How do layovers work?

How Do Layovers Work?

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Layovers can be stressful. Whenever possible, I prefer nonstop flights, even if they’re a little more expensive. But sometimes the price difference is too big to justify, and sometimes it’s just not possible to get where you’re going without a connecting flight. So how do layovers work? What happens with your checked luggage on a layover? Do you have to go through customs and immigration if you’re only in the airport for a layover? Here’s some information about how layovers work to help make your journey a little less stressful.


How do boarding passes work with layovers?

Domestic layovers are usually pretty simple. Whether you’re flying within the US, Australia, Canada, or somewhere else, domestic layovers are relatively similar. Assuming you booked both flights together on one itinerary (as opposed to two separate itineraries) you will get both boarding passes when you check in for your first flight. When you land at your layover airport, you need to look at the departures board and find the gate for your next flight.

International layovers can get a little more tricky. With so many variations of international layovers, there are also a variety of situations you could end up dealing with.

If your itinerary is entirely with one airline or even two airlines that are partners, in most cases, you will get both boarding passes when you check in for your first flight. But if you used a booking engine and your flights are with two different airlines, especially airlines that aren’t really partners, you might only get your first boarding pass when you check in. Then, at your layover airport, you’ll have to find a ticket counter for the airline that operates the second flight to get your second boarding pass.

Not sure if your flights are with partner airlines? Just ask at the ticket counter when you check in if you will be getting both boarding passes or if you will need to get the second one at your layover airport. They’ll tell you what to do.

What happens with checked luggage on a layover?

For domestic layovers, your checked luggage will be tagged to your final destination, so there’s nothing for you to do while on your layover. Your bags will get taken off the first flight and loaded onto the second flight.

For international layovers, this varies depending on the airport and the country where your layover is. If you fly from somewhere outside the US or Canada to an airport in the US or Canada, you will have to collect and recheck your luggage no matter where you’re going on your second flight. In most other countries, as long as both of your flights are on the same airline or partner airlines, your luggage will get transferred from the first to the second flight for you.

Again, if you’re not sure, just ask the agent when you’re checking in if you will need to collect and recheck your luggage at your layover airport.

Avoid luggage worries by learning how to pack light and travel carry-on only!

how do layovers work?

Do you have to go through border control/immigration and customs on a layover?

This only applies for international layovers. Whether you have to go through immigration and customs really varies on the airport and the country. As with checked luggage, if you have a layover in the US or Canada, you will have to go through border control at the first point of entry into the US or Canada, even if your final destination is somewhere else. So for example, if you are flying from Europe to Mexico with a layover in the US or Canada, you will have to get your passport checked and fill out the customs form, as well as collect and recheck your luggage, even though you’re not staying in the country or even leaving the airport.

You are a transit passenger if you are not leaving the airport and not staying in that country. In this case, you often don’t have to go through immigration or customs. Look for a sign that says transit or transit passengers. I’ve been able to do this in many airports, such as Singapore, Abu Dhabi, and Bangkok, and there are many more. If you don’t go through border control, you’re not technically entering that country.

However, if you have a really long layover and you want to go check out the city, you will have to go through immigration and customs in order to leave the airport.

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Transiting through the Schengen Zone can be a little different since a flight from one Schengen country to another is considered domestic. So for example, if you’re flying from the US to Paris and then onto Rome, you will go through immigration and customs in Paris but not in Rome. If you have two layovers, it gets even trickier.

Let’s say you’re flying from the US to Frankfurt to Rome to Istanbul. When you arrive in Frankfurt, you will have to go through border control. This is because domestic flights, which includes your flight from Frankfurt to Rome, are in a different section of the airport, so you’re leaving the international section and entering Germany, even though you’re not leaving the airport. You won’t go through border control to enter Italy because you were already cleared in Frankfurt. But you will have to go through passport control in Rome to be stamped out of the Schengen Zone, and you’ll go through customs and immigration in Istanbul since Turkey is outside of the Schengen Zone.

It’s usually pretty obvious once you arrive. When you get off the plane, look for signs that say transit. If you don’t see any, and the only option leads you to a passport check line, then you really don’t have a choice.

If you want to know ahead of time, ask the agent when you check in, or even one of the flight attendants on your first flight, if you will have to go through immigration and customs on your layover.

how do layovers work?

Do you have to go through security on your layover?

Like most things, this varies on the airport. The simple answer is you will probably have to go through security.

For most domestic layovers, you won’t have to go through security again. However, some airports have separate security checkpoints for each terminal, so if you land in one terminal and your next flight is in another, you would have to go through security again.

On international layovers, even those where there is a transit area, you will most likely have to go through security.

Some airports in other countries have security checks for each individual gate or a small group of gates. In this case, you will have to go through security again, but it should be a short line. There’s also the chance your first flight lands in the same area your second flight leaves from, in which case you might be able to stay within the secured area and not have to go through the security check again.

Unfortunately this means any liquids you purchased beyond security at the first airport won’t make it through security at the layover airport.

For a better travel experience, check out these 30 airport hacks every traveler should know from my friend Eden at Mint Notion.

how do layovers work

Do you need a transit visa for your layover?

Some countries require certain nationalities to get a transit visa in order to transit through the airport. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s worth researching before you book a flight with a layover, or at least before you board the flight. For most nationalities, if you have a layover within the Schengen Zone and your final destination is outside of the Schengen Zone, you don’t need a transit visa. Again, verify this for your nationality.

The US requires transit visas for many nationalities, unless your nationality is on the list eligible for the visa waiver program. For more info, see here and here.

Since this is such a complicated area subject to variations based on your nationality, the country you will be transiting through, and how long your layover is, do a few online searches and check the website for the embassy of the country where your layover is to see if you need a transit visa. If you’re still not sure, it’s also a good idea to check with the airline or even contact the consulate or embassy of the country you will be transiting through before you book your flight.

Whenever possible, I think it’s best to avoid layovers that require transit visas since there’s usually a fee involved. The hassle of filling out an application and paying a fee for a country you’re not even really going to just doesn’t seem worth it.

Make sure your layover is long enough, and don’t let layovers get you stressed out. Hopefully these tips and explanations of how layovers work will help you transit smoothly from one flight to another.

You might also be interested in:

how do layovers work

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Comments

  1. Matthew Cheyne

    This is a really good overview of layovers and how they work. I have a question which is kind of associated with layovers. For people like myself with a disability, is there any assistance in getting around the airport that you can get to be able to go from one terminal to the other faster in order to make the second flight and if so how do you access it?

    Another question is: how long can you have in between flights i.e. how long a layover can you have before you have to pay a fee and get a visa for a country you are transiting through? The reason is that I would like to have longer layovers than 2 hours. It would allow me more time to rest, shower and get myself together for the next flight.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Matthew! Most airports have services to get people with disabilities from one section to another. What I’m used to seeing in the US is sort of like an overgrown golf cart. I honestly don’t know how you get that set up since I’ve never used them, but I think if you call the airline, they should be able to point you in the right direction. In general, those services are operated by the airport or another company, not the airline, but sometimes the airline has wheelchair services.

      For most countries, if you’re not leaving the airport, you don’t have to worry about getting a visa. But I have seen a few places where you are required to have a visa if your layover is longer than a certain amount of time. (Brazil requires US citizens to get a visa, and it seems we can usually have a layover without needing a visa unless it’s longer than 8 hours or something, though I’m not sure how official the info is on that.) I think if you wanted to fly from Australia to Thailand, and you scheduled yourself a 2 or 3 day layover in Singapore, it doesn’t matter because as an Australian citizen, you don’t need a visa for Singapore. In general, as an Australian citizen, you’ll have a better time of finding countries that don’t require you to have a visa. But if it’s a country that does require one, in most cases it doesn’t matter if you’re staying for 24 hours or 30 days. Of course, there are exceptions, like China now has a transit visa that allows people to stay for a short amount of time while on a layover.

      1. Matthew Cheyne

        Thank you for your example.

        I was thinking of Singapore too in the sense that I would prefer to do my layovers in Singapore rather than in Dubai for any travel to Europe or Asia as I could get familiar with just the one major airport hub rather than multiple ones. I was thinking about an extended layover in Singapore enroute to Siem Riep to visit Angkor Wat as my first trip into Asia. It wouldn’t be for quite a while yet. I would have to see through the health issues my Nanna is facing over in Perth before considering travelling internationally but in the meantime one can dream and plan on what can be in the future.

        With the disability help, I thought that the airlines would be the first port of call too. But I thought I’d ask just any case you thought any different.

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          I’ve seen some references to disability services on some airport websites, so certainly you can check with the airport as well. Also, I think Singapore makes a good introduction to SE Asia. It’s expensive compared to the rest of the region, but I think it’s better to start there rather than jump right into Cambodia.

      2. Toby L

        hello Ali !this may be a silly question but let’s say I’m travelling to Paris from Dublin and my friend wants to travel from Heathrow to ParisWould she be able to take the second plane that I’d be on after the layover (from Heathrow to Paris), As in she would be 100% able to buy a seat in my plane from Heathrow to Paris?I’m new to travelling I’m only 19 and need help ! thank you any help is greatly appreciated.

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          Hi Toby! Never a silly question, glad to help! So you’re booking a flight from Dublin to Paris with a layover in Heathrow, and your friend is just flying from Heathrow to Paris, correct? When you look at the flight you’re planning on booking, you should see the exact flight number for each leg. Your friend will need the flight number you’re booking on for Heathrow to Paris, that way she can go to the airline’s site, search the correct date and be sure she’s booking the same flight. They should only have one flight at that exact time, but if the flight number is the same, you’ll be on the same plane. If the airline lets you pick seats ahead of time, try to call or Skype with your friend while you’re both booking flights and you can even try to get seats together. I hope this helps but let me know if you have any other questions! Enjoy your trip to Paris, and if you need any suggestions, we’ve got a detailed itinerary with things to do in Paris here.

  2. Nick

    I have a question for layovers. First let me give you my itinerary for the coming trip (this is the most traveling I’ve done in 1 trip so bear with me):

    Baltimore > San Fran (10 hr layover in SF)
    San Fran > Auckland, NZ(13 hr redeye)
    Auckland, NZ > Queenstown, NZ (staying in Queenstown for 1 week)

    Queenstown, NZ > Auckland, NZ (16 hr overnight layover)
    Auckland, NZ > Nadi, Fiji (staying in Fiji for 6 days)

    Nadi, Fiji > Auckland, NZ
    Auckland, NZ > San Fran (13 hr redeye, 10 hr layover in San Fran)
    San Fran > Baltimore

    So basically my question is, will I be able to be leave the airports when I’m in San Fran as well as when I’m in Auckland for my overnight layover? It seems at both of those points, I’m on domestic stopovers (or arriving home to the U.S.). Also, say I am able to leave the airport at San Fran, will my checked bag stay at the airport if I leave? Sorry if these are simple questions, like I said, I’ve never traveled this much.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Nick! That’s a lot of time in transit! And no worries, lots of people have these kinds of questions. If you want to leave the San Fran airport during both layovers, there’s really no reason not to. If you’re flights are all booked on one itinerary, the airline should have your bags tagged to go to the final destination. However, when you fly back into the US, during the customs and immigration process, you will have to pick up your luggage and recheck it in San Fran, since that is your first point of entry back into the US. Your luggage should still be tagged to go to Baltimore though (unless you have separate itineraries) and the airline should be able to take your luggage at that point regardless of your layover time. Probably best to verify that with the airline just in case they have a weird rule about not accepting luggage a certain amount of time before a flight, but really, if you’re in transit they should take your bags. Remember that a 10 hour layover isn’t really 10 hours to see the city. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to get back to the airport and through security again, and account for transport time in and out of the city. Your 10 hours might really be closer to 6, but that’s still plenty of time to see a few things.

      The same is true for the long layover in Auckland. Since your luggage will be tagged to go to Fiji, you might not even be able to retrieve it. Again, you should verify this with the airline so you know for sure that you won’t have to pick it up. And just like with your San Fran layovers, make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to get back to the airport and through security.

      If you booked separate itineraries, meaning your Queenstown to Auckland flight booking is not at all connected with your booking for Auckland to Fiji, you will have to collect your luggage in Auckland and probably just keep it with you until you come back the next day for your Fiji flight. Same goes for your San Fran layovers, if those flights are separate bookings.

      While you’re in Auckland, I highly recommend Velvet Burger. Delicious!

      Let me know if you have any other questions, and enjoy your trip!

  3. Ankur Paliwal

    Dear Ali,

    Your explanation of layovers is terrific! I have a question. I am an Indian citizen studying in New York. I am going to Ethiopia where I can get tourist visa on arrival. Unfortunately, in order to get the cheapest flight, I took an Air Canada light with three stopovers! The first one is in Canada. The stopover is just for four hours but the embassy said that I will have to take a transit visa and they take upto 30 days to process that. I applied on 18th December and have to fly on 3rd January. A lot of people are telling me that before applying for transit visa I should have had checked with embassy specifically asking them that if I would need a transit visa even if I am not leaving the airport? How do transit visas work? Should one take a transit visa only if you plan to leave the airport and its not required otherwise?

    My other two layovers don’t require me to take the transit !

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Ankur! Your situation is a little outside my experience, but I’ll do my best. It is my understanding that transiting through Canada is, unfortunately, similar to transiting through the US in that you have to go through customs and immigration and recheck your luggage. Which means you are technically entering Canada so you have to have permission to do so. If you have already applied for a transit visa, you can try calling them to check the status and explain your situation. Sometimes you can pay extra to expedite things. I did a quick search about Canada transit visas, and it looks like they have a Transit Without Visa program, but it’s only for citizens of a surprisingly small handful of countries, and India is not one of them. India is on the list of countries that need a visa to visit OR transit, so even if you aren’t leaving the airport, you need a transit visa. Here are the sites I found: http://www.cic.gc.ca/English/department/twov/index.asp & http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp?country=India

      Almost every other country allows you to transit without a visa. The US and Canada are rare since they don’t allow you to transit this way. I think your best bet right now is to call the embassy and see if you can expedite things. I hope it works out, and I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this stress!

    2. Neha

      Hi Ankur,

      I was just wondering what happened to your flight to India. I am in the similar situation, flying next week from USA to Canada and by mistake I booked Air Canada… now am repenting as I just have one wwek and am not sure Canadians can consider expedited service, please help

      Thanks,

      Neha

  4. Charlotte Haynes

    Hello!!
    Your post is ever so helpful, thank you.
    I of course have my own question too… and I was wondering if you could help?
    6:30am flight from UK to Iceland arriving at around 10:30am (no time difference) and then leaving Iceland for Canada at 12:30. 2 hour layover!
    However, my flights will be booked with 2 completely different airlines (airline 1 = easyjet and airline 2 = icelandair) and booked at different times.
    Am I right in thinking I will need to have my passport checked, collect my luggage from my first flight, go back round (have my passport checked, collect the second boarding pass and have my luggage checked on to the second flight) and they make my way to the gate?
    That all sounds so much for a 2 hour layover. I’ve never had a layover before as you may be able to tell.
    My concern is that it is too much and because the flights are with different airlines it will be my responsibility if I miss the second flight and have to pay for another :/
    Any advice is highly appreciated!! Thank you.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Charlotte, sorry for the slow reply, I didn’t have internet for a few days. Unfortunately you will have to pick up your luggage and recheck it with Icelandair, which means you’ll have to go through immigration and customs. Two hours is tight, but not impossible. When you booked your EasyJet flight, did you pick a seat? You might want to pay the extra money to pick a seat, and book an aisle seat as close to the front of the plane as possible. That way you can get out as quickly as possible once the plane lands. Make sure your carry-on is all packed up before the plane lands. Don’t make any stops in the airport (so if you need a bathroom break, go on the plane), just go straight to the passport line. Once you’re done with that, look for any Icelandair counter or a self check-in kiosk. Pick whichever has a shorter line.

      Unfortunately it is your responsibility to arrange a new flight if you miss your connection in this case. If you don’t want to risk it, your options are either to pay now to change your Icelandair flight to a later one, or pay to change your EasyJet flight to an earlier one. I realize you probably have the earliest possible EasyJet flight, and that might mean leaving the night before and spending a night in Iceland though. It might also be worth calling Icelandair and asking them what it would cost to rebook your flight in the event that you miss your connection. Might help you weigh your options.

      I’m sorry this probably isn’t what you were hoping to hear! Let me know if you have any other questions, and no matter what, enjoy your trip!

  5. Will

    Hello, I have a question.
    I am booking a flight that is Toronto-São Paulo:

    Toronto (YYZ) -> New York (JFK)
    Flight JJ8103

    Layover 3h20m

    New York (JFK) -> São Paulo (GRU)
    Flight JJ8103.

    I have the US Visa, but what I wonder is if I have to get off the plane and get in again since it is the same flight. (Also, I got the information that the plane is landing and taking off from the same Terminal in JFK). P.S. Some websites show “No plane change” during my searches.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Will! I’ve never actually had a layover where there was no plane change. I don’t think they occur too often, but it sounds nice! As far as I know, traveling through the US, even if your final destination is NOT in the US, requires you to go through customs and immigration, which would mean you would need a visa depending on what country you’re from. But I do wonder in your case if you would be allowed to just stay on the plane? My instinct says no, but I can’t be 100% sure on that. I think your best bet here is to call the airline and ask them how this situation is handled. In the event that you do have to get off the plane and go through customs and immigration, 3 hours and 20 minutes should be plenty of time. If you think of it, let me know if you have to get off the plane or not. Sorry I don’t have a definite answer for you!

  6. James

    Great article Ali! You don’t happen to know if you have to collect and re-check luggage if a layover exceeds a certain length of time, do you? I have a 10-hour layover at Changi coming up on a LHR-SYD flight, both legs booked as a single fare with with Singapore Airlines. Thanks!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks James! If both legs of your flight were booked on one itinerary, the airline should tag your luggage to your final destination and transfer it from the first to the second flight. It’s probably worth calling Singapore Airlines to verify that they don’t have a weird rule about having to collect your luggage on a long layover, but I would be really surprised if you had to do that. When connecting through Singapore, since you’re not staying there, you should be able to follow the transfer signs, therefore bypassing customs and immigration. That means you wouldn’t be able to get to baggage claim anyway. I’m going with 99.9% chance you will NOT have to collect your luggage, but verify with Singapore Airlines to be sure.

  7. Margaret

    Last year we stayed in Dubai airport ie the internal hotel. We did not collect our luggage etc …but the hotel took is to a check in desk and we supposedly transferred our luggage and checked in for europe – then we slept for eighteen hours. Our luggage did not turn up in europe although we were reunited after 24 hours. We hope to do the same this year but wish to ensure that our luggage is safe. Can you advise how to prevent this happening again. How safe is our luggage sering we did not collect it at the airport?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Margaret, you might have me stumped! First, I hope it was just a fluke that your luggage was delayed in Dubai. I have no experience with staying at the internal hotel in Dubai, but I do know this is a regular occurrence there, especially if you’re flying on Emirates, so I’m sure they have standard procedures set up for luggage. My best advice is for you to call the airline ahead of time and ask how checked luggage is handled when you have a long layover like that. Your luggage should be safe, but it sounds to me like it was missed when it came time to load up the plane the next day, and unfortunately there’s no way to prevent that. I wish I had more advice for you on this one, but I think calling the airline would be your best bet. Good luck, enjoy your trip, and let me know if I can help with anything else!

  8. Gail Klinger

    HELP! Please help a very stressful situation that is dividing our family. We have a return flight that the airline rescheduled from Puerto Vallarta to Mexico City (MEX) that would get us in around 8 PM with a 12 HOUR layover over during the night. The connecting flight to bring us home to Chicago is the morning around 8 AM. The luggage is not the issue. It is us: the people. We were told by a woman who is a flight attendant that they close the Benito Juarez Airport airport at night. If this is true, where do we go? Can’t we stay in the secure area to wait for the connection? Will they kick us out?
    We leave THIS WEEKEND 3/6/15! YIKES – how do we prepare ourselves?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Gail, so sorry for the stressful situation! You will not get kicked out of the airport. I’m not sure why you were told the airport closes. Maybe there are no flights between certain hours, but the airport does not lock its doors. Check out this link here: http://www.sleepinginairports.net/northamerica/mexicocity-airport.htm There’s a list of restaurants that stay open 24 hours, although I don’t know how long you can actually stay in one place before the staff starts getting annoyed. It looks like the airline lounges are all closed for several hours overnight, so that doesn’t really help. But in theory, you can stay in the airport, it’s just that from the reviews, it sounds like an unpleasant airport to spend the night in. However there are several hotels really close or even connected to the airport, so it might be worth getting a room for the night. At least then you can get a few hours of sleep and take a shower. I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions!

  9. Val earlam

    please could you help I am travelling to Sydney Australia in May with ethiad the journey going is fine but on the way back I fly from Sydney with Virgin to Perth and then on to England with ethiad will I have to collect my luggage in Perth terminal three to go to terminal one or will it go to terminal one automatically I am travelling on my own so I’m a little nervous about getting to another terminal

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Val! When you check in for your flight in Sydney, they should be able to tag your luggage to your final destination. That’s assuming you booked your whole trip on one itinerary. The only reason you would have to pick up your luggage in Perth and recheck it is if your Sydney to Perth flight is a separate booking from the Perth to England flight. If that is the case, you’ll have to go to baggage claim in Perth, collect your luggage, and check in again with the next airline. I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions!

  10. KRoy

    Thanks for the article… I have a rookie question for you – We are flying from Kansas City to Puerto Vallarta with an overnight layover in Phoenix. Will we pick up our bags for the overnight layover in Phoenix? Or leave them with the airline. If we do pick them up, will we have to pay another checked bag fee when we check back in the next morning? Thanks!!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      As long as both of your flights are booked together on one itinerary, the airline should tag your luggage to go to your final destination. So during your layover in Phoenix, the airline should hold onto your luggage and transfer it to your next flight in the morning. Verify this with the airline when you’re checking in for your flight in Kansas City, but in general that’s how it’s handled. Also, on your way back from Mexico, whatever airport you land in first in the US will require you to go through customs and immigration as well as claim and re-check your luggage. But no extra checked bag fees for that, and it should still be tagged all the way to your final destination. Let me know if you have any other questions, and enjoy Mexico!

      1. KRoy

        Wow! Thanks so much for the speedy reply! We have another overnight on our flight home (in Dallas). I know we will have to collect our checked bags in order to go thru Customs… but will we re-check our bags then? Or keep them until our connecting flight the next morning?

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          Hmm… I think that depends on how the Dallas airport is set up. In some airports, the “re-check” is really a conveyor belt where everyone puts their luggage regardless of whether or not that airport is their final destination. So then your luggage would get sorted out to the flight it’s tagged for. But in other airports, you literally have to take your luggage to a ticket counter to re-check it. In that case, I’d say it’s up to you whether you want to keep it with you for the duration of the layover or check it with the airline so you don’t have to bother with it. If you really want to know ahead of time, you might have to just call the airline and find out how it works in Dallas. Otherwise, if it’s not a big deal to you, they should be able to tell you when you check in. Sorry I don’t have any direct experience with that airport.

  11. David

    Dear Ali Garland

    I just have a general question. If layover duration is longer than 8 hour or overnight, free accommodation is always available? How can I check the availability? If it is the policy of airline or airport, do you have the Comparison Table?
    Is this a silly question?^^

    Thank you.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi David! No, you will almost never get free accommodation on a layover no matter how long it is. The only airlines I know of that sometimes offer free accommodation on a long layover are Qatar http://www.qatarairways.com/global/en/transit-accommodation.page and Emirates http://www.emirates.com/english/plan_book/essential_information/dubai-connect/dubai-connect.aspx and there are limitations. There could be other airlines that do this, but it’s not at all a common thing. If you have a really long layover somewhere during the day, it’s worth seeing if you can go check out a couple of sights in that city. See here for more on how to maximize a long layover: http://travel-made-simple.com/maximize-long-layover/ If your long layover is at night, there are usually hotels near airports where you can get a few hours of sleep, unfortunately at your own expense, or you can just tough it out in the airport. Check out this site for more about sleeping in airports to determine where you can go and if it’s a good choice: http://www.sleepinginairports.net/

      If I start finding more airlines that have an option like Emirates and Qatar, I will probably make some sort of chart, but it wouldn’t be much of a chart right now.

      Let me know if I can help with anything else!

  12. Nikki garcia

    Hi… I have a one-hour change of planes from O’hare to Vancouver and it says ‘THIS FLIGHT DEPARTS FROM A DIFF AIRPORT”… what does it mean? Does it mean I have to go to another airport or just different airport terminal? is it wise to choose this flight?…
    Depart
    1:09 PM
    Portland, ME , United States
    Portland Airport (PWM)
    Stop 1
    2:46 PM
    Chicago, IL , United States
    O’Hare Airport (ORD) Terminal 1
    Change of planes. Time between flights: 1hr 4min
    Flight 3620 Operated by GOJET AIRLINES DBA UNITED EXPRESS

    United Airlines 3620
    Economy
    CRJ 700
    2hr 37min
    Seat map
    THIS FLIGHT DEPARTS FROM A DIFFERENT AIRPORT

    btw, Im trying to book from Orbitz.com… thanks

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Nikki! Chicago does have two airports, O’Hare and Midway, so it is possible to have a flight land in one and a second flight take off from the other. Look at the flight itinerary you’re considering, does that second flight show MDW as the airport code, instead of ORD? If that’s the case, then you absolutely don’t have time to switch airports and make that second flight. If you land and take off again from ORD, 1 hour 4 minutes still sounds like a tight connection in a big airport. The terminals in O’Hare are connected outside of the secured area, which means if you have to change terminals, you also have to go through TSA again. I know long layovers are annoying, but I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable with this flight. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  13. chris hennessy

    hello Ali, just a couple or three questions,i am flying from the UK to Minneapolis via Amsterdam and Toronto….do i need any sort of transit visa….will i have to go through customs and immigration and will i have enough time to do these things with a two hour turn around in Toronto..thanks for any help you can give me.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Chris! Citizens of certain countries need a visa for travel to Canada, even if it’s just a layover. If you’re a UK citizen, which I’m guessing only because that’s where you’re starting your journey, it looks like you do not need a visa. Check out these sites for more info: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/answer.asp?q=420&t=16 and http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas-all.asp

      You will have to go through customs and immigration, plus claim and re-check your luggage in Toronto, unfortunately. Two hours is about the minimum amount of time I’d allow for a layover like this. I wouldn’t worry too much about a two hour layover, though you don’t want to waste any time getting from one flight to the next. Here are my tips for dealing with a short layover: http://travel-made-simple.com/if-you-think-your-layover-is-too-short/ I don’t think you need to do every single one, but a few of them might help you save a few minutes here and there.

      Let me know if you have any other questions, and enjoy your trip!

  14. Nicki

    Hi Ali,

    My question is about transitioning from international to domestic. My itinerary is below:

    LA –> FRANKFURT –> ROME –> CATANIA (SICILY)

    Would I go through customs in Frankfurt and then not have to deal with it in Rome? If I’m arriving in Rome from Frankfurt is that considered a domestic flight and therefore I won’t have to re-check anything before the Catania flight? We’ll have about 2 hours in Rome before the Catania flight but I wanted to be sure.

    Thanks!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Nicki! Correct, you will go through customs in Frankfurt since it is your first point of entry into the Schengen Zone. You won’t go through customs in Rome or Catania. Flights within the Schengen Zone, like your flights from Frankfurt to Rome and Rome to Catania, are comparable to domestic flights within the US. Your checked luggage should get tagged all the way from LA to Catania, so you shouldn’t have to worry about your bags at any of the layovers. But you should probably verify with the airline about the layover in Frankfurt. I’m 99.9% sure you won’t have to collect and recheck your luggage there either, but it’s worth asking the airline to be sure. And two hours at Rome should be fine. Let me know if you have any other questions, and have a great trip to Sicily!

  15. Birge Frey

    Hi Ali,

    My question is about transfer at Toronto Airport with the following dates :I`m German,will be in New York for some days and have booked the return flight from NY to Germany with Air Canada.First flight from NY to Toronto with Canada Air Jazz,then a layover in Toronto (4 hours ) and then with Air Canada to Europe,all booked in Business class.
    Question:can I book my luggage from NY through to Europe or do I have to go to Immigration,customs,and recheck my checked bags?I would prefer staying airside and not leaving the security Zone,then heading to the Maple Leaf Lounge.Will that be impossible?My husband will do the same trip a week later and he doesn`t speak English or French.Is there a way to “survive” all the control points without speakingEnglish or French?
    Thanks for an answer!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Birge! Unfortunately you do have to go through customs and immigration in Canada even if you’re only transiting. The Toronto Airport website actually has a decent guide to connecting flights here: http://www.torontopearson.com/Connecting_from_usa.aspx# You will have to claim and recheck your luggage, but it sounds like it’s a simple enough process. You won’t have to go out and find a ticket counter like you would for your first flight UNLESS your luggage is NOT tagged to your final destination. But if you booked your flights all on one itinerary, they should tag your luggage all the way to NY. And you will end up going through security again in Toronto. As for your husband, I would hope that German is a common enough language that someone in Toronto and NY would be able to translate. He could also try finding someone on his flight who speaks both German and English to help him get through customs and immigration. You also might want to get a copy of the immigration forms for Canada and the US ahead of time (either online or pick up an extra copy when you go ahead of him) so that you can help him translate it ahead of time. I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions!

  16. Dave T

    Hi,

    I am traveling from TPE > NRT > JFK. Do you know if I will have to recheck my luggage in Japan? Will I have to go through customs again?

    Thank you for the help!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Dave! As long as your flights are booked together on one itinerary, the airline should be able to tag your luggage to go all the way to JFK, and you shouldn’t have to go through customs in NRT. You will probably have to go through a security check again though. In most countries, they treat transiting passengers as if they were never in the country. It’s mostly just the US and Canada that don’t do it that way. I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions!

  17. Alba

    5 hour layover in Amsterdam in November 2015

    Arrival in Amsterdam 9:05 am Departure to Dubai 14:30. I have time to go to the house of Anne Frank? I must buy tickets online ? I have to take a taxi to wait for me at the airport?

    Thanks

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Alba! Unfortunately I don’t think you have long enough. I know 5 hours is a long time, but I think you’d be cutting it really close to go into the city, see Anne Frank House, and get back in time. Where does your flight to Amsterdam start from?

      Assuming you land on time at 9:05am, and assuming you’re starting from outside the Schengen Zone, you’ll have to go through immigration and customs. That could take anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour depending on how many other flights land around that time. So maybe you can be walking out the front door of the airport by 10am if the lines at immigration aren’t too bad. A taxi will get you into the city by 10:30 or so, depending on traffic and how long it takes you to get a taxi. (There are decent public transportation options, but I think a taxi would be quicker, though expensive: 40 to 50 euros one way.)

      I think the earliest reasonable time to book a ticket for Anne Frank House would be 11am. It took me one hour to go through the museum, so that puts you at noon. Then you have another half hour back to the airport, which gets you there at 12:30, 2 hours before your flight, which is the latest you should really do for an international flight since you’ll have to go back through passport check and security.

      So on paper, it could work, but if anything goes wrong along the way, it wouldn’t take much for you to miss your flight. If there’s an accident on the highway back to the airport, your taxi could get stuck, and you’d be late getting back to the airport. There could be bad weather that time of year, making the roads bad.

      Personally, I wouldn’t take the risk. But if you do want to give it a try, here’s a post I wrote about my experience, and it includes links to where you can buy tickets ahead of time for a specific time: http://www.aliadventures.com/2013/05/the-secret-annex-visiting-anne-frank-house/ I looked, and they don’t have November loaded in yet, but when I looked at a random date in October, they had time slots at 10:40 and 11am. You might also want to look into a taxi service you can set up ahead of time, so there’s someone specifically waiting for you when you get off the flight in Amsterdam. Even better if you can pay them to wait for you to get through the museum and take you back to the airport. But that will really start to get expensive.

      Good luck no matter what you decide!

      1. Alba

        My flight departs from the United States. If I buy tickets in advance for the house of Anne Frank and I have a cab waiting for me as tinker.travel you think you could make it in time?

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          Ok, if your flight goes from the US to Amsterdam, you’ll definitely have to go through customs and immigration in order to leave the airport. If you arrange a taxi ahead of time, you’ll have a better chance of making things work, especially if you have a taxi arranged for getting you back to the airport. I would personally still feel too nervous about it, but I can’t make that decision for you.

  18. Maria Fassio

    My friend and I will be flying to Chile in Oct via aero mexico and has 8.5 hrs layover in Mexico City.We wish to spend at least 5 hrs in Mexico city.Is this possible?.How does the transit procedure goes?Do we need a transit visa?We are both US citizens.If we have carry on bags do we have to take those during our transit tour or there are safety lockers available?How is the check in procedure when we board the plane to Chile? I appreciate your help/

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Maria! As US citizens, you don’t need a visa to enter Mexico for up to 6 months. You’ll have to go through customs and immigration, which could take some time depending on how many flights land around the same time as yours. You can keep your carry-on luggage with you, or there are lockers but I don’t know what they cost. If your flights are all booked on one itinerary, you should get both boarding passes when you check in for the first flight, so you’ll already have your boarding pass for the flight to Chile. When you come back for your flight to Chile, you’ll have to go through security and passport check as if it was your first flight, and then you just find your gate.

      I’m not sure you’ll end up with 5 hours in Mexico City though. There’s so info here http://www.toandfromtheairport.com/mexicocity.html about transport in and out of the city. Looks like a taxi takes anywhere from 45 to 70 minutes depending on where you’re going. So worst case, maybe it’ll take an hour and a half in each direction, you’ll probably lose an hour going through customs and immigration and finding the luggage lockers, and then you should still get back to the airport two hours before your flight to Chile. That really only leaves you with about 2 hours in the city. A lot depends on where you’re going, so if the taxi only takes 45 minutes each way, you’ll gain another hour and a half, and you’ll have 3 1/2 hours, maybe 4 if you feel comfortable getting back to the airport a little later.

      Here’s my suggestion: Research the city and find one sight that interests you or a restaurant you want to eat at or whatever. Then arrange a taxi ahead of time (there some good info here: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g150768-c118057/Mexico:Arrival.At.Mexico.City.Airport.html) so you don’t have to hassle with it when you land. And have a plan for getting back to the airport, whether you have the same company come back for you or you know which taxis are the authorized ones, or look into how long it takes by public transportation. Make sure you allow time for retrieving your bags from the luggage lockers (take note of where they are so you can find them again!) and time for getting through security and passport check. Sometimes those lines can be long.

      I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions, and enjoy Mexico City and Chile!

      1. Maria Fassio

        I was giving at least 3 -4 hrs time spent for check out and in and transfer to the city.Your informations are very much appreciated.hank you.

  19. Sabrina

    I have a flight from toronto to philly to manchester. My layover in philly is 1hr 20 minutes. Is that a long enough time to change flights? Also, do I need to reclaim my baggage

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Sabrina! An hour and 20 minutes is a little tight, but not impossible. Since you’re flying from Canada to the US, you will have to go through customs and immigration, plus claim and recheck your luggage, while in Philadelphia. Unfortunately I haven’t flown through Philadelphia in about 7 years, so I don’t know what the current process is, but most airports make it pretty easy to claim and recheck your luggage. Check out my tips for dealing with a short layover so you can try to reduce some of the stress and increase your chances of making your connection: http://travel-made-simple.com/if-you-think-your-layover-is-too-short/

  20. Ryan B

    Hi there. I hope you can help.
    I’m travelling to the United States for the 5th time, however I’m heading on a slightly different flight path than I normally do. I would normally fly outta my home city’s international airport (Belfast International Airport) and I would normally have a stop over or two in the states before my final destination, Minnesota.
    This year however I’ve went for a much cheaper flight which results in me going from George Best Belfast City Airport which is only European flights.
    My flight path is Belfast to Amsterdam, Sciphol Airport -layover 1hr 20- (switching for KLM airline to Delta)
    And from Amsterdam direct flight to Minnesota.

    Couple of questions….
    ●What kind of security can I expect? Belfast is in the UK and also European Union so will it be a breeze going through Amsterdam as they are also a member of the European Union? Customs or anything like that?
    ●Will my luggage go straight to MN or will I have to reclaim in Amsterdam?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Ryan! The EU thing doesn’t really matter so much, it’s about the Schengen Zone. The UK is not in the Schengen Zone, but the Netherlands are. Since you won’t be staying in the Schengen Zone, you should be able to look for signs that say “transit” and avoid having to officially enter the Netherlands and Schengen. But you will have to go through security again before boarding your flight to the US. As for your luggage, as long as your flights are all booked on one itinerary, they should tag your luggage to go all the way to your final destination without you having to claim and recheck in Amsterdam. Verify that when you check in, but that should be the case.

      I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions!

  21. Fai

    Hi Ali, have a rookie question as this is the first time i am doing this. I bought separate tickets, hongkong-copenhagen, and later copenhagen -london heathrow, with a 2 hours transit time. this is because the other ticket is bought separately with miles. i am on a british passport. if i travel without any checked baggage, bringing only carryons, do i have to clear immigration at copen? and do i have to go through security again? it is the same terminal and the same airline, so technically i depart and board from the same gate. Thanks. And if with checked luggage (just in case i decide to bring more), is immigration necessary, and is security necessary, as a transit passenger?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Fai, no worries, not a rookie question at all! Since you’re not staying in the Schengen zone (Denmark is in Schengen but UK is not) you should be able to follow the transit signs and skip immigration while in Copenhagen. BUT you’ll need to have your boarding pass for your Copenhagen to London flight to make this easier. If you can check in for the Copenhagen to London flight online ahead of time, or if the ticket agent in Hong Kong will also print your boarding pass for the Copenhagen to London, it’ll be a lot easier. Typically you have to go through security in the transit area, and they’ll want to see your boarding pass for the next flight. If you can’t print it ahead of time, at least have a printed copy of your flight confirmation, and then you can look for a ticket agent at the Copenhagen airport.

      This is all pretty simple if you have just carry-on luggage. But if you are checking luggage, you will most likely have to clear immigration in Copenhagen, claim your luggage, and re-check it for the next flight. Since both flights are with the same airline, you might be able to convince them to tag your checked luggage through to your final destination.

      Two hours should be plenty of time if you don’t have to clear immigration and re-check your luggage. You might want to call the airline ahead of time and ask if they are able to tag your checked luggage to your final destination with two separate tickets, that way you can decide how hard you need to try to stick to carry-on only.

  22. laura

    I love your article but. I have a quick question. In few months I’m taking a one way plane ride from srq to sea but a stop at atl. My question is do I need to go security again to make my connection flight?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Laura! With domestic layovers at ATL, there should be no reason for you to have to go through security again. Some airports have different security check points for different terminals, but ATL is not one of them. If you have to change terminals, just look for the signs that list the other terminals and baggage claim, and get on the little tram.

  23. Christopher

    I will be traveling from IND to ATL to MTY to BJX, when will i go through customs for Mexico?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Christopher! You should go through customs in MTY since it is the first time you enter Mexico. I don’t think Mexico makes you claim and re-check your luggage like the US does, but you should verify that with the airline.

  24. viorel

    This is probably most comprehensive article I have read so far, with regards to this issue.
    Thanks a lot for posting.

  25. Victoria

    Hi Ali! Thanks very much for posting this informative article. I’m planning a trip abroad and wanted to verify if I got my facts straight. Here is our planned itinerary:

    LA-Seattle (2 hr layover)
    Seattle-Reykjavik

    If I understood things correctly, our luggage should make it all the way to Reykjavik when we first check them in LA. We also won’t need to go through security again when we arrive in Seattle. Is this correct?

    As for the return trip…
    Reykjavik-Seattle (2 hr layover)
    Seattle-LA

    This is where things get a bit confusing for me. When we make it back to Seattle, we need to pick up our luggage and check them in again for our LA flight, yes? Also, I’m thinking that we need to go through security AND passport control in Seattle (not LA). Did I get this right?

    Each leg of the trip will be serviced by two different airlines but I will be booking them all from one site. Thanks in advance for your help!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Victoria! If you booked your whole itinerary together but have different airlines, the different airlines work together and they should be able to tag your checked luggage to Reykjavik. When you arrive in Seattle, you should not have to go through security again. If you have to change terminals, look for signs pointing you to the terminal you need. According to this map http://www.portseattle.org/Sea-Tac/Maps-and-Directions/Pages/Security-Checkpoints.aspx the terminals are all connected within the secured area. (It’s been 4 years since I flew through Seattle, so I can’t remember, and I’ve only ever started or ended there.)

      On your way home, when you arrive in Seattle, you have to go through passport control, then claim your checked luggage, then go through customs. After that, you’ll have to recheck your luggage, though it should still be tagged from Reykjavik to Seattle to LA. And you’ll have to go through security again before continuing on to the gate for your flight to LA.

      I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions, and have a great trip to Iceland! I’m jealous!

      1. Victoria

        Ali, thank you SO much for the info!!! This is the best answer I’ve gotten on this topic. I did have one other slightly unrelated issue. Will I be subject to the two different airlines’ baggage policies? Icelandair allows for 2 free checked bags, but I think Alaska Air charges per bag. Thanks again!

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          Glad to help! I’m not sure I can answer your checked bag question though. It really varies from airline to airline, so I think your best bet there is to call Alaska Air and ask them how they handle it. I would hope that they would go with Icelandair’s policy since your flights are on one itinerary, but I really don’t know. Sorry!

          1. Victoria

            Thanks Ali! I called Icelandair and they mentioned that Alaska Air should honor their baggage policy. It’s probably best if I verify with Alaska Air too but I’ll just do that closer to the trip.

          2. Author
            Ali Garland

            Good! I figured they would, but you just never know. Enjoy your trip!

  26. maria

    I’ll be travelling from Philippines to San Antonio Texas and i have a stop over in Los Angeles.Do i need to pass immigration and get my luggage before i transfer to another terminal.I have booked my whole itinerary together but with different airlines.
    Philippines -Los Angeles-San Antonio Texas

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Maria! Yes, once you land in LA you will need to go to passport control, then you will pick up your checked luggage and go through customs. After that, you recheck your luggage and find your next gate. It’s annoying, but unfortunately that’s how the US does it.

  27. maria

    Good morning.My mom will arrive soon here in U.S and we decided her port of entry is San Francisco but her petitioner ,my sister live in Texas.Can she leave Francisco airport and stay for a day or two in California before going to Texas?Were confused because we dont want her to change airport terminal to terminal .Its convenient for her if she will fly direct ,no stop over.Thanks and i hope youll enlighten us because we need to book her flight.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Maria! I don’t completely understand everything, but I’ll try my best. I’m assuming your mom is coming from the Philippines, just based on the flight you mentioned in a previous comment. As far as I can tell, there are no direct flights between Manila and San Antonio, so she’ll have to connect somewhere. I don’t know anything about traveling to the US on a visa that requires a petitioner, so I don’t know if she’s allowed to land in San Fransisco and stay there for a day or two before traveling to where the petitioner is. You probably need to talk to whatever agency you had to use to do that part. If you’re worried about her navigating the airport and changing terminals, wouldn’t it be even more complicated for her to have to stay overnight in San Fransisco?

      If she does fly from the Philippines to San Fransisco and immediately to TX from there, when she lands in SF, she will go through passport control first. Make sure she has the full street address for where she will be staying (your sister) because she will need to put that on her immigration card. After passport control, she will have to pick up her checked luggage and go through customs. (Everything to this point is standard even if she stays in SF.) Then she will have to re-check her luggage. After that, she has to go through security and then to her next gate. This really isn’t any different if she spends the night in SF, it just means she will be splitting the process into two days.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more help, but I can’t give advice on the situation with the petitioner.

  28. John

    Hi Ali, your posts are so helpful I thank you for your time. I was wondering if you can give me any insight on the following trip, I’m taking my girlfriend to Greece this Summer and we have been talking about tieing the knot, I think she is expecting it so I would like to throw her completely off. We’re flying from Calgary,Canada to JFK with a two hour layover (in Calgary we actually have a U.S. Customs right in our airport) so this makes it as if it was basically a domestic US Flight, but from there we fly to Charles de Gaule where we have a 10 hour layover so I was thinking of taking her to the Eiffel Tower to do my thing. Then off to Greece. All flight are booked with Delta but operated first by westjet to JFK, Air France to CDG, Aitalia to Athens. So my question is for the layover in Paris will my bags be checked right through to Athens? If not is there somewhere we can store our luggage? I love her a lot but I’m not sure if my back will hold out carrying her two overweight checked luggage to the top of the Eiffel Tower :p Thank you!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi John! Sounds so romantic! Your bags should be tagged to go all the way to Athens, so that shouldn’t be a problem for you. I think it’s always worth verifying with the agent when you’re checking in for your first flight, but that is the standard procedure for almost anywhere in the world, except the US and Canada. (And lucky you for having that US customs post in Calgary!)

      I know you didn’t really ask, but if you’re taking her up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, I’d recommend buying tickets ahead of time. Otherwise you could end up waiting in line for a few hours. I haven’t done it myself yet, but I’m looking at this link for when my friend and I go in a couple weeks: http://www.toureiffel.paris/en/preparing-your-visit/buying-your-tickets.html And you probably want to leave at least 2 hours from when you land to the time on your ticket because it’ll take time to get through customs and I think it takes 45 minutes to get into the city. Here’s some info on getting to and from the airport: http://www.toandfromtheairport.com/paris-charles-de-gaulle.html

      Have a great trip!

  29. Hannah

    Hi Ali,

    I’ve booked a flight from London Heathrow – Salt Lake City, connecting through LAX.

    I will arrive at LAX at 5.15pm and then my flight leaves for SLC at 6.55pm.

    I’ve booked on a single ticket with AA, but the booking confirmation says to check in with SkyWest at LAX.

    Do you think I’ll have enough time to make this flight? As far as I can tell, my flight into LAX and my flight out to SLC are in the same terminal.

    Thanks!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Hannah! When you land in LAX, you’ll have to go through passport control, pick up your checked luggage and go through customs, and then you’ll have to recheck your luggage for your flight to SLC. An hour and 40 minutes might be a little tight, but it’s not impossible. If they can put you on a later flight from LAX to SLC without charging you too much, it might be worth it. But I’d call American Airlines or SkyWest and ask what their policy is if you miss the connection due to customs and immigration taking too long. Also, check out my advice for dealing with a short layover: http://travel-made-simple.com/if-you-think-your-layover-is-too-short/

  30. Esther

    Hi! I just had a quick question. So I’m departing from LAX, then stopping at JFK for a connecting flight to EDI (Scotland). All of my flights are on the same itinerary and are all with American Airlines. From landing at JFK to my flight to EDI, I only have 2.5 hours. Do I need to pick up my checked luggage and then re-check it, then go back to security or will my luggage arrive at my final destination?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Esther! Your luggage should be tagged all the way to EDI. It’s on the way back to the US that you will have to go through passport check, claim your luggage, go through customs, and recheck your luggage. You will also have to go through security again before your flight from JFK to LAX (I’m assuming the same route in return). It’s possible you might have to go through security again in JFK on your way to EDI depending on where your first flight lands and where your second one departs, simply because they might have different security checks at different terminals. But 2.5 hours should be fine going to EDI, and I don’t think a layover of that length will be a problem on the way back either. If your concerned about the time, check out my advice for dealing with a short layover: http://travel-made-simple.com/if-you-think-your-layover-is-too-short/ Enjoy your trip!

  31. Oprah Ferguson

    Hey. i was wondering if you could help me. i’m 17 and its my first time travelling. i have 2 connecting flights. im leaving from jamaica-atlanta-amsterdad-istanbul. seeing that its my first time travelling i would really like to stay put and i wont leave the airport. there’s a 8-12 hour layover for each connecting flight. will have i have to go through customs and security again?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Wow, that’s a lot of long layovers! So here’s how it should all work, assuming you’ve booked all flights on one itinerary:

      When you land in Atlanta, you will unfortunately have to go through passport check and customs. I believe they have recently changed it so that your luggage will automatically get transferred to your next flight since it is an international transfer, but you’ll need to verify that with the airline. Either call ahead and ask or just ask the ticket agent when you check in for your first flight. You will also have to go through security again in Atlanta. But once you go through security, you have access to all terminals, so you will at least have a lot to choose from to occupy your time there.

      In Amsterdam, look for the “transit” or “transfer” signs. Since you are not staying in the Schengen Zone, you shouldn’t have to go through customs, but you will have to go through security again. Your checked luggage should also be automatically transferred to your next flight. Amsterdam is a pretty big airport too, so hopefully you’ll find enough to do.

      If these are actually 3 separate itineraries, as in you booked and paid for 3 separate flights, you will most likely have to claim and recheck your luggage at each layover, which also means you’ll have to go through customs in Amsterdam.

      I hope this helps! Have a great trip!

  32. Sarthak Rastogi

    I’m an international student in Seattle,Washington trying to fly back home. My route is Seattle–Paris–Delhi. Although you’ve done a good job explaining layovers, I do have a question for you: When I check in(at the airport), since Seatac only has machines working your boarding passes and not people, What am i supposed to put as my destination? Paris or New Delhi? Both my flights are by Air France but the flight from Seattle to Paris is operated by a Delta Airlines Aircraft.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Sarthak! It’s been several years since I flew to/from Seattle, but I can’t imagine there is NO way to check in with a person, especially for an international flight when they would need to check your passport. But if that really is the case, the machine should ask for a booking reference and then it will pull up your itinerary. In general you will get all boarding passes on your itinerary, so the machine should print Seattle to Paris and Paris to New Delhi. If you have a problem with the machines, at the very least there should be Delta employees where you drop off checked luggage, and someone will be able to help you. I hope this helps!

  33. Meghana

    Thank you for the article! I am sorry if this is repetitive, but could you please answer this question for me?
    I am an Indian citizen working in the US and I need to fly to Vancouver, Canada in a few months. My parents are visiting and they have a conference to attend in Canada so I am accompanying them there. I am looking at flight options out of Philly and wanted to know if I should book a flight with a domestic layover or fly via Toronto? Unfortunately there are no direct flights to Vancouver from Philly or even NYC. If we go through a U.S. city, will we have to go through security/passport check and baggage claim again? I know we have to do that if we fly via Toronto. What would you advice? And how long of a layover should we target? Any specific airports we should avoid? Also, my parents are flying home from Canada but I am coming back to the states, so I will face a similar dilemma on the way back. Thank you!

      1. Author
        Ali Garland

        Hi Maghana, I’m glad you were able to find a direct flight! Just for future reference, in general, when you have a layover in the US or Canada on an international flight, you have to go through customs and passport control and claim/recheck your luggage when you first enter either of those countries. But not on the way out, at least not in the US. So if you flew from NYC to Chicago to Vancouver, your Chicago layover would seem like a domestic layover, but on the way back, you’d have to go through customs and recheck your luggage. I hope that helps!

  34. Z

    Your article is extremely helpful. I have a question, I have a flight from Islamabad, Pakistan to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport with a 3.5 hours connection in Dubai. Both the flights are operated by Emirates. Firstly, would I have to go through security and immigration or not or can I directly take my connectly flight? Plus since both the airlines are the same, my baggage would be automatically transferred to the destination flight or do I have to go through baggage claim? I have been to Dubai airport twice before but it was a direct flight, and since the airport is huge and confusing, I am kind of freaking out about taking this connecting flight.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks, glad to help! Since you are not staying in Dubai or UAE, you should not have to go through customs and immigration. Follow the signs for “transit” or “transfers.” However, you will have to go through security again. And as long as you’ve booked the flights as one itinerary (as opposed to two separate bookings) your checked luggage should be tagged to your final destination and automatically get transferred from the first flight to the second. I think 3.5 hours should be enough time to make your connection, especially since you don’t have to deal with immigration. Have a good trip!

  35. Gretchen

    Hi Ali!
    I am planning a trip from Boston to London Gatwick and back on IceLand Air. Both trips have layovers in KEF. I only have an hour and 15 minute layover in KEF on the way to London. Will I have to collect and re-check my luggage? What about on the return?
    I really appreciate your help, I am nervous about the hour and 15 minutes on the way there. If I have to collect my bags, then there’s no way i am going to book that particular flight.

    Thanks so much for the help!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Gretchen! Your checked luggage should get tagged to your final destination and automatically get transferred from the first flight to the second flight. Since Iceland is in the Schengen Zone but the UK is not, you shouldn’t have to go through customs and immigration in KEF. Look for signs for “transit” or “transfers” and go through security to get to your connecting gate. An hour and 15 minutes is a little tight, but not impossible. It also doesn’t look like a huge airport, so if this is your best flight option in all other ways, I might go for it. Here’s some info I found about the airport: http://www.ifly.com/keflavik-KEF-airport/terminal-map I hope this helps, and have a great trip!

  36. Shelley

    i am flying from Cambodia, through Bangkok , through Abu Dhabi, and then finally to the US. Since I have 5 hours in AD, I figured i would go out and have dinner or something, and then come back into the airport. I am flying Etihad airlines. Do you recommend this? Any thoughts?
    Thanks

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Shelley! I can definitely understand the appeal of getting a glimpse of the city while you have a layover in Abu Dhabi, though 5 hours might be a little tight. In order to do that, you’ll have to clear customs and passport control (which you won’t have to do if you choose to stay in the airport for your layover – you’ll just look for the “transit” or “transfer” signs and go through security again) and this could take some time depending on how many other flights land when yours does. Then it looks like it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour 15 minutes to get into the city, depending on what form of transportation you use. See here for info on getting to and from the airport: http://www.toandfromtheairport.com/abu-dhabi.html Then you’ll still need to be back at the airport about 2 hours ahead of your flight to make sure you get back through security and passport control for exiting the country.

      Let’s say it takes 45 minutes to get off the plane and get through passport control and customs. You take a taxi and maybe it takes about 45 minutes. Then you need another 45 minutes to get back to the airport, and you have to be there 2 hours before your flight. That leaves you with about 45 minutes for dinner or whatever you plan on doing in Abu Dhabi.

      Also, keep in mind the time of day. I have no idea what kind of rush hour traffic there might be in Abu Dhabi, but traffic will be a big factor in how long it takes you to get in and out of the city whether you’re in a taxi or bus. I can’t make that decision for you, but it doesn’t seem like enough time to me, and I wouldn’t want to risk missing my connecting flight.

      1. Shelley

        Thank you, Ali,
        After taking all of this into consideration, I think it’s best if I just stay in the airport. On the website there appear to be a few lounges you can pay to sit and relax at. Do you know anything about these? i will be there from 10pm until 3am…

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          I think that’s probably a wise choice. I know 5 hours seems like long enough, but especially at that time of night, staying in the airport is probably best. Maybe if you had 7 hours or something. I don’t know anything about the lounges. I just hung out at the gate when I had layovers in Abu Dhabi. But it looks like different lounges are in each terminal and have different prices, so you might want to see if you can find out what terminal your next flight departs from to decide. I just glanced at one online, and they had a 2 hour and a 5 hour option. Just make sure you look at what time your flight starts boarding.

  37. Helsin

    Hi Ali, thanks for the great post. I have a question regarding a layover extended to next day of travel. I am planning to travel from India to Atlanta via JFK (booked by same airline). My flight is scheduled to arrive at JFK on July 15 at 11 pm and connecting flight to Atlanta is at 9 am on July 16 (layover of 10 hours with date change). Since JFK would be my port of entry, I am told that I will have to claim my checked bags. My question is if I have to claim my bags and drop them off the belt to retrieve them in Atlanta or would I have to claim my checked bags and come out of the airport, keep the checked bags with me for the night and wait for next morning for the airline counter to open up and and then check in my luggage. I would appreciate any infromaiton in this regard. Thanks.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Helsin! Overnight layovers like this can vary. Yes, you will have to claim and recheck your luggage in JFK, but whether you can recheck immediately or have to wait until the morning really depends on the airline. If the airline has a counter open, which they might for late night flights, they will most likely be able to take your luggage at that time. If the airline does not have an open counter, no one will be able to take your luggage. Your best bet here is to call the airline and ask them what their procedure is for a layover like yours at JFK. You could also ask them if a partner airline would be able to check your luggage in the event that the airline you’re flying will not be open at that time.

      Sorry I couldn’t give you a more definite answer on this, but hopefully the airline can help. Have a great trip!

  38. Katie

    Hi Ali! I have been so nervous about my upcoming connection, and your article helped a lot! I will be going Detroit > Amsterdam > Billund (Denmark). I have never been to Europe, nor have I ever flown alone, so this is a pretty big deal! I only have 1:25 to transfer (and I’m seated in the very back of a 747 on the first leg, so I’ll have to wait for 300+ people to exit ahead of me..). Because of this lack of time, I want to make sure I know exactly what I’m doing. So when I arrive in Amsterdam, I will have to go through passport control, security, and customs because I’m entering the Schengen zone. How will I get my checked bag to go through customs, and after I get through, where do I go to recheck it before catching my connecting flight? Do I follow the signs to enter the country and then just go back through after I’m admitted? Or do I just head straight for passport control after I arrive and not get my checked bag? These are a lot of very confusing questions, sorry, but they’re coming from a confused person! I so appreciate any help(:

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Katie! When you arrive in Amsterdam, you will go through passport control and customs. (Customs normally involves simply walking through a door marked “nothing to declare” as long as you really have nothing to declare.) You will also have to go through security. Just keep looking for signs for passport control. Since you can’t enter the Schengen zone without going through the proper steps, there really aren’t any other options besides going to passport control, so don’t worry about it, you will mostly just follow everyone else. Then go to your connecting gate.

      Your checked luggage should be tagged to go to your final destination, so you won’t have to do anything with that. You’ll pick it up in Billund.

      I recently connected through Amsterdam, although I was going from another Schengen country to the US, but there was a separate line at passport control marked for people with tight connections. I don’t know if they’ll have that when you’re entering, but look for it as it could save you some time.

      It might also be worth seeing if the airline can change your seat to one closer to the front of the plane. Regardless, make sure you go to the bathroom on the flight before you land so you don’t lose time doing that at the airport. And ask for help if you get confused or lost while you’re in the airport. Airport employees almost always speak some English, especially in Europe.

      I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions, and enjoy your trip!

  39. RK

    Hi Ali!

    First off, your article is great!! Thanks for simplifying things for rookies such as myself. I have a question though, I am taking a flight as follows:

    Cairo (CAI)–>Paris (CDG)–>Atlanta (ATL)–>Roanoke (ROA)

    Will I have to recheck my luggage between Atlanta and Roanoke? As I’ll have to go through border control/immigration and customs which will be in ATL. I have a 13 hr layover so I would really rather avoid the hassle of checking out then rechecking in my luggage.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Unfortunately yes, you will have to claim and recheck your luggage in Atlanta. Sorry, there’s no avoiding it! My suggestion is to call the airline and ask if you will be able to check your luggage that far ahead of your Roanoke flight so you don’t have to hold onto it for the whole layover. If they airline has a counter open, hopefully they’ll be able to check it early for you. Good luck, and have a great trip!

  40. Lisa

    I have an upcoming trip that I’m unsure about as well – your post is helpful but i just want to ask what you think about customs and checking and/or rechecking my luggage. I’m traveling from ATL – Frankfurt – Lisbon – Ponta Delgado. So, I think that will have to go through customs in Germany – but shouldn’t have to get my luggage, right? Then, the same in Lisbon and Ponta Delgado? I’m concerned because during my last trip to Europe we flew in to Ireland and then to our destination of Paris. We went through customs in Ireland but didn’t get our luggage and when we arrived in Paris, our luggage didn’t make it – I always wondered if it was because we should have gotten the luggage and rechecked it in Ireland. Any ideas? Thanks!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Lisa! The US and Canada are some of the only countries in the world that make you claim and recheck your luggage on a layover. It’s unfortunate that your luggage didn’t make it on your previous trip, but I think that was just bad luck. When you check in for your flight in Atlanta, they should tag your luggage to go all the way to your final destination. You will have to go through passport check, customs, and security in Frankfurt since that is where you will enter the Schengen Zone, but you will not pick up your luggage. In Lisbon, you will not go through customs or passport check. You may or may not have to go through security, it just depends on how the airport is set up. Then when you land in Punta Delgado, you will simply head to baggage claim and pick up your checked luggage. I hope this helps, and enjoy your trip!

  41. S

    Hi this is a very good/ excellent website. I have a question, Im travelling to Australia from the UK and wondered whether I would have to check in my bag twice and go through security more then once. I have a layover in Honk Kong with a 5/4 hour layover in a lounge, do I go straight there once off the plane or pick up my bag?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks! You won’t have to pick up your luggage during your layover in Hong Kong. Assuming your flights are all booked together as one itinerary, your checked luggage will get tagged to continue to your final destination. So when you land in Hong Kong, you’ll most likely have to go through security to get to your next flight, but that’s about it. If you aren’t leaving the airport, you aren’t technically entering Hong Kong, so you won’t go through customs until you reach the UK. I hope this helps, and have a great trip!

  42. Anita Rose

    I find your website and answers extremely helpful so I want to thank you for that. I will be traveling to Tokyo Haneda airport from Oakland, California with a layover in Honolulu. At what point is the customs/passport check on the outgoing trip, if there is any? I know that on the returning trip coming back from Toyko, Honolulu will be the customs check since it is the first US city.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thank you Anita! When you’re flying out of the US, there isn’t really a formal passport checkpoint like in most other countries. When you check in for your first flight, they will also check your passport, it’s just not a separate process. When you leave Tokyo, you will go through passport check before you can continue to your gate. And you’re right, you will go through US passport control and customs in Honolulu on your way back. Enjoy your trip to Japan!

  43. SC

    Hi Ali,
    This is a very excellent website! I’m taking a flight as follows:
    Rome (FCO) to Beijing(PEK)
    Layover Berlin Tegel (TXL) the connection time :3 hr.30 ‘
    I ‘ll book my flights together as one itinerary but with 2 airlines i.e. Airberlin and Hainan airline.
    Will i have 2 boarding passes when i check in for my first flight at FCO? Will I have to recheck my luggage at Berlin TXL,and go through border control/immigration and customs?
    The first flight will arrive at Berlin TXL terminal C and will depart from terminal A.I wonder the terminal C is very far from terminal A,how can i reach terminal A?Do you think 3hr30’ shoud be enough time to make my connection? I would appreciate any information.Thank you very much.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks for the compliment! In most cases, the airline will be able to print both of your boarding passes when you check in for the first flight, but it depends on the partnership between the two airlines. If Air Berlin is unable to print your TXL to PEK boarding pass, you’ll have to find a Hainan Airlines counter in Berlin.

      Your checked luggage should get tagged to go all the way to Beijing, but verify that when you’re checking in in Rome. Even in cases where I’ve had to get my boarding pass during a layover, my bag was still tagged for my final destination, so I’m almost positive you won’t have to worry about this.

      You will go through passport check in TXL in preparation for leaving Schengen and traveling to China. The agent in Rome might check to make sure you have the proper visa to enter China, but the official passport control part will be in Berlin. You won’t do this in Rome because your first flight is between two Schengen countries.

      The Berlin TXL airport is surprisingly small for such a big city. Here’s a map of the airport: http://www.berlin-airport.de/en/travellers-txl/at-the-airport/airport-map/ I think 3 hours 30 minutes is plenty of time to get from terminal A to terminal C and get through passport control. You’ll probably have to go through security again too, but I really wouldn’t worry about time. I don’t think you’ll have a problem unless your first flight is severely delayed.

      Enjoy your trip and let me know if you have any other questions!

  44. Luis

    Thanks for your site, this article has been very helpful. I just have a question, I am traveling from Mexico to Alabama with 10 hour overlay in Houston, I know I need to claim my luggage and check again after customs, my concern is if will be safe I check my luggage just after custom 10 hour before my connection flight? I am affraid to lose it in this time lapse. I am flying in the same airline. I am planning to go out to a closer mall for 5 or 6 hours and come back to the airport but dont want to bring my luggage.

    Thanks.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Luis, I’m glad my site has been helpful! I understand your concern, but I think the chances of the airline losing your luggage are roughly the same whether you check it in several hours ahead of time or closer to your flight. My suggestion is to call the airline and confirm with them if they will be able to check your luggage that far ahead of your flight. I think they will be able to do it, but it’s worth verifying that with them.

  45. Geraldine

    Hi Ali, What a fantastic site you have running… thank you!

    So I am travelling with Thai Airways from Auckland to London with a 16 hour overnight layover in Bangkok. Do you know if the airline provides a hotel for this layover? I have it in my head that any layover for more than 8 hours is accommodated for at the airlines expenses?? Is this right? or did I dream that up!!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Geraldine! No, that is definitely not a rule. There are a few airlines that I can think of that provide a night in a hotel if the long layover is in the airline’s base city, so it’s possible Thai Airways does this, but there are always other requirements too, like what fare type you bought, if there were any options with a shorter layover, if you’re connecting to an international flight vs a domestic one. I wouldn’t necessarily count on this being an option for you, but call the airline and ask. I searched around on their website but I couldn’t find anything. Even if the answer is no, Thailand is really cheap, so you should be able to find a decent place for a night without having to spend much. Good luck, and I hope the answer is yes!

  46. Maria

    Hi Ali!
    I find your site very helpful. I am Canadian Citizen.
    I am travelling to Phlippines from Calgary-Lax-Haneda-Phlippines. My questions are, I have 10hrs stopover in LA, do I need to get my luggage and rechecked it? and because I have 10hrs lay over, can I go out and see outside the airport? and when I come back to the Airport do I need to pay terminal fee again. I hope you can help me with this.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Maria! You will have to go through customs and passport check in LAX, and since you are a Canadian citizen, you don’t need a visa, so if you want to leave the airport, you can. Normally you would have to claim and recheck your luggage, but some airports handle it a little differently for international layovers since you’re flying from Canada and not staying in the US. For example, I recently flew to Atlanta, and they made an announcement that passengers making international connections did not have to claim and re-check their luggage. However, that could be different at other airports, and unfortunately I don’t know for sure with LAX. If you do have to re-check your luggage, in most cases you will be able to do that right away, just depends on the airline. Then you won’t have to keep it with you. As for the terminal fee, I’m not sure what that is. Any airport fees are included with the price of your flight, and I don’t know what else you might be referring to, but you shouldn’t have to pay anything. I hope this helps!

  47. RUTUJA

    Hi, My parents are travelling from San fran to India this weekend and they have an 18 hr lay over in Singapore.They are US citizens and wish to go out and take a tour of the city.My question is Do they need to go to through immigration or need any type of Visa in order to travel the city during their lay over time?Thanks for the informative blog!!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Rutuja! US citizens can get a visa on arrival in Singapore. Actually, I’m not even sure it’s really a visa, but they will put a little piece of paper in your parents’ passports. They MUST hold onto that paper and have it in their passports when they go back to the airport to leave the country! (I lost mine once, quite stressful.) So they will go through passport control and customs, but it’s a fairly easy process, and they don’t need to do anything ahead of time with regards to visas.

  48. Richard

    Just wanted to say your article helped clear up a lot! I have a question about my intinierary however…
    I’ll be going to Russia this coming spring and my flight is as follows
    Buffalo>Newark>Munich>St. Petersburg and the return is
    St. Petersburg>Frankfurt>Newark>Buffalo.
    I can usually travel pretty lightly so I’m not worried about baggage as I’ll just have a carry on but I am concerned about what visas I could possible need on this trip and where I’ll have to go through customs & immigration and how many times. I know it’s a lot but I hope you can help me out. Thanks!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Richard, glad to help! First, I’m assuming you are a US citizen based on your departure point. You will need a visa to enter Russia, and if you haven’t gotten one yet, you can find more info here: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/russia.html

      When you check in for your flight in Buffalo, they will check your passport to make sure you have a Russian visa. It’s possible they might check in Newark, but usually it’s the first flight. When you land in Munich, look for signs that say “transit” or “transfer”. You’ll have to go through security again before finding your gate, but you shouldn’t have to go through customs and immigration/passport control since you aren’t staying in Germany or anywhere else in the Schengen Zone. You’ll go through customs and immigration in Russia.

      On the way back, you’ll go through passport check to exit Russia. (Most countries have an official passport checkpoint you have to go through before leaving the country. For some reason, the US doesn’t do it that way.) Your layover in Frankfurt will be similar to your layover in Munich. Just look for the “transit” or “transfer” signs, go through security, and find your gate. When you land in Newark, you will go through passport control and customs to enter the US. I know you said you usually travel with carry-on, but just in case you decide to check luggage, you will have to claim and re-check it in Newark. Then just look for your gate for the Newark-Buffalo flight.

      I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions! Enjoy Russia!

  49. Matthew

    Finally got my wife’s visa to enter the U.S. My question is, she will be flying from SJD to MSP. I haven’t booked the flight yet but she will have a layover. If i use the same airline, will she have to re-check her luggage or will it be waiting for her at MSP?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Congrats Matthew! If her layover is somewhere in the US, she will have to claim and re-check her luggage at the first place she lands within the US, regardless of the airline. It has to do with US customs and immigration, not the airlines. But if she connects through Mexico City (not sure if that’s an option for you) she would not have to do this. Let me know if I can help with anything else!

  50. Heidi

    Hi, I’m flying from Seattle- San diego- Phoenix. Before my flight will I be given two boarding tickets? One from seattle and the other from San diego? I’m 16 and not quite sure what I’m doing since this is my first lay over and scared that I’ll miss my flight.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Heidi! As long as your flights are both booked together as one itinerary (as opposed to booking them separately) you should get both boarding passes when you check in for the first flight in Seattle.

      Sometimes the flight attendants will have a list of gates for connecting flights, so they might be able to point you in the right direction in San Diego. If not, there will be big boards listing all the upcoming flights and what gates they are leaving from, so you’ll be fine there too.

      Domestic layovers aren’t so bad as long as you have enough time in between flights to get from one to the next. Good luck, have a great trip, and let me know if you have any other questions!

      1. Heidi

        Do you recommend I put my luggage through checking or carry on? Also, am I suppose to put my laptop into another bin during the security checkpoint?

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          I always recommend carry-on only, but it doesn’t work for everyone, so go with whatever you’re comfortable with. If you do check luggage, make sure anything fragile, valuable, sentimental, or important stays in your carry-on bag. For more info check out this http://travel-made-simple.com/what-to-pack-in-your-carry-on-bag/ and this http://travel-made-simple.com/what-not-to-pack-in-your-carry-on-bag/

          Yes, when you go through security, put your laptop in a separate bin. You’ll also have to pull out your liquids bag, take everything out of your pockets, take off your belt if you’re wearing one, and take off your shoes. You can probably fit all of those things in one bin, but only the laptop has to go in its own bin. Watch what people ahead of you are doing, and ask questions if you need to. There’s usually a TSA agent standing near where you’re putting things into the bins. You’ll do fine!

  51. klaus

    Hi i’m flying from the caribbean to the US ( Boston to be specific) on US airways but i have a layover in philadelphia, would i have to clear my luggage and recheck in? Even though i booked the ticket online it gave me all the necessary info for both departure and returning to the caribbean such as my seat # etc. I just wanna know if i’d have to clear my luggage at philly and recheck for boston?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Klaus! If you are flying from outside the US to Philadelphia, you will have to claim and re-check your luggage in Philadelphia. It doesn’t have anything to do with the airlines, it’s a US customs rule. You won’t have to check in for the second flight though because you should get both boarding passes when you check in for the first one.

  52. Kat

    Hi Ali! Thanks for the excellent article, it’s been a great help!

    I have a question regarding my hand baggage. I’m flying from DEL to IAD with layovers at Dubai and JFK and am hoping to shop at duty free in Delhi and Dubai. Do you know how this will impact my hand baggage allowance? I believe I’ll have to go through security at both my layovers.

    Thanks!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Kat, glad to hear it! Yes, you will have to go through security at each layover. If you’re purchasing non-liquid items, as long as it’s just a small amount in a shopping bag, you should be fine. If you’re planning on buying a lot of stuff, you might have to put it in your checked luggage. You won’t be able to get to your checked luggage on your Dubai layover, so I think this will be less of a problem, but try to keep your shopping to a minimum. If you’re buying liquids, make sure they are in sealed duty free bags. I don’t know what Dubai’s policy is on getting through security with those, but for JFK, here is TSA’s take: https://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/traveling-food-or-gifts (scroll down to the bottom section) I hope this helps!

  53. Brijet

    Ali, I must commend you for the wonderful work that you have been doing. I am a Jamaican Citizen going to Nigeria for the summer. I will be travelling from the Norma Manley International Airport in Kingston via JFK, New York U.S.A. via Lagos and final destination Abuja. Since I will be travelling with a carry-on, do I have to pass through customs and immigration?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thank you Brijet! Yes, you will still have to go through customs and immigration in JFK. It’s a rule that has to do with traveling through the US, nothing to do with your luggage situation. You might need a visa to transit through the US, though I don’t know the exact requirements for Jamaican citizens, so be sure to check with the embassies. I hope you have an amazing trip!

  54. nadia

    hi please help sos! friends of mine bought me a ticket to come visit them. I am a South African citizen. I flew Cpt, Jhb, Istanbul, Toronto and is now in VIctoria (Canada). I have my Canadian visa. when I fly back on 29/7 I fly Victoria, Toronto, Jfk (New York), Jhb, Cpt. I heard that I need a transit visa for Jfk?! I am south African: how will I get this visa in Canada, my nerves is finished and I do not know where to start, my entire holiday is a mess!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Nadia, I’m sorry to hear about the stress! Yes, unfortunately you do need a visa to transit through the US. It’s one of the few countries that processes every single person regardless of your final destination. I don’t know exactly how the process works, but there is some info here: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/other/transit.html. There’s a section where you can look up the estimate for an appointment time depending on the city but it looks like you can’t get an appointment for a couple of weeks, give or take a few days. Make sure you look at the requirements and determine if you even have all of the documents with you. If you do have everything you need, try calling the embassy and see if you can get squeezed in for an appointment. I have no idea if this is a possibility but it’s worth trying.

      Unfortunately your best option might be to call the airline and get your flight changed to something that does not require you to fly through the US. I realize that’s a pain (though probably not as painful as trying to get a visa at the last minute) and will cost some money, but better to do it sooner rather than later. And consider getting yourself to the nearest bigger city if that makes it easier and/or more affordable to change your flights.

      I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this on your vacation!

  55. Sunya

    Hi Ali, please help me.

    I am an Indian citizen. I booked my domestic ticket from Guwahati to Bangalore, and reach at 19.50. My next flight is an international flight from Bangalore to Manila(Philippines) by airasia is at 23.45. Do you think I can make it? Both, international as well as domestic terminals are at the same building.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Sunya! Yes, I think 4 hours is plenty of time. The one thing to keep in mind is that in most cases, AirAsia doesn’t transfer luggage from one flight to the next because they are all separate. I don’t know what airline you’re flying from Guwahati to Bangalore, but you will most likely have to go pick up your checked luggage and then check your luggage again with AirAsia. You will also have to go through passport control before boarding your international flight. But 4 hours should be plenty of time for all of this. Have a great trip!

  56. Hannah Johnston

    Im flying from Edinburgh to Abu Dhabi (terminal 3) then from Abu Dhabi (terminal 1) to Jaipur all on one itinerary. In Abu Dhabi will i have to pass through immigration even though i wont have a visa?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Hannah! No, you shouldn’t have to pass through immigration. When you land in Abu Dhabi, look for signs that say either “transit” or “transfer.” You’ll have to go through a security check again, but this should allow you to bypass customs and immigration since you aren’t staying in UAE. I’ve flown through there twice for connecting flights, and it was a simple process.

  57. Ujjwal

    Hi Ali! Thanks for sharing such useful insights on travel related questions. Have a question of my own for you. I am an Indian citizen travelling to Athens, Greece on Schengen VISA. I have layover during onward flight of around 4 hours and layover of 17 hours on my way back in Amsterdam. Would I need to go through immigration and security checks to go out of the airport for sight seeing in Amsterdam? I was thinking to utilize my layover time to the maximum possible extent.

    Thanks,
    Ujjwal

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Ujjwal! I believe your Schengen visa allows you to travel throughout the Schengen countries because there are no border controls between those countries. So if you want to leave the airport in Amsterdam, that shouldn’t be a problem. I don’t think 4 hours is long enough on your way to Europe. If that’s the first place you land within the Schengen zone, that’s where you’ll have to go through customs and immigration, so that’ll take a little time. And you’d have to be back at the airport at least an hour or so before your flight to Greece, so when you add in how long it takes to get in and out of the city, it’s just not worth the stress and the tiny amount of time you’d have there. But 17 hours on the way back? Perfect! Your flight from Athens to Amsterdam is still within Schengen, so you won’t have to deal with any customs or immigration checks to get out of the airport. Make sure you’re back at the airport about 2 hours ahead since that flight from Amsterdam will be international, and you’ll have to go through passport check on your way out of the Schengen Zone. I hope that helps!

  58. sachin

    hi I want to know that if I have 16 hours lay over at London airport can I go to house of my family members who are in London. I am travelling on student visa of Canada. I am an indian citizen.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      I believe you would need a visa to enter the UK. I’m not an expert on visa rules, especially with other citizenships, so you should check with the UK embassy. Your Canadian student visa might help you, but I’m not positive of this. Sorry I can’t help more!

  59. Margaret

    Hello Alo

    I am baffled at what the requirements are with the US. I am an Australian citizen and my husband is a British citizen. We are flying from Sydney on QF12 which stops at LAX for 90 minutes but apparently we won’t even have to get off the aircraft if we do not want to. We then fly to TOronto where we will be for 2.5 months. Following that we come into the US to DC and leave via JFK on April 2nd. The whole length of the trip is 98 days which can mean that we need an actual visa but since we do not enter the US until March 11th, our actual stay in the US is under 30 days which should mean that we do not need a visa. Some of my reading of the regulations indicate that the US would count our stay as starting the day that we land at LAX even though we do not enter the US at that time. Help, which is correct?

    Thank you for attempting to decipher this quagmire.

    Margaret

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Margaret, that’s a tough one! There are so few layovers where you don’t have to get off the plane! I think your best bet is to call the airline and find out for sure if you can stay on the plane in LAX and confirm whether or not this means you don’t go through customs. If you don’t go through customs, you won’t officially enter the US at that point. I’m sorry I can’t give you a definite answer on this one, I think you need someone with more authority and knowledge on these unique circumstances.

  60. Christie K

    Hi Ali! Great article.

    I was wondering – If I’m over-nighting in MIA (after int’l flight) before another international flight out of MIA, will I be able to take my bag with me during my layover and recheck it without any issues or will I have to pay to check the bag in again when I come back to the airport for my flight? Both trips are on the same airline so the bag is gonna be checked straight through. I may worded this really bad but if so could you help me figure it out?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Christie! In most cases, you have to claim your checked luggage when you land in the US & then recheck it. So theoretically you could take your luggage out of the airport & recheck it the next day for your next flight.

      However, some US airports are changing this policy for international layovers, meaning you would not claim your luggage in Miami if your next flight is international. My suggestion is to call the airline & see if they can explain the procedures there. The Miami airport website couldd be of some help too.

      In case you can’t get a definitive answer (& I’m sorry I can’t be 100% sure in this case) make sure anything you need for your overnight layover is in your carry-on.

  61. Jack

    Hi Ali, I recently booked flights with Delta departing from Manchester Airport, UK to Las Vegas with a 1h 35m layover in Atlanta. Although I booked the entire journey through Delta, the Manchester to Atlanta flight is operated by Virgin.

    I guess what I am wanting to know is when I get to Atlanta will I have to collect my bags a check them in again? It’s just a little confusing as I booked the entire journey with Delta but part of it it operated by Virgin, does this effect my checked baggage?

    Also is this long enough?

    Cheers,

    Jack.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Jack! Yes, you will have to claim & recheck your checked luggage in Atlanta. It has nothing to do with the airlines. You’ll go through customs & immigration right after landing in Atlanta, then pick up your checked baggage. Then look for the Delta luggage drop-off (though your bag will most likely already be tagged to go to Vegas) and go through security & your next gate.

      An hour 35 minutes does sound tight but not impossible. If you land at a busy time, you really might not make it, but if the passport & security lines are short, you’ll be fine. Sorry there’s just no way to know for sure. Check out my advice for dealing with a short layover here: 8 things to do if you think your layover is too short

  62. C.J.

    Your site has such a wealth of information. Thank you for sharing!

    I typically avoid layovers during travel. But I decided to be adventurous and booked a trip that has a 23 hr. layover in Panama. I was just curious, will I receive a passport stamp for Panama, since I’ll be leaving the airport to explore the city and get a room for the night? Thanks again!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi CJ! Yes, if you want to leave the Panama airport during your layover, you’ll have to go through customs & immigration first, & you’ll get a passport stamp into the country. Leave yourself plenty of time before your next flight because you’ll have to go through passport check again & get stamped out of Panama. Have a fun layover!

  63. Lisa

    Hello Ali,

    I am traveling to Lisbon and on the last three days of my trip i will be taking a mini trip to Barcelona. My question is, my flight from Lisbon to the USA leaves at 130pm. I was looking at a flight back from Barcelona to Lisbon (same day that I’m leaving to USA) that gets me to Lisbon airport at 11:15am on the same airline that will be taking me from Lisbon to USA. Since I am leaving the Schengen zone from Lisbon to come to USA would I have to clear security again, even though I did so in Barcelona? Would I have enough time to make it to my 130pm flight since it is with the same airline? I would only be bringing a carry on.

    Thanks for the help!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Lisa! When you fly from Barcelona to Lisbon, you’ll go through security in Barcelona but not passport check because flights within Schengen are like domestic flights in the US. When you get to Lisbon, you’ll go through passport check to get stamped out of Schengen. You will have to go through security again, but I think 2 hours 15 minutes should be plenty of time, especially with carry-on only.

  64. Sunil GC

    Hi Ali,
    I am student on F1 visa travelling to Miami from London and have overnight layover at Miami before travelling to Phoenix; can I go out of airport and visit miami city, since I already have visa. Miami my port of entry and this is my first time visit.
    Thanks,
    Sunil

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Sunil! I am not an expert on those types of visas, so you might want to verify this with someone who has more experience. But when you fly into the US, you go through passport control and customs at the first point of entry. So if you land in Miami first, even though your final destination is Phoenix, they are checking your visa and stamping you into the country. The visa allows you to be in the US, not restricted to Phoenix. So I don’t see a problem at all with you leaving the Miami airport for a few hours. You’ll probably have to claim and re-check your luggage though, so allow time for that too. You’ll claim your luggage while you’re still in the customs area. I hope that helps!

  65. Tracey

    Hi Ali
    I found your site extremely interesting as I have been trying to find some information about layovers. I am travelling alone from San Jose CA to heathrow with a connecting flight in Chicago. I only have 50 mins to make this connection. Will I have to collect my bags and recheck them and will I need to go through customs and immigration again. Both flights arrive and leave terminal 3 at O hare but I’m very nervous about missing the connecting flight. Any advice would be extremely helpful.
    Thanks

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Tracey! When you’re flying FROM the US to another country, it’s actually pretty simple. As long as your flights were both booked on one itinerary, the airline will tag your luggage to go all the way to Heathrow, so you won’t have to do anything with it in Chicago. You also won’t go through any formal customs and immigration checkpoints like you do when you’re flying out of most other countries. The ticket agent in San Jose will check your passport when you check in, and it’s possible another airline employee will want to check it in Chicago, but you won’t see any of the formalities the UK and Europe do. The fact that your first flight lands in terminal 3 and the next one departs from there as well helps a lot. O’Hare is a big airport and 50 minutes isn’t much time, but I think you’ll be ok if you don’t have to switch terminals. I don’t think you’ll have time to waste, but you should be ok.

  66. Jessica

    Hello,

    Your article was quite informative. However, I am perpetually confused on this stuff! I will be flying to Tokyo from MEM with connections at ORD and Vancouver. My question is: Will I have to collect my luggage and re-check it at any point? My flight is booked through Air Canada. Thanks!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Jessica! Is this the correct order: Tokyo – ORD – Vancouver – MEM? That sounds painful! The US and Canada both require you to go through passport control and customs at the first point of entry, as well as collect and recheck your luggage. Based on that, it appears you would have to do this in Chicago, Vancouver, and again in Memphis. If the order of your flights is actually Tokyo – Vancouver – Chicago – Memphis, you will have to do it in Vancouver and Chicago, but no passport control or customs in Memphis.

      However, some airports have been changing how they deal with checked luggage on international layovers. I recently flew to Atlanta from Europe, and they made an announcement that passengers connecting to another international flight did not have to claim and recheck their luggage (but they still had to go through customs). I have not yet been able to verify if that is a policy specific to the Atlanta airport or if this is something more broad that the US and possibly Canada might be changing.

      My best advice is to be prepared to go through customs and immigration (those are a definite) as well as claim and recheck your luggage (most likely) the first time you enter either country. I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions!

      1. Jessica

        Thank you for replying, but the order is reversed. I’ll actually be going from MEM > ORD > Vancouver > NRT. It still seems like I will be doing a lot of customs, etc.

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          Jessica, this will actually work a tiny bit easier for you. Your checked luggage will automatically transfer from MEM – ORD – Vancouver. In Vancouver, you will most likely have to pick up and recheck your luggage. You’ll also have to go through passport control and customs in Vancouver. But leaving the US isn’t a big thing with customs. The ticket agent in MEM will check your passport and print all your boarding passes, and you’ll hardly notice anything difference that you’re flying internationally at that point. Have a great trip!

  67. Sunita

    Hi,
    I’m flying from India directly to Newark NJ -Terminal C, & after a layover of 6 hours
    proceeding to RDU Raleigh Durham from Terminal A through the same airline.
    My question is whether I can exit the transit area to meet friends during the layover period?
    I will be getting both boarding passes when I check-in at India.
    Also will I be allowed to check-in my baggage after completing customs & immigration at NJ,
    if I am exiting the airport & checking in again at Terminal A for my onward flight.

    Thanks.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Sunita! Once you land in Newark, they will process you through customs and immigration and stamp you into the country, so you are free to exit the airport for a few hours if you would like. There isn’t really an official transit area like you’d find in a lot of other countries because once you land in the US, they count you as being there no matter how short. You will have to claim and recheck your luggage, and you should be able to recheck it right away once you’ve finished with customs. 6 hours isn’t a terribly long layover, so the only issue would be if there aren’t any employees at the Air India counter to take your luggage. Just make sure to leave yourself plenty of time to get back for your next flight, and enjoy!

      1. Sunita

        Thanks a lot for the extremely prompt reply…you have been very helpful.

  68. Rajesh Kumar

    Hello

    Please help me on this matter.

    I have a question for layovers. First let me give you my itinerary for the coming trip.

    FLIGHT L6 112 – MAURITANIAN AIRLINES INT FRI 21 AUGUST 2015
    —————————————————————————–
    DEPARTURE: NOUAKCHOTT, MR 21 AUG 07:00
    ARRIVAL: ABIDJAN, CI (F HOUPHOUET BOIGNY) 21 AUG 10:50
    FLIGHT BOOKING REF: L6/NM059
    RESERVATION CONFIRMED, ECONOMY (H) DURATION: 03:50
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE: 40K
    MEAL: MEAL
    STOP 1 NOUAKCHOTT TO BAMAKO
    STOP 2 BAMAKO TO ABIDJAN
    OPERATED BY: MAURITANIAN AIRLINES INT, L6
    EQUIPMENT: EMBRAER RJ145

    FLIGHT W3 391 – ARIK AIR FRI 21 AUGUST 2015
    —————————————————————————–
    DEPARTURE: ABIDJAN, CI (F HOUPHOUET BOIGNY) 21 AUG 13:35
    ARRIVAL: COTONOU, BJ (CADJEHOUN) 21 AUG 15:55
    FLIGHT BOOKING REF: W3/K5JM4B
    RESERVATION CONFIRMED, ECONOMY (T) DURATION: 01:20
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE: 30K
    NON STOP ABIDJAN TO COTONOU
    OPERATED BY: ARIK AIR, W3
    EQUIPMENT: CANADAIR REGIONAL JET 900

    FLIGHT(S) CALCULATED AVERAGE CO2 EMISSIONS IS 360.69 KG/PERSON
    SOURCE: ICAO CARBON EMISSIONS CALCULATOR
    http://www.icao.int/environmental-protection/CarbonOffset/Pages/default.aspx

    FLIGHT TICKET(S)
    —————————————————————————–
    TICKET: L6/ETKT 495 9362508393 FOR KUMAR/RAJESH
    TICKET: W3/ETKT 725 9362508394 FOR KUMAR/RAJESH

    So basically my question is, i have to travel by 2 different flights so i have to checkin my luggage again or they will change automatically in to 2nd plane.

    Please reply me.

    Thanks
    Rajesh Kumar

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Rajesh! Did you book these flights all together one itinerary, or as two separate itineraries? In other words, did you go to each airline separately and make two bookings, or were you able to book it all at once?

      If you booked this as one itinerary that just happens to be on two airlines, normally the first airline will be able to tag your luggage to go to your final destination, which means you would not have to collect or recheck your luggage during your layover.

      The other issue is if Mauritania Airlines has access to Arik Air’s system to be able to print your boarding pass and luggage tag for the second flight. Again, if you were able to book this all as one itinerary, they should be able to do it, especially the luggage tag.

      Unfortunately I’m not so familiar with these airlines, and their websites aren’t very helpful. I can’t find any information about partner airlines. If you’re all on one itinerary, I wouldn’t worry much about it, but if you really want to be certain how it will all work ahead of time, your best option is to call Mauritania Airlines and ask them if they will be able to print both boarding passes and tag your luggage to your final destination. Sorry I couldn’t be 100% certain in this situation, but I hope this helps put you at ease a little!

  69. Andrew

    hello

    i am flying to vancouver with a 6 hour stop in san francisco. what will i need to do ?
    im completly new to all of this.

    thanks

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Andrew! It depends on where you’re starting from. If you’re flying from somewhere in the US with a layover in San Francisco and then on to Vancouver, you won’t do anything special in San Francisco. When you check in for your first flight, the ticket agent will check your passport, but that’s about the only thing you’ll notice that’s any different from a regular domestic flight. Just look at the departures board in San Francisco and find the gate for your next flight. Your checked luggage will be tagged to Vancouver, assuming you’ve booked both flights together on one itinerary. You’ll go through customs and immigration in Vancouver.

      However, let’s say you’re flying from outside the US to San Francisco and then to Vancouver. You’ll have to go through customs and immigration in San Francisco, even though you’re not staying in the US. You will also most likely have to claim and recheck your luggage at that point. Again, look for your next flight/gate on the departures board, and again, you’ll go through customs and immigration once you land in Vancouver.

      I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions!

  70. Jen

    Hi I hope you can clarify something for me as you are an expert!
    I’m flying back to Australia from France transiting with Etihad in Abu Dhabi with a layover of 3.5 hrs. I hold a UK passport and during this transit it won’t have 6 months validity… I’ll be 5 days under! Am I able to connect or will I be stopped or denied boarding in France or Abu Dhabi?
    Australia have no issues according to their immigration dept but does the UAE?
    Thanks! Jen

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Jen! I don’t think you have to worry about it in this case. You will only be transiting through Abu Dhabi, so you won’t even go through customs there. Just look for the “transit” or “transfer” signs when you get off your first flight, and you’ll have to go through security again, but that’s about it. They’ll treat you as if you were never really in the country. So even if UAE does require 6 months validity, you’re not entering the country anyway. Happy travels!

  71. Steve

    Hi—I wanted to ask if you or heard anything more about what you mentioned in an earlier post about not having to collect baggage when flying in from a foreign county, landing in the US, and then connecting to another flight outside the US. You mentioned you were on a flight from Europe to Atlanta, and understood that individuals connecting to flights did not need to collect luggage but did need to clear customs/immigration. Any idea if this is true universally? Thanks.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Steve! It was pretty recent (May 2015) when I flew to Atlanta from Europe and heard the announcement that passengers connecting to INTERNATIONAL flights did not have to pick up their checked luggage, but passengers connecting to DOMESTIC flights did still have to collect and recheck their luggage. And in either situation, you will have to go through customs and immigration in the US.

      So far I haven’t been able to track down anything more concrete. My guess is that it’s more of an airport-by-airport thing based on how the airport is set up to handle things. But I’m going to keep researching and see what I can find, and I’ll update the layover posts when I have more definite info.

      For now, if you have a layover in the US but your journey didn’t start in the US and is not ending in the US, you should still plan on having to claim and re-check your luggage on your US layover, as well as clear customs and immigration.

      1. Steve

        Thank you. very much. I am a US citizen, and will be traveling from out of the country into LAX and changing planes to a flight to Canada. I have a long layover at LAX and was actually planning on meeting some family in LA (leaving the airport/terminal). Because of their size, I had planned to pack some gifts/etc. in my checked luggage, get them out when I arrived at LAX, recheck my bags, and then give the gifts to my family. Obviously, this won’t work if my bags are going to straight through to Canada.
        Thanks,
        Steve

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          I wish I could tell you for sure. Until I had that flight to Atlanta a few months ago, I would’ve said 100% you will have to claim your checked luggage. My gut instinct is that you will have to do that, but I’m just not 100% on it anymore. I would hate to tell you you’ll have to claim and re-check if it turns out that’s not the case. The LAX website is horrible and I can’t find info on there about dealing with checked luggage on an international layover. You could try calling the airline and asking them if they know how it works. I’m still trying to research this, and I think it might be just a policy with the Atlanta airport, but I’m still looking for confirmation one way or the other.

          1. Steve

            First—I genuinely appreciate the info/help you have provided. Since I made my last post, I also checked the LAX website (useless), but did call Customs at LAX. The official there told me that, yes, I will need to collect my checked bags, go through Customs, and then recheck them. Hopefully that is the most current and correct information. other than the experience you had on your Atlanta flight, I have not read or seen anything that would indicate that you do not have collect your checked baggage when arriving at a US airport. Guess I will find out for sure in a few weeks. Again, thanks for your help.

          2. Author
            Ali Garland

            Thanks for letting me know Steve! I think it must be something specific to the Atlanta airport, or even with Delta at the Atlanta airport. So it sounds like procedures are the same as they’ve been for years. You’ll go through customs and immigration and claim your luggage, go re-check it and find your next gate. Have a great trip!

  72. Sean Q

    Hi Ali

    Great site.

    I am flying from Cape Town to New York/JFK (via Dubai). I have an 8 hour layover in New York before I fly to Detroit.

    Can I go through security and customs and visit the city for the day and then come back later for my flight. I am due back in New York 2 days later, staying for a week before flying back to Cape Town from JFK via Dubai again.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Sean! Actually, you will be required to go through customs once you land in NYC, regardless of your final destination. So yes, you can leave the airport and visit the city after that if you want, just make sure you leave yourself PLENTY of time to get back to the airport and through security to make your next flight. Also, you will have to claim and recheck your luggage in JFK, so try to do that before you leave the airport so you don’t have to lug it through the city with you.

      If you decide to do this again on your way back to Cape Town, your luggage should be tagged to go the whole way and you won’t have to do anything with it at JFK. Have a great trip, and let me know if you have any other questions!

  73. ines

    I am going from frankfurt to jfk arriving at 1:25 then i have to leave from newark new jersey at 445 pm to chicago. Will i have to pick up my checke baggage at jfk and take it with me to newark? Is that enough time to get to the other airport?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Ines, this is a tough one! Having to switch airports on a layover can be a nightmare! When you land in JFK, you will have to clear customs and immigration. Yes, you will have to claim your checked luggage, and since your next flight is out of Newark, you will have to take it with you and check it in again in Newark. Your layover is 3 hours 20 minutes, which I think is a bit tight considering you have to deal with customs and immigration plus change airports. Check here for info on getting between the two airports, just scroll down to where it says JFK to Newark: http://www.panynj.gov/airports/jfk-airport-connections.html I think it’s possible for you to have enough time, but it’s a really close call. If your flight from Frankfurt is delayed even a little, or if there are long lines at customs, or if there is a lot of traffic on the way to Newark, you could miss your flight. Consider calling the airline and seeing what it would take to get a later flight out of Newark, or even if you could switch to a flight that leaves from JFK. Good luck and have a great trip!

  74. Tina

    I am going to be booking flights from Las Vegas to the Galapagos Islands via Panama City, Panama & Guayaquil, Ecuador. Using COPA air from Las Vegas to Guayaquil then TAM air to get to Galapagos. The layover in Panama City is a short 1 hour or 3 hour. Will I need to go through customs & re check my luggage while in Panama? Then there is an overnight layover in Guayaquil where we plan to get a hotel room and stay the night. The final leg of the flight is on a different airline, will we need to get our luggage while in Guayaquil or can we leave it at the airport? Then finally on the way home we are doing the same only the short layover will be in Guayaquil and the overnight will be in Panama City.

    I know that’s a lot of questions but I just want to be informed when booking the flights to know how much time will be needed for layovers & choosing flight times.

    Thank you so much!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Tina, no worries! If your flight from Vegas to Panama City is on the same itinerary as your flight from Panama City to Guayaquil (meaning you booked them together) then the airline should be able to print both boarding passes and tag your luggage to Guayaquil. Which means you shouldn’t have to deal with customs in Panama. In most countries (besides the US) you just look for “transit” or “transfer” signs, go through security, and look for your next gate. This is because you’re not staying in that country, Panama in your case. So they basically treat you as if you were never there. They will also transfer your luggage from the first to the second flight.

      When you get to Guayaquil, it sounds like you have a completely separate flight for the Galapagos. You will go through customs and immigration, and you will need to collect your luggage. Since your flight isn’t until the next day, I doubt they’ll let you check in your luggage, so you’ll have to take it with you to your hotel.

      On the way home, if your flight to Guayaquil is separate from the Guayaquil-Panama City-Vegas flights, you’ll have to claim and re-check your luggage in Guayaquil, but then it’ll be tagged back to Vegas. You’ll go through Panama City the same way as on your way to Ecuador.

      I would personally choose the Panama City layover that’s 3 hours. One hour might be enough, but it doesn’t take much delay for that to be too short. It takes time to de-plane, find the transit section, get through security, and find your next gate, plus boarding probably starts 30-45 minutes before the flight takes off.

      As for your layover in Guayaquil on the way home, try to leave yourself at least 2-3 hours. You’ll have to de-plane, collect your checked luggage, check in for your next flight, go through passport control to be stamped out of the country, go through security, and find your gate. Always better to have extra time to wait instead of rushing and potentially missing your flights.

      I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions. And enjoy, should be an amazing trip!

  75. Hannah

    Hi, so next week I leave from nashville to Seattle with a layover in Charlotte. The layover is only 47 minutes long and I am kind of nervous it won’t be enough time, I’m only 19 and this is my first flight alone and first layover. So one question is will I find out my gates and everything when I get my boarding pass? like I didn’t know if there was any way to get that information before. Also I’m doing all carry on so my stuff will be transported for me? Right. The article was helpful, just a few questions because I’m terribly nervous. Thanks!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Hannah! A 47 minute layover in Charlotte is a little on the short side, but as long as you don’t waste any time, I think you’ll be ok. Traveling with only carry-on means you’re not checking luggage, so anything you have with you, you will carry from one flight to the next. I think it’s great because the airline can’t lose your luggage, and with a slightly short layover, you won’t have to worry about your bags making the switch.

      Sometimes the airline will be able to tell you your connecting gate ahead of time, but not often. When you check in for your first flight, they’ll print both boarding passes, and it might be printed on there. If not, ask the flight attendant on your first flight if they have any connecting gate information. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. If they don’t, when you land in Charlotte, just look for one of the big departures boards and find your flight. Sometimes there’s even a gate agent standing around when you get off the plane, and they can help too. Just don’t be afraid to ask for help, that’s what they’re there for.

      Try not to be nervous. I totally understand, I’ve been there, but you’ll be fine! Enjoy your trip, and let me know if you have any other questions!

  76. bobby

    hi we are taking a plane from quebec city to calgary canada we have a 1 hour layover in toronto any tips on how and if its enough time to catch the other plane thank you

  77. PAK

    Hello, I just wanted to make sure I am thinking of something the right way. I am traveling as follows:

    Boston > Madrid > Rome and then Rome > Madrid > Boston (both to and from Rome are on the same airline and all legs were booked together)

    On the layover in Madrid, we will go through immigration, and get our “enter stamp” into the Schengen territory. We will also need to get our checked bags, go through customs, and re-check them. When in Rome, no Immigration or customs will need to be gone through. Is this correct so far?

    When returning home, we will go from Rome to Madrid as if it is a domestic flight with regular security checks. In Madrid, we will need to retrieve our checked bags, go through immigration to get the “exit stamp” out of the Schengen, go through customs and re-check the bags.

    Hopefully that makes sense. Is my thinking correct? I need to be sure, as 2 of us will be traveling with 2 passports (1 USA, 1 EU), so we need to know when we are actually entering and exiting the EU.

    Any advice/comments you have would be great!

    Thanks.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Pak! On your layover in Madrid, you will go through customs and immigration and get stamped into the Schengen Zone. But you will not have to pick up your luggage. The airline will tag it to Rome since you’re booked on one itinerary. You will claim your luggage once you arrive in Rome.

      When you’re leaving Rome, your flight from Rome to Madrid will be sort of like a domestic flight with security, and no customs checks. You will not have to claim your luggage in Madrid – again, it will be tagged back to Boston. In Madrid, you will go through passport check and security again. You’ll claim your luggage in Boston after going through US customs and immigration.

      So you will officially enter and exit the Schengen zone in Madrid. I hope that helps, but let me know if you have any other questions!

  78. Marita

    My husband is not allowed in Canada. I booked flights and didn’t realize there was a layover in Toronto. Can he still take this flight?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Marita, it is my understanding that he would need to have permission to enter Canada since Canada (like the US) makes everyone, even passengers connecting to international flights, go through customs and immigration. But these kinds of visa situations are not my expertise, so I recommend that you contact the Canadian embassy and ask them how this works. Sorry!

  79. Sarah

    Hi, Although I’m a seasoned traveller, I’m starting to panic a bit about a transit through Melbourne Airport.

    I will be flying from Auckland to Hong Kong with a 2 hour stopover in Melbourne. I booked the flight with Qantas as an Auckland – Hong Kong flight, so I’m assuming they will be classed as one flight and my bag will be checked through. I’m also assuming I will not need a transit visa as I am a UK citizen, will not be leaving the airport, and be there for less than 8 hours.

    The only caveat for the visa I’m not sure of is whether I will need to pass through customs to board my second plane. Again I’m assuming not, but I can’t see any info that says yes or no.

    Any information you have would be really useful. Thanks

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Sarah! Yes, if you booked your flights together on one itinerary, your luggage should be tagged to go all the way to Hong Kong, no need to claim and recheck in Melbourne. According to this https://www.border.gov.au/Lega/Lega/Form/Immi-FAQs/do-i-need-a-visa-to-transit-through-australia you will not need a transit visa. In most countries, you just look for “transit” or “transfer” signs, go through security, and look for your next gate. I’m not 100% positive Australia does it that way, but even if they don’t, as long as you show them your boarding pass for the MEL – HKG flight, that should be enough to prove you aren’t staying long enough to require a visa. I don’t think you have anything to worry about for your flights. Enjoy your trip, and let me know if I can help with anything else!

  80. Alyssa

    Hi Ali! I’m glad I stumbled upon your site. Definitely bookmarking for future references 🙂

    I have an issue I’d like to clarify in regards to my upcoming trip..I was wondering if I could get your input on how to go about it.
    I will be flying from LAX to TLV (Ben Gurion) through Lufthansa, and I have a 5hr (and 30min) layover in Munich, Germany. I currently hold a Philippine passport, but am a permanent resident here in the U.S.
    Is it necessary for me to obtain some sort of visa for this trip/layover though I have no plans of leaving the airport in Munich?

    Any piece of advice you’ll be imparting is thoroughly appreciated. Thank you!!

    Aly

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Aly! In general, if you’re not staying in the Schengen Zone (which Germany is part of) you should not need a visa. You will look for signs that say “transit” or “transfer” and go through security again, but you won’t go through customs and immigration, and you won’t get stamped into or out of Germany/Schengen. However, citizens of certain countries are required to have transit visas to pass through the Schengen Zone. It looks like the Philippines is not one but I’m having a hard time finding concrete info on this, especially with your US permanent residency, which might make things easier for you. I think your best option here is to contact the German embassy in the US and ask them. Sorry I couldn’t give you a more definite answer on this one!

  81. Irma

    Hi Ali! Great information you have provided I just have one question. I have a flight in December leaving from San Francisco,CA to Morelia, Mex with an 8 hour layover in Mexico City. I have family there that I will visit for a bit. My question is, are there any times when you are not able to leave the airport during a layover? I really don’t want to get there and not be able to go outside especially with a 5 year old.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Irma! As far I can tell, the airport is open 24 hours. They can’t really prevent you from leaving the airport. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to get back to the airport and through security again to make your next flight. Here’s some good info on transport options to and from the airport: http://www.toandfromtheairport.com/mexicocity.html I hope that answers your question, but let me know if I can help with anything else!

  82. Claire

    Hi there! Thanks for the helpful info. We are deciding between flights from Cleveland – London Heathrow with a layover in Philadelphia on American, or with a layover in JFK on Virgin Atlantic. My question is about immigrations, customs and retrieving luggage. When we called American about the CLE-PHL-LHR flight, they said that we don’t do immigration and customs until we are in the UK. When we called Virgin Atlantic, they said immigrations/customs are done in JFK before going on the plane to the UK since this is the final US stop before going abroad. We are so confused! Where will we do customs and immigration? Will luggage need to be picked up at our second US destination and rechecked before we go to London? Thank you for your guidance!!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Claire! I think the two airlines just had different understandings of your question. When you depart from the US on an international flight, the ticket agent will check your passport at check-in, but there isn’t any official customs and immigration checkpoint, and you won’t get stamped out of the US. It’s possible an airline employee will check your passport again at your layover airport since that’s when you’re getting on the international flight, but it’s no big thing. Once you land in London, you will stand in line to go through customs and immigration and get stamped into the country. Also, your luggage will get tagged from CLE to LHR, you will not have to pick it up on your layover.

      On your way back to the US, things are a bit different. You will go through passport control in London and get stamped out of the UK. When you land in the US (PHL or JFK, doesn’t matter which) you will go through US customs and immigration and get stamped into the US. You will also have to pick up your checked luggage and re-check it before continuing onto your next flight.

      I don’t think it matters which flight you choose, as long as you feel comfortable with the amount of time for the layover. You’ll need more time on your layover returning to the US because of customs and immigration and re-checking your luggage.

      I hope that helps, but let me know if you have any other questions!

  83. Anita

    Hi,

    Great website – I have a quick question..

    I am travelling with American airlunes from London to Vegas with a 4 hour layover in Los Angeles. When I get to LA will I need to reclaim my luggage and check in again?

    On the returning flight I also have a 3 hour layover in LA again..will I have to reclaim baggage here and check in or will the baggage automatically get put on the flight going to London?

    Thanks!

    Thanks

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Anita! When you fly from London to LAX to Vegas, you will go through US customs and immigration in LAX, and you will have to claim and re-check your luggage before continuing to your LAX to Vegas flight. On the return, your luggage will get tagged all the way to London, so no need to claim or re-check in LAX. Let me know if you have any other questions, and have a great time in Vegas!

  84. Sharda

    Hello Ali!

    I am flying from outside the US headed to Rochester in New York. I booked under one airline goinng from Houston (IAH) to Newark (EWR) to Rochester (ROC). I know that I have to go through customs and then pick up my checked luggage in Houston and then re-check my luggage.

    All flights are with the same airline, however I have to change terminals in Newark (Terminal C to Terminal A). My question is, when i re-check my luggage in Houston, will I need to pick it up again in Newark or will it go straight to Rochester?

    My other question is, if the baggage indeed goes direct to the final destination automatically (ROC), is there any way to intercept it so that i can retrieve it in Newark and have it with me on the layover?? How would that work? if this can be done, would doing this cause delay?

    Thanks!!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Sharda! Correct, you will have to claim and re-check your luggage in Houston. At that point, it will be checked all the way to Rochester. You won’t be able to pick it up in Newark, unless *maybe* you could get the ticket agent in Houston to only tag it to go to Newark, and then you would have to check it in again in Newark. But that also means having to leave the secured area in Newark to get to baggage claim and recheck the bag for the Newark-Rochester flight. I’m not even sure if the ticket agent would be able to do this though, since technically the luggage is supposed to follow you and your flights. If there’s something you need in the bag, you’re better off having it in your carry-on, unless of course it’s something that isn’t allowed in carry-on baggage. I hope that helps!

      1. Sharda

        Thanks Ali! This was very helpful! I love this website! So glad I found it! 🙂

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          Thank you Sharda! I’m glad you love Travel Made Simple, and I’m happy to help!

  85. Jen

    Hi Ali! Wonderful article. Thank you for the great information. I’m somewhat of a newbie flyer, but have racked up quite a few miles this year. I’m about to embark on my first domestic flight with a layover, traveling from Dulles to LAX and stopping in Denver for an hour and 17 minutes. Does this seem like enough time? I have been to the Denver airport before and remember it being quite big and confusing (but then again, I was a nervous newbie) 🙂 Would I need to go through security again, do you think?

    Thanks again for your help!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Jen! For a domestic layover in Denver, an hour and 17 minutes should be enough time. It is a big airport, but it looks like the terminals are well connected. Here’s some info about the airport: http://denver-den.worldairportguides.com/index.php Look at the links there for terminal info and airline info. You should be able to determine which terminal you first flight will land in and where the next flight will depart from, and maybe you won’t even have to change terminals. Here’s a link to a map of the airport: http://www.flydenver.com/maps/ It looks a little strange at first, but if you zoom in and out, you can see more detail. It looks like there is one security checkpoint for all gates, so even if you have to change from A to B or something, you shouldn’t have to go through security again. Let me know if you have any other questions, and enjoy your trip!

  86. Jen

    Hi Ali! Thank you so much for your quick and helpful reply, and for the links! The Denver airport reminds me a little of a shopping mall in how it’s set up. So I was pretty convinced I’d get lost! I’m relieved to know I won’t have to go through security again. Appreciate your help 🙂

  87. Lou

    Hi Ali,
    Great website very informative.
    My question is we are travelling in December 2015 from Sydney Australia to Toronto Canada. We have a 10 hour layover in Vancouver arriving Vancouver at 7.25am and departing Vancouver at 17:45. Are we able to leave the airport and explore the city of Vancouver and how much time will we need to do this? As our flights are all booked on the same Itinerary I am taking it we don’t have to collect luggage from Baggage claim and put into lockers? Appreciate your assistance. 🙂

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Lou! Yes, you can leave the airport and explore Vancouver during your layover. When you land in Vancouver, you will have to go through customs and immigration, so you’ll be stamped into Canada at that point. But as far as I know, you will have to claim your luggage and re-check it. (The US and Canada are just about the only countries that make you do this at the first point of entry into the country.) You should be able to re-check your luggage right after customs and immigration though. I’d recommend getting back to the airport at least an hour or so before your flight to Toronto. You’ll have to go through security again, so make sure you have enough time. Plus calculate in the amount of time it takes to get back to the airport. Check out http://toandfromtheairport.com for info on transport options. Enjoy your trip!

  88. Tess

    Hi Ali,

    I’m travelling from LAX-Hongkong-Manila with a layover of 2 hrs. and 15min. in Hongkong with both flights taking the same Airline-Cathay Pacific (ticket purchase online). Am I correct that the Airline will tag my check in luggage to Manila and I don’t need to claim my luggage at Hongkong Airport?

    Is the 2 hrs and 15 minutes layover enough to transfer my luggage to my next plane and also enough time for me to get to the boarding area (transit/pass thru security, etc.) for my flight to Manila?

    Thanks.

    Tess

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Tess! Yes, your luggage should be tagged to go all the way to Manila, no need to collect it in Hong Kong. And yes, I think 2 hours 15 minutes should be enough time for your layover. If your flights were both booked together on one itinerary, Cathay Pacific should be able to print both of your boarding passes in LAX, so when you get to Hong Kong, you should only have to look for the “transit” or “transfer” signs, go through security again, and find your next gate. Enjoy your trip!

  89. Suzie

    Hi Ali

    I am so pleased that I found your website!

    We are travelling back from Hawaii to LHR via LAX (Delta / Virgin partnership) with a 16 hour stopover in LA (arriving early am and leaving late pm). Will we need to collect and re-check our bags at LAX or will they be checked through to LHR?

    Planning on heading out from the airport for the day – any suggestions on what to do / where to go? We will be meeting friends later in the day probably at Santa Monica.

    Many thanks

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Suzie! Since your flight starts in Hawaii, you shouldn’t have to collect your luggage in LAX. Your checked bags should be tagged to go through to London. Verify that with Delta when you check in for your first flight, but since Delta and Virgin are operating with a partnership, they should be able to tag your luggage to London, as well as print both of your boarding passes.

      There are tons of things to do/see in LA depending on your interests. (I haven’t been there in *years* so I don’t think I’m much help there.) Maybe do a search for top things to do in LA, and see what your options are. Also, look at transport options if you’re not renting a car. I found this site that might be helpful: http://www.discoverlosangeles.com/blog/los-angeles-public-transit and the LA transit site is http://www.metro.net. Make sure you allow plenty of time to get back to the airport for your flight to London. Check out http://toandfromtheairport.com for info on that.

      Enjoy your trip!

  90. Andrew

    Hello!

    First time flying with a layover and I will only have one carry on backpack with my laptop and some clothes for the week.

    I am flying on Delta PHX -> ATL, then ATL -> PBI with an hour and a half layover in ATL. On the way back I am flying US Airways PBI -> CLT and then CLT -> PHX with a 39 minute layover in CTL.

    Looking at both airlines it will be a $25 fee for my carry on bag. Will I have to pay this fee twice on a single trip, with a total of four times ($100) for the entire trip? Or will it only be a one time fee each way ($50 total)?

    I can’t find anything on their websites regarding carry on fees with layovers…

    Cheers,
    Andrew

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Andrew! If you’re traveling with just carry-on bags, no checked luggage, there shouldn’t be any baggage fees. The $25 fee you’re seeing is for checked luggage. I hope that helps, but let me know if you have any other questions, and enjoy your trip!

      1. Andrew

        Hey Ali,

        According to US Airways website their checked bags and carry on bag, policies are aligned. This makes me think it’s $25 for my first carry on and $35 for the second.

        http://www.usairways.com/en-US/traveltools/baggage/baggagepolicies.html

        I flew Frontier the other day to DEN and was not charged for my first carry on even though their website says it is $30. While at the gate they announced if you had a 2nd carry on, and did not have a “blue” mark on your boarding pass you were going to be charged $60 at the gate before they let you board the plane.

        Does these airlines love making traveling a headache or something? 🙂

        I’ll be cramming everything into my backpack for the trip out there. I’m preparing to pay $50 for the whole trip, but hopefully I don’t have to!

        I’ll let you know how it goes.

        Cheers,
        Andrew

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          Hi Andrew! I think US Airways has worded that page poorly. They’re saying their baggage policies are now aligned with American Airlines’ policies since the airlines are combining. If you click on the carry-on tab on that chart, it shows the info for bringing carry-ons. Frontier charges for some carry-on bags because they are a low cost carrier. And yes, they sure do like making travel a headache!

          I don’t think you have to worry about being charged for any carry-on luggage on this trip, unless your carry-on is bigger than then allowable amount and they have to check it.

  91. zia

    hi ali, so glad i found this forum because this is very informative.
    anyways, i need clarification on layovers in US. We (party of 3) are in US for the first from mid Nov til early January so i booked all our domestic flights with delta. The problem is delta changed our flight times so many times i had a hard time keeping up and now getting nervous with our schedule changes because of short layover time.
    The two flight times im worried at:
    We leave fresno to orlando with a 1 hour & 5 minutes layover in Salt lake city
    from quebec, canada to california with a layover in JFk 1hour 10 minutes.

    My question is : Is the layover time sufficient enough specially the one in new york?
    how do we go through the process of transit/transfer ?
    do we need to go thru customs/immigration,claim our luggages , checked in and go thru security again?

    Im so worried/nervous that 1 hour wont be long enough to catch our connecting flights since from my understanding specially JFK airport is a huge/busy airport.

    thanks in advance and looking forward to your reply.

    1. zia

      additional question : how far are the terminals from each other? i searched salt lake ciity but am still skeptic and im on the verge of panicking already. and do you have any idea if i can dispute the flight changed with delta since im not amenable with it? thanks again.

      zia

      1. Author
        Ali Garland

        Hi again! Yes, I think you should definitely call Delta and try to get your flights changed. I don’t think the Salt Lake City layover is as much of a problem, but I don’t like the JFK layover, especially if you are NOT starting in Montreal or another airport that has US customs. I hope this helps, and good luck! Try not to panic though. Absolute worst case, you might have to pay a fee to change your flights to something you’re more comfortable with. Enjoy your trip!

    2. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Zia! I’m so sorry Delta has changed your flights so many times! Sometimes when they change flight times, you can tell them the new times/flights don’t work for you and you can often change your flight without charge. So that’s one option, maybe there’s a flight that has a better layover time for you.

      I don’t think Salt Lake City is a super big airport (though it’s not tiny either) so I don’t think 1 hour 5 minutes is so bad. You don’t want to waste any time, but I think you’ll be ok on that one. Here’s a link to several airport terminal maps for the Salt Lake City airport: http://www.slcairport.com/airport-terminal-maps.asp

      The layover in JFK does sound short since it’s an international flight. What city in Quebec are you flying out of? (Quebec is the province, not a city.) If it’s Montreal, it looks like you will clear US customs and immigration while you’re still Montreal: http://www.cbp.gov/border-security/ports-entry/operations/preclearance But if it’s Quebec City, it doesn’t look like they have that service at the moment. So if your flight is from Montreal, you won’t have to worry about customs and immigration during your layover, and I’m almost positive you would not have to claim and re-check luggage in JFK. In that case, you might be ok with 1 hour 10 minutes, though that’s still short for JFK. If you’re leaving from Quebec City, you’ll have to go through customs and immigration in JFK, and you will have to claim and re-check luggage. In that case, I really don’t think an hour and 10 minutes is enough time for your layover. If that is your situation, you should definitely call Delta and see what you can do about getting an earlier 1st flight or a later 2nd flight.

    3. Author
      Ali Garland

      I just got confirmation from a few people who have flown from Canada and cleared customs there, with connecting flights in the US, and their flight was treated like a domestic flight, so they did not have to claim and recheck luggage on their layover in the US. So this applies to you if you’re flying out of Montreal, but not Quebec City.

  92. Kay Gouwens

    Wow! This is great information. So forgive me for asking something you’ve probably answered already. I have purchased tickets on British Air from Seattle to Rome. From there, without leaving the airport, I want to fly on to Catania, Sicily, probably on Atailia. I haven’t purchased that ticket yet. How much time should I allow in Rome between flights for Passport control and such? (My flight to Rome stops in London for a long layover, but Rome is my first European city.) Thanks, Kay

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Kay! Since your flight from Seattle to Rome will be on a separate itinerary/booking from your flight from Rome to Catania, you will have to collect and recheck any checked luggage you take with you. You might be able to check in for that flight online and print your boarding pass ahead of time (if you can’t, you’ll also have to check in at the Rome airport) but you’ll still need to find a baggage drop counter at the Rome Airport. To be on the safe side, and considering you have to go through customs and immigration in Rome, I’d allow at least 3 hours for your layover there. It could end up being too much time if the lines move quickly, but I always think it’s better to have too much time than not enough. Also, when you start looking at tickets for Rome-Catania, keep in mind there are 2 airports in Rome. I assume you are landing in FCO, so make sure you also book Rome-Catania from FCO, not CIA. Let me know if you have any other questions, and have a great trip!

  93. Mary

    Hi Ali,
    I’d like to ask since this is my first time travelling with a lay over flight. I’ll be travelling to Auckland via two different airlines which I booked separately. First is via Cebu pacific air from Manila to Singapore then via Air NZ from SG to Auckland. I’m quite aware that I would need to undergo immigration and customs once I arrive in SG then check in again for my flight to Auckland. I’m just quite confused if we should state in our Immigration departure card in the Phils that our country of destination would be NZ or SG since we will only be able to get our boarding passes to SG. Thank you in advance.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Mary, I would put New Zealand as your final destination since you’re not staying in Singapore. And don’t forget to pick up your checked luggage in Singapore and re-check it for the next flight. Have a great trip!

  94. Erica Villa

    Hello Ali! I would just like to ask regarding my plans on travelling to Colombia. I’m from the Philippines and I’m planning to visit Colombia on my Semester break this coming last week of October for just 2 weeks. I’ve searched for flights online but there is always a connecting flight in the US.

    For example, Manila to China, China to LAX California, then from LAC Cali to Colombia. But the layover in LAX is just for 3 HOURS. I just wanted to know if I still need to Have a VISA for this 3 hour layover in LAX California? Thank you in advance!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Erica! Unfortunately, if you come from a country that is required to get a visa to visit the US, you will be required to have one for a layover. The US processes EVERYONE through customs and immigration, even if you’re not staying in the US. Here is some info on US transit visas: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/other/transit.html

      I don’t know what dates you’re traveling, but I did a quick search and found a couple of options that go Manila to Amsterdam to Panama City to Bogota. But it is a lot more expensive. The only other thing I can think of is seeing if there’s a way to book two separate flights that allow you to avoid flying through the US. Like maybe flying to Sydney or Auckland on one itinerary and from there fly to Colombia. But that could also end up being more expensive and more time consuming, and you would have to claim and recheck any checked luggage, which means you’ll have to pass through customs and immigration too.

      Also, make sure you check the visa requirements of other countries you’re traveling through. Most don’t require transit visas, but I am not a visa expert.

      1. Erica Villa

        Thank you so much for the infos! <3 but how much did you find when the trip is from manila to amsterdam to panama and to bogota? Around how much is it if i leave from around october 23 and go back on nov 20?

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          It was on KLM and COPA, but it was more than US$2500. Also try one of the bigger booking sites like Skyscanner or Expedia, and just keep searching through the options until you get to ones that don’t include stops in the US. But as I mentioned, they’re coming up much more expensive. It probably isn’t worth an additional $1000-$1500 to avoid flying through the US unless you *can’t* get a US transit visa. Good luck with your search, and have a great trip to Colombia!

  95. Kelsie

    Hi I have a question,

    I leave to study abroad in London in 5 Days. I am leaving from Seattle to NY (JFK) then NY to London. I’ve traveled internationally before but over 5 years ago and I was not alone. I Know that I booked my flight with Virgin Atlantic. My first flight (Sea to JFK) is through Virgin Atlantic but the itinerary says that single flight is Operated by Delta. Im assuming this means that they are partners? Then my flight from NY to London is operated by Virgin Atlantic. Does this mean that I will get both of my tickets when I check in at Seattle? And if not, how do I go from arrivals gate to another Kiosk to check in to get my other ticket? Will I have to go through security again? Thanks!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Kelsie! Yes, you should get both boarding passes when you check in for your first flight. If for some reason they can’t print your second one, look for a Virgin Atlantic counter in JFK when you get off the first flight, but in the secured area. There are counters within the secured area at most airports, especially the bigger ones like JFK. I doubt you’ll need that though. You booked your flights together on one itinerary, and the two airlines are partners enough to coordinate the flights, so they should be able to print both boarding passes. Let me know if you have any other questions, and enjoy your study abroad trip!

  96. Hasan

    Hello,

    What about baggage allowance? For my international flight I’m allowed 2 carryons but does this apply to both my domestic flight and layover (Same company from BOS->LAX->MEL)

    Thanks

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Hasan! Usually (but not always) the airline will let you have the international baggage allowance even for your domestic flight as long as they are all on one itinerary. But you should always check with the airline to be sure. Check the carry-on size chart here for your airline, and when you click on the airline, it’ll bring you to a page with info about that airline’s carry-on restrictions. There’s a link in there to the baggage info section on the airline’s website. I hope that helps, and enjoy your trip!

      1. Hasan

        Thanks for the reply Ali, I’m flying Qantas/American Airlines (codeshare), however there will be a 3 hour layover, I’ve contacted American Airlines but it has been over a week with no reply. You wouldn’t happen to know the specifics in regard to this/these airlines would you?

        Thanks

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          I’m sorry, I don’t know the specifics for how American Airlines handles this. I’m guessing if you’re allowed two carry-ons for Qantas that you’re flying first/business/premium economy, which allows more than economy. It doesn’t look like American Airlines has that sort of allowance. Unfortunately I don’t know which way they will go on this rule, so the only thing I can tell you is to contact American. Try calling their customer service number if they haven’t responded to email.

  97. Rukshan

    Hello, I have a question,

    I’m travelling to Indonesia from Bahrain, I’m also travelling to Singapore from Indonesia during the same period However, my return flight to Bahrain (Emirates) is from Indonesia which means I have to fly back to Indonesia from Singapore (Lion Air). It will be a 3hr Layover. Therefore in order to claim baggage from the Lion Air Flight and Recheck it to Emirates do I need a VISA because i have to go through immigration? Indonesia does not issue Transit Visa.

    I hope this is not confusing. Dates are as follows,
    21st Bahrain – Indonesia
    27th Indonesia – Singapore
    2nd Singapore – Indonesia
    2nd Indonesia – Bahrain.

    Lastly I’m a Sri Lankan. Please advice if possible.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      I’m not an expert on visas, so I’m not sure I’m going to be much help here. You’re going to Indonesia for a few days at the beginning of your trip, so do you need a visa for that? Check if it’s valid for more than one entry. If it’s only valid for one entry, you will probably need another one for your Singapore – Indonesia – Bahrain flights because that’s the only way you’ll be able to get to baggage claim. You should check with the Indonesian embassy to be sure though. Sorry I can’t give you a definite answer!

  98. Jay

    Hello,
    I am a Indian Citizen planning to go to Mexico from India via Amsterdam, my doubt is regarding the layover , transit visa and luggage check in.

    If i checkin my luggage to final destination as Mexico city do i need to recheck luggage as my layover will be around 4-5 hr in Amsterdam. While return for Mexico City to India i will be having a layover of more than 12hours in this case i am not planning to step out of airport should i need to recheck the luggage and need to transit visa. with my searching i found in the Netherlands Embassy India website, they have mentioned transit visa is not required for Indian nationals when changing flights.

    Please advice me.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Jay! Your luggage should be tagged to go from your starting point all the way to your final destination, no need to claim or recheck it during your layover. (The US and Canada are about the only countries that make you do that.) Unfortunately I’m not an expert on visas, but I found some info about Schengen Zone (the area of Europe that the Netherlands is in) transit visas here: http://www.schengenvisainfo.com/transit-schengen-visa/ It lists India as a country that is required to get a visa to visit a country in the Schengen Zone, so it looks like you might need a transit visa. Look around that site to see if you can find the info you need, and contact the Netherlands Embassy if you need help.

  99. Susan

    We’re leaving from KC and flying to CLT and then to MBJ. (same flight #) so are we required to get off the plane at CLT and go back through check-in and security, etc. or can we just stay on the plane (as we only have an hour layover)?

    Same flight pattern on way back – only different flight # – so I assume we will need to go through security and check-in.

    Thank you.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Susan! I’m guessing KC is Kansas City, and MBJ appears to be Jamaica. The only reason you would have to go through security in CLT is if you have to change terminals and you have to leave the secured area to get from one terminal to another. Having the same flight number on both flights doesn’t guarantee you’ll be on the same airplane, though there is a good chance that could happen. Either way, there’s a good chance you’ll have to get off the plane, even if you’re not switching planes. But if you are just getting back on the same plane, you won’t have to go anywhere except into the gate waiting area. If you are switching planes, and you have to change terminals, here’s a map of CLT that could be helpful: http://www.ifly.com/charlotte-douglas-international-airport/terminal-map

      Another thing you can do to check ahead of time is go to CLT’s website and look up your flight number. If it shows the flight landing at one gate and taking off from another for today (it’s unlikely you can look up beyond yesterday, today, or tomorrow) then it’ll probably be the same when you take your trip.

      On the way back to the US, you will definitely have to get off the plane because you will have to go through customs and immigration, claim and re-check your luggage, and go through security again. You shouldn’t have to check in for the second flight though. When you check in for your first flight, they will give you both boarding passes.

      Let me know if you have any other questions, and enjoy your trip!

  100. The Aspiring Digital Nomad

    Wow, thank you so much for this. I was just randomly looking for more information on layover and travelling with checked bags – as I usually travel only carry-on – and I saw the bit in your post about ‘transit visa’. Lord, I’d never heard of such a thing. Almost had a heart attack as I have an upcoming flight that transits in a destination ive never been. Anyway, all clear and I don’t need one, but I have learnt of something else to check for during my travels. Invaluable. Thank you

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks! Yeah, luckily transit visas aren’t terribly common. Happy travels!

  101. Olga

    Hello Ali, I booked flight for my Mom from Moscow to Cancun and she will have 5 hour layover in JFK . She is Ukrainian citizen ( doesn’t speak English) Can you please tell me does she need transit visa,? Would she need re-check her luggage?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Olga! I’m not an expert with visas, but in general if certain nationalities are required to get a visa to visit the US, they also need a transit visa to pass through the US. I don’t see Ukraine listed for the visa waiver program, which means your mom would need a visa. Start here for info: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/other/transit.html

      Once she lands in JFK, she will have to go through passport check/immigration and customs and pick up her checked luggage. She will have to re-check her luggage and go through security again before getting to her next gate.

      You can see a sample US customs form here: http://www.cbp.gov/travel/us-citizens/sample-declaration-form Maybe it would help to go through it with her ahead of time since she doesn’t speak English.

      If her return flight goes through the US, she’ll need to do the same procedures as above. And make sure her transit visa is valid for both entries. Sorry I can’t be more help on the visas! Check with the US embassy for more guidance on that. I hope your mom enjoys Cancun!

  102. Marie

    Hi Ali,

    You’ve been so helpful to all that have come with concerns as a traveler. I was wondering if I could ask some advice about a travel plan I have.

    I’m American in the US with plans to visit Japan. I normally always book my stops domestically before reaching the airport in Japan. However, I found a decent rate but would require me to have my stop/layover internationally. I’m a little apprehensive if I have to re-check my luggage and if I will have the time to make my connecting flight.

    It’s basically reading as Tampa< Toronto< Japan airport
    With the layover in Toronto only being 3 hrs. I'm afraid it wont be enough time to re-check luggage, go thru customs and security in time to make it to my flight for Japan.
    Or do I only go thru customs??

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Marie! Obviously I can’t make any guarantees, but I think 3 hours should be enough time. You will have to go through customs and claim and recheck your bag, but it sounds like they’ve made the process fairly simple. You shouldn’t have to go back out to the check-in counters or anything like that, just look for the “connecting baggage” belt. The Toronto airport website actually has some great info on connecting flights. This one has info about your checked luggage: http://www.torontopearson.com/Connecting_international.aspx# and this one lets you put in where you’re coming from and going to, along with the airline, and it tells you step by step where to go: http://www.torontopearson.com/Connecting.aspx# I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions!

  103. Fred

    Greetings,
    I wonder if I could ask this question.
    If I fly from Madrid to New York with a stop in London, having US passport, which airport I pass Immigration?
    Do I have to go through both countries immigration?
    Thank you.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Fred! Spain is in the Schengen Zone but the UK is not, so you will go through passport control to fly out of Madrid. But when you land in London, since you’re not staying in the UK or leaving the airport, you should be able to follow the “transit” or “transfer” signs, go through security, and find your connecting gate, without having to go through customs there. Then you’ll go through US customs when you land in NY. Your luggage should get transferred from the Madrid-London flight to the London-NY flight without you having to do anything, as long as both flights are on the same itinerary.

  104. Vicky

    My husband just got his visa to travel to the USA and he’s flying from Cairo to Heathrow to logan MA and then to lax. Does he have to pick up his baggage at MA and recheck them and go throu border customs? Or can he go directly to his next gate for lax?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Vicky! He will have to go through customs and immigration in Boston/Logan Airport. He will also have to pick up his checked luggage and recheck it. Some airports have an easy drop-off point for luggage in these situations, but some don’t, and unfortunately I don’t know how Boston works. But it should be really obvious if they do have a drop-off point for people coming off of international flights, and of course he can ask if he needs help or directions. After re-checking his luggage, he’ll have to go through security before continuing to his next gate to go to LAX.

  105. Salman

    Hi Ali,

    I think this is a brilliant piece on layovers and quite helpful for those who are new to this. Something strange happened to my brother who was travelling from Australia to Pakistan. He holds a Pakistani passport and is a permanent resident of Australia. He travel itinerary was Sydney – Bangkok- Islamabad. This is single airline ticket and bags were supposed to be collected at destination. There was a layover of 15 hours at Bangkok. My brother assumed that he’ll just kill time at the airport or maybe rest if there a hotel within the airport as he did not have a visa for Thailand. When he went to check in for the flight from Sydney he was told that he cannot board the plane since he does not have a Thailand visa even though he won’t be leaving Bangkok airport at all. So the airline rescheduled him to another flight with a 3 hour layover in Bangkok (at a premium cost differential of course). The check in agent also advised that if they didn’t find an alternate flight they might have let him board the original flight but in that case he might have trouble in Thailand. This is an odd case as to why would someone need a visa if they are not leaving the intermediate airport at all (this case being outside of north america). I’d appreciate your thoughts on this.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Salman, that sure sounds an odd situation! Most countries don’t require a visa if you’re just transiting through and you’re not leaving the airport. But I don’t know the visa rules for every country, and it’s possible that Thailand requires a transit visa for certain nationalities. For example, the US requires transit visas for nationalities that also require normal travel visas. The difference though is that in the US you have to go through customs and immigration no matter where your final destination is, but that isn’t the case in most of the rest of the world. I had a layover in Bangkok a few years ago, but I just followed the “transit” signs, went through security, and continued to my next gate. Security looked at my passport as ID to make sure I was the person whose name was on the ticket, but I never went through customs, never got my passport stamped. It’s also possible it had to do with the length of his layover, since he did still fly through Bangkok. They might have a rule about needing a transit visa for layovers over a certain amount of time since, in theory, it’s long enough to leave the airport. Probably the best thing for your brother to do is check with the Thai embassy for their transit rules if he has to travel through there again. And it’s worth looking at the visa rules in other countries before booking a ticket if he flies through someplace else. So sorry he had to deal with that!

  106. Megan

    Hi Ali, your article is so helpful and detailed! Thank you! I have a question: I’m flying from U.S. to Seoul South Korea (Newark EWR – Beijing PEK – Seoul ICN). Do I need to go through immigration & customs in Beijing or do I just connect to my flight to Seoul? I’ll be flying United.
    Also, on the return I’m flying out of Pusan South Korea (Pusan PUS – Beijing PEK – Chicago ORD). Do I need to go through customs and pick up my checked luggage in Beijing??? This will be a Korean Air flight and then United for PEK-ORD (all the same itinerary/confirmation).
    Thanks in advance for all your help and expertise!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Megan! You should be able to bypass customs and immigration in Beijing since you’ll just be on a layover. According to this https://www.visaforchina.org/SYD_EN/generalinformation/visaknowledge/269282.shtml (see #4) you don’t need a transit visa as long as you’re traveling on to another country within 24 hours. When you get to Beijing, look for “transit” or “transfer” signs. You’ll probably have to show your ticket and ID and go through security, and then you can look for your next gate. You won’t need to pick up your luggage in Beijing in either direction since the flights are booked on the same itinerary. I still think it’s a good idea to verify with the agent when you check in for the first flight that your luggage is getting tagged and transferred to your final destination. I hope that helps but let me know if you have any other questions, and have a great trip!

  107. Natalie

    Hi guys, I’m flying from Sao Paulo to Miami and I have a 2 hour and 10minutes layover before my flight to Seattle. I was wondering if it’s enough time, I can’t lose that flight! I have only carry on bags so that saves some time, but I have to go through customs and security check before boarding. Also, miami INTL airport is huge! Do you think it’s enough time?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Natalie! It definitely helps that you’re flying carry-on only. A 2 hour 10 minute layover is not impossible. It really depends on how many other flights land at the same time as yours. As long as your flights are all on one itinerary, you should get both boarding passes when you check in for the first flight, to that’ll help too. Obviously I can’t guarantee anything, but I think you should be ok on this one. There’s a terminal map here: http://www.ifly.com/miami-international-airport/terminal-map and you can also put in the terminal you land in and the one you’re going to (if you know that info) and it’ll give you a little info about getting from one to the other. There is a sky train to help you get around faster. Also, read through my tips for dealing with a short layover here. Good luck!

  108. Dinesh Chandra Tiwari

    Hi Ali,
    ON OUR RETURN JOURNEY FROM USA TO INDIA WE ARE FACING PROBLEM.

    OUR TAMPA TO CHICAGO ARRIVAL BY FLIGHT NO 5154 AMERICAN AIRLINE IS 3.44 PM AND DEPARTURE FROM CHICAGO TO LONDON IS 5.10 PM FLIGHT NO 294.(TERMINAL 3 TO TERMINAL NO 5)

    WE HAVE ONLY 1 HOUR AND 26 MINUTES .IS IT POSSIBLE TO GET THE FLIGHT (AFTER IMMIGRATION AND SECURITY)
    PLEASE GUIDE US
    WITH REGARDS

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Dinesh! Ok, so you fly from Tampa to Chicago, arriving in Chicago at 3:44pm. Then your next flight leaves Chicago at 5:10pm, going to London. Correct? I think you’ll be fine. When leaving the US, you don’t actually go through immigration. When you check in for your first flight, the agent at the airport will check your passport to make sure you haven’t overstayed, but US airports don’t have a separate immigration/passport checkpoint like in most other countries. It’s possible an airline employee in Chicago will also check your passport, but again, it’s not a separate line you have to go through. So really you just have to get from one gate to the next, and possibly go through security again depending on where the gates are. You might not have time to waste, but I think you’ll be ok with this layover. Check out my tips for dealing with a short layover here to save time while you’re in Chicago, but try not to stress about it. Enjoy your trip!

  109. Dinesh Chandra Tiwari

    Hi Ali
    Thank you very much for your kind advise.We have to move from terminal no 3 to 5

    with regards
    Dinesh

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      That shouldn’t be too bad. Do a Google search for airport terminal maps for Chicago (but include O’Hare or Midway, whichever airport you’re going to) and see if you can find one that shows the security checkpoints. At least then you’ll know if you have to go through TSA again to switch terminals. I think at least some of the terminals have their own TSA checkpoint at O’Hare, but I haven’t flown through there in years, so I don’t know from personal experience.

  110. Carla

    Hello I am wondering if you could assist me in answering a few questions I have regarding going through customs while travelling to Europe. I am flying from Edmonton to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Malaga, Spain. I have a layover for 3 hours in Amsterdam before flying to Malaga, Spain. When will I be required to go through customs? Will I have to go through customs in both Amsterdam and Malaga? Thank you for your help!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Carla! You will have to go through customs and immigration in Amsterdam since that is your first entry into the Schengen Zone. As long as your flights were booked on one itinerary, your checked luggage will get transferred from the first flight to the second. You will not go through customs and immigration in Malaga since you already did so in Amsterdam. You will probably have to go through security again in Amsterdam before your flight to Malaga.

      If your flights back to Edmonton are the same, you won’t do passport control in Malaga, but you will in Amsterdam. You’ll also have to go through security again in Amsterdam.

      Have a great trip!

  111. Edwin

    Hi Ali. This is about transit between two international flights at Guarulhos airport. I’m flying from ASU Paraguay on TAM into GRU Brazil. I will be connecting to DXB on Emirates. I hold a Swiss passport and need no visa for Brazil. I may not have checked in baggage. My research indicates that arrival and departure are both at Terminal 3. As the tickets are both separate, where in the transfer area do I obtain my boarding pass for the Emirates flight to DXB? Or do I have to pass through immigration and get the boarding pass at the check-in area?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Edwin! In my experience, there are usually several airline counters within the secured area of most airports, so in theory you should be able to check in for your Emirates flight without going through immigration. I’ve only done this once, and at a different airport, but I was able to go to a transfer desk and get my boarding pass printed without having to go back out to the check-in area. Make sure you have a print-out of your flight details to show you’re transferring to another flight. If you do have to check luggage, you will have to go through immigration in order to claim your luggage and recheck it with Emirates, since it won’t get transferred from one flight to the next. I highly recommend calling Emirates customer service and asking them about your situation. In my case, my layover was in Vietnam and I was flying out on a Vietnam Airlines flight, so I had easy access to their ticket counters. But since Emirates is not a Brazilian airline, they might not have as much of a presence at the airport. So if they don’t have a ticket counter or customer service counter in the secured area, you’ll have to go through immigration to get to the normal check-in area. Luckily you don’t need a Brazil visa! But I think your best option is to call Emirates and see what their situation is at that airport.

      1. Edwin

        If you have a flight ticket issued by the same airline that shows that your final destination is Dubai, then you do not need to go through immigration. However if you have two flight tickets, say Asuncion-São Paulo on TAM Airlines and another one Sao Paulo-Dubai on Emirates, then you will need to go through immigration (if you need a visa to enter Brazil then you need to produce it whether you are just transiting or leaving the airport). This answer applies to whether you have checked in luggage or not.
        Helpdesk at GRU airport 11 2445 2256

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          Good to know, Edwin, thanks! It’s hard to know how things are handled in every airport or every country. It sucks that you have to go through immigration for a situation like this. I once had a flight to Vietnam, 8 hour layover, and then a flight to Australia, but they were on 2 separate itineraries, and I was able to bypass immigration. It might have helped that the outbound flight was on Vietnam Airlines, so they have desks all over the airport, including where I came into the airport from the plane. I’m glad you got your Brazil situation figured out!

  112. Maai Richard

    Hello Ali! Your clear explanation about international layover helped me a lot… But I still wanted to ask this question just to be 100% clear. This is my second time traveling alone but my first time with international layovers and I was wondering if you could help me.. My flight is from
    Toronto (Pearson) — Chicago (O’Hare international ORD) — Narita (Japan).
    I would have to check in baggage at Toronto and I assume it would be at Narita upon my arrival (since the airline I’m taking are partners). Would I have to to go through security and customs again to be able to go on my next flight? I know O’Hare is a huge airport and I only have an hour and 18 minutes to get this task done. If you could guide me roughly on how I should approach this as soon as I get off the plane in Chicago to boarding to Narita I would be thankful and appreciate it. Thank you for your time to read this post.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Maai! Toronto is one of the few airports that has a US customs/border control post so you actually go through US customs and immigration procedures while you’re still technically in Toronto, which saves you time when you land in the US (Chicago in your case). The process depends on your airline and where you’re going, so check this link to get step-by-step instructions: http://www.torontopearson.com/Connecting.aspx#

      When you check in for your flight from Toronto, verify with the ticket agent, but I believe your luggage will get checked all the way through to Narita if you are able to go through US customs in the Toronto airport. Then in Chicago, all you will have to do is make your way to your connecting gate. O’Hare has security checkpoints for each terminal, so if you have to switch terminals, you’ll probably have to go through security again. Here’s a link to maps of the terminals: http://chicago-ord.worldairportguides.com/terminal-maps.php

      An hour 18 minutes would be extremely short for a normal international layover, but as long as you are able to do US customs in Toronto, which I’m 99% sure you will, you should be fine. For more help, check out my tips for handling a short layover here. Enjoy your trip!

  113. Sue

    Hello – this is such a helpful post.

    Do you know what security checks would be and if checked in bags would continue to final destination for our itinerary?

    New Orleans (Louis Armstrong Airport) to Newark with a layover overnight from 23:15 until 19:15 next day. We would plan to get hotel overnight. Final destination is Birmingham UK leaving Newark at 19:15.

    Would we have to reclaim checked in luggage if journey is booked as one itinerary with same airline? Its a concern as we are in our 70s.

    Thanks for any help or advice you can offer.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Sue! In general, if your flights are all booked on one itinerary, the airline will tag your luggage to your final destination and they will transfer your bags from one plane to the next. So in theory, you shouldn’t have to claim your luggage in Newark. But since your layover is so long, there is a chance they can’t hold your luggage overnight, so I’d recommend calling the airline and asking. On your way back to the US, you will have to claim and recheck your luggage at the first US airport no matter what. So if you have another super long layover in that direction, you will almost definitely have to hold onto your luggage until a certain point ahead of your next flight. But for the New Orleans to Newark to Birmingham flights, you should call and check ahead of time. Sorry I can’t give you a more definitive answer on this one!

      1. Sue

        Thans for the reply – it’s a great help. The flight I asked about is actually our return flight so I will call the airport as you suggest. The outward flight from Birmingham only has a short stopover of about 4hours but someone has told me we will have to collect and re-check our luggage there as it’s our first port of entry into the USA. We are flying on to Memphis.

        Thanks for your help.

        Sue

  114. Sherrie

    Hi Ali,
    I am traveling on American Airlines from Heathrow to Seattle with a change of planes in LAX. I know I have to go through customs in L.A., but since my second flight is with Alaska (American’s affiliate) will they transfer my luggage for me, once I pass through customs? There are 3 hours between flights. I ask because I have to change terminals in LA and it’s difficult – you have to go outside with your luggage and the shuttle bus isn’t that close and it’s difficult to lift a suitcase onto the bus (I have a torn disc.) Also, it’ll be hot and I’ll be wearing a heavy coat. The last time I flew this route, there was less time between flights and I wasn’t sure if they didn’t transfer my bag for me because there wasn’t enough time, or because they just don’t do this. i missed my connecting flight, but- luckily I was put on another flight. Thanks very much!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Sherrie! The thing about US customs is that no matter what, you have to claim and re-check your luggage at the first US airport you go to. They didn’t transfer your luggage last time because no US airport will do that when you’re arriving from an international flight. So when you get to LAX, you’ll have to go through immigration/passport control, pick up your checked bags, and re-check. It’s super annoying, but unavoidable. And yeah, LAX is not a pleasant airport for that unfortunately. My advice is to pack light so even if you still check luggage, it won’t be too heavy. You won’t be wearing that heavy coat on the 10 hour flight, right? So don’t put it back on in the airport and you won’t be hot. Dress in layers so you can stay comfortable on the flight and adjust to the warmer weather in LA. If you need assistance in the airport, you can arrange for either a wheelchair or one of those golf cart type things. I’ve never done it, so I don’t know exactly how to set that up, but I’d recommend calling American Airlines and asking them to help you sort that out. I have more tips for short layovers here, although I think you should be ok with 3 hours on your layover, I don’t really think that’s too short. I hope this helps!

      1. Sherrie

        Thanks so much for your help! To avoid any problems, I had my husband change the first leg of my trip from LAX to Raleigh/Durham Airport. There is no terminal change there, so after going through customs, it should be easier. I will be returning home with a heavy suitcase, but it easy to manage as long as I don’t have to lift it the stairs of a shuttle. So I should be good as long as the weather in North Carolina isn’t a problem. Love your blog. Thanks again.

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          Thanks for the kind words, Sherrie! I think RDU will be better for you. It’s a smaller airport, much easier to deal with. Also, on your return flight, you shouldn’t have to do anything with your luggage on your layover. As long as your flights are booked on one itinerary, the ticket agent at the first airport will tag your bags to your final destination, and your bags will get transferred from one flight to the next. You don’t have to claim and recheck luggage on your way OUT of the US, only on your way IN. So that’s a better direction for you to have a heavy suitcase!

  115. paul

    Hi there great peace about the layover.

    I am travelling from Manchester to manila in the Philippines I have booked with one airline but I have to get a connecting flight I change over In dubai do i have to go through passport control and do i have to recheck my bag . Both flights are with the same airline. Sorry to ask this is my first international flight and kinda scared as I am disabled but going to meet my partner.
    Many thanks looking forward to seeing your reply

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Paul! In Dubai, you should be able to follow the signs for “transit” or “transfer” or even “connecting flights” which will lead you through security again, but you won’t have to go through customs and immigration since you’re not staying in Dubai. Your luggage should get tagged to Manila, so you won’t have to do anything with checked luggage while in Dubai. If you need any assistance getting around at the airport due to your disability, contact the airline ahead of time to see what options are available and what they can arrange for you. And try not to be worried, you’ll do fine!

  116. paul

    OK I will phone them up today and ask what they can do. I will post again once I asked about assistance. Thank you Ali they should tell you this over the phone.

  117. paul

    Hi Ali the airline has booked me wheelchair assistance for all the airports and also for the way back thank you so much

  118. Melvin

    As a transit passenger from Panama PTY ( Copa Airlines) through Orlando MCO to Dubai DXB (Emirates), having checked-in luggage but not leaving the airport, do I have to pass immigration? Do I have to claim my baggage from Copa and check it in at Emirates or do they forward it directly?

    1. Melvin

      Option 2, if I fly into Miami then transit to Orlando both on American Airlines, and then transit to Dubai is there any immigration/baggage collection along the way?

      1. Author
        Ali Garland

        Sorry, just noticed you left a second comment. Yes, even if you book both flights together with the same airline, you’ll still have to go through customs and immigration and claim and recheck your luggage. The advantage of doing your flights with this option is that American Airlines will be able to tag your luggage to Dubai, so even though you’ll still have to claim and recheck your luggage, things should be a little more smooth for rechecking it. Plus you’ll already have your next boarding pass, so if Miami has a rechecking spot within the customs area, you won’t have to go back out to the main ticket/check-in counters. I don’t know for sure if they have that at Miami (it’s been years since I’ve flown through there) but if they do, it’ll help.

    2. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Melvin! Yes, unfortunately you will have to pass through immigration and customs in Orlando. You will also have to claim and recheck your luggage. This is US policy for anyone landing there, whether you’re staying in the country or not. I’m not sure if Copa will be able to tag your luggage for the Emirates flight, so be sure to ask about that when you check in for your PTY to MCO flight. Either way though, you will have to pick up your luggage and recheck it. I don’t know about Orlando specifically, but some airports have a baggage recheck area within the customs and immigration area for people with connecting flights, so if Orlando has this AND if Copa can tag your luggage for the Emirates flight, you would be able to use that. Otherwise you’ll have to go to the Emirates ticket counter to recheck your bag. If you booked these two flights separately, you’ll almost definitely have to go to the Emirates ticket counter in Orlando to recheck your luggage, and to check in for your next flight. I hope this helps, and enjoy your trip!

  119. Saheer

    Hi
    Your article does not really cover the question I have.

    We are planning to travel (in the summer) via Doha to Sri Lankla and intending to stop over in Qatar to visit our family .

    If we stopover for about two days, do we have to check-out our luggage with us and check in again?

    Do you know how it works?

    Thank you
    Saheer

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Saheer! In most cases, an extremely long layover like you describe would require you to pick up your checked luggage in between flights. Most airlines will view it as two separate flights, even if you were able to book it as one itinerary. I think they also don’t want to be responsible for holding onto your luggage for that long. And, in my experience, you probably won’t even be able to get your boarding pass ahead of time for the second flight, you’ll have to check in closer to the flight time. I hope this helps!

  120. Elaine

    Hi,

    I’m flying to and from Heathrow and Burbank,CA with layovers in Salt Lake City and Seattle all flights booked through delta. Will I need to recheck my bags,go through customs etc during my layovers?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Elaine! When you fly TO the US, you will have to go through immigration/passport control and customs, as well as claim and re-check your luggage, and you’ll have to go through security again, at the first airport you land at, so you will have to do that on your layover entering the US. On your way back to London, when you check in for your first flight, the agent will check your passport, and it’s possible the gate agent for the second flight will check your passport again, but the US doesn’t have an official passport control checkpoint for exiting passengers the way most other countries do. Your bags will be tagged to go to Heathrow and they’ll automatically get transferred from the first to the second flight, and you won’t have to do anything special on your layover, just find your connecting gate and maybe go through security again depending on the layout of the airport. I hope that helps, and enjoy your time in the US!

  121. Fon

    Hi Ali,

    I have a question for you if you don’t mind. My Nepalese boyfriend is flying from Japan to Nepal with a 19 hr layover in Bangkok. Since he is a Nepali citizen, he cannot leave Bangkok airport during his layover without a transit visa so he’s just going to remain inside the airport. Do you think the airline will check his luggage all the way through from Japan the Nepal even with a long layover in Bangkok? He’s flying on the same airline. Please let me know what you think!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Wow, 19 hours and he can’t leave the airport? Ugh, I’m so sorry! He should check with the airline to see if they will hold onto his checked luggage and transfer it to the next flight. In this situation, I would hope that they can, especially if it’s all on one itinerary. He can’t be the only person who has been in this situation. I think he should call the airline ahead of time and ask, and then at check-in, talk to the agent so they know he has the long layover and can’t go through customs to pick up his luggage and recheck it closer to the next flight. Good luck!

  122. J

    Hi, Elaine! Thank you for this very informative guide on layover. It’s my first time out of the country and I’ll be flying to Germany from Manila in less than 2 weeks. I purchased my ticket via a travel agency/ticket reseller online. My flight is Manila-Hong Kong-Frankfurt-Dusseldorf. MNL-HKG is via Cathay then HKG-Frankfurt-Dusseldorf is via Lufthansa. My question is where will I proceed when I’m already in Hong Kong? Do I have to go to the immigration and have my passport stamped in HK? Same with Frankfurt and Dusseldorf? Sorry if this a dumb question. 🙂

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      I don’t know who Elaine is, but I’ll try to help you out 🙂 And it’s not a dumb question at all, this confuses lots of people.

      Cathay Pacific and Lufthansa are partner airlines, so as long as your flights are all booked on one itinerary (which it sounds like they are) the agent who checks you in for your first flight should be able to print all of your boarding passes and tag your luggage to go all the way to your final destination. Verify this with the agent when you’re checking in just to be sure.

      When you get to Hong Kong, look for signs that say “transit” or “transfer” or even just “connecting flights” and you should be able to bypass customs and immigration. You’ll have to go through security again, but since you’re not staying in Hong Kong, you shouldn’t have to go through customs/immigration or get your passport stamped.

      When you land in Frankfurt, you will go through customs and immigration because you are staying in Germany. (Even if you were flying from Frankfurt to another city/country within the Schengen Zone, you would go through customs and immigration in Frankfurt since it’s your first point of entry into Schengen.) After you get stamped in, look for the big “departures” signs that show gates for upcoming flights and find your flight to Dusseldorf. You’ll have to go through security again before that flight. Your luggage should automatically be transferred from your Hong Kong – Frankfurt flight to your Frankfurt – Dusseldorf flight, but again, verify this when you check into your first flight in Manila.

      Assuming you’re going back to the Philippines the same way, the process is similar. Dusseldorf to Frankfurt is pretty straight forward. In Frankfurt, you’ll have to go through passport control to get stamped out of the country. Again, you should be able to bypass customs and immigration in Hong Kong since you’ll only be there on a layover. And your bags should get transferred from one flight to the next.

      I hope this helps, and enjoy your trip to Germany, it’s a great country!

  123. Alvaro

    Hello!

    I am flying from LAX to CDG (Paris, France) in November 2016 with AeroMexico and have a connecting flight in Mexico City with a 3 hour layover. My question is, would I have to go through immigration and customs once I arrive in Mexico City even though my actual destination is France and not Mexico?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Alvaro! I haven’t flown through Mexico myself, so I don’t know for sure, but most countries besides the US and Canada allow you to transit through on a layover without going through customs and immigration. When you land in Mexico City, look for signs that say “transit” or “transfer” or even “connecting flights” and you should be able to bypass customs and immigration, go through security, and continue to your connecting gate. If for some reason they don’t have this option or you can’t find it, 3 hours should still be plenty of time to get through customs and immigration and get to your next flight. But when you check in for your first flight from LAX, they should be able to tell you if you have to deal with customs in Mexico City. Sorry I don’t know for sure, but I’m almost positive you won’t have to.

  124. Larah

    Hi Ali, Thank for the article. I have a question and i hope you have an idea. I have booked a flight from Dubai to Japan via Singapore Airlines, so the layover is in SG. The thing is, due to some circumstances, I am not pushing through Japan and Im not going to take a Japan visit visa anymore (which was required) and decided to just travel to Singapore. Do you think they will allow me to travel using the same ticket? Can I just tell at Dubai airport that my destination will be Singapore ? Please let me know how it works. Thank you in advance.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Larah! Most airlines will not allow you to do this. If you just take the first leg of your flight, it shows in their system that you didn’t complete the flight, and they won’t let you on the return flight. Most likely, you’ll have to change your flight booking if you want to stay in Singapore. You should call Singapore Airlines and explain your situation to see what they can do for you. Good luck!

  125. Igor

    Hi Ali,
    thanks for your very helpul article! However apparently one of your statements is not so absolutely true:
    >> What happens with checked luggage on a layover?
    >> If you fly from somewhere outside the US or Canada to an airport in the US or Canada, you will have to collect and recheck your luggage no matter where you’re going on your second flight.

    I tried passenger guides for connecting flights for Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal airports and in many cases you DON’T need to claim your checked luggage (only between 7:30am and 6:30pm at YVR). I think you even mention your experience in Atlanta in the comments, but apparently this is a more common practice, or maybe just in Canada? I didn’t play around too much, I tried only my case – UK via Canada to US, all on Air Canada, though some other airlines are fine as well to avoid even Canadian customs.

    http://www.yvr.ca/en/navigating-yvr/passenger-guides/connecting-through-YVR.aspx
    http://www.torontopearson.com/Connecting.aspx
    http://www.admtl.com/en/guide/connecting-flights
    E.g.: “Most passengers will have their luggage checked-through to their final destination, so you will not claim your checked-bags at YVR.”
    Montreal: “Your checked luggage will be transferred automatically by the luggage-handling system. Note, however, that U.S. customs officers are authorized to recall your luggage, if necessary, for manual inspection.”

    I’m aware though that what you’re told in advance is not always true IRL, no matter how reliable the source – it’s the airport, airline, immigration or customs. So maybe you could just add a little note about such possibility even when transiting in US&Canadian airports …

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Igor! Yes I think it depends on the airline and which terminals you’re at at some of the Canadian airports. I’ve definitely looked a few times at the Toronto site and had it tell me “claim and recheck luggage, and go through customs” though the interesting thing about Toronto (and a few other Canadian airports) is that they have a US customs point, so you can actually do your US entry procedures while technically still in Canada. My earlier Atlanta comment was my misunderstanding. I have since flown through Atlanta a few times, including when I was going from one country to another and NOT staying in the US, and I still had to go through customs. I didn’t have checked luggage, but I did take note that you would still have to claim and recheck luggage for any connecting flight. Atlanta actually has two different sides for immigration, one for people staying in Atlanta, and one for people with connecting flights. It makes it easier to recheck luggage for people with connecting flights because there’s a conveyor belt for collecting all the checked luggage after going through customs, so you wouldn’t have to go back out to the check-in counters as long as your bag is still tagged for your final destination. I actually have a draft post about connecting through Canada, I just need to put some time into researching more of it and writing it up. The rules and procedures change so often!

  126. Sakura

    Hello! I’m a U.S. Citizen traveling to Nepal. My route is – PBI-JFK-AUH-KTM. I purchased the ticket as one itinerary. From PBI, I’m flying with JetBlue to JFK, then with Etihad all the way to KTM. JetBlue and Etihad are partner airlines.
    So, my question is, I have a 16 hrs overnight layover in JFK. Will my baggage be checked all the way through to KTM? Or will I have to collect it and recheck in the luggage at JFK? And since I have the flights under one itinerary, will I get my all boarding pass at PBI?
    Also, let’s say that I’ll have to pick up my luggage, can I go through security with my luggages if I have my boarding pass? Then, re check it in after the counters open in the morning and go through security again? Or can I only stay landside? Because, terminal 4 at JFK has all their lounges and food courts post security I believe, which I can’t access if I have to stay landside
    I called JetBlue, but the lady who picked up remained unclear about this. So, hopefully you can guide me through this a little. Thank you! 🙂 and great website!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Sakura! This is a tricky one, but I’ll do my best! Since JetBlue and Etihad are partner airlines, you should be able to get your Etihad boarding passes from JetBlue when you check in for your first flight. There’s a chance though that they don’t have access to Etihad’s system. I once had an itinerary that involved Etihad and another airline, all booked as one itinerary, but the other airline wasn’t able to print the Etihad boarding passes. However, there are usually counters within the secured area where you can get the next boarding pass, so that shouldn’t be a problem at JFK. The other potential problem is the length of your layover. Since your Etihad flight is technically the next day, they might not be able to print your boarding pass so far ahead of time. (I had this happen to me recently, but it was because my second flight was more than 24 hours after the first, so I don’t think you’ll have the same issue.) As for your luggage, normally it would get transferred all the way to your final destination when you’re booked all on one itinerary. However, since you have such a long layover, some airlines can’t take luggage more than a few hours ahead of a flight and they might require you to collect your checked bags in JFK. Different airlines seem to have different ways of handling this, so I can’t tell you for sure. Unfortunately your best bet is to ask at the check-in counter if you will have to collect your luggage. You won’t be able to go through security with your checked luggage unless it’s actually carry-on sized and doesn’t have anything in it that can’t be taken as carry-on. So if you’re checking luggage with bigger bottles of liquids, TSA will confiscate the liquids. If you’re checking a bigger suitcase, it won’t fit through the x-ray machines. I know someone who recently had a long layover in NYC and they had to find a place to store their checked luggage during the layover because the airline couldn’t take it that far in advance. But they were also flying from Guatemala to NYC to Spain, so they had to claim their luggage because of customs. In your situation, you’re flying domestic and then international, so normally your bag would get transferred automatically. I just question the amount of time. If you do have to hang onto your luggage during your layover, there is a luggage hold place near Penn Station that opens at 8am, so maybe you could try leaving your bags there and hanging out in the city for a bit. It’s unfortunate that the JetBlue customer service woman wasn’t sure because that’s what I would suggest is calling the airline. You could try calling again, maybe another person will know the answer, or you could call Etihad and ask them. I’m so sorry I can’t give you definite answers! If you think of it, I’d love to hear how this actually works out once you have your flights. Good luck, and no matter how much of a hassle the luggage stuff is, I hope you enjoy your trip!

  127. Rozel

    Hi, Ali!

    I really enjoyed reading your article! Like them, I also have a question. 🙂 I have an upcoming trip from LAS to MNL which I booked with Expedia. My route is LAS-LAX (2hrs layover)-MNL and vice versa. My question are: 1.) Is it considered as 1 itinerary? 2.)Do I have to claim my baggage when I arrive in LAX? 3.) My LAS to LAX flight is with American Airlines, do you think they’ll charge me for check in baggage? I caleed Expedia about the fees but they don’t seem to know the answer and the agent from AA is not sure with the answer too. Hoping to hear from you soon! Thanks!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Rozel! It’s considered one itinerary if you booked both flights at the same time on one booking. Your confirmation email will have both flights listed on it. It would be two itineraries if you booked each leg separately. It sounds like you probably booked yours together on one itinerary, so the airline should be able to tag your luggage to go all the way to MNL, so you won’t have to claim your luggage during your layover. As for the baggage fees, you have to check with American Airlines on that. Here’s the baggage info on their website: https://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/baggage/checked-baggage.jsp Have a great trip!

      1. Rozel

        Thank you for your reply, Ali! My LAS-LAX flight is with AA and the LAX-MNL is with Philippine Airlines. Do you think I’ll need to pay for baggage fees too for my Retuning flight? I’ve heard that PAL allows two free check in baggage. I’m just not sure if that will be the same case with AA since they’re in one itinerary. Thank you again!

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          Since your LAX-MNL flight is an international flight, they will most likely allow you to have at least one checked bag. I’m really not sure about American Airlines, though I would hope that they’d check your bag for free since you’re connecting to an international flight. Your best bet there is to call AA and ask, even if they have to look up your itinerary to look at exactly what you’re doing.

          Also, I should’ve mentioned earlier, but when you fly back to the US, you will go through customs and immigration in LAX and you *will* have to claim and recheck your luggage there.

          1. Rozel

            I just called AA earlier and told me that I have 2 free chek in baggage allowance. Yay! And thank you for mentioning the immigration thing, I am also thinking about it. Thaaaaanks!

          2. Author
            Ali Garland

            That’s great! Glad to help, enjoy your trip!

  128. Dylan

    Love the article, interesting situation, long story short, i left my passport at my cousin’s house in san fran and told her to just hold on to it until i see her again in san fran (i have trust issues with the u.s. postal service). I live in Hawaii and now both her and i want to take a trip to vancouver. I found a flight from HNL to SFO then to YVR. My question is the layover in SFO is 2 hrs., could i just meet my cousin in the domestic terminal, or leave the terminal and meet my cousin outside, and get my passport from her before entering customs to YVR? or do i need it for my first flight in HNL? i will have carry on only, no checked baggage.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Dylan! Ok, this is kind of a tricky one. In general, they will ask to see your passport when you check in for the first flight since they’re checking you in for all of your flights on that itinerary. The airline isn’t allowed to let you on the flight if you don’t have the proper documents. I suppose you could try to explain your situation to the agent and see if they can just check you in for the first flight, on the idea that you would have to check in for the next flight in SFO. (By the way, there is no exiting customs or official passport control checkpoint when leaving the US, which is why the agent who checks you in for your flight checks your passport.) But I’m not sure they’ll do it. I think your options are to have your cousin mail you your passport (I understand your hesitancy with the USPS) so you’ll have it from the start, or book two separate flights so when you check in for your HNL-SFO flight they won’t know you’re continuing on to Vancouver. Then you’d have to check in again in SFO after you get your passport from your cousin. You might not even have to leave the secured area to check in for the SFO-YVR flight depending on which airline you’re flying – many airlines have counters within the secured area and you might be able to check in with them. Regardless, having carry-on luggage only will help you save time and stress! I hope this helps, and good luck with whatever you decide to do!

    2. Igor R

      I’d suggest to get the passport before starting the trip, not only for peace of mind but also to avoid missing flights, which could easily happen with a bit of delay here and crowds there. If you don’t trust USPS for whatever reason, use another delivery service (FedEx, UPS, DHL …)

  129. Arpit

    Hi Ali!
    I am planning a trip from London, Heathrow to Columbus, Ohio and back.

    Both trips will have layovers in the Chicago.

    Will I have to go through immigration, collect and re-check my luggage, customs at Chicago for travel from London to Columbus and then again at Columbus?

    What is the minimum duration I should allow for a convenient layover?
    How will it work for return?

    Thanks so much for the help!

    Regards,
    Arpit

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Arpit! First of all, I’m assuming you’re talking about Chicago O’Hare, not Midway, as it is the bigger airport and more likely to have an international airport.

      When you’re flying from London to Chicago to Columbus, you will have to go through customs and immigration and claim and re-check your luggage in Chicago. The US makes you do this at the first airport you reach in the country. You’ll also have to go through security again before you can continue to your next flight. Chicago is a big airport that lots of people complain about for layovers. So I’d recommend trying for a 3 hour layover in this direction. You might get lucky and not need it, but at least you won’t have as much worry about missing your connection, and you’ll have time to find food and stretch your legs after the long flight.

      When you fly back, Columbus to Chicago to London, your luggage will get transferred the whole way. There is no official exiting passport control when leaving the US, but the ticket agent will check your passport when you check in for your flight. You will probably have to go through security again there because there’s a different security checkpoint for each terminal, and you’ll probably have to change terminals since you’ll be going from a domestic to an international flight. I’d try for about 2 hours for your layover in this direction. Again, this might be more than you need, but better to have too much time than not enough.

      Here’s a map of the airport so you can see the different terminals: http://www.flychicago.com/OHare/EN/AtAirport/map/default.aspx If you click on the terminal, it shows you the airlines that use it, so that could help you understand where you’ll be going. I hope this helps, and enjoy your trip!

  130. Rebecca

    Hi

    I have a layover of 26 hours in Singapore before getting my flight to Australia! Does this mean I am not officially transitting but actually “visiting” the country?

    My flights are all with the same company and were all booked at the same time but my layover changed from 8 hours to 26 and now my itinerary on my booking app looks like 2 seperate itineries when before it was 1! Now I’m scared I will have to pick up my luggage and put it back, even though the flights are with the same airline. Also I have booked the transit hotel in Changi but now I’m scared I won’t be able to use it as apparently anything over 24 hours puts you as visiting not transitting. So confused! Help!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Rebecca! So sorry to hear your flight got changed so drastically! First, you might want to call the airline and see if there are any better options they can change you to since 26 hours is really long for a layover, and like you said, it makes it into two separate flights. If they can’t change your flight, ask about your checked luggage. Each airline handles things differently, so I can’t really answer that. My guess is that you will have to claim your checked luggage and that you won’t be able to recheck it until closer to your next flight.

      As for the transit hotel, you probably aren’t eligible anymore. It’s worth verifying with them directly, but if they go by the exact amount of time between when your first flight lands and when the next one takes off, you’ll be over their time limit.

      But the good news in all of this is you will have *plenty* of time to get a glimpse of Singapore! Yes, you’ll probably have to find a different hotel for the night, but there are plenty to choose from. While you’re there, you can take a tour – I saw this article awhile back about free layover tours, and there’s one in Singapore: http://blog.sleepinginairports.net/2015/06/13/top-6-airports-free-layover-tours/#.VabFB_mC2f4 Depending on what time your land and what time your next flight is, you could go to the night safari zoo. You could go to different hawker centers and try lots of tasty food. You could wander through Chinatown or Little India. And depending on the timing, your hotel will probably be able to hold your luggage if you still have time to explore after you have to check out. Just be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to retrieve your luggage and get back to the airport. Also, since Singapore is really hot, if you’re exploring during the day and your flight is at the end of the day (as opposed to leaving for the airport first thing in the morning) you can take a shower at the airport. I did that a couple of years ago when my husband and I had an evening flight since we spent the day exploring and getting sweaty. I wrote about it on my personal blog here: http://www.aliadventures.com/2014/05/that-time-i-took-a-shower-at-the-airport/

      My advice is to embrace the long layover, get out of the airport, see the city a little, and enjoy. I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions!

  131. Debbie T.

    Hi Ali~~
    Really enjoy your site. Here’s my question:
    I am trying to use American Airlines expiring miles to visit family in Montana, and believe I can use them on Alaska Airlines. I can book a flight through Seattle, but the layover is only 40 minutes. I will only have carry-on luggage and first flight is Alaska Airlines, second flight is Horizon Air as HorizonAlaska. Is that enough time to de-plane, change terminals, and board? My only other option is a 20 hour layover. 🙁
    THANKS!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Debbie! A 40 minute layover is a bit tight, but not completely impossible on a domestic layover. And considering your alternative is a 20 hour layover…yikes! If it were me, I think I would take the chance on the 40 minute layover. Try to get an aisle seat on the flight to Seattle, make sure your stuff is all packed up before the flight lands so you can grab your bag and go as soon as they turn off the seat belt sign, and don’t make any stops in the airport.

      As for your other comment about the terminals, it’s hard to determine how long it takes to get from C to North, but it looks like there’s a train connecting them. I found some info that might be helpful on this site here. And you can read my tips for dealing with short layovers here. Good luck and enjoy your trip!

  132. Debbie T.

    P.S. I looked at the Seattle terminal map and it looks like the flight would arrive at N7 and depart at C2C. They are next to each other but I don’t know how long it will take me to get from North terminal to C terminal.

  133. Jackie

    Hi! I also had a question about my future flights!

    I haven’t booked anything yet but I am looking at flights by United from Chicago, USA to Florence, Italy. There is an hour and forty minute layover in Frankfurt before heading to Italy. Coming home I am leaving from Rome, then have an hour and ten minute layover in Frankfurt and then back to Chicago. It didn’t concern me that the layovers were so short until i noticed an advisory icon on united.com next to my flight choices saying “risky connection” on my flights coming home. Do i have to go through customs at the first place i get off? Will this be enough time? so confused that it didn’t say risky connection for my first flight either.

    Please let me know what you think!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Jackie! Yes, you will have to go through passport control and customs (though customs is really no big deal if you have nothing to declare) at the first airport you land at in the Schengen Zone, so since Germany and Italy are both in Schengen, you’ll go through passport control in Frankfurt. It’s the same with leaving the Schengen Zone. Your flight from Rome to Frankfurt is similar to a domestic flight in the US, and you’ll have to go through passport control in Frankfurt.

      An hour 40 minutes in Frankfurt on your way TO Italy is probably fine. Maybe a little short, but doable. Your luggage should automatically get transferred from the first flight to the second (though always verify this when you check in) and once you get through passport control, you have to get to the domestic side of the airport, but that shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes. Security checks aren’t usually so bad either because they have a different one for every few gates, so the lines are usually pretty quick.

      But on the way back to the US, an hour 10 minutes seems a little too short. You have to get through passport control to exit, and it’s a gamble whether that line will be fast or not. I’ve gotten through in minutes, but other times I’ve waited on that line for 45 minutes to an hour. (I used to live near Frankfurt and used that airport a lot.) If it were me, I’d pick a different flight, at least for that leg. I’d try to aim for about 2 hours in either direction if possible. Check out my tips for short layovers here, and have a great time in Italy!

  134. Apoorva

    Hi Ali,
    The site is very informative. This will be my first international flight and this helped me a lot!

    I am visiting Halifax, Canada. My route is BLR -> FRA(5 hrs layover) -> YYZ(2.40 hrs layover) -> YHZ. I have purchased the ticket as one itenary with Luftansa airlines. The last flight from YYZ to YHZ is operated by Air Canada.

    I hope I’ll get all the 3 boarding passes at BLR itself!
    So, at the first layover of 5 hrs at Frankfurt : No immigration and customs, but security exists?
    And, at the second layover of 2.40 hrs at Toronto : Both immigration and customs, and security exists, as it the first arrival to the country?
    At Toronto, after the immigration, should I collect my luggage and recheck-in it going through all the procedures again? As the luggage will be tagged to my final destination.
    Is the time of 2.40 hrs enough for all the procedures at the Toronto airport?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Apoorva! In general, you can bypass customs and immigration when you’re not staying in the country (or in the Schengen Zone in this case) by following the signs for “transit” or “transfer” or “connecting flights” when you get off your flight to Frankfurt. I don’t know all the visa rules, so you verify with the embassy that you don’t need a transit visa, but I found this on Lufthansa’s site which says Indian citizens don’t need a transit visa if you hold a visa for Canada. You will have to go through security before boarding your flight out of Frankfurt.

      In Toronto, you will go through customs and immigration since it’s where you enter Canada. The Toronto airport has this wonderful guide for determining what you have to do when you land there, so definitely check that out. It looks like you do have to claim and recheck your luggage, but it says there’s a baggage drop-off area, so it shouldn’t be complicated or far away. You’ll have to go through security to get to your next gate.

      Lufthansa should be able to print all of your boarding passes when you check in for your first flight, but if for some reason they can’t print your YYZ to YHZ boarding pass, you should be able to go to any Air Canada counter in the Toronto airport and have them print it for you. Especially since it’s Air Canada, you’ll be able to find counters air side (passed security) and you shouldn’t have to go all the way out to the normal check-in counters. But I really think you’ll get all 3 boarding passes when you check in for the first flight. And I think your layover times sound perfectly fine.

      I hope this helps! Enjoy your trip to Canada!

  135. Aditi

    Hi,
    We have booked our international flight to India operated by United and its partner Lufthansa. We are starting from
    1.Minneapolis to Chicago – United,layover of 1hr 30 mins
    2.Chicago to Frankfurt – United,layover of 4 hrs
    3.Frankfurt to New Delhi-Lufthansa

    Ques 1. Do you think we have claim our checked baggage at Chicago and Frankfurt ?

    Ques 2. Do we have to go through security checking once again in Chicago,looks like the terminal may be different ?

    Thanks for your help

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Aditi! When leaving the US, your luggage should automatically be transferred from one flight to the next, so you shouldn’t have to do anything with checked luggage in Chicago. Simply find your next gate. Same thing in Frankfurt, since you’re not staying there, your bag should get transferred to your next flight. Look for signs that say “transit” or “transfer” or “connecting flights” and you should be able to bypass customs and immigration. Verify with the airline employee when you check in for your first flight to be sure, but that’s how the vast majority of airports work for international layovers.

      It’s possible you’ll have to go through security again in Chicago. On the maps I’ve seen online of O’Hare, it looks like there’s a separate security checkpoint for each terminal, and you will most likely have to go to the international terminal for your second flight. I don’t think you have time to waste while you’re there, but I think 1 hour 30 minutes should be enough time. In Frankfurt, there are separate security checkpoints for every few gates, so you’ll have to go through security again there, but the lines shouldn’t be so bad since at most they’re only handling a few flights at a time.

      I’m not sure if you’re going back to the US, but if so, you’ll have to go through customs and immigration plus claim and recheck luggage at the first US airport you land at.

      Have a great trip!

  136. Hagan

    hi. I am a US Citizen flying West Jet with a brutal 20 Hour layover in Calgary, then onto London. Do US Citizens, or anyone for that matter, leaving the US, have to pass through Canadian Customs/Passport control., or only in London since its transit stop and not entering into Canada proper itself? Thanks

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Hagan! I have not personally flown through Canada, but all my research, and talking to some Canadian friends, tells me that Canadian airports operate like those in the US, meaning you will have to go through customs and immigration/passport control even if you’re just there on a layover and not staying in the country. I’m almost positive you’ll have to claim and recheck your luggage as well. But also, are you really planning on sitting in the airport for 20 hours? That’s long enough to get a hotel for the night and see some of the city for a few hours. Especially since you’ll have to go through immigration anyway, you might as well get out of the airport. Here’s some info I found about a hotel right at the airport. It’s says it’s a Delta hotel, so I’m not sure if it’s for Delta passengers only but worth checking out. I hope this helps!

  137. Brenda

    Traveling back to U.S. from Calgary, Canada. Do I need to allow 2 hours for check in. My flight leaves at 6:45am. for Salt Lake City. Then I only have 45 mins between flight out to Orlando. I’m I ok with that time schedule.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Brenda! Oof that’s early! Use your best judgement, but I imagine at that time of day, the lines at security won’t be too bad. If you can check in online and print your boarding pass, that will save you some time, and then you just have to find the luggage drop if you’re checking luggage. I’d probably still aim for 5:30 or a few minutes earlier just to be safe, but I agree that 4:45am seems extreme. Is the Calgary airport open 24 hours? If not, that could help you decide if 2 hours is even possible. Another thing to think about is some Canadian airports, including Calgary, have US border control posts, so you actually go through US customs and immigration while you’re technically still in Canada. It saves you time while traveling through the first US airport, but it means you’ll need a little extra time in Calgary. The full list is here. Again, shouldn’t be long lines at 6am, but still worth giving yourself enough time to deal with it. I hope this helps!

  138. anmolahuja

    Hi Ali i hope you are doing good. I just want to ask if i am boarding my flight from New Delhi to Salt Lake via Amsterdam(the only layover) do i need to go through custom border and baggage clearance at amsterdam? What will be my first port of entry? I am travelling by KLM airlines on both the routes Delhi to Amsterdam and the amsterdam to salt lake.
    please help me out

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi! When you land in Amsterdam, since you aren’t staying there or anywhere else in the Schengen Zone, you should be able to bypass customs and immigration. When you get off the plane, look for signs that say “transit” or “transfer” or “connecting flights.” You’ll have to go through security again, but your baggage should automatically be transferred from the first flight to the second one, as long as your flights were booked together on one itinerary, which it sounds like they are. I always recommend verifying this with the agent when you check in for your first flight though. You will go through customs and immigration in Salt Lake City since it’s your first port of entry into the US, but you’re technically not entering the Netherlands or the Schengen Zone, so that’s why you should be able to bypass it in Amsterdam. I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions, and have a great trip!

  139. Gracie

    I have a question. We are flying from dfw to Prague but have a layover in Frankfurt. Will this be like US to Frankfurt to Rome?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Gracie! Yes, flying from the US to Frankfurt to Prague would be similar to flying from the US to Frankfurt to Rome. Germany, Italy, and the Czech Republic are all in the Schengen Zone, so you go through customs and immigration at the first Schengen airport you land in. Your luggage should automatically get transferred from one flight to the next, but I always recommend verifying this with the agent when you check in for your first flight. Once you get through customs and immigration in Frankfurt, you just have to find your next gate (it could be in a different section of the airport since you’ll be landing in the international side, but Frankfurt to Prague is sort of like a domestic flight) and you’ll have to go through security again before you reach your gate. I hope this helps! And check back on Travel Made Simple in a week or two for some great info on Prague – my husband and I are there revisiting right now so we can write up some helpful posts here for our readers!

  140. Sydnee

    I have a serious questions on how these thing work especially since i have never been on a plane before. So lets say i leave the U.S and have a layover flight in Frankfurt with the same terminal and airline that will take me to Milan, would i have to go through customs? or pick my luggage up? go through security? I’m just really confused due to this is my first time flying. Thank you!!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Sydnee! Yes, you will go through customs and immigration in Frankfurt since that’s where you’re entering the Schengen Zone. As long as your flights are booked together on one itinerary (you booked from the US to Milan, not one ticket from the US to Frankfurt and a separate one from Frankfurt to Milan) then the airline should tag your luggage to go all the way to Milan. You’ll also have to go through security in Frankfurt before reaching your next gate. The airline employees will speak English and almost all the staff at the airport will as well, so if you get confused or lost, don’t hesitate to ask someone to point you in the right direction.

      I’m assuming you’ll be doing this in reverse at some point. It works slightly differently, but nothing major. You’ll fly from Milan to Frankfurt, and your luggage should get tagged to your final destination in the US. But in Frankfurt, you’ll have to go through passport control to get stamped out of the Schengen Zone. You’ll have to go through security again before getting to your gate. You’ll go through US customs and immigration at the first airport you arrive at in the US. If you have to connect in the US, you’ll have to claim and recheck your luggage. If the first US airport is your final destination, you just claim your luggage.

      I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions and enjoy your trip!

  141. Betina

    Thanks for the great article!
    I have some questions though. I will fly Honolulu –> Dallas –> London –> Stavanger (Norway). I will travel with the same travel agency on all my flights. Do you know where I will have to collect my luggage and recheck it again? And also, do you know where I will have to go through immigration and customs? My stopover in Dallas is 8 hours and the stopover in London is only 1.5 hours. Thanks!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Betina! As long as your flights were all booked on one itinerary, the airline should tag your luggage to go all the way to Stavanger and it will get transferred from one flight to the next, so you only have to collect it in Stavanger. Norway is in the Schengen Zone, but the UK is not. Since you won’t be staying in the UK, look for signs that say “transit” or “transfer” or “connecting flights” and you should be able to bypass customs and immigration there. You’ll have to go through security again to get to your next flight though. An hour and a half is a little tight, but since you shouldn’t have to deal with customs and immigration, you should be fine. You’ll go through customs and immigration in Stavanger. As for Dallas, nothing special to do there.

      If you’re doing this in the reverse, you’ll have to go through passport control in Stavanger to get stamped out of the Schengen Zone. Again, you should be able to bypass customs and immigration in London. In Dallas (or anywhere you might have a connecting flight in the US) you’ll have to go through US customs and immigration and claim and recheck your luggage since it’s the first US airport you land in. Then you’ll have to go through security again to get to your next gate.

      I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions, and enjoy your trip!

  142. Tamara

    Hello,

    I am traveling from MSP (Minneapolis St Paul) to O’Hare International (Chicago) to Heathrow (London.) Both of these flights are on American Airlines. I will be staying in London a few days and then flying to Tegel Berlin to stay for a month. This is on British Airlines. Then after a month, I fly from Tegel (Berlin) to Heathrow (London) on British Airlines. Then from Heathrow (London) to O’Hare international (Chicago) on British Airways. Then I fly from O’Hare (Chicago) to MSP (Minneapolist St. Pau) on American Airlines My layovers are all approximately 3 hours, besides when I will be staying in London for a few days on my way to Berlin. All of my flights are booked on one itinerary. My questions are the following.

    1. On my way to London will I need to get my bag in Chicago and check it on to my plane to London or will they do this for me?
    2. Since both of my flights on the way to London are on American Airlines will I get both of my boarding passes at MSP? Or will I need to pick up the second one in Chicago.
    3. When will I go through international secerity on my way to London (in MSP or O’Hare.)
    4. On my way back to the United States will I need to go through international secerity at each airport?
    5. On my way back to the United States will I need to pick up my bags at any of the airports or will they be transferred automatically for me?
    6. On my way back to the United States will I need to pick up my boarding passes more than once? Or just when I leave Tegel.

    Thank you,

    Tamara

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Tamara! I think I can help:
      1) When leaving the US, as long as your flights are all booked on one itinerary (which it sounds like they are) your checked luggage will be transferred from the MSP-ORD flight to the ORD-LHR flight. You won’t have to pick it up in Chicago.

      2) Again, as long as your flights are booked on one itinerary, American Airlines will print both of your boarding passes when you check in for your first flight in Minneapolis.

      3) In the US, you simply go through security. There isn’t a different one for international flights, though some airports have security checkpoints for each terminal and might have a separate international terminal. You’ll go through security in MSP, and chances are you will have to change terminals in ORD since they do have an international terminal, and unfortunately ORD has separate security checkpoints for each terminal. There is no exiting passport control or customs when leaving the US, but the agent checking you in for your flight in MSP will look at your passport.

      4, 5, 6) You’ll go through security as well as passport control when leaving Berlin since you will be leaving the Schengen Zone. When you land in London, as long as you already have your boarding pass for LHR-ORD, you should be able to bypass customs and immigration since you’re not staying in the UK. Look for signs that say “transit” or “transfer” or “connecting flights.” You’ll have to go through security again there as well.

      If you booked as one leg TXL-LHR-ORD-MSP, then you should get all boarding passes when you check in at TXL. But if you booked two separate itineraries, MSP-ORD-LHR plus LHR-ORD-MSP as one itinerary and LHR-TXL plus TXL-LHR as another itinerary, you’ll probably have to find a check-in counter at LHR to get your LHR-ORD-MSP boarding passes. (In other words, what did you put into the flight search? Did you say you wanted to go MSP to LHR as one leg, then LHR to TXL as the next leg, and TXL to MSP as the final leg? Or was your final leg TXL-LHR and LHR-MSP?) Your bags will only get tagged to LHR if you’re on two separate itineraries, so you would have to go through customs and immigration to claim and recheck your luggage. But if this is your situation, talk to the agent when you check in at TXL. Since it’s the same airline, they might be able to work with you on it and tag your luggage to go the whole way, and they might be able to check you in for the LHR-ORD-MSP flights and print your boarding passes.

      When you land in ORD, you’ll go through US customs and immigration, claim and recheck your luggage, and go through security before you can get to your next gate.

      Your luggage will be transferred from the TXL-LHR flight to the LHR-ORD flight only if those flights are on one itinerary. (Or if they’re not on one itinerary but the check-in agent is able to tag your luggage that way.) You have to claim and recheck luggage in ORD because it’s the first US airport you land in.

      I hope this helps, and I hope I haven’t confused you. Let me know if you have any other questions. And let me know if you have any questions about Berlin, that’s where I live and it’s a great city!

  143. JM

    Hi Ali,

    I will be going to Canada from Manila three weeks from now. My uncle booked the flight for me and gave me a copy of the itinerary indicating the details below:

    Manila to Hongkong – Cathay Pacific
    — 1 hour and 55 minutes before next flight —
    Hongkong to New York – American Airlines
    — 2 hours and 20 minutes before next flight —
    New York to Toronto – American Airlines

    Will I be needing a US Transit Visa if I will only be transferring from one AA flight to another when I arrive in New York?

    Thank you.

    JM

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi JM! If your citizenship is one that requires a visa to visit the US, then you will need a visa to transit through the US. When you land at a US airport, you have to go through customs and immigration even if the US isn’t y our final destination. It’s a pain, but there’s no way around it. See here for more info. Have a great trip!

      1. JM

        I see. Noted on that. I should’ve booked a different flight. 🙂

        Anyway, I am scheduled for interview tomorrow at the US Embassy. Wishing for an approved C1 Visa.

        Thanks for the information, Ali. I am glad I was able to read your blog. 🙂

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          Glad to help, and sorry for the hassle! Good luck with the visa, I hope it works out!

  144. Taylor Sumsion

    Hi Ali! I just had a quick question for you! It seems like you are pretty quick at getting back to people, so maybe you can help me. 🙂 I am flying from Berlin, Germany, to Zurich, Switzerland, and then connecting to Toronto, with Salt Lake City as my final destination. My layover is the shortest in Switzerland, but I was wondering if I will have to go through customs when I land in Zurich? I really hope not, but if I do, that will be good to know! I’m flying with Swiss Airlines for the first flight and then Air Canada for the next 2…but I think that they are sister airlines…do you know that by chance? And where do you think that I’m going to have to go through customs/security? I’m hoping that it will be in Canada, because my layover there is pretty lengthy (6 hrs). If you have any ideas, that would honestly be great to know! Thanks in advance!

    Taylor

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Taylor! Germany and Switzerland are both in the Schengen Zone, so you won’t have to do anything special to fly out of Berlin or to get into Zurich. But you will have to go through passport control in Zurich to get stamped out of the Schengen Zone. How long that takes really depends on the lines…how long is your layover there? As long as you have at least an hour, though I usually aim for at least two hours for international layovers, you’ll probably be ok. If you get to passport control and there’s a long line, you could always politely ask the people in front of you if you could go ahead because of a tight layover. You’ll also have to go through security in Zurich before boarding your next flight.

      Swiss Airlines and Air Canada are both part of Star Alliance, so you should be able to get all your boarding passes at once. You will have to go through customs and immigration in Toronto, but they have this wonderful guide for connecting flights here that tells you what you have to do based on the airline, where you’re going, and where you’re coming from. I wish all airport websites had this! It looks like you’ll only have to deal with US customs there, since it’s one of the Canadian airports that actually has a US border control post, but check out that site.

      I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any questions! I hope you enjoyed Berlin, it’s where I live!

      1. TravellerKid1990

        Hi Ali

        Fantastic blog firstly 🙂 provided me with some useful insight and answered some questions I was asking myself and trying to Google.

        I was wondering if you could shed some light on the uncertainty I have regarding my upcoming trip in September.

        I’m from Ireland and I’m travelling to Cancun through various connections booked through United Airlines:

        ** Outgoing **
        Dublin – London – Texas – Cancun (First flight is Aer Lingus) but booked through United.

        ** Return **
        Cancun – Washington – Dublin

        Basically I have concerns surrounding US Customs Check in & my subsequent connecting flights. I’ve obtained my Visa Waiver (ESTA) and will be going through Pre-Clearance for the US in Texas to my knowledge. My concern is about the potential time this could take and my connecting flights as the layover is not quite long.

        Is there such thing as a “connecting flights – pre clearance” put simply will the custom dudes know people are in a rush to catch another flight out of Texas.

        Any assistance/guidance provided would be greatly appreciated.

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          Thanks, glad you like the site! Unfortunately most airports don’t have a separate line for people with connecting flights, and even the one time I did see something like that (it was in Atlanta) the only advantage was that it was easier to recheck luggage. And I hate to say it, but US customs officials are not known for being friendly and/or accommodating. Your best bet is to try to get off the plane as quickly as possible (have all your carry-on stuff packed up and ready to go before the plane lands, think about switching to an aisle seat and as close to the front as possible) and get to the passport line as fast as you can. If there are stairs and an escalator, take the stairs and bypass all the people standing on the escalator. Don’t stop for a bathroom break. (Check out my tips for short layovers here.) Once you’re in line, if it’s a long wait, I think the best you can do is ask people in front of you if you can move up because you have a short layover and hope you have some nice people ahead of you.

          It looks like there’s some really good info on the airport’s website here, and since you have an ESTA, you should be able to use one of the kiosks, which in theory should go faster than having to wait for an immigration official. The site also gives directions on where to go to recheck your luggage, which sounds like it’s pretty easy, but I’m sure there will also be signs. BUT I also found this: https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/travel-tourism/george-bush-intercontinental-airport-iah which basically explains that there’s some new program with United Airlines that you don’t have to claim and recheck your luggage on international layovers if you’re just transiting through the US, at least at certain airports, and it looks like Houston is one of them. Definitely verify this when you check in for your flight. It’s called the International to International (ITI) program. So that should save you time, too.

          I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions, and enjoy Mexico!

      2. Taylor Sumsion

        Perfect! That’s what I wanted to hear! My layover is an hour and 15 minutes in total…so I should be alright. Thanks for looking into that for me. 🙂

        Oh that site for Toronto is beautiful…we need more of those! I’ll be in the same terminal, but my layover is 6 hours so it really doesn’t matter too much huh? I have a lot of time to get through customs and immigration.

        You live in Berlin?? Are you German? I could’ve written this all in German! But I guess it wouldn’t really help anyone else that looked at these comments for help would it? Bummer.

        I did have one more question–so I leave in July and it will be 85 days total that I spent in Germany. I was allowed 90 because I have a US Passport and no German Visa. I was out here on an internship with a start up company in Berlin. So at the passport control when they ask me why I came to Germany and I tell them that I was here for an internship, do I need to provide any paperwork to prove it? When I was flying in, I came through Frankfurt and the security guard at Passport Control asked me if I had any paperwork…he didn’t seem too happy to let me through when he stamped my Passport, but I was let through. I don’t want to get held up anywhere because I don’t have any paperwork. Since you’re in Germany, you would have a good idea about this. 🙂 And when I need some, what kind of paperwork does it need to be and in what language? I will have to answer those questions in all 3 airports I think…maybe not in Toronto…but I’m not sure. Thoughts? Thanks Ali!

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          Nope, I’m American but I’ve been living in Germany for 5 years, 1 year of that in Berlin. My German is horrible!

          I would be really surprised if they asked you why you were in Germany when you’re leaving. You really shouldn’t need any sort of paperwork to leave since you were on a tourist visa and you stayed less than 90 days. If it were me, I would just say I was traveling, but I can’t advise you on that. When you were entering, he probably assumed when you said “internship” that you were going to be there longer and would have some kind of visa in hand, but that usually isn’t necessary for a stay of less than 90 days. And no one will ask you those sorts of questions at any other airport since you’re just transiting. And actually now that I reminded myself where you’re flying through, you won’t be dealing with any customs/immigration officers in Berlin since your flight from there is to Zurich. The passport control person in Zurich will check to make sure you haven’t overstayed your 90 day tourist visa, but that’s it. Don’t worry about paperwork. And no, definitely nothing to worry about relating to this in Toronto.

  145. Taylor Sumsion

    Oh! And one more thing–will I have to recheck my luggage? Or will it go straight to Salt Lake City for me? Thanks!

    Liebe Grüße
    Taylor

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Your luggage should be transferred from the Berlin-Zurich flight to the Zurich-Toronto flight. Check that Toronto airport site, but I’m 99.9% sure you will have to claim and recheck your luggage in Toronto, but “recheck” should be a really simple process near the customs area. Then you just pick it up in Salt Lake City.

      Safe travels!

  146. Linda

    Hi,
    Loving all the info above. I have a question. First time ever getting a connecting flight so a little bit anxious.. We are flying from Dublin to Newark, Layover 1 h 40 mins and then to Orlando for 5 nights from there Seattle for 10 days. On way home Seattle to Chicago with Layover 1 h 25 mins and to Dublin, all flights with United Airlines. (I have requested wheelchair assistance at all airports), With the new electronic passport system and my esta visa, we have been told our bags will go straight to Orlando so will we have to get them if we have to go through Customs in Newark? As we have never got a connecting flight I am worried about the layover times and bags especially if I also need wheelchair assistance?

    Thanks In Advance
    Linda

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Linda! If United Airlines is telling you your bags will automatically get transferred from the Dublin-Newark flight to the Newark-Orlando flight, that might be a new thing they’re doing. Definitely verify this with United when you check in for your flight, and even once you land in Newark. I don’t see anything on the airport’s site or on United’s site. Luggage transfer has nothing to do with your ESTA. When you get to Newark, you’ll have to go through customs and immigration, which could take some time depending on the lines. You’ll also have to go through security to get to your next gate. An hour and 40 minutes is tight, but not impossible. If there’s any way to get a later flight from Newark to Orlando, it’s worth considering changing that flight. On your way home, the 1 hour 25 minute layover in Chicago also seems a little short. You will most likely have to switch from one terminal to another since ORD has a separate terminal for international flights, and each terminal has its own security checkpoint. Your luggage will automatically get transferred from one flight to the next here. There aren’t any official passport control procedures when exiting the US, so you won’t have to worry about that. (The agent who checks you in for your flight will check your passport.) Again, this is a tight layover but not impossible. If there is any way to get an earlier flight from Seattle, you might want to consider it. Getting wheelchair assistance on your layovers could save you a few minutes once they pick you up, it’s not necessarily faster if they aren’t already waiting for you at the gate and you have to wait for them to come get you. If you decide to stick with the layovers you have, you don’t want to waste any time at those airports. Check out my tips for short layovers here, and no matter what, enjoy your trip to the US!

      1. Linda Stafford

        Hi, just got confirmation last night but when you leave from Dublin or Shannon you have to go through customs and immirgration here, its called pre-clearance so you dont have to go through it in any airport in the US. So thats why we dont have to claim bags or anything all we have to do is change gates as we are arriving and leaving from Terminal C. So just said I would let you know. Thank you for all your help. Linda

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          Thank you for letting me know! I knew they did that in many airports in Canada, and now that you mention it, I do remember reading that they have the US customs pre-clearance in Ireland too. Thanks! That will *definitely* save you time on your layover, and 1 hour 40 minutes in Newark should be fine.

  147. Kit

    Hi Ali,
    I’m travelling to Paris in October but was thinking of spending the last few days visiting friends in Scotland before coming home (Boston, MA, USA). My Question is, by having to book on another airline my itinerary will not be linked, will I have to pick up my luggage and have to recheck it in at CDG? Also immigration? And how much time do you think is sufficient for a Saturday layover at that airport? My original flight home to Boston is at Noon, but after reading your article and many comments and responses I’m thinking of pushing it out to a later flight.
    Thanks!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Kit! Yes, you will have to pick up your luggage at CDG and recheck it for your flight to Boston. If you use the same airline, there’s a possibility they might be able to tag your luggage to go all the way through, but it’s very possible they still won’t be able to do it. That means you will have to go through immigration in Paris to retrieve your luggage, recheck it, and check in for your next flight. I’d aim for at least 3 hours, or even closer to 4 or so, in Paris to make sure you can do all of this. If lines are short, you’ll end up with extra time, but better that than missing your connection. I hope that helps!

  148. Xinkim

    Hi there, I have a question regarding layover. I’m departing from Barcelona to Singapore, and will stopover at Doha for 19 hours+. I know that my luggage will be sent from Barcelona straight to Singapore. However I would like to claim my luggage at Doha and check in again for my next flight to Singapore. Can I do that and how? Thank you very much in advance 🙂

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi, I think you could probably ask the airline when you’re checking in for your first flight if they can tag your luggage only to Doha and explain that you’d like to pick up your luggage there since it’s such a long layover. Then you’ll have to go back to the counter to recheck your luggage before boarding the second flight. If for some reason they can’t do that, just make sure everything you need for your layover is in your carry-on.

      I don’t know if you already have plans in Doha, but check out my post about leaving the airport during a layover. Towards the end is a section about things to do during a long layover, and Doha is one of the airports that offers a free layover tour. There’s a link there to the tour, worth checking out if it fits your timing!

      1. Xinkim

        Hi Ali, thanks for your prompt response! Hopefully I can do that with my luggage tagging to Doha. Also, thanks for the tips on free layover tour, it’s great! Have a nice day.

  149. Lauren

    Hi Thank you soooo much for such helpful info!
    I’ve booked my mutli-city ticket (all in one itinerary) with United airlines through a travel agency for a flight in late September.
    My first flight is from SYD-LAX-DEN, with 1hr 55min layover at LAX.
    From all the comments and your posts it sounds possible, but since it’s my first time flying to the States I’m a little worried.
    So just to confirm the procedure:
    1. When I get off at LAX (Terminal B), I go through immigration (I assume there will be only one way/aisle to go there? I’m planning to run lol),
    2. Pick up my baggage (I have one checked-in) – Is this on the same level of the airport would you know?
    3. Go through customs, and drop it off for transfer? (again, is this all happening in close distance from Terminal B? Sorry I really have no idea of the LAX airport 🙁 )
    4. If I get both boarding passes (SYD-LAX & LAX-DEN) in Sydney airport do I just have to go to my next terminal (Terminal 7 – again I’m running instead of shuttle bus)?
    5. Show my boarding pass at the gate and doneeee

    Do you think 1h55min will be okay? United airline says they don’t give any sort of “Express pass”, is it the LAX airport that gives them out to passengers with short layover time? Or is it depending on the airline?

    Thank you so much for your help in advance!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Lauren, glad to help!

      1) Yes, go through immigration as soon as you get off the plane. You really can’t make a wrong turn because they don’t want you to be able to accidentally miss it. Follow the herd, and follow the signs that say immigration or passport control.
      2) You should be able to pick up your checked luggage shortly after passport control. Again, it should be hard to miss. I can’t remember if it’s on a different level in LAX (it’s been a few years since I’ve flown through there) but you should be see signs or be able to follow where everyone else is going.
      3) Then go through customs, which is usually really quick if you have nothing to declare. You should see a transfer desk or a luggage drop-off point shortly after that.
      4) You should get both boarding passes in Sydney since your flights are on one itinerary. This is about the point where you’ll have to go through security again before you can get to your next gate. Take a look at this map of LAX and decide when you get there if it’s really worth walking (I can’t imagine having the energy to run after that long flight!) or waiting for the shuttle. The map says it takes 3-5 minutes to walk between each terminal.
      5) Yes, they’ll check your boarding pass at the next gate.

      If at any point you get confused or aren’t sure where you’re going, don’t hesitate to ask for help. The US Border Control agents aren’t exactly known for being friendly, but they should be able to point you to the next step of the process. And the customs person should be able to point you towards the luggage rechecking area if you don’t see it. 1 hour 55 minutes is a bit tight for LAX but not impossible. Read through my tips for short layovers here. I don’t know anything about express passes. There are some benefits to having Global Entry that could save you time at passport control, but my understanding is that it is only available to US citizens and a few other select countries, but I don’t see Australia on the short list. There really isn’t much skipping ahead at the immigration lines, even if you have a short layover.

      I hope this helps, and enjoy your trip!

  150. Larry

    Hi Ali, I am flying on United from Narita Tokyo to Newark, NJ, with a 1.5 hour stop over in Washington DC, and am trying to confirm how the luggage and customs work. A united representative (from India) insists that I will go through customs in DC but that my luggage will go straight on to Newark NJ. This appears to be different than what your site suggests. I actually called United twice and got the same answer. Could they be wrong? Just trying to figure out what will happen. Thanks in advance for your help!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Larry! It seems that United might be changing some procedures when it comes to checked luggage on international flights. I found this https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/travel-tourism/george-bush-intercontinental-airport-iah when someone else had a similar question about a different airport, though that site says United will transfer luggage if you’re only connecting in the US, not staying, which isn’t your situation. I can’t find anything on United’s website, but if their customer service people have told you twice that your bag will be transferred from your first flight to your second, I’d believe them. (Also, congrats for even finding a phone number, I’ve been looking all over their website for one!) Anyway, I’m going to keep digging on this a little because I want to make sure I can continue to give accurate advice. If I find anything different, I will post it here and send you an email to let you know. But for now, I think you can assume they’re giving you accurate information. Might be worth verifying with the agent in Tokyo when you check in, and if you’re really worried, ask at DC airport when you’re in the immigration area.

    2. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Larry, I looked all over United’s site again, and decided to try them on Twitter since they seem pretty active on their account. I was told “He will go through Customs and likely need to pick up his luggage after clearing. He will not need to pay to re-check it if he is traveling on the same ticket, but will need to move it from the carousel to the next check area. Agents will be there to assist and direct him.” I think your best bet is to keep asking along the way. Better to ask, and even check the luggage carousel in DC, then to assume your luggage will be transferred and leave it behind.

  151. Sarasij

    Hi,

    I am an Indian student travelling to Virginia,USA in August to begin my PhD studies.
    I have an F1 VISA with me.

    My Travel plan is this:
    Kolkata(CCU)(Jet Airways)(18:55, August 6))—–>Mumbai(BOM)(21:40,August 6);

    Mumbai(Jet Airways)(07 Aug, 01:40)——–>London – Heathrow Airport (LHR, T4)(07 Aug, 06:45);

    London – Heathrow Airport(T3)(American Airlines)(07 Aug, 11:00)—>Charlotte (CLT)(07 Aug, 14:55);

    Charlotte(American Airlines)(07 Aug, 20:05)—>Charlottesville(CHO)(07 Aug, 21:08)

    All this has been been booked on a single ticket via makemytrip using the multicity option.

    What is to be done at LHR regarding luggage, Customs, Immigration (and there is also a change of terminal as you can see)?

    Jet Airways has been answering the following which has confused me. –

    “Please allow us to mention your immigration will take place in Mumbai departure and your baggage will be through checked in till final destination.

    However in London there is change of terminal and airline so will be asked to identify your baggage on the arrival in London and then you need to hand over your baggage to American airline counter to board onward flight with them.”

    And then, “Please allow us to mention your customs will take place in London arrival and Charlotte first port of entry in US.

    After customs you need to hand over your baggage to the transfer desk. ”

    I hope I shall be exempt from a transit visa, as I am carrying an F1 Visa for USA and also satisfy the criteria stated in this link[https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa].

    Can you please explain a bit further about all of the above?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Sarasij! I think you have me stumped! Normally when you have a layover in a country you’re not staying in, you don’t have to go through immigration and customs or claim and recheck your luggage (Canada and the US are exceptions) so I’m not sure why Jet Airways is telling you that. I also found this on their site which says that for flights booked on one itinerary, like yours, they will transfer your luggage to American Airlines. Can you call Jet Airways and speak to a customer service rep to get more clarification? As for a transit visa in the UK, unfortunately I don’t know those rules. If you satisfy the criteria listed on that UK site, it sounds like you won’t need a transit visa, but I don’t feel comfortable telling you one way or another on that. Your best option there is to contact the British Embassy and ask them.

      If you do have to go through customs and immigration in London, it’s a hassle, but it shouldn’t be a big deal. Make sure you have your F1 visa handy to show them, along with your next plane ticket. Claiming and rechecking luggage is usually easy to figure out because there are signs, and really, they don’t want you to leave your luggage behind. You’ll have to go through security in London before boarding your flight to the US.

      When you’re leaving Mumbai, you’ll have to go through passport control to be stamped out of India. In Charlotte, you’ll have to go through immigration and customs as well as claim and recheck your luggage. You’ll also have to go through security again before continuing onto your flight to Virginia.

      I’m so sorry I couldn’t be more help on this! Keep calling people and asking questions, and ask when you check in for your flight in Kolkata. If I find anything else, I’ll let you know. Regardless, I hope you have a great time in Virginia!

    2. Sarasij

      Thanks for your advice!! 🙂

      Jet Airways recently replied again this time saying that:

      ‘Please allow us to mention, having checked with concern your baggage will be through checked in from Kolakatta to Charlotte by Jet Airways.

      However immigration will take place in Mumbai departure and customs in Charlotte arrival.

      Further once customs is done you need to hand over your baggage to the transfer desk to board further code share flight with American Airline.”

      I hadn’t included this in my earlier comment as I received it after July 18. However, I did write this in the mail I wrote to you. with the ticket attached.

      I am not sure why even they are confused! I am deeply grateful to you for looking into it 😀

      1. Author
        Ali Garland

        Good to hear it! It really didn’t make sense for you to have to go through customs and immigration in London. Good luck with all of your flights, and with your PhD program!

  152. Sophia

    Hello, I have a quick question! I’m traveling from Dublin to Estonia, but I have a 8 hour overnight layover in Helsinki between the two. Will I need to get my passport stamped in Helsinki, and then not in Estonia because they’re both within the Schengen area, or will I wait until I get to my final destination in Estonia? My understanding is that all flights in Helsinki leave from the same secured area, and I don’t intend to leave the area unless I absolutely have to. Any advice you could give me would me wonderful, because I’m traveling solo and don’t want to get lost 🙂

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Sophia! Yes, you will go through immigration and customs in Helsinki and get stamped into the Schengen Zone. That’s because it’s your first entry into the Schengen Zone. You won’t get stamped in Estonia. You might still have to go through security to get to your second flight, but there will be signs, and as confusing as airports can be, it’s often hard to really get lost. When you’re getting off an international flight, they don’t let you make a lot of decisions as to where to go because they want to make sure you go through the proper procedures.

      But you have 8 hours in Helsinki! I don’t think I could resist popping into the city for a few hours. If you decide to leave the airport during your layover, check toandfromtheairport.com for your transport options, and check out my post here about leaving the airport during a layover.

      Anyway, I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions!

  153. Hayley

    Hi Ali

    This is a really great article, thanks so much for it!

    I’m taking my first long haul flight in a few months – Heathrow to Tokyo Narita via Rome Leonardo de Vinci with Alitalia. I don’t have to change terminals in Rome, so am I right in thinking I wont have to re-check my luggage in Rome? I suspect I already know the answer but I wanted to double check, as naturally I’m quite anxious about doing such a big trip!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Hayley! Your luggage should be transferred from one flight to the next, so you shouldn’t have to do anything with it in Rome. You’ll go through passport control in London to be stamped out of the UK. You should be able to bypass immigration and customs in Rome (look for signs that say “transit” or “transfer” or “connecting flights”) since you’re not staying in the Schengen Zone. You’ll probably have to go through security again before continuing to your next gate. Once you land in Tokyo, you’ll go through immigration and customs to get stamped into Japan, and you’ll claim your luggage there. I hope this helps, and have a great trip!

  154. SC

    Hi,Ali,
    I’m travelling from Beijing to Salt Lake City, with a 2hr 40 min layover in Seattle .From Beijing to Seattle I’m travelling with Hainan and from Seattle to Salt Lake City with Alaska.I booked these flights all together one itinerary.Do you think I can make it? How can I reach Concourse C from South Satellite?Thanks!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi! Yes, I think you’ll have enough time. It might be a little tight, but it’s not impossible. The terminals are connected by trains, and it looks like you might have to take two different ones to get from the south satellite to concourse C. Here’s a map of the airport that shows the trains: http://www.portseattle.org/Sea-Tac/Maps-and-Directions/Pages/Terminal-Overview.aspx And I also found this which has some info on how to get from one terminal to another and specifically mentions coming into the south satellite from an international flight and transferring to a domestic flight: http://www.ifly.com/seattle-tacoma-international/terminal-map

      I hope this helps, and have a great trip!

  155. Christine

    Hi Ali

    We are flying from heathrow to Vancouver with a connecting flight in salt lake on a delta flight lading in salt lake 17:51 departing salt lake 20:10
    Comming back from Vancouver to Heathrow with a connection in Seattle on delta flight landing in Seattle 19.30 departing 21.15

    Where do we go when we arrive in each of the connecting airports ? do we have to go through security?

    christine

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Christine! When you land in Salt Lake City, you will have to go through US immigration and customs. Follow the signs for passport control when you get off the plane, but you can’t really make a wrong turn because it’s your only option. You might have to claim and recheck your luggage. It’s standard procedure when landing in the US from an international flight, but some airports have recently made changes to this for passengers who are only transiting through the US. I don’t know if Salt Lake City is one of them, so talk to the Delta representative when you check in for your first flight. I’d probably also verify with someone when you get to Salt Lake City. You will also have to go through security before you can get to your next gate. I think you’ll have enough time for your layover, but if you’re worried, check out my tips for short layovers here.

      On your way back, it should be even easier. According to this article, Vancouver is one of the Canadian airports that has US customs agents, which means you will actually go through US customs and immigration procedures while you’re still in the Vancouver airport. So when you land in Seattle, you’ll just get off the plane and look for your next gate. Most of the terminals are connected within the secured area, which means you won’t have to go through security again, but even if you do have to go through security to change terminals, you should have plenty of time on this layover. Look for the departures board to find out where your next gate is and follow the signs to the train that connects the terminals. It should be obvious if you have to leave the secured area to change terminals, but when in doubt, look for an info desk to get help.

      Enjoy your trip!

  156. Lea

    Hi Ali,

    Wow, you seem very knowledgeable! I am traveling to Italy in 3 weeks and am trying to get a clear answer as to whether I will need to file a Declaration of Presence upon arrival. I am a Canadian citizen and will be traveling from Toronto, catching a connecting flight in Munich, Germany with a 2 hour layover, then continuing on to Florence. In Italy I have booked private accommodations, I will not be staying in commercial hotels. The Canadian travel advice website says the following:

    Canadians arriving from a Schengen area country, staying less than 90 days and not staying in commercial accommodations, must file a declaration of presence (dichiarazione di presenza) with the local police office (questura) within eight days of arrival. Commercial accommodations will generally file the declaration of presence on behalf of travellers; however, the traveller is responsible to ensure that it is done. Obtain a copy of the registration form from the hotel. Failure to comply with this regulation could result in expulsion from Italy. If arriving from a non-Schengen country, ensure that border officials place an entry stamp in your passport, as this is the equivalent to a declaration of presence. See the Italian Foreign Ministry for details.

    So I’m just a little confused if I need to do this or not. Will I go through immigration in Munich? Is that where my passport will get stamped? If that is the case then I assume it wouldn’t get stamped in Italy? Or will it get stamped in Italy since that is my final destination? I assume if it gets stamped in Germany then I would have file the Declaration because then I would technically be arriving from a Schengen country. My airline told me my country of origin of departure would remain Canada, but I’ve been reading a lot of different things.

    Hope you can help with this!

    Lea

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Lea! You will go through customs and immigration in Munich, and that’s where you’ll get stamped into the Schengen Zone. You won’t get stamped in Italy. So I guess technically you would have to file the declaration, but honestly, I’ve never done that. I’m sure hotels have done it for me when I’ve stayed at hotels in Italy, but I’ve also stayed in Airbnb rentals, and I’ve never gone to the local police to do that. I can’t advise you to ignore it, but that has been my experience. In theory you could try to get a border official at the Florence airport to stamp your passport, but I’m not sure you can even get to that section of the airport if your flight arrives from a Schengen country. Ask whoever it is you’re staying with if they know anything about the declaration and if they can help you do it, or if it’s even worth doing. Overall, try not to worry too much about this. You should always obey the laws of the country you’re visiting, but like I said, I’ve never done this. Use your best judgement. And enjoy your trip to Italy!

      1. Lea

        Hi Ali,

        Thank you so much for your quick response, it makes me feel a better to know what your experience has been. I guess I will see what happens when I get there. I haven’t done a lot of traveling abroad so this is all a learning experience for me as I like to plan my trips myself without using a travel agent.

        Thanks again,
        Lea

  157. Paige

    Hello Ali,

    First of all thank you for creating this article, it was extremely informative! I had one last question catered to my specific travel plans. I am traveling from Chicago to Paris, with a 70 minute lay over in Iceland. I am traveling with the same airline the entire time but I am wondering if, in your opinion, it will even be manageable to catch my connecting flight when I know I will need to go through Border Control. I am just trying to get a grasp on what sort of time frame approximately I would be looking at to get from one plane, through border control to my next flight.

    Thanks,

    Paige

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Paige! Normally I’d say 70 minutes sounds really tight for a connection where you have to go through customs and immigration and security. But it looks like Keflavik Airport in Reykjavik isn’t too big, so I don’t think you’ll have far to go once you clear customs. There’s only one terminal, and they’re very used to people transiting through. I don’t think you’ll have much time to waste, but I think you should be ok with this one. If you’re worried though, check out my tips for handling short layovers here. Enjoy your trip, and if you’re looking for more tips for Paris, be sure to check out our France section here.

  158. Aisha

    I have a question. If traveling to Spain from california- we have a 12 hour layover in New York- we were hoping to go explore the city- it what happen she to the luggage. Does it get sent through to the final destination? Or are we stuck with it in NY. (We wanted to leave the airport to see little bit ft the city)

    Also, on the way back, we have a 10 hour layover from Barcelona to Paris and from there back to the states. Same question about Paris- we would like to explore the city for a few hours but what happens to all the luggage?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Aisha! On your flight leaving the US, your luggage should be checked all the way to your final destination, so you won’t have to pick it up in NYC. Always verify this with the airline when you’re checking in for a flight with a long layover, but there really shouldn’t be any reason in this case to have to pick up your bags there. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get back to the airport and get through security again for your next flight. Depending on the time of day, you might want to look at public transport options instead of a taxi so you don’t run the risk of getting stuck in traffic.

      As for the layover in Paris, it should be the same thing. Your bags should be checked all the way back to your final destination. It’ll take you a little longer at the Paris airport on your way back because you’ll have to go through passport control to be stamped out of the Schengen Zone, as well as having to go through security again. It’s probably worth looking at public transport there too. You won’t have a lot of time since you need plenty of time to get back through the airport, but probably enough time to go see the Eiffel Tower (though maybe not go up it) and maybe one other sight.

      I hope that helps, and have a great trip!

  159. SK

    Hi Ali,

    I have recently received Canada Permanent Residence Visa and would be travelling end of Nov 2016. My flight itinerary is India-Seoul-Vancouver-Calgary.

    Since its my first time travelling to Canada, I guess I have to got through the Port of Entry concept. The layover time in Vancouver before my connecting flight to Calgary is only 1hr 30mins. So I am not sure if I have to go through the port of entry formalities in Vancouver or Calgary, I may miss my flight to Calgary if I go through the port of entry procedure in Vancouver. If you have idea regarding anything related to my concern, could you please let me know.

    Since Vancouver to Calgary is domestic flight, how does that work out with the immigration, customs, port of entry procedures.

    (India to Seoul is Korean Air) (Seoul to Vancouver to Calgary is Air Canada)

    Thank you.
    SK.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi! Yes, you’ll have to go through immigration and customs in Vancouver, no way around it. In general in Canada, you have to claim and recheck your luggage. You’ll also have to go through security again to get to your next flight. Check out this guide the Vancouver airport has on their site: http://www.yvr.ca/en/passengers/navigate-yvr/passenger-guides You can use the little drop-down menu to choose connecting from an international city to a Canadian city, plus Air Canada as your airline, and it’ll give you a step-by-step guide. I’m not sure how much time you’ll need. An hour and a half seems a little tight, but it’s not impossible. You might want to ask Air Canada what their procedure is if you miss your Vancouver-Calgary flight due to customs procedures. And check out my tips for short layovers. Congrats on the visa, and have a great trip!

  160. Chanel

    Hello,

    I have a question!

    My itinerary:

    Toronto -> LA -> Sydney, AUS

    I arrive at LAX at 11:45 am and my layover is about 11 hours.

    I would live to leave LAX airport to explore the city but I’m most concerned about my baggage. Will I need to collect my bags and re-check them before I head through security and customs again? Or will they be sent automatically from flight to flight?

    My flight from TO to LA is with Qantas operated by WestJet and my flight from LA to SYD is with Qantas operated by American Airlines.

    I know I can always ask once I get to the airport but I’d like an idea if possible. Please help if you can!

    Thank you 🙂

    Chanel

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Chanel! Unfortunately you will have to claim and recheck your luggage in LAX. You’ll go through immigration/passport control, then pick up your bag, then go through customs, then recheck your luggage. It’s been awhile since I’ve flown through there, so I’m not sure exactly how the rechecking procedures work now, but some airports will have a place to drop off your luggage just past customs, no hassles. But other airports don’t, and you would have to go back out to the check-in counters, which is where it could potentially be a problem trying to check your luggage so far ahead of your flight. You might be able to call American Airlines and ask them if you’ll be able to recheck your luggage several hours ahead of time. If for some reason you can’t recheck your luggage that early, do some searches for luggage lockers or baggage checks/hold (I don’t think they have them at US airports anymore) or see if there are any hotels nearby that might be willing to hold your bags, even for a few dollars. As for leaving the airport and checking out the city, sounds like a great idea for such a long layover, just make sure you leave plenty of time to get back to the airport and through security before your next flight. Have a great trip!

  161. Alina

    Hello, thanks for such an informative website! I will travel from Abu Dhabi to Detroit, Michigan via New York. The layover in NY is about 4 hours, but I have to change airports from JFK to La Guardia. Will I have to collect my suitcase and take it with me to La Guardia, or will this be done for me? I was hoping to stop somewhere for lunch and not have my suitcase with me…. Thank you so much!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Alina! Yes, unfortunately you will have to collect your checked luggage when you land in JFK (this is true no matter what when you land in the US from an international flight) and take it with you to recheck it in La Guardia. I think your layover will be a little tight as it is without stopping somewhere for lunch. Your best bet is to go straight to La Guardia, and then if you have time there, grab some food at the airport. Remember, you’ll still need to go through customs and immigration in JFK and go through security in La Guardia. Add in the transit time between the airports, and you really won’t be left with much time.

  162. Daniel

    Hi ali,
    Flying from us to philippines with layover in korea what would the process be flying this route its my first international flight and i havent flown at all for over 15 years what do i need to know thanks in advance

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Daniel! Your flight from the US will be pretty simple. The agent will check your passport when you check in for your flight, and your checked luggage should be tagged to your final destination. However, I always recommend verifying with the agent that it will go all the way through, just to be sure. When you land in Korea, look for signs that say “transit” or “transfer” or “connecting flights” because in most cases, you can bypass immigration in a country you are only transiting. You’ll have to go through security again, and someone will look at your ticket, but that’s about it. When you land in the Philippines, you’ll go through customs and immigration to get stamped into the country.

      On your way home, you’ll have to go through passport control in the Philippines to get stamped out before you leave. (The US doesn’t do this.) Then you’ll do the same procedure in Korea. Then when you land in the US, at the first US airport you land in, you’ll go through customs and immigration. You’ll also have to claim your checked luggage and, if you have a connecting flight within the US, you’ll have to recheck your luggage and go through security again.

      When arriving in the Philippines and again back in the US, just follow the signs for immigration or passport control, and follow the other people on your flight. You kind of can’t make a wrong turn because they’re not going to let you slip out of the airport accidentally without going through customs and immigration.

      I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions, and enjoy your trip!

  163. Ticarra Gause

    Hello!

    I’m flying out of Paris-ORLY to Stockholm Arlanda. I arrive there at 4:45PM. I have an hour and ten minutes layover. My flight from Stockholm to JFK in New York, USA leaves at 5:55pm. The terminals are next to each other (Arriving at terminal 5 and leaving from terminal 4 or visa versa). Are the security check ins within the terminals? Am I cutting it close? I’m guessing I do not need to go to immigration or customs. I’m assuming I’ll get my boarding passes for both flights when I check into the first hotel in Paris and that they just send my bag to the next plane without making me go get it to check in. PLEASE HELP! This is my first time doing something like this and I’m really nervous I won’t have enough time.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Ticarra! France and Sweden are both in the Schengen Zone, so your flight from Paris to Stockholm will be similar to a domestic flight in the US. You’ll go through security in Paris, but not passport control. When you arrive in Stockholm, you’ll have to go through passport control to get stamped out of the Schengen Zone, and you’ll have to go through security. Yes, you should get both boarding passes when you check in for your first flight in Paris, as long as you booked both flights together on one itinerary. And again, as long as your flights are booked together on one itinerary, they should tag your luggage to go all the way to your final destination, so you shouldn’t have to deal with it in Stockholm. An hour and 10 minutes is a little tight, but it’s not impossible. Check out my advice for short layovers, and enjoy your trip!

  164. gem

    my flight is manila to calgary i have a connecting flight to us but my airlines are the same.. my layovers is 4hrs and 30 min. do i need to have a transit visa

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Whether or not you need a transit visa depends on a lot of things, such as your nationality and where your layover is. I recommend looking up the embassy of the country where your layover is and seeing if they have details about transit visas and who needs them.

  165. Donika Burdette

    Hi Ali,

    Thank you so much for this article! You’re probably tired of answering everybody’s questions, since this was posted over 2 years ago! But, if your still willing I had a few quick questions! This is my first international flight, and I’m a little nervous about the details. Its a long haul flight, but I’m so excited for 2 weeks in Thailand! I posted my itinerary below. I don’t plan on leaving any of the airports, so do you know if I need to apply as transit or need visas? Are my layover times too short? I don’t want to miss my connections. Also, do I have to go through customs multiple times. Any helpful information or tips you have for me I would greatly appreciate!

    I’m a US citizen traveling from Los Angeles to Bangkok. I will be booking the entire trip directly with Singapore Airlines, so I probably don’t need to collect my checked luggage until I arrive in Bangkok, correct?

    LAX to BKK
    Layovers:
    ICN (Seoul) 2hrs 5min
    SIN (Singapore) 1hr 15min

    I have the same layovers going back to LAX, around the same lengths. I REALLY appreciate your help! Thank you!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Donika! I love to help, no worries! You don’t need transit visas for these layovers. Your luggage should be tagged to go all the way to BKK. And since you’re not staying in Korea or Singapore, you should be able to bypass immigration and customs. Just look for signs that say “transit” or “transfer” or “connecting flights” and ask an employee if you need help. You’ll have to go through security again, but that should be it. It’ll be the same procedures going back to LAX. If LAX is the first airport you reach in the US, you will go through US customs and immigration there. If you have to fly from there to somewhere else, you’ll also have to claim and recheck your luggage (it’s an annoying US rule) but it sounds like LAX is your final destination on the way back. I hope this helps, and enjoy your trip to Thailand!

  166. Mick

    Hello!
    If I am flying with American airlines from Sao Paulo to Mexico via Dallas, does my baggage get transfered automatically? As it is arriving at Dallas at daytime I would not be leaving the airport?
    Also, on the way back I am flying to Sao Paulo from Mexico via Miami. This time I will be staying overnight at Miami (and hence at a hotel). Does the baggage get transferred automatically in this case?
    The layovers in both cases are 14 hours.
    Cheers so much!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Mick! Unfortunately the US makes you go through immigration and customs when you land there, even if you’re just passing through. This also means having to claim and recheck your luggage. I’ve seen mention of a few airlines/airports starting to check luggage all the way through, but I don’t have anything concrete on that yet, so you should plan on having to claim and recheck your bags. Sounds like you have plenty of time for that though. And since you have to go through immigration anyway, you certainly can leave the airport during your layover for a few hours if you want to. One thing to keep in mind though is that sometimes the airline can’t take your checked luggage too far ahead of the flight. It’s probably worth calling American Airlines and asking them if you’ll be able to recheck your luggage immediately after you clear immigration.

      On the way back, it’ll be the same thing. You’ll have to go through immigration, claim your luggage, and go through customs in Miami. So in that case, you probably want to keep your bags with you to go to the hotel, and then just check them back in the next morning.

      I hope that helps, and enjoy your trip!

  167. Debbie

    Hi there. I wonder if you can answer my questions please. My daughter is travelling to Australia at the beginning of December. She has two layovers, both ways one is china and the other in Paris. On the way back to the UK she has an 11 hour layover. Is it possible for her to reclaim her bags at Paris and instead of waiting 11 hours, she could check into another different flight and get home sooner? Debbie.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Debbie! It really varies depending on the airline. Sometimes if there’s room on an earlier flight, the airline might not have a problem just switching her to that flight. Sometimes there’s a fee, which may or may not be a reasonable amount. Then there’s the issue of her luggage. Checked luggage will be checked all the way through, so the airline would have to get her bags re-tagged in Paris. She can’t claim her luggage if it’s tagged to go from Paris to the UK – it won’t be at baggage claim. My suggestion is to call the airline and see what they charge to either 1) change her Paris – UK flight now or 2) see what they charge if she decided to change it that day when she arrives in Paris. If she can’t change her flight or it’s just too expensive, depending on the time of day, she could opt to go through customs and immigration and go into the city for a few hours instead of staying in the airport. Here are some things to consider if she wants to leave the airport on a long layover.

  168. Kaitlin

    Hello! Thanks for the great article! I have a question about the Schengen Zone: I am a USA citizen looking to travel from New York to Florence with a stopover in Munich. I am assuming I will have to go through security and border patrol in Munich to continue on to Florence. On the return, will I have to clear border patrol again at Munich to leave the Schengen Zone? Or will I clear it at Florence and just go through security in Munich? I’m trying to figure out how much layover time I can get away with on my Munich stopovers. Thank you!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Kaitlin! You will go through immigration/passport check and customs in Munich and get stamped into the Schengen Zone. Then you’ll have to go through security before you can get to the next gate for your flight to Florence. The Munich to Florence flight will be similar to a domestic flight in the US in that you won’t have to go through any immigration checks on either end. When you leave, it’ll be similar. The agent in Florence will probably look at your passport when you check in for your flight but you won’t go through the official passport control checkpoint there. Once you arrive in Munich, you’ll have to go through the exiting passport control checkpoint to get stamped out of the Schengen Zone. Sometimes that’s really fast, but sometimes the lines can be long. You’ll have to go through security again in Munich, too. I hope this helps, and enjoy your time in Florence!

  169. Jitendra K

    Hello,

    I am a US citizen and will be travelling on Air Canada. The itinerary is San Francisco to Toronto and then to Bombay.

    I have a 12 hour layover in Toronto, so I plan to go out and visit the City. My questions are :

    1. Will I need any Visa at the Toronto airport to visit the City?
    2. Do I need to collect my checked baggage at Toronto, if I am stepping out to the City. I would prefer to leave it with the airline. I intend to check in the baggage to the final destination of Bombay at the start of the journey.
    3. Even if I do not step out of the airport, will I still need to collect and re-check the baggage at Toronto?

    Thanks,

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      As a US citizen, you do not need a visa to visit Canada. So I think going into the city on such a long layover sounds like a great idea! I’m 99% sure you’ll have to claim and recheck your luggage in Toronto, whether you leave the airport during your layover or not. The Toronto airport has a really great site to determine what you have to do for your connecting flight: https://www.torontopearson.com/Connecting.aspx#. Often you can immediately recheck your luggage, but hopefully that site will help you determine that. If not, the airline should be able to tell you for sure if you recheck it right past customs or if you have to go find their check-in counter. I hope this helps!

      1. Jitendra K

        Hi Ali,

        Thank you for your quick feedback. I am hoping that I do not have to carry my checked-in baggage with me when I visit the City. Keeping the fingers crossed! My travel will be during the upcoming summer months. Will definitely share my experience at Toronto with you.

        Thank you again,

        Jitendra

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          Thanks, I’d love to hear how it goes! I don’t *think* you’ll have to carry your checked baggage, but I can’t know for sure. Good luck, and enjoy your trip!

  170. Paula A

    Hi Ali,

    We are flying from San Jose Del Cabo Mexico to DFW with a connection in San Diego with no plane change and 1.5 hr layover. Will we have to get off the plane and go through customs in San Diego?

    Thanks,
    Paula

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Paula! Yes, you have to go through immigration and customs, plus claim and recheck your luggage, at the first airport where you enter the US, so that would be San Diego for your itinerary. Also, just because both of your flights have the same flight number doesn’t necessarily mean you will be on the same plane. I don’t have experience with the San Diego airport, but if you’re worried about your layover being tight, check out my tips for dealing with short layovers. Have a great trip!

      1. Paula A

        Thanks for clearing that up for us Ali. My group assumed that when it said “no plane change” we were free and clear. We will check into the San Diego airport and make sure we have plenty of time.

        Thanks Again!

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          Hmm, if your ticket specifically says “no plane change” then yeah, you’ll still be with the same physical airplane. I still think you’ll have to go through customs in San Diego though, especially since some people probably end their trip in San Diego or are connecting to a different city. So even though you’ll get back on the same plane, I’m 99.9% sure you’ll have to get out, go through customs, and come back.

  171. Elizabeth

    Great post especially for a newbie flyer like myself. 🙂 I am flying internationally for the first time and will more than likely have 2 layovers (haven’t booked my tix yet). With 2 layovers, will my baggage go all the way to my final destination or will I have to pick them up at one of my layovers and recheck them? Thank you!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Elizabeth! As long as you book your flights all on one itinerary, your luggage should be tagged to go to your final destination. Sometimes there are exceptions for the country, like if you’re flying from say Paris to New York City to Pittsburgh, you’ll have to claim your luggage in NYC when you go through customs, and then re-check it for the next flight. But if you’re flying NYC to Paris to Florence, your bags should be transferred through each flight. I hope that helps!

      1. prakash hs

        Dear Sister Ali Garland,

        I am happy to learn about your helping nature to many travellers . In fact, I went through many mails of your previous available on this section

        I am Inadian citizen, and first time international traveler from BANALORE TO Koula lumpur. My agent suggest to fly via sigapore with a layover period of 2 .30 min. He is trying to book ticket from BANGALORE TO SINGAPORE AND SINGPORE TO KOULA LUMPER IN SINGAPORE AIR LINES.

        I have got visa for Malasia. Please advice whether I need visa for singapore? If not required whether I am eligible to roam around airport before boarding next flight?

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          Hi Prakash! I’m not an expert on visa requirements, so I recommend you check with the embassy website to see what the requirements are for Indian citizens transiting through Singapore. In general, if you’re only connecting in Singapore, you should be able to look for signs that say “transit” or “transfer” or “connecting flights” and bypass customs and immigration, proceeding directly to your next flight. Which means you’d be able to walk around the airport on the secured side, potentially just in the one terminal. Sorry I can’t be much more help than that! I hope you enjoy Kuala Lumpur though!

  172. Matthew

    Let’s say your going Sydney to LA with a stopover in Brisbane. If the Sydney to Brisbane flight is at a domestic terminal do you go through customs at Sydney or Brisbane?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Matthew! You should go through passport control to get stamped out of Australia in Brisbane. Sydney-Brisbane is a domestic flight, so the gate is probably in a part of the airport where you wouldn’t go through passport control, since some people on your flight might only be flying domestic. When you land in LA, you’ll go through US customs and immigration/passport control to get stamped into the US.

  173. Alanna

    Hey there! I’m going to be taking a trip alone for the first time and I am wondering about a few things.

    I will be flying YSB-YYZ with a 6 hour layover then YYZ-PRG. Both flights are with Air Canada so I assume the process will be pretty simple. When I check in at the first airport, will I get both boarding passes then? And what do I do when my plane lands in Toronto? I want to be able to leave the airport because of the longer layover. I won’t be taking any checked luggage so I have no worries there but will I just have to go through security and then onto my gate?

    Also, my return flights are KRK-FRA, 1:45 layover then FRA-YYZ. Both flights are with Lufthansa and then after a 2:20 layover, my flight from YYZ-YSB is with Air Canada. When I check in with Lufthansa will I get my boarding passes for all 3 flights even Air Canada? These were booked as one itinerary through Expedia.

    I feel silly asking for every detail like this but I appreciate any input you can give me!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Don’t feel silly, it’s totally fine to ask! Since all your flights are with Air Canada, they should be able to print all of your boarding passes when you check in, both directions. On domestic flights, your luggage will be transferred from one flight to the next. Your luggage should also be transferred from the KRK-FRA flight to eh FRA-YYZ flight. When you’re in Frankfurt, you’ll have to go through passport control to get stamped out of the Schengen Zone. An hour 45 minutes should be enough time there, but you probably don’t have time to waste. When you get off the KRK-FRA flight, follow the signs to your next gate (you probably have to go from one terminal to another since KRK-FRA is similar to a domestic flight within Canada) and you’ll end up at passport control before you can get to security and your gate. The Toronto Airport has a wonderful tool to see what your steps are when transiting through the airport, check it out here: https://www.torontopearson.com/Connecting.aspx#. You should be able to leave the airport during your layover in Toronto on the way to Prague, and I think your luggage will be checked all the way through, but again, check that website, but make sure you leave yourself enough time to get back to the airport and through security. Six hours isn’t as long as you think it is since it takes sometime to get off the first plane and through the airport, and you should be back at the airport 2 hours before your next flight. I hope this helps!

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