delhi, India through Paris, France with a planned layover of 1 day at Paris. Will my luggage be checked in from Clermont Ferrnad to Delhi directly or I hvae to collect it at Paris airport and check it at CDG, Paris airport on same day or the the next day, the day of travelling?

  15. Lizzy says:

    If I book a flight from Peru to Minnesota, but the connecting flight is in Canada, will I have to go through customs and recheck my bags in Canada? Or will my bags check all the way through to Minnesota, and will I only go through customs when I arrive there?

  16. Swathy Moorthy says:

    Travelling for fist time from india to durham by etihad airlines madras-abudabi-newyork-durham my doubt is should I have to collect my baggage at both abudabi and new York and go through the immigration followed by check in customs and boardflights please clarify!

  17. Alexandra Margaret says:

    Hi. I’m flying BA from Heathrow to Changi airport Singapore and have 1.5 hours to make a connecting Singapore Airline flight to Ho Chi. Minh City. I am putting luggage in the hold. Does anyone know if I can get my luggage sent straight through to the hcmc flight, or whether I have to collect it and check it in again… i am concerned that I will not have enough time. Any advice would be really appreciated

  18. Leif says:

    I am due to fly from Kuala Lumpur next Tuesday to NYC. I purchased a cheap flight which by chance has a connecting flight out of my home country UK – LHR. The flight arrives into LHR at 13:50 and leaves for JFK at 15:30 so just shy of 2 hours gap. I was just wondering if its possible for me to leave the airport (e.g. to main terminal where none flyers can go) and meet my partner to leave a few items and collect a few in return (e.g. warm weather clothing) to save on postage to and from the states which will be around $150.00
    Both flights are booked with the same airline (Kuwait Airways). Ive left a couple of emails with them to question this but not heard anything back as of yet.
    Any advise at this stage would be welcome

  19. laura says:

    Hello! We have found a flight from Boston to Montego Bay (Jamaica) via Charlotte Airport. All of them with american airlines. I have an hour exactly between the flights. Is it enough time?

  20. chana says:

    I am traveling to Milan Italy via France-
    Where will I have to clear customs in France or
    upon arriving in Milan, Italy?
    I am landing in Milan at 10:10 will I be able to make a 12:05 flight?
    Please advise

  21. Ajay Goel says:

    i am travelling from Delhi to Athens and below is my itenary details:

    Delhi(9th May 1.35 PM) to London (9th May 6.20 PM) and then on the same day from London (9th May 10.15 PM) to Athens (10th May 4.00 aM)

    Kindly suggest whether i need to get the visa for London as well or not.

    Kindly reply at the earliest

  22. Joe Soap says:

    Travelling from Belfast to Newark then catching connecting flight to San Francisco. Will I have to collect my bag and re-check it in at Newark or will it be transferred automatically? Do I go through customs at Newark or San Francisco?

    Thanks in advance.

  23. joan says:

    I will be traveling from Manila-Romania. The itinerary goes MNL-Hong Kong -Germany -Romania. Question is will my baggage goes straight to Romania? or will I go thru immigration in hongkong and then get my luggage and check in again for the flight to Germany? This is my first time to travel alone & and in EUROPE.

    Thanks guys!hope to hear back

  24. Stephanie says:

    Hi I am flying from Baltimore to Atlanta and then to Costa Rica, My lay over is only 51 minutes will that be enough tie to reach my connecting flight if all is gong as planned? Or will I have to go through luggage check again? Both flights are with the same airline. My first flight alone Thanks everyone and I have never been to Atlanta airport.

    • kip says:

      Atlanta is the busiest airport in the world; even with that fact, you will be fine. No luggage check again; your baggage will go to your final destination.

  25. Angelica Cruz says:

    I am flying from Mla. Phils via PAL to SFO with a connecting flight to Austin Txs via United Air ,pls help me how to go about it ,

  26. Raj K says:

    I planning to travel to Gainesville, US from Mumbai, India.I am considering to book flight From Alitalia with layovers at Abu Dhabi, Rome and Atlanta,with flights operated by Ethiad, Alitalia and Delta. My question is do I have to collect my baggages on own and go through immigration and security at each layover? Do I need transit visa at Abu Dhabi and Rome?

  27. satnam says:

    Hello am Indian citizen am flying to Jamaica from dehli through Canada airways I got 16 hours halt in Canada airport Toronto can I need visa for it if no then can I go outside for spending time in the hotel

  28. Claudia says:

    Hello, I am travelling from Australia to Milan, last minute I decided to go from Milan to lecce so when I arrive in Milan a few hours later I catch my flight to lecce. Should there be any problems with that? And when I stop over in Rome on my way to lecce am I able to leave the airport to explore ?

  29. padma says:

    Hello, I am travelling from bangalore to dubai with connecting flight n delhi. My question is do I have to collect my baggages on own and go through immigration and security at layover? Do I need transit visa at delhi.

  30. Kerry says:

    I am traveling from Portland Oregon to Vienna, switching planes in Frankfurt. (Condor to FRA, then Lufthansa to Vienna). Can I check my bag all the way through to Vienna or will I have to collect it in Frankfurt and then re-check to Vienna?

  31. Ron says:

    I am flying in to LHR from Reykjavik and connecting (Same airline) to flight to Barcelona. Do I have to go through customs,, immigration, passport control or any thing?

  32. William says:

    We flying from Philadelphia on American Airlines to Frankfurt with a connection on Lott Airlines to Warsaw. Where will we go through customs?

  33. tom coleman says:

    Flying from Halifax to San Francisco with connector in Toronto on Air Canada.
    Do bags get transferred to next plane? Are gates close to one another? Why go through customs in Toronto? Is one hour enough time?

  34. Janet says:

    I will be travelling from Toronto on air canada with a stop in Dallas before going on to Sydney on quantas. Will my luggage go straight through or will I have to clear customs in Dallas?

  35. Farha says:

    I am travelling from visakhapatnam to dubai with same indigo airline .it a connecting flight from vizag to hyderabad and then to dubai.I have only 1hr.40 min between flights.I have to report before 75 min before departure time.will i be able to catch connecting flight

  36. Subham says:

    I have a flight from Bangalore to Kolkata (domestic to domestic flight) however it has a connection of 2 hours in Bangkok(international in Thailand).
    Do I need to carry Visa and passport for the trip?

  37. Luis says:

    Hello Everyone!

    I’m actually not a US citizen. I’m flying on a Visa Waiver P from Lima, Peru – connecting in Houston, Texas – then to New Jersey, USA as my final destination. Will I have to do see customs and security in Houston, Texas or will I have to see them in my final destination Newark, New Jersey??? Please, help. I’m flying United Arilines.

  38. gemma gonzales says:

    im travelling from manila to calgary..i have a stop over in seattle for 4 hrs and 30 minutes do i need a us visa?

  39. Roger says:

    I will be flying out of logan Airport, Boston to Barcelona with a connection flight in Dublin, Ireland
    with a layover of 1 hour 30 minutes will I have enough time to catch my flight
    Thank You

  40. Arlyne Blitz says:

    I will be flying El Al from NY to Israel with a layover in Zurich. Do I need to go through customs in Zurich? Do I need to retrieve and recheck my luggage?

  41. pooja says:

    i am travelling to atlanta from delhi conecting flight from LHR
    do i need to recheck my baggage at LHR?

  42. tet says:

    hi!just wonderin if i need a transit visa goin back to Philippines via Milan Malpensa departing from Dominica?

  43. Chris says:

    I’m travelling from Australia to London via Abu Dhabi. I’m planning on staying at the Aerotel for several hours between flights. Can I collect my bags, but avoid customs and immigration while in transit?

  44. Ian Marshfield says:

    I am travelling from Gatwick to Calgary with a layover of 2 hours in Vancouver can anyone tell me know what happens to my duty free alcohol bearing in mind it’ll be 2 x 1 litre bottles and I’m not sure I will see my luggage in Vancouver . . . . Last time I travelled they gave me an officially sealed bag at Heathrow and said this will be fine, turned out at Vancouver it was not fine, luckily I had the option of putting it in my luggage this time I’m not sure I’ll have that option, any ideas, other than the obvious 😎
    Thanks in anticipation

  45. Doug says:

    This article is not 100% accurate where it says “if you are catching an international connecting flight, you will have to recheck your luggage at the first port of entry.”

    This is true for MOST US airports but not all. DFW and I believe IAH and no doubt a few others have programs where if you are transferring from country A to country B via the US your bag is checked through to the destination and you don’t need to pick it up. You do need to clear US immigration but not really US customs.

  46. Mike says:

    I am flying from Seoul Incheon to Narita then to Houston. My layover in Narita is only an hour. Is that enough time?

  47. Angelica says:

    I am flying from Paris to JFK and then to Halifax. I have never been in JFK airport before and I only have 1 hour and 50 minutes layover. Will that be enough time to get through security and catch my flight. My flight from Paris to JFK is with Air France and so is my flight from JFK to Halifax. As far as my ticket says I don’t have to collect my bags at JFK – they should go right through to Halifax.

  48. Palanivel says:

    Hi,I will going to Jamaica from Delhi. I like do want transit in Toronto airport
    .which flight available and how long layover in Toronto. Please help me.

  49. DENISE HORWOOD says:

    I am travelling from states to heathrow the plane land at 11.30 i have a connecting flight to athens that leaves at 1.15 will i have enough time .