Running through airports to make a connecting flight isn’t exactly the most relaxing start to a vacation, and missing that flight and the meeting you’re flying to isn’t going to help your career any.
How can you tell if your layover is long enough to make your connecting flight? And what can you do if it turns out it isn’t long enough? Layover Guide runs down how to tell how much time you’ll need and how to overcome any challenges.
If there are delays that are the fault of the airline, the airline should be able to help you out by booking you on a later connecting flight, or on an earlier initial flight. There should be no additional fees if you need to rebook because of the airline’s fault. If you didn’t thoroughly think things through before booking and now are concerned about the length of the layover, call the airline and ask about fees to change your itinerary, as well as their policy on missed connecting flights. But also note that there may be only one flight per day to certain destinations, or from certain airports. If you’re going through Customs, be sure to build in a good-sized chunk of time.
Ask the flight attendant if he has your connecting flight gate number. Check a map of the airport where you’re catching your connecting flight. How far away are the gates? Is there additional security at the second gate that you’ll have to pass through? If so, try to check how long security may take at the airport by visiting TSA wait times. At some larger airports, you may have to take a tram to get to an entirely different area far, far away. You may be able to do a web search on time needed, or call the airport.
OJ had the right idea (in the commercial, at least): Carry-on luggage is best when the layover is short. Luggage gets transferred along with passengers. If time is short for you, just think about all that luggage being unloaded, separated to get on board all those connecting flights, and then actually making it to those planes. Checked baggage combined with a short layover means your luggage likely won’t be going home or to the hotel with you, but will be delivered at a later date. So pack a toothbrush and a change of clothes in your carry-on, at the very least.
Try to reserve your seat as close to the front as possible, so that you won’t be delayed by everyone in front of you packing away their on board entertainment and pulling their suitcases down from the overhead bin. If possible, store your own bag under the seat in front of you so that you likewise don’t have to take the time to reclaim your own suitcase from above. As soon as the descent into the airport begins, pack up anything you’ve removed from your carry-on so that you’re ready to go. An aisle seat will also move things along.
If you’re unable to reserve a seat near the front or along the aisle, let the flight attendant know that you’re concerned about the time between flights. He may be able to help you out with a more optimal seat or help you out in some other way. Or ask other passengers if they’re willing to trade seats with you, explaining your situation.