layover is too short

8 Things to do If You Think Your Layover is Too Short

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Layovers can be stressful. Every airport is different, and it’s hard to tell if your layover is long enough to make your connection. When booking a flight, you should always give yourself plenty of time in between flights, especially if you’ll have to go through customs and immigration. But what if you’ve already booked and you think your layover is too short? Here are 8 things to do to reduce your chances of missing your connecting flight.

1. Change your flight

If you notice your layover is too short, consider changing your flight. Call the airline and see if there’s a better connection by either taking an earlier first flight or a later second flight. Explain why you want to do this and ask about any applicable change fees.

It’s possible this option might not be reasonable if the cost is too high. In that case, ask what the airline’s policy is if you miss your connection. Unfortunately most airlines put the responsibility on the passenger to make the connection, which means they wouldn’t be any help if there are no delays and you miss your connecting flight.

2. Change your seat

If you think your layover is too short, do what you can to get an aisle seat and a seat as close to the front of the plane as possible on the flight before the short layover. This will make it easier for you to get off the plane quickly once your flight lands. Either choose your seat online or ask at check-in if they can change your seat. Explain that you have a short layover. You never know, it could lead to some helpful sympathy.

If you don’t have an aisle seat and you aren’t able to change your seat, talk to the people sitting next to you. Someone might be willing to switch, or at the very least, they might let you squeeze ahead of them when the plane lands. Also talk to the flight attendants about the possibility of moving to the front of the plane towards the end of the flight. It won’t always work, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

3. Pack up your carry-on

Flights can be boring, so you probably have a book, Kindle, music or something else to keep you entertained. But if you think your layover is too short, don’t wait until the plane lands to pack up everything. When the plane starts to descend (about the time the flight attendants ask you to turn off electronics) pack everything back into your carry-on bag. This means you’ll be ready to go the moment the plane is on the ground and the seat belt sign has been turned off.

4. Travel carry-on only

Speaking of luggage, if possible travel carry-on only. Short layovers aren’t just a problem for you; they’re a problem for checked luggage too. If you think your layover is too short and you travel carry-on only, you won’t have to worry about your luggage getting left behind during your layover.

5. Ask for your connecting gate

Sometimes the flight attendants get a list of gates for connecting flights. They will usually make an announcement towards the end of the flight, but if they don’t, just ask if they have a gate listing. That way you’ll know if you’re flight is landing in the same terminal as your connecting flight or if you’ll have to change terminals.

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6. Look at the airport map

Search for the airport your layover is at along with “terminal map” so you can get an idea of the layout ahead of time. This will help you feel a little more comfortable once you arrive at the airport, though remember that airports have plenty of signs pointing you in the right direction.

Another good place to look for airport information is the World Airport Guides website. It has terminal maps for some airports, listings of which airlines use which terminals, transport information, plus restaurants and other services.

7. Don’t make any stops in the airport

Many people use layovers for bathroom breaks and food stops. But if you think your layover is too short, it’s not worth taking the chance. Either go to the bathroom on your first flight or wait until you’re on the second flight. As for food, pack some snacks in your carry-on or buy something on the plane if food is not included with your flight.

8. Wear comfortable shoes

I think this is a good idea for flying no matter what, but it’s especially important if you think your layover is too short. Uncomfortable shoes, high heels, or new shoes you haven’t broken in yet will slow you down. You want to be able to walk quickly, or even run if it’s absolutely necessary, to make your connecting flight.

Small things can go a long way if you think your layover is too short. Politely ask for help along the way, do what you can to save time, consider traveling carry-on only, and prepare ahead of time.

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8 things to do if you think your layover is too short

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  1. Matthew Cheyne

    I really like how you state the wisest and most obvious option first (where possible). That is to foresee that it will take some considerable time, especially in Europe and the United States to change flights and terminals and that flights can and do run late meaning your layover is too short, to your detriment.

    They can also get cancelled too, sometimes at little or no notice at all. Customers of Tiger and Jetstar airlines in Australia know what I’m talking about here. There is a silver lining to this in that if somebody is smart, they will realize that some airlines have better reputations than others regarding delays, cancellations and their policies about them too. There are frequent flyer travel blogs and communities out there, the Australian Frequent Flyer being one of them, where seasoned travelers talk about the airlines and what experiences they’ve had with them over the years. This allows you to benefit from their combined experience and to make wise decisions before you leave home.

    Staying on the topic of layovers though, I think if you’re going to have a layover in your itinerary,you should seriously consider insurance for cancellations and the potential for your luggage to be lost if you’re traveling with different airlines. Buying new airline tickets on the spot because an airline won’t honor your tickets from a flight you’ve missed and/or having to buy additional clothes at your destination or along the way can put a huge dent into your holiday funds.

    Honestly, though, I would rather pay the extra money for a direct flight if it’s possible and not even have to consider a layover. But I understand that it’s often not possible physically or financially for some people to do.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Matthew! I’m with you, I’d rather take a direct flight whenever possible, but sometimes it’s not possible at all. You’d never be able to get from Europe to Australia in one flight. Just one example. I’ve never looked at insurance for flight cancellations, might be interesting to see if it’s worth it. I know people sometimes get stuck in pretty bad situations when a flight is cancelled, but for the most part the airline has to find another solution for you if they cancel your flight. And yes, some of those frequent flyer blogs are really good!

  2. David

    Short layover are so stressful … usually, I aim for at least 2 hours at a connecting airport to avoid problems. That said, great tips!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks David, I agree, at least 2 hours. But often there isn’t another option, so hopefully this helps out those who get stuck with the short layovers.

  3. Deb

    I’m flying out of RDU with a 53 min layover in ATL. I’m afraid my checked luggage won’t make my next flight. I’m flying Delta for both flights. I can bring it on the plane but afraid it won’t fit with everyone’s carry on. Plus a lot of cramming into my bag. My destination is Ft. Myers. Luckily I have a long layover on the way home. Btw both flights are on the same itinerary.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Deb! I wouldn’t worry about other people’s carry-on. There will always be lots of people bringing big bags, and if your bag legitimately fits within the airline’s carry-on restrictions, you will be fine. They will gate check other people’s luggage that is too big. BUT if you think your luggage is too big, or if you think you’ll have too much stuff, you should check it. 53 minutes is a short layover, but it’s not SO short for a domestic flight. I hope your bag makes it, and let me know if you have any other questions!

  4. Lynne

    I am travelling from Kathmandu to Boston and have a 1 hr 35 minute layover in Dubai. I am arriving in Dubai on Jetairways and leaving on Air Canada. I will have to pick up my luggage and recheck it on Air Canada. Do you think I have enough time? My other option was to ship my luggage from Kathmandu but its expensive and seems to be unreliable.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Lynne! Are your flights on 2 separate itineraries? Is that why you have to pick up your luggage and recheck it in Dubai? If the flights are on one itinerary, the airlines should transfer your luggage, but if they’re on separate itineraries, you will have to claim and recheck your luggage. That also means you’ll have to go through customs in order to get to baggage claim, and that will take longer. An hour and 35 minutes isn’t completely impossible, but I don’t really think it’s enough time, especially at a busy airport like Dubai. Is there a way you could get an earlier flight to Dubai or a later flight out of Dubai? I realize that might not be an option, but if your flights are on separate itineraries and you miss your connection, Air Canada will not be helpful in getting you onto another flight, and it’ll be even more expensive than if you just change one of your flights now.

      1. Lynne

        Thanks Ali! Yes they are two separate itineraries and that was exactly what I was thinking (not enough time) I have tried looking for alternate flights or even cancelling and rebooking but the costs are alot or not till the next day. One other thing I had thought of was to ship my bag from Kathmandu. Do you have any experience with that? There is a UPS office there and I think DHL and other shipping agencies.

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          The only time I’ve ever shipped luggage was from one end of Germany to the other, so I don’t know much about it. UPS and DHL should be reliable, but I can’t say either way if that’s a good option or not. If you do it, definitely make sure you keep anything valuable in your carry-on. I wish I could help more!

  5. Bill

    We are travelling to Mexico and will be flying into Toronto from there with a 1hr 46mins layover. Will we have to go thru customs there and then reboard to fly home? if so does this seem like a long enough time to do it?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Bill! A 1 hour 46 minute layover might be a bit tight, but I wouldn’t say impossible. The Toronto airport actually has a great guide for dealing with your connections, so start here: It looks like some of it depends on the airline(s) you’re flying, but this will give you step-by-step instructions on what to do. Toronto also has a US customs area, so you go through US customs while technically still in Toronto. Normally this is pretty helpful, but I imagine in your case, it might take more time. I used Air Canada just to see what it would give me, and it looks like you wouldn’t have to deal with Canadian customs at all, so that would help on time, BUT it looks like that only applies to flights in terminal one. Also check out these pages on their site: and

      Sorry I can’t give you a definite answer on this one, but check out the info on those sites, and read through my tips for short layovers here. If you’re still not comfortable with the layover time, call the airline and see what their policy is if you miss your connection due to customs/immigration taking too long, and see if they can change either flight to give you more time in Toronto.

  6. Lorraine

    Hi I am traveling from St George UT to Denver International. At Denver I
    I only have a 47 minute layover to get onto a flight to va. The flight is with united in the same concourse. Is that enough time? Thanks

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Lorraine! If both of your flights are with United and were booked on the same itinerary, they will transfer your luggage from the first flight to the second flight. If you already know the first flight lands in the same terminal where the next flight departs from, I think 47 minutes should be enough time. All you should really have to do is find your next gate.

      1. Lorraine

        Thank you so mich. That flight is the only direct flight to richmond and I am going to go ahead and book it now. Lorraine

  7. Beth

    I am leaving England to fly to Korea and I have a 1 hour 50 minute layover in Amsterdam, I booked on one itinerary and with the same airline, can anyone help me with surviving this as it will be my first trip on my own that includes layover… Thanks

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Beth! You should be fine with 1 hour 50 minutes in Amsterdam. Your checked luggage will get tagged to your final destination and transferred from one flight to the next, so nothing for you to do there. When you get off the plane in Amsterdam, look for signs that say “transit” or “transfer” or “connecting flights” and you should be able to bypass customs and immigration since you aren’t staying in Amsterdam or anywhere else in the Schengen Zone. You will most likely have to go through security again. You should also see departures boards listing upcoming flights, so find your next gate so you’ll know where you’re going. It’s a big airport, but it’s well marked, and if you get confused, there are plenty of people who can point you in the right direction. And remember, you’ll be fine! Let me know if you have any other questions, and enjoy your trip!

  8. Mary

    I’m arriving from Japan and I have a 1 hour and 50 minute layover in California (LAX) to a connecting flight to Washington DC (through United). Do you think it is enough time to go through customs and security? If not, do you think changing to a later flight is the best option?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Mary! A 1 hour 50 minute layover at LAX is cutting it close. It’s not impossible, but you do have to keep a few things in mind. It’s a big airport and a popular one for international connections, which means potentially dealing with long lines at immigration/passport control and customs. You will have to claim and recheck your luggage, if you’re not traveling carry-on only, which could mean another line to recheck your luggage. You’ll also have to go through security again, and again, deal with a long line. Like I said, this isn’t an impossible layover, but if there’s another flight option that isn’t too much more expensive, it might be worth changing. LAX is a notoriously annoying airport for international layovers. That said, if it’s too expensive to change the flight and you decide to try this one, definitely follow as many of these tips as you can. Good luck with whatever you decided, and enjoy your trip!

  9. Jenna

    Have a very short layover of 35 minutes at Vienna airport, arriving from TIA going to BUD. Both flights with same airline (Austrian), so it should be okay, right? I mean they would not list it as bookable if it was not enough time? Will they wait for me in case I am late? Or can I in any case ask for one of those golf-cart type of vehicles to transport me faster?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Jenna! Yikes, 35 minutes is really short. And unfortunately, yes airlines do often give you the option to book a layover that isn’t really long enough. When you land in Vienna, you’ll have to go through immigration and customs since TIA is outside of the Schengen Zone but VIE and BUD are in Schengen. You have to go through customs and immigration at the first Schengen airport you get to.

      Here’s the map of the Vienna airport: If you are able to find out which terminal the VIE-BUD flight leaves from, this can help you determine the distances a little. You can certainly ask if they can drive you in one of those golf cart things, but usually they’re for people with disabilities. But it doesn’t hurt to ask. I think it’s also worth calling the airline and asking them what their policy is if you miss your connection because the layover is too short. Sometimes an flight will wait for passengers from a connecting flight when they know there are a lot of people on a particular flight or if the first flight is a few minutes late, but I wouldn’t count on that. If Austrian Airlines is able to change you to an earlier TIA-VIE flight or a later VIE-BUD flight, you’d be better off. It’s not a huge airport, but big enough that I’d worry about making a 35 minute connection with customs and immigration involved.

  10. Marianne

    Hi, I’m arriving into LAX on a Friday at 6:05 pm From Tokyo Narita and then connecting to Boston at 9:07 pm. Is 3 hours enough time to get through immigration, pick up my bags and get back through security?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Marianne! Yes, I think you should be fine with a 3 hour layover in LAX. Anything less than 2 hours there and I’d worry, but 3 hours should be fine unless something crazy happens. I usually try to go to the bathroom on the flight before landing so I don’t have to worry about it during an international layover, and I don’t make any stops for food or anything until I get to my next gate and I know how much time I have left. Enjoy your trip!

  11. Val

    HI. My husband and I are traveling from Brisbane to San Francisco with a two hour stop in Sydney. Will this be enough time to get our connecting flight.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Val! Yes, I think 2 hours in Sydney should be enough time. You should get both boarding passes when you check in at Brisbane Airport, and in Sydney you’ll have to get stamped out of Australia and go through security again, but your luggage should automatically get transferred from one flight to the next. Enjoy your trip!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Comments go into moderation if you’ve never commented on the site before. Helps prevent spammers.

  12. Luis

    Hi, I’m flying from Boston to Mexico on Memorial Day May 30th with layover in Newark for 42 minutes. I have been checking and seems arrival and departing connection are in the same concourse (C).. We are seated on 36 ABC. and we have to check bags. Do you think it will be enough time to catch the connecting fly ?. What could happen if we miss the connection ? Changing flights from Boston -EWR is not an option since fees are astronomical . One of our pax is handicap. would this situation give us any consideration ?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Luis! 42 minutes is a little tight, but not impossible, especially if your arriving and departing flights are both in the same terminal. It’s probably worth asking for assistance for your passenger who is handicapped. Contact the airline ahead of time and tell them you will need assistance for your friend/family member during your layover in Newark, and they should be able to help you out. If he/she can get on and off the plane unassisted, or with your assistance, that will probably save time since wheelchair assistance usually means waiting until everyone else has gotten off the plane. Either way though, I think they usually let the next flight know they’re bringing someone, but verify with the airline when you speak to them.

      I don’t know what your layover looks like on the way back from Mexico, but if it’s short like this one, I’m not sure you’ll make it. On the way back into the US, you have to go through passport control/immigration and customs, plus claim and re-check your luggage, then go through security again to get to your next gate. A 42 minute layover is almost guaranteed to be too short for that. If you miss your connection because the flight was delayed, the airline should be able to put you on the next available flight. But if you miss your connection because the layover was too short, it varies from one airline to another as to how helpful they will be.

      I hope this helps, and enjoy your trip to Mexico!

  13. Ceecee

    Hello! I have a connecting flight in BWI from Pittsburgh to Boston. The layover is 55 minutes. Both flights are Southwest and will be in the same terminal. I will have checked luggage. Do you think that 55 minutes is enough time?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Ceecee! As long as your flights were booked together on one itinerary, I think you’ll be fine. It helps that your flights are in the same terminal so you won’t have far to go. Probably best to keep an eye on the time once you land and find your next gate first thing before deciding if you have time for a bathroom stop or whatever, but 55 minutes should be ok. Have a good trip!

  14. Brittany

    If I leave MCO on a 1:55pm flight arrive at JFK at 4:30pm on JetBlue Terminal 5 and I need to get to Terminal 4 for a 7:20pm Air France flight. Will I have enough time to make the connection?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Brittany! That sounds like plenty of time to make your connection. One thing though, are those flights booked on one itinerary or did you book them separately? I don’t think JetBlue and Air France are partner airlines, which means JetBlue might not be able to print your Air France boarding pass or tag your luggage to your final destination. If that’s the case, you’ll need to pick up your checked luggage in JFK and take it to an Air France counter to recheck it and to print your boarding pass.

  15. Michael

    Hi Ali! I’m flying as an unaccompanied minor (un-atteneded) from BOS-YHZ-YQY. The layover in Halifax is only 1hr 35mins and I’m worried that if I’m required to sit at the rear of the plane to be close to the FAs, I won’t be able to make it to the gate in time for the departure. Although the plane is only small (CRJ-700), and I booked with the same airline on the same itinerary is there anything else I should know or take into consideration? Thanks!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Michael! First, that’s a pretty small plane, so even if you have to sit in the back, there won’t be sooo many people in front of you. And if you’re an unaccompanied minor, I think the FA’s all know you’re there and will watch out for you. So talk to them, make sure they know you have a somewhat short layover. I don’t actually think 1 hour 35 minutes is horrible for Halifax since it’s a small airport, but you don’t want to waste time. Each airline has its own rules about unaccompanied minors, so make sure you understand your airline’s rules. Since you’re going unattended, I assume that means you’re old enough to not need an airline employee to take you from one place to the next, but I think the airline would still notify the next flight that they have an unaccompanied minor coming from a connecting flight. Ask when you check in for your flight in Boston if the YHZ-YQY flight knows you’re coming, because you’re nervous about the layover. No one wants to be responsible for a minor getting stranded!

      You’ll have to go through immigration and customs in Halifax. Follow the signs for immigration or passport control, and really, you should be able to just follow everyone else from your flight. You will most likely have to claim and recheck your luggage, but it’s usually a simple process. Ask an airline or airport employee if you get confused.

      I hope this helps! Definitely ask the airline for more clarification on how things work, they’re there to help. Have a great trip!

  16. Sumer

    This post was very helpful!
    I’m going from Ottawa to Frankfurt to Nice
    My layover between Frankfurt and Nice is 1h30
    Is that enough to time?
    Will I have to go through customs in Frankfurt even if I don’t have a checked bag?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Sumer! An hour 30 minutes is a bit tight but not impossible. My experience getting through immigration in Frankfurt has always been pretty fast (when I’m entering anyway…lines are often long to go through passport control to exit), but it could be affected by how many other flights are landing at the same time. Yes, you go through immigration and customs there because it’s the first airport you’re landing at within the Schengen Zone. You will not go through immigration and customs in Nice since you will already be stamped in.

  17. SC

    I am travelling from Beijing(15:40pm) to Salt Lake City and have a 2 hr 40 minute layover in Seattle. I am arriving in Seattle(11:35a.m) on Hainan airline and leaving on Alaska airline,the flights are on one itinerary, Do you think I have enough time,especially at a busy airport like Seattle?Thanks!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi SC, I think you’ll be ok there. You should be able to get both boarding passes when you check in for your first flight. You’ll have to go through customs and immigration, as well as claim and recheck your luggage, but that should be pretty straight forward. I don’t think you have time to waste, so follow some of my tips in this post, but I think you should have enough time. (I see you’ve left me another comment, so I’m going over there now!)

  18. Chris

    Hello everyone,

    I’m flying from DC to Austin but a layover of 45 mins in Dallas. Same airline (AA) but different terminal. I’m planning on having a checked bag. Do you think 45 mins is enough? Since it’s the same arline they will transfer my luggage from first flight to second flighg right?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Chris! Yes, AA will transfer your checked luggage from one flight to the next, as long as your flights are booked together on the same itinerary. A 45 minute layover seems a little tight to me, but it’s not impossible. According to the Dallas airport website here, they have a train that connects all terminals inside of security, so you should be able to get to your next gate without having to deal with TSA again, so that will save you time. You don’t really have any time to waste, but follow my advice in this post, and I think you’ll make it. And if you miss your connection because your first flight is delayed, the airline will get you on another flight.

  19. Robert


    I am looking at flights from PHL to Medford, OR and the only one I can find from United (I choose United because of a $150 voucher I have) is a flight that has a layover in San Francisco that is only 55 mins. Is this enough time?

    Furthermore, there will be a 58 min connection on the way back in between SFO and PHL.

    I’ll have carry-on only.


    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Robert! I think you’ll be ok. It’s a domestic flight, so you won’t have anything special or complicated to deal with. You might have to go through security again depending on whether you have to change terminals, but I imagine the lines shouldn’t be too terribly long with only a handful of gates in each terminal. Here’s an airport terminal map and a list of which sections can be reached without having to go through security again: I’d recommend finding your connecting gate before doing anything else, like stopping for the bathroom or food, to make sure you have enough time, but I think you’ll be ok on this one. Have a great trip!

  20. Yafet Berhe

    Hi. I have a flight from Toronto to Beijing with a 49 min layover in Washington DC. Both flights are with United, booked under the same itinerary. I will probably have one checked bag. What do you think?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Yafet! Toronto airport has a US customs post, so you will actually go through US immigration and customs while you’re still there. See here for more info. That will save you time when you get to DC. You might still have to go through security in DC though, so 49 minutes could be a little tight. If you can get an aisle seat close to the front of the plane on your Toronto to DC flight, that should save you a few minutes. It could also be worth talking to United and seeing what it would take to get you on an earlier Toronto to DC flight, since I imagine they don’t have a lot of DC to Beijing flights every day. As for your checked luggage, normally you have to claim and recheck luggage when you arrive in the US from an international flight, but it might be different since you will have already gone through US customs before arriving. That is a question for the airline, but my guess is that your bag will automatically be transferred to your next flight. But definitely ask United about that.

  21. Marli Fe Duman-ag

    Hi! I have a flight from chicago (through AA) to Manila,Philippines (through JAL) with a lay over of 1hr & 45mins at Tokyo, Narita, do i have enough time, my first time to travel with lay over. Thank you.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Marli! I don’t think you’ll have much time to waste, but I think this should be enough time to get to your next flight. Since you’re not staying in Japan, you should be able to bypass customs and immigration. Look for signs that say “transit” or “transfer” or “connecting flights” and you’ll have to show your ticket and go through security again, but that shouldn’t take too long. Have a great trip!

  22. Jessica Hunt

    Hi i have a stop over in china which is just 1 hour 15 mins both are southern china airlines one just the one itinerary… do you know if this airport is easy to navigate? And does comprehensive insurance usually cover the cost if the flight is missed?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Jessica! Sorry, no I haven’t flown through China. Depending on your nationality, sometimes China requires a transit visa, so you should look up the Chinese embassy and see what the rules are for your country of citizenship. An hour and 15 minutes sounds a little tight, though if you don’t have to deal with customs and immigration, it might be fine. Most countries allow you to skip that if you’re just transiting, so you would follow the signs that say “transit” or “transfer” or “connecting flights” and then go through security and find your next gate. But China doesn’t always do things the same way, which is why you need to find out if you need a transit visa for your situation. And I’m not an expert on travel insurance, so if you’re looking for a policy that would cover that, you would have to ask the insurance company before purchasing a plan.

  23. Federico

    Hi! I am looking at a returning flight from Copenhagen to Los Angeles (LAX) with 1 hour and 15min layover in London (LHR). Both flights are with British Airways. Probably will checked baggage. We are a family of four travelling. Is that enough layover time? Do we reclaim baggage and re-check at LHR? Thank you.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Federico! Usually in this kind of situation, you should be able to bypass customs and immigration by following the signs that say “transit” or “transfer” or “connecting flights” and then go through security and find your next gate. Your luggage should be tagged to your final destination too, so you wouldn’t have to claim and recheck it. An hour and 15 minutes is a little tight, but if you don’t have to deal with customs, it should be fine. I’d recommend verifying with the airline because my in-laws did once have to go through customs, but many other times, they have not. I don’t understand why the difference!

  24. Candi

    Hi, I wish I came across this page before my flight. Just want to share my experience and learn if there’s anything I could have done differently! I booked my flights with Expedia on the same itinerary, departing from Toronto for Honolulu and have a 1.5 hour layover at LAX. Both flights are United but the YYZ to LAX flight was operated by Air Canada. When I checked in at AC counter in Toronto, the girl said she couldn’t print the boarding pass for the Honolulu bound flight for me. I thought it’s fine, i would get it in LA. I’ve already passed through US Custom & Security at YYZ. The AC flight was delayed by 30 mins. The decisions I made in next hour after I landed LA determined my fate which is that I missed my connect flight for HNL. First, I followed the crowd to the arrival level and walked to the terminal for the United flight on the ground. Could I have walked thru a ‘connect flight’ passage and bypass the security check again? Second, it was impossible to get a boarding pass thru the kiosk at the counter for a flight so close to its departing time and the United staff were not helpful at all. Could I have insisted the AC staff to print both boarding pass for me at Toronto? Third, should I have allowed at least 2 hours layover when it involves a US city? I heard some fellow travellers were able to get on that HNL flight, so I thought I might have made some mistakes in my logistic. Please advice. Thanks.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Candi, I’m so sorry you missed your connecting flight! First, I think it’s strange that the Air Canada agent wasn’t able to print your boarding pass for the flight to Honolulu. United and Air Canada are partner airlines, and that almost always means they can print your boarding passes all the way through. You could’ve tried pushing them a little harder and pointing out your tight layover, but if they truly couldn’t do it, it might not have helped. Obviously I don’t know how their computer systems work. If they said they really couldn’t do it, I’m not sure what else you could’ve done at this stage, other than try to find a United counter in YYZ to see if they could print your boarding pass, but I’m not sure if they could’ve done it from there.

      There isn’t really a “connecting flight” bypass like in a lot of other countries. The US makes everyone, regardless of final destination, go through customs and immigration. So really nothing you could’ve done differently there. And again, it’s kind of crazy that the United agents wouldn’t print it for you in LA. You’d think they would know if Air Canada wasn’t able to print the boarding pass for you in Toronto.

      I think when transiting through the US, at least two hours needed for a layover. Maybe even more for an airport like LAX that is so big and sees so many transiting and international passengers. Aside from not having quite enough time for your layover, I think you just had some really bad luck on this one with all the unhelpful airline employees. Most of this was beyond your control. Look for longer layovers next time, and if you have another situation where they won’t print your boarding pass even though the airlines are partners, maybe just say “ok thanks” and find another agent and try again. Maybe even call the airline ahead of time and confirm whether you’ll be able to get all boarding passes at once. The only time I’ve ever not gotten all of mine was with two airlines that weren’t really partners, so they didn’t have access to each other’s system, but somehow Expedia was able to book it all together on one itinerary.

      Again, I’m so sorry this happened to you, but thank you for sharing your experience, and I really hope it works out better next time!

  25. Candi

    Hi Ali,
    Thanks for your opinions and advice. After 30 hours of waiting and flying, I was able to start my trip the next day, though it’s been cut short for that reason. Despite the awkward beginning, it’s a good trip for me. Thanks again for your comfort and ideas!

  26. Martina

    I am sweating bullets because I have a flight from Toronto to Anaheim, with a connection at the notorious Chicago O’Hare with only a 55 minute “layover”.
    I tried calling Expedia to explain that perhaps this was not enough time (When I initially booked, it was about 5 minutes more….so one hour total layover) and was assured that this was within the United/Air Canada guidelines for O’Hare.

    So, here is the scenario: I have a Nexus card, will easily and quickly clear US Customs here in Toronto, and I know the flight is landing at Terminal 2 at O’Hare, and my connecting flight is leaving from Terminal 1. My flight from Toronto leaves at 7:30am, and my connecting flight leaves at 9:10am. Seeing as though I have a Nexus card, no checked baggage (only carry-on), what are the chances that I can make that connection?

    Secondly, what happens if I am at the airport and see that my initial flight is delayed before I even board the first flight? Will United/Air Canada do something like put me on a direct flight to LAX instead if I request that? I have a meeting in Anaheim at 5pm that day….and all of the connecting flights that I would be able to catch out of O’Hare would put me arriving later than when I need to be there.

    I know at this point the best I can do is follow these awesome tips and cross my fingers, but any help would be appreciated. Oh, and I also know there is a 6:30 United/Air Canada flight that leaves for O’Hare that same morning…..if they post a delay for my second flight, any likelihood that I could convince them at the ticket counter to put me on the earlier flight without forcing me to pay the fee?

    I think it’s crazy that they allow a 45 minute connection time at O’Hare in the first place!

    Thanks for a great article!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Martina! If your first flight is delayed, the airline should be able to get you on another flight. I’m not sure what they would do if you’re still in Toronto, but my guess is it would take quite a long delay for them to switch you onto a completely different flight out of Toronto, especially if there are other flights from Chicago to Anaheim. And chances are they won’t know if your flight is delayed yet at the point when you’re checking in. Having the Nexus card should help to get you through US customs faster. It’s very possible you’ll have enough time to make your connection, but I agree that it seems tight. I think the best you can do is move through as fast as possible and hope for the best. And try not to worry about flight delays, because if it’s the airline’s fault you miss your connection, they shouldn’t charge you to get on a different flight.

  27. Nancy

    We are flying to London on United this Friday. Our original layover was 1.5hrs, but I got notified that the layover has changed to 36 minutes. Is there anything we can do to get switched to an earlier flight to Houston without paying a fee? We are traveling with our children, ages 5 and 7. I don’t think it will be possible to make our connection.

    36 minure layover

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Nancy! That’s rough! I don’t know IAH very well, so I’m not sure if there’s even a chance that your DFW-IAH flight will land in the same terminal that your IAH-LHR flight leaves from, but my guess is no. I’d probably call United and point out the extremely short layover and see if they are willing to switch you to an earlier flight out of DFW. If they won’t change your flight without a fee, find out what happens if you miss your connection if the DFW-IAH flight is on time. If you miss your connection because that flight is delayed, it’s up to United to figure out how to get you to London, but usually if the flight is on time but you still miss the connection, airlines aren’t very helpful. In this case though, they really haven’t given you much time to get off the first flight, switch terminals (most likely), and board the next flight before they close the doors. They probably have several flights a day between DFW and IAH but probably only one or two to LHR, so fingers cross they will let you switch that earlier flight.

  28. Jackie

    I am flying from Philadelphia to Sydney this May, and I am afraid I won’t have enough time to make my connecting flight in SFO. My layover is 49 minutes and my flights are all through United. Since it’s the same airline, my luggage will be transferred through all the flights and I won’t see it again until I arrive in Sydney, right? What do I do if I miss my connecting flight? This is my first time traveling alone and my first time out of the country, so I have no idea what I am doing. Thanks!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Jackie! A 49 minute layover is pretty short! Luckily when you’re leaving the US, there isn’t any sort of passport control or immigration procedures. Your luggage should get tagged to go all the way to Sydney, so you won’t have to worry about that in SFO. Here’s a map of the SFO airport and according to this page United uses terminal 3, which means you won’t have too far to go to get to the international terminal. It looks like the terminals are all linked after security, so you shouldn’t have to go through TSA again. So even though 49 minutes is tight, it’s not impossible.

      If you’re worried, I’d suggest calling United and seeing if they would charge you to change your Philadelphia to San Francisco flight to an earlier one. If they can’t change it or it’s expensive, ask them how they handle missed connections when the first flight is NOT late.

      Also, in case this is the same route you’ll take flying back, when you land in SFO (or wherever you first land back in the US) you WILL have to claim and recheck your luggage. You’ll also have to go through passport control/immigration and customs and you’ll have to go through TSA again. Since this will all take a lot longer, I usually recommend at least 2 hours if not more to make sure you don’t miss your connection.

      Enjoy your trip, and if you need any Australia tips, check out the Australia section of the site here!

  29. Brooke

    So, I have a 35 minute domestic layover. Will I have time to get to my flight and will my luggage make it?
    Alaska airlines-
    ARRIVE Portland,OR 10:40am
    DEPART Portland,OR 11:15am

    I know sometimes it can take awhile to deplane, but I thought I’d see if anyone has any other tips for me. Also, I’m pretty good about not wasting time. I’ve been to Australia,Japan and Italy thusfar.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Hi Brooke! Yikes, 35 minutes is really tight. I once timed how long it took me to get off the plane, and it was 20 minutes from row 14. It doesn’t look like Portland is a huge airport, so that’s helpful. Here’s the terminal map: I think if you can get yourself an aisle seat on the first flight and as close to the front as possible, and have your carry-on all packed up before landing, you can jump up the second the seatbelt sign goes off and see how far you can get before everyone in front of you crowds into the aisle. Once you get off the plane, figure out where you need to go, and GO. (I know this isn’t groundbreaking info.) Also, according to this site Alaska Airlines uses A, B, and C, which means you hopefully won’t have to go too far to get to your next gate. Whether your checked luggage makes the connection really depends on how quick the baggage handlers are at their job, but they do start unloading the plane as soon as it’s parked, so your bag could be off the plane before you are.

      If you can’t change either flight, I say cross your fingers and make a run for it! I hope you make it!

      1. Brooke

        Well, I was able to change my seat on the plane map from aisle 15 to 10 and it’s an aisle seat. Now, I’ve never tried asking for “extras” or accommodations on any of my flights cause I’ve never had short layovers, but do you think if I ask the boarding person for help do you think they’ll be able to do anything for me? Like contact my next flight after landing and let them know I am coming? Lol

        1. Author
          Ali Garland

          Hmm…I think it would be good to ask them if they have a list of connecting gates, and let them know you have a tight connection. Maybe they can help, but I’m not sure how much they’re able to do. Sometimes flights do actually wait for passengers from a connecting flight, but I don’t know what the protocol is.

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