Interesting facts
about connection time

  • Some airports, such as Frankfurt Airport in Germany, have implemented automated “people movers” to help passengers make their connections more quickly.
  • In some cases, airlines will hold connecting flights for a short time to allow passengers to make their connections.
  • “Guaranteed connection time” is a service offered by airlines that promises to rebook passengers on the next available flight if they miss their connection due to factors within the airline’s control. They may also be provided with hotel accommodation and meals if necessary. Among those airlines are Emirates (“Dubai Connect“), American Airlines (“Connection Protection“), Delta Air Lines (“Sky Priority“), and Lufthansa (“ExpressConnection“).
  • Some large airports (Singapore Changi, Helsinki Airport, London Heathrow, and Munich Airport, to name a few) have implemented “virtual queuing” systems, which allow passengers to reserve a spot in a line for passport control or security screening to help reduce connection times.
  • “Airside transfers” are available when flying with some airlines, allowing passengers to transfer directly from one gate to another without having to go through security screening again.

Learn more

Difference between a direct flight and a connecting flight

A direct flight is a non-stop flight from the departure airport to the destination airport without any layovers in between. While a direct flight may make stops for fuel or maintenance, passengers typically remain on the plane and do not need to change planes.

In contrast, a connecting flight requires passengers to transfer from one flight to another at a connecting airport, with a layover period in between. Passengers may need to disembark from their first flight, go through security, and board a new plane for the second leg of their journey. Connecting flights can be either on the same airline or different airlines and can be booked separately or as part of a single itinerary.

Direct flights are typically faster and more convenient, but they can be more expensive than connecting flights.

Minimum connection time for international flights

The minimum connection time for international flights is generally longer than for domestic flights due to additional security and immigration procedures. It is especially true when you travel to countries with strict entry requirements.

In addition, international flights often have longer distances between gates, which can add to the time required to make a connecting flight.

As a general rule of thumb, airlines recommend a minimum connection time of 90-120 minutes for international flights. This is just a guideline, and the actual amount of time required to make a connection can vary widely depending on a number of factors, such as the size of the airport, the specific flights involved, and the time of day.

Minimum connection time for domestic flights

Domestic flights' minimum recommended connection time is 45-60 minutes.

The actual amount of time required to make a domestic connection can still vary depending on a number of factors, such as the size of the airport, the specific flights involved, and the time of day.

It's always a good idea to check for any known delays or issues that could affect your connection, such as construction or bad weather.

Does the connection time depend on airport?

Yes, each airport has its own minimum connection time, which is determined by factors such as airport layout, the distance between arrival and departure gates, security procedures, and customs and immigration clearance time. The minimum connection time can vary from airport to airport and can range from as little as 30 minutes to several hours.

Some airports are designed specifically to facilitate quick connections, with short walking distances between gates and streamlined security procedures. Other airports may have longer distances between gates, more time-consuming security procedures, or other factors that can increase the amount of time required to make a connection.

Which airports are known for requiring long connection times?

Airports that are known for requiring long connection times include those with high passenger traffic and complex security procedures. Some of the busiest airports in the world are known for having longer connection times:

  • London Heathrow (one of the busiest airports in the world)
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York (difficult if the connecting flights are in different terminals)
  • Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris (challenging to navigate due its complex layout)
  • Beijing Capital International Airport (known for long lines at security and immigration checkpoints)

How can I find out the connection time for my flights?

You can find out the connection time for your flights by checking your itinerary or confirmation email, which should include information about the time between your arrival and departure flights.

If you're unsure about the amount of time you have for your connection or you have concerns about making your connecting flight, you can check with the airline or the airport ahead of time to confirm the recommended connection time and any potential issues that may impact your travel plans.

Many airlines have customer service lines that you can call or online chat support that you can use to ask questions about your itinerary.

Will my luggage make it to my final destination?

In most cases, your luggage will be transferred automatically between your connecting flights and will arrive at your final destination with you.

However, there are some situations where your luggage may not make it to your final destination, such as if there is a delay or cancellation of one of your flights or if you miss your connecting flight. In these cases, the airline will typically make arrangements to get your luggage to you as soon as possible, either by delivering it to your hotel or home or by having you pick it up at the airport.

It's recommended that you pack essential items such as medications, valuables, and a change of clothes in your carry-on bag in case your checked luggage is delayed or lost during the transfer.

Can I leave the airport if I have a long connection time?

Yes, during the long layover, you may have the option to leave the airport and explore the city or nearby attractions. However, this will typically require that you clear immigration and customs - you should check the visa requirements and immigration rules of the country you are visiting before leaving the airport.

Some countries may require a visa or transit visa to leave the airport, while others may allow transit passengers to stay in the airport without a visa.

What happens if I miss connecting flight due to a delayed/cancelled incoming flight?

The airline is usually responsible for rebooking you on the next available flight to your destination.

The specific policies and procedures for handling missed connections can vary depending on the airline and the specific circumstances of the delay, but in general, the airline will work with you to find a new flight that gets you to your destination as soon as possible.

The airline may also provide you with accommodation and meals until the next available flight.

However, if the delay or missed connection is due to weather or other external factors, the airline may not be required to provide additional compensation beyond rebooking you on the next available flight.

References

  1. London Heathrow, How to catch your connecting flight
  2. International Airport Review, How airports use virtual queuing
  3. Citizen Advice, Compensation if flight is delayed
  4. US Department of Transportation, Flight Delays & Cancellations
  5. Tripadvisor, Are you on your own if missing connecting flight?