Once you’ve made plans to have your plants watered, have your pets fed and alerted the neighbors that you’ll be away, made the mad dash to the airport, spent an hour or so in the security line, you should be able to just relax once you get on your flight. But what if your flight requires a change of planes, a whole second airport — possibly in a different country — to navigate? Layover Guide reviews what you need to know about your responsibilities during a layover.
So, the plane has landed, albeit temporarily. Depending on how long the layover is, you may want to explore your layover host and venture into town, peruse the airport bookstore, have a nice dinner or run like heck to get to your connecting flight gate. How much time you have to do any one of those things depends largely on any practical flight tasks you’ll need to attend to during your layover.
For domestic flights booked on one itinerary, you’ll probably get the boarding pass for your connecting flight when you get the one for your first flight. However, for international flights, if you booked through a portal, this may not be the case. Play it safe: as you print your boarding passes at the first airport, ask at the ticket counter whether you’ll need to print any additional boarding passes once you reach your connecting flight destination. Know ahead of time which terminal houses your connecting flight’s airline. If you’re unable to find this out ahead of time, ask your flight attendant.
If your flight is domestic, you won’t have to claim your luggage. It will be checked at the original airport for its final destination and loaded onto the connecting flight with no intervention from you. International flights are a little more tricky. If you’re flying into the U.S. or Canada, for example, you’ll have to collect your luggage and go through Border Control before being allowed to go on your merry way, no matter where you’re off to. Most other countries work like domestic flights, where your luggage will be automatically transferred to your next plane. Again, it can’t hurt to ask your friendly ticket counter!
Speaking of Border Control, you yourself may have to go through Customs during your layover during an international trip. Just like your luggage, the U.S. and Canada in particular will require you to do so at your first entry into the country, no matter your final destination. For other countries, check. Most European Union countries plus a couple of others formed the Schengen Area, for borderless work, travel and living for citizens. For U.S. travelers, at least, they’ll need to go through border control only at the point of first entry into the region.
If you leave the airport during your international layover, you’ll need to go through Customs. Transit passengers are those who are not technically entering the country, and therefore don’t need to go through Customs/Border Control. Some countries require either all entrants or those from certain countries to carry a transit visa for the layover country.
If your connecting domestic flight is in a different terminal from your first landing, you’ll need to go through security again. You’ll most likely have to go through security for international layovers, as well, unless your second flight takes off from the same area as where your original flight deboarded.