• Is Your Layover Long Enough?

    by  • Planning • 141 Comments

    Planning a trip involves several parts, and unless you’re staying close to home, chances are you will need a flight. I always try to book non-stop flights because they’re easier to deal with. But what if you’re flying somewhere that’s too far away for a non-stop flight? What if the non-stop flights are significantly more expensive? There are many reasons why you might end up with a two or even three leg flight, and while there are no guarantees, it’s important to determine whether your layover is long enough.

    Is your layover long enough for your luggage?

    As always, I would encourage you to travel carry-on only, but if you have to check luggage, this will factor into your layover. The baggage handlers need to unload the entire plane once it lands. Some of that luggage will stay at the airport for those passengers who aren’t traveling on, but for everyone else, their luggage will be redistributed to any number of airplanes. This takes time, more so at a bigger airport.

    If you have a short layover, any little delay in the process could mean your luggage won’t have time to make it from the first plane to the second. It could be hours, or even days, before your luggage catches up to you.

    is your layover long enough

    Is your layover long enough to get through the airport?

    During your layover, you have to be able to get from the gate where your first flight came in to the gate where your second flight leaves. Sometimes this is as simple as walking a little ways down the hall. But other times it could mean a long walk, or even a ride on an airport tram, and switching terminals. In bigger airports, getting from one end to the other could easily take 20 minutes or more, especially if you’re not familiar with the airport. Worse yet, some airports have different security check points for different sections of the airport, which means you might have to go through the security line again.

    Don’t forget to leave yourself time for boarding the second flight. Boarding usually starts anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes before the actual flight time, and the doors close before flight time.

    Is your layover long enough for an international flight?

    In some places, you have to claim your luggage upon arrival even if you’re on a layover in the middle of an international flight. For example, if you are returning from a trip to Australia, and you live in Atlanta, chances are you will fly from Sydney to Los Angeles and then continue on to Atlanta. In the US, you are required to claim your luggage once you get through passport check. Before you can go to your second flight, you have to bring your luggage to another line to be rechecked, and then you go through security again. This can be time consuming.

    Even if your connection is in a country that doesn’t require this, you will still have to go through their passport check or transit line. This will take a lot more time that getting from one gate to another on a domestic layover.

    Is your layover long enough to change airports?

    I highly recommend you avoid this at all costs. Having to change airports during a layover is a lot more stressful and complicated than just switching gates. But in rare cases you might not have a choice. Some cities have two airports, one that’s predominantly for domestic flights and the other for international flights. I’ve also seen flight schedules where your first flight lands in one of New York City’s airports and the second flight takes off from the other.

    If you really can’t book a flight with connection in the same airport, research how long it will take to get from one to the other. Sometimes there are airport shuttles for cases like this, but often you will need to rely on a taxi or public transportation. Give yourself a buffer above what your research tells you. Take into account the time of day you will be switching since rush hour will most likely add to your time. Plus don’t forget you will need an hour or two at the airport ahead of your flight. And if the first flight was international, see the previous section.

    is your layover long enough

    No one wants to get stuck sitting in an airport for hours on a long layover, but the alternative resulting from a layover that’s too short could be much worse. Your checked luggage might not make it to the next plane, or you might not have enough time to get through the airport. International flights have extra steps you need to get through on a layover. The amount of time you need will vary depending on a variety of factors, including your own comfort level. In general, I try to avoid layovers with less than an hour for domestic flights and layovers with less than two hours for international flights. Every time you book a flight with a connection, look at all the details and ask yourself, is the layover long enough?

    Do you have an extra long layover coming up? Wondering if you have time to leave the airport? Learn how to maximize a long layover here!

    Confused about layovers? Check out How Do Layovers Work?

    Worried about a short layover? Check out 8 Things to do If You Think Your Layover is too Short.

    If you enjoyed this post, please consider signing up for the newsletter and you'll receive a free copy of my book 8 Tips for New Travelers!

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    141 Responses to Is Your Layover Long Enough?

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    3. November 1, 2013 at 3:29 pm

      Great post! I work in travel and I’ll tell ya, the airlines are really cutting it close with layovers these days. Just two years ago almost any layover was a least an hour (domestic flights).. Now, I’ll pull up flights and find layovers as short as 25 minutes. This always makes me nervous! One tiny delay and you’ve missed your flight. And because there are fewer flights available, chances of finding another flight out on the same day may prove difficult. You are so right that you need to pay attention to your layover time AND what airport you are flying into. If it’s a busy, large airport you will need time, as you mention above, to get to your next gate.

      • Ali Garland
        November 3, 2013 at 11:37 am

        25 minutes? That’s crazy! Sometimes it takes that long just for the plane to taxi to the gate and for everyone to get off the plane. No thanks. And you’re right, it’s not always easy to get onto another flight if you miss your connection. Thanks Tracy!

    4. November 1, 2013 at 8:32 pm

      This was very helpful! Thanks, Ali! I always have a huge fear of my luggage getting lost and usually try to avoid checking it in. I realize now that there’s a higher chance of it getting lost when you have difficult connections to make.

      Happy travels :)

      • Ali Garland
        November 3, 2013 at 11:41 am

        Thanks Lauren! I try not to check luggage for many reasons, I just find it easier to bring less and keep it with me. But there are certainly times when it doesn’t work out, and a short layover can be disastrous.

    5. Matthew Cheyne
      November 2, 2013 at 4:19 pm

      This is a really useful article. Because I have never traveled overseas and all of my air travel has been domestic within Australia between two destinations – that is, only one leg of travel in each direction and usually between Melbourne and Sydney, layovers haven’t been something that I’ve had to factor in yet. Knowing my health isn’t all that flash, I would prefer overnight layovers in a particular city as a means of resting and recuperating. For example if I was to fly from Australia to the United States, I would do a layover in Hawaii, probably for a couple of days the first time round to get used to doing a layover and being in Hawaii as a tourist, and then once I’ve been a tourist in Hawaii the first time round, I would only do a one night layover if I did the same trip in the future. I think that that would be the best way to go as it would reduce jet lag (at least I think it would), and would limit the risk of any DVT issues that I might face.

      What do you think Ali?

      • Ali Garland
        November 3, 2013 at 11:48 am

        Thanks Matthew! You’d really have to look into your flight options if you wanted to stay overnight or a few nights for your layover. Occasionally you can find a flight with a really long layover, but at most it would be one night. If you wanted to fly to Hawaii for a few days before continuing to somewhere else in the US, you might have to book separate tickets which could get quite expensive. BUT there are passes you can use that might help. So for example, if you book roundtrip airfare with Qantas from Melbourne to the US with a return flight several weeks later, then you can add one of these North America passes to fly to other parts of the US, Canada, and lots of other countries in North America. That way you could schedule your layovers a little better in order to give yourself plenty of down time. Check this out for more info: http://www.oneworld.com/flights/single-continent-fares/visit-north-america/

        • Matthew Cheyne
          November 3, 2013 at 11:55 am

          Thank you so much Ali :) I’ll check out that site now. Hopefully I can make a trip to the States while the Australian dollar is still close to parity and pick up some serious bargains while I’m there.

          I’ve always wanted to go to Canada and came very close to applying for a working holiday visa twice but never went ahead and did it. I still want to go someday though when I’m a little better health wise.

    6. November 20, 2013 at 5:19 pm

      Oh, layovers! I usually don’t book anything with under 2 hours, even for domestic, otherwise I start to get tetchy! Dubai is one airport where you do NOT want a short layover – it took 40 minutes just go from where the plane was parked to get to the terminal, and the plane was Emirates, which is Dubai airport’s primary carrier! Depending on what city I go through, I might plan a really long layover just so that I can have a day or so to explore – I could have had a 4 hour layover in Kuala Lumpur on my way to Taipei, but decided on a 16 hour layover instead, so that’ll give me time to meet up with some friends there!

      I’m always worried about my luggage not making it too, so travel with carry-on only for that reason whenever I can.

      • Ali Garland
        November 21, 2013 at 11:05 am

        Thanks Tom! Good to know about Dubai, I’ve never connected there before. I like long layovers too sometimes depending on the city. A 4 hour layover in Kuala Lumpur definitely wouldn’t be long enough to leave the airport, especially since the airport is an hour or so from the city. I once intentionally booked myself a 10 hour layover in London and ran around the city for a few hours. Andy did the same in Hong Kong a couple years ago on a 14 hour layover.

    7. November 21, 2013 at 7:48 am

      Hi Ali,

      It was just great to read your blog and was very helpful.

      Thanks a ton!

      • Ali Garland
        November 21, 2013 at 11:06 am

        Thanks! Glad to help!

    8. Steffi Julian
      May 1, 2014 at 5:37 am

      Does anyone have experience with minimum layover times in MIA / American Airlines between domestic and international flight?

      • Ali Garland
        May 1, 2014 at 10:25 am

        Hi Steffi, the last time I did that was about 5 years ago. What I remember is that switching in MIA from my domestic flight to my international flight wasn’t so bad. As long as your flights are all on the same itinerary, American Airlines will check you in for both legs and give you both boarding passes, so even if you have to change terminals at MIA, it won’t really be any different than a domestic switch. I’d still allow for at least an hour. On the way back from whatever country you’re going to, you might want to leave yourself more time, even two hours. You’ll have to go through US immigration, which can be a pain at that particular airport, then you have to collect any checked luggage you might have, talk to the customs people (which can take a minute or 20 just depending on the line and their mood) and recheck your luggage before you can go through TSA and back into the airport to find your next flight. I’m sure it can be done in an hour, but I don’t think I’d feel comfortable with less than two hours. I hope this helps, feel free to email me with any other questions, and enjoy your trip!

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    10. Brian M
      May 22, 2014 at 6:50 pm

      I hit post before I was done….oops….

      We are headed to the Caribbean in a few weeks and have to check bags and connect in Charlotte on our way there. (We are fying direct on the way home). Our layover is 90 minutes and my wife has some concerns over our luggage not having enough time to be transferred to the connecting plane. What is your opinion ? Thanks

      • Ali Garland
        May 23, 2014 at 11:50 am

        Hi Brian! 90 minutes should be fine. Obviously I can’t guarantee anything, but I think 90 minutes will be enough time for them to transfer your luggage from one flight to the other. Charlotte does deal with a decent amount of connections but it’s also not a really huge airport. And since you’re starting in the US and connecting in the US, you won’t actually have to re-check your luggage. (When you fly from outside the US to the US and have a connection, you have to collect your luggage at the first US airport and re-check it. It doesn’t take long, but it’s annoying. Your direct flight home will be nicer.)

        Have a great trip, and let me know if you have any other questions!

    11. Louise
      May 26, 2014 at 8:42 am

      Hi there,
      I’m flying from Boston to Shannon, Ireland, and then from Shannon on to England. I have a 45 minute layover in Shannon, and I’m worried that it won’t be enough time. From what I’ve heard, shannon is a fairly small airport, but I’m just thinking that with all the luggage on an international flight that even if I make it, my bag might not. I’m flying Aer Lingus. Any thoughts?

      • Ali Garland
        May 26, 2014 at 2:27 pm

        Hi Louise! Shannon does look like a small airport, here’s a map of the layout: http://www.shannonairport.ie/gns/Passengers/Relax/arport-maps/terminal-map.aspx. 45 minutes does sound short, but if the airline booked you that way (you’re on one itinerary, not two separate ones) then it’s their responsibility to make sure you make the next flight or get you on a later one if your first flight is delayed. Same for your luggage. To be on the safe side, you should pack anything you wouldn’t want to lose plus a change of clothes, toothbrush, stuff like that, in your carry-on bag. That way if your luggage is delayed, you’ll have some things to get you started. Check out my post on what to pack in your carry-on: http://travel-made-simple.com/what-to-pack-in-your-carry-on-bag/ Another thing you can try is when you’re checking in for the first flight in Boston, ask the person at the counter if they have any way of specially tagging your luggage to get pulled out early to make the connection. They might not be able to do anything, but it’s worth asking.

    12. Mariah
      July 8, 2014 at 4:42 pm

      I have a 45 minute layover at Chicago O’Hair… I’ve never been there, or had a layover before. Is that enough time?

      • Ali Garland
        July 8, 2014 at 5:17 pm

        Hi Mariah! O’Hare is a pretty big airport, so 45 minutes might be cutting it close. If you’re staying with the same airline and both flights are domestic, your chances are higher that you will make it. Unfortunately it depends on a lot of factors, like time of day and how busy they are. If you’re checking luggage, ask the person at the check-in counter if there’s anything they can do to tag your luggage to get pulled off the first plane early so it has a better chance of making it to the second flight. As for you, if possible, try to get a seat as close to the front of the plane as possible and preferably an aisle seat. Have all your carry-on stuff put back in your bags and ready to go as soon as the plane lands, and go for it as soon as you can get out of your seat. You might get to your second flight with no problems at all, especially if the gate is nearby, but unfortunately it could go the other way. If you miss your connection because your first flight is delayed, they should reschedule you on a later second flight.

        Good luck and happy travels!

    13. Daniel
      July 9, 2014 at 11:10 am

      Hi Ali ,
      Well unfortunately I bought my plane ticket before coming across this and now I am very nervous . Of course I thought woohoo short layover great . I got plane tickets to visit my aunt in Morelia , Mexico . This flight goes from Las Vegas to Dfw to Morelia . With the lay over of 50 minuets . Both flights are on American Airlines . I’ve never flown a flight with a layover so really don’t know what I’ve got myself into :( . Will I have to go through immigration here and in Dallas ? Will I need to recheck my luggage in Dallas ? Do I have to arrive at Las Vegas international the 2 hours before like on other international flights ?

      • Ali Garland
        July 9, 2014 at 7:29 pm

        Hi Daniel! A 50 minute layover is short, but hopefully it won’t be too short. Assuming you booked both flights as one itinerary, American Airlines seems to think you can make the switch, so I will keep my fingers crossed for you! Here’s a link to maps of the terminals at DFW: http://www.dfwairport.com/terminals/ and a link with info about transferring between gates with their skylink inside of security: http://www.dfwairport.com/connect/index.php Unfortunately there’s no way to know ahead of time where your first flight lands and where the second flight leaves from, but it might help you feel a little more oriented to see the maps ahead of time.

        When you’re leaving the US to go to Mexico, there really isn’t any sort of immigration to deal with. The person at the check-in counter will check your passport, but other than that it’s just like flying domestic. That will happen in Vegas, and they’ll print your boarding passes for both flights. (If you’re not checking luggage and you check in online and print your tickets at home, you should still be able to skip the check-in counter, but once you get to the gate, the gate agent will want to see your passport, most likely before the boarding process even begins.)

        Once you’re in DFW, all you have to do is find your next gate. Your luggage will be tagged to go from Vegas to DFW to Morelia, so you don’t have to pick it up.

        However, coming home is a little different. When you check in at the airport in Morelia, they should still print both of your boarding passes. I’ve never flown through Mexico, but I imagine it’s like every single other country except the US in that you have to go through a separate passport check line before you get to security and eventually your gate.

        When you land in DFW, you WILL have to go through US immigration and passport check lines. You’ll also have to pick up your luggage and re-check it. Re-checking varies a bit from airport to airport, and I’m sorry I don’t know exactly what it’s like at DFW because I’ve only flown through there on domestic flights. But usually the re-checking is as simple as putting it onto a conveyor belt while you’re still in the immigration area, so it really doesn’t take long. After that, you’ll have to go through security again. Again, in most airports there is a special checkpoint right there in the immigration area. (I looked around on the DFW website to see if they had any info on their set-up but I couldn’t find anything.)

        Technically your first flight is domestic. But a lot of airports/airlines are now recommending that people show up 2 hours ahead even for domestic flights in case there are long lines at TSA or check-in. I’ve had times flying out of Vegas where the line at TSA took me 45 minutes to get through, so better to be early and breeze through than to arrive later and get stuck in a long line and miss your flight.

        Try not to worry. If you miss your connection, especially if it’s because the first flight was delayed, American Airlines will hopefully be able to help you get on another flight. And enjoy your trip! If you have any other questions, feel free to email me!

    14. Nilanjana Laha
      July 26, 2014 at 12:09 pm

      Hi Ali,

      I am glad I came across your article. I will go to Seattle from India with my parents. The plane I was thinking of booking ( Cathay Pacific) has 1hr 40 mins layover time in LAX. Is it sufficient ? We will have 4/5 check-in bags in total. The other planes are costlier.

      Previously I planned to go to San Francisco first ( This plane has only one stop, in Hong Kong ) and stay in a friend’s house for 2 nights. Then I would board South West Airlines’ flight to Seattle.

      On the other hand, if I go for a direct flight to Seattle, all planes have 2 stops. Also, except for the ones with 1 hr 40 mins layover time in LAX, all planes have total journey time of 30 hours or more. Can you please suggest me which way should I opt for? Its our first international tour and my parents have some health problems too.

      • Ali Garland
        July 26, 2014 at 9:24 pm

        Hi Nilanjana! That’s a tough call. 1 hour 40 minutes isn’t horrible, but it might be cutting it a little close. Once you land in LAX, you’ll have to go through passport check, pick up your checked luggage, and then talk to the customs people before re-checking your bags and going to find your next gate. LAX is a popular entry point for flights from Asia and Australia, so sometimes the lines can be long. But ultimately I think it comes down to the fact that your parents have some health problems. I don’t know what the problems are, but I can imagine fewer layovers might be best. You can probably get the airport to transfer your parents to the next gate, which would actually save a lot of time. You could even try calling the airline ahead of time and talking to them about what you need to do to get assistance with the transfer for your parents. Your plan to stop in San Francisco for a couple nights sounds good too. It would be just the one layover in Hong Kong, and the stop in San Francisco would give you all a chance to rest a little before continuing on to Seattle.

        I wish it was easier for me to tell you “choose this one!” but your situation sounds a little complicated. I think you have to go with whatever option is going to be easiest on your parents, given their health problems, even if that means spending a little extra money. Long international flights are exhausting, and in my experience, it’s best to have as few layovers as possible.

        Side note: make sure you know the address of where you’re staying in the US to put on the immigration form they give you on the plane. Even if you do the San Francisco option and you’re only staying at your friend’s place for a couple days, have that address handy to put on the form. The last time I flew into the US (through LAX), I didn’t know my friend’s address, so I just wrote the city and state, and the passport check person got really mad at me. She made me get out of line and dig through my bags to find the address. And I’m a US citizen, so it’s not like I even needed permission to be there.

        Anyway, I’m sorry I couldn’t give you a definite answer, but I hope this helps a little. If you have any other questions, feel free to email me! And have a great trip to Seattle, wonderful city!

    15. Brittni Allen
      August 5, 2014 at 2:44 pm

      Hi Ali,

      Thank you for the article! It was very informative, but I do have a specific question…

      I am booking a flight from SFO to BNA and have a lay over in DFW. My lay over is only 45 minutes, my flight is through American Airlines.

      Do you think this is enough time to catch my next flight? Also, another factor to consider is I will be landing in DFW at 9pm.


      • Ali Garland
        August 5, 2014 at 9:28 pm

        Hi Brittni! 45 minutes is pretty tight. If you haven’t already booked it, you might feel more comfortable with a longer option, if available. If you’ve already booked or there just isn’t a good alternative, I think the best you can do is try to get an aisle seat as close to the front of the plane as possible, and have all your stuff ready to grab and go as soon as the first flight lands. Pack anything essential in your carry-on, though if you’re able to avoid checking luggage altogether, you won’t have to worry about your luggage making the switch. Flying domestic for both flights helps though since you won’t have to worry about the passport check lines or anything like that.

        Later in the day is when there are more chances for delayed flights. If a flight gets delayed earlier in the day, there’s a domino effect. That could work against you if it means your first flight is delayed, but it could work in your favor if the second flight is delayed.

        Check out my reply to Daniel a few comments up. I put some links in there for the DFW airport that might be helpful.

        You could end up with no problems at all and a really easy gate switch. Unfortunately there’s no way to predict it. I wish I could give you a more definite answer! Let me know if I can help with anything else, and have a great trip!

    16. colinrenee
      August 9, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      Dear Ali,

      Feeling bad trouble you with my question but I’m just so stuck!

      I’m planning to fly from Tampa to Singapore with Delta and the flight route is Tampa – Atlanta (1hr 26m layover) – Narita – Singapore.

      Is the 1hr 26m layover safe enough? I assume that since I’m flying Delta for all sectors, I will be able to check thru my lugguage from Tampa (so no need to wait for luggage).

      Will I have to go through Immigrations/Customs again at Atlanta?

      Would love to take this route instead of going Tampa – LAX (4hr layover), thank you in advance!

      • Ali Garland
        August 9, 2014 at 3:06 pm

        No problem at all, I’m here to help!

        I think an hour 26 minutes in Atlanta should be ok, especially on your way TO Singapore. The US doesn’t really do immigration when you’re leaving the country. The person at the check-in counter in Tampa will check your passport and print your tickets for all flights, and other than showing your passport, you won’t notice anything different from a domestic flight. Assuming you’ve booked the whole thing on one itinerary (as opposed to piecing together the flights) your luggage will get checked from Tampa all the way to Singapore. I had to go through a security screening in Narita on a layover once, but it wasn’t a big deal, so I think you’ll be fine there too.

        On your way home, assuming you have the exact same flights and Atlanta is your first stop in the US, you WILL have to go through immigration, so that will take a little longer. You have to go through the passport line, and then collect your checked luggage and talk to the immigration person, which shouldn’t take too long depending on the lines. Then there’s a conveyor belt to re-check your bags for the Atlanta – Tampa flight. Then you go through a security check and get sent back into the main area of the airport, though I don’t remember which terminal you end up in. An hour and 26 minute layover on this part might be a bit tight, but it really varies by time of day and day of the week. I’ve gotten through immigration and customs in Atlanta very quickly, but there have also been times when it took an eternity.

        I think you’ll be ok here, but I can’t guarantee anything. Let me know if I can help with anything else, and enjoy your trip to Singapore!

    17. colinrenee
      August 9, 2014 at 8:01 pm

      Thank you Ali!

      Really good information – will go book my Delta flight now!

      • Ali Garland
        August 9, 2014 at 9:23 pm

        You’re welcome! Have a great trip!

        • colinrenee
          August 10, 2014 at 12:04 am

          Dear Ali,

          Unbelievable! in between me asking you for advice and going back to book – Delta has somehow amended the flight time of the Atlanta – Narita leg.

          So now the layover is 1hr 10mins!

          Am I safe to assume that layover over 45 minutes in Atlanta should be safe?

    18. colinrenee
      August 10, 2014 at 12:51 am

      Dear Ali,

      The horrors! Between me posting my enquiry and getting your reply – Delta has moved up the Atlanta-Narita flight such that my layover from Tampa is now 1hr 10mins!

      Is it save to say that a straight thru layover above 45 minutes will be safe?

      I’ve googled and it seems the flight gets into T zone of Atlanta and the flight to Narita will be from zone F.
      (one end of the airport to the other!)
      Have read that the shuttle connector from end to end is about 15 minutes – any idea how often this shuttle runs? Like departures every 5 mins?

      Thanks dear!

      • Ali Garland
        August 10, 2014 at 1:32 pm

        SO sorry they’ve changed the flight! I don’t think 15 minutes will make that much difference. The shuttle train thing in the Atlanta airport runs fairly often. At least every 5 minutes, maybe even every 2 minutes. I don’t think it even takes 15 minutes to get from the T-gates to F terminal, but maybe. When you get off your flight from Tampa, just look for signs to the other terminals and don’t leave the secured area. A 45 minute layover might be pushing it, but an hour 10 minutes should be fine. I hope this helps and good luck!

    19. Maggi
      August 11, 2014 at 4:12 am

      Help!! I am just now realizing that we only have 1 hour between flights.

      American Airlines – Depart St. Louis and arrive in Miami at 10:00 a.m. And next flight is Departing 11:00 a.m. To Curacao. We really can’t squeeze
      All our stuff into carry ons, so I am also concerned our luggage will never have enough time to transfer.

      Is Miami airport very big?

      AA Flight Attendants ever willing to get you off the airplane first if you tell them your next flight is 1 hour?

      We depart St. Louis at 6 a.m. – and then with no time between flights to get food, so won’t be in Curacao until 2:00 and have children traveling with us, does AA serve meals on flights?

      Thank You

      • Ali Garland
        August 11, 2014 at 10:25 am

        Hi Maggi! On your way to Curacao, it isn’t really any different than flying domestic. An hour might be tight, but you should be able to make it. You won’t have any immigration lines to deal with leaving the US. When you check into your flights in St. Louis, ask the person at the check-in counter if there’s any way they can change your seats to somewhere towards the front of the plane and aisle seats. I doubt the flight attendants will let you out first, mostly because there’s no way to stop all the other passengers ahead of you. Just make sure your carry-on bags are all packed up and ready before you land, so you can grab them and go. As for your luggage, just make sure anything vital is in your carry-on: any medications, valuables, electronics, and pack a change of clothes and toiletries just in case your luggage does get delayed. I’d hate for you to be in Curacao and not be able to jump in the water!

        What’s your layover like on the way home? You WILL have to go through passport check and immigration when you re-enter the US, and that could take some time. When you come back to the US, you’ll also have to pick up your checked bags somewhere during the customs/immigration process and recheck them. The exact procedure varies from one airport to another, but again, make sure your valuables stay in your carry-on in case your checked luggage gets delayed on its way to your second flight.

        Most airlines in the US no longer serve food on domestic flights. Usually just a small bag of pretzels or something. It looks like the flight from Miami to Curacao is about 3 hours. Usually airlines will feed you on an international flight, but I’m not sure if they will on a shorter flight like this. Probably some kind of snack, but not likely a full meal. If I were you, I’d pack some snacks for your kids just in case. Some granola bars, sandwiches that don’t need to be refrigerated, something like that. They’ll definitely have drinks for you on board, so don’t worry about that part.

        Chances are, everything will run smoothly. Enjoy your trip, and I hope your layovers go off without a hitch! Let me know if I can help with anything else!

    20. Dipesh
      August 19, 2014 at 11:33 am

      Hey Ali, really liked your articles, which might helped thousands of travelers. I am from Nepal and works in Travel Company. We do have lots of passengers travelling from Nepal to US. Last week my passenger was travelling to Denver through MAN, the routing was KTM – QR – DOH – QR – MAN – US -CLT – US – DEN. As per Amadeus Reservation system, the MCT in MAN is 50 min for International to International transfer. In this particular booking the layover time was 70 min. Unfortunately passenger missed the US airways flight in MAN. Then the problem started. US airways did not rescheduled the flight mentioning its QR ticket. As per QR help desk, they did not re instate the ticket saying its passenger fault to miss the flight. As per them, It is Local fare ticket (Papers Fares for Nepal Agent) so they don’t know the rules of the Fare. The passenger was stranded in the MAN airport for 3 days. How can a Star airline say that they dont know they rules of the fare. As per me, In airport airlines dont go through the Fares rules and regulation specially when the passenger in the middle of the journey. Its a liability of the airlines to carry passenger from Origin to Destination in safe and efficient manner. Ali you might have different views on it please let me know and other readers too.

      Please Ali let me know too about the CLT transit time as my passenger is travelling with 1 hour 42 mins layour in CLT from MAN – CLT – SBY and is NON US Citizen. In the Itinerary US airways flights dont have Departure and Arrival Terminal Number, Its Weird. Is it Normal?

      • Ali Garland
        August 20, 2014 at 4:31 pm

        Hi Dipesh, thank you! Unfortunately the airlines do take the stance that it is the passenger’s responsibility to book a reasonable connection. So even if the airline gives you the option to book a short layover, it doesn’t mean you should do it. 70 minutes in Manchester sounds tight, but not unreasonable to me, I’m so sorry your customer didn’t make it. It really can vary on a lot of factors, such as how long the lines are at immigration. Many airlines are understanding and will help out when passengers miss a connection in those situations, but not all of them are that nice. And it also depends on the person you’re dealing with, not just the airline.

        CLT (Charlotte, NC) is not a huge airport, but it is a hub. My personal opinion is that 1 hour 42 minutes would be long enough, but I can’t guarantee anything. A non US citizen has a higher chance of needing more time to clear immigration, simply because the passport checkers and customs officers like to be annoying (I’ve dealt with quite a bit of annoyance flying into the US even as a US citizen) but that still seems like it would be enough time. If it’s a holiday or a day that has more than average air traffic, like around Thanksgiving or Christmas, lines could be longer. My advice is always to try to get an aisle seat as close to the front of the plane as possible so you can be one of the first people off the plane. Go to the bathroom on the plane before it lands so you can go straight to the passport line.

        I don’t think it’s weird that the itinerary doesn’t show the gate or terminal numbers. The airports don’t always know that info until the day of the flight, sometimes just a couple hours ahead. Some airlines will announce connecting gates in flight as they get close to landing, but only for major flights. Your passenger should be able to check the departures board once they land in CLT to find the gate. Here’s a link to the Charlotte airport terminal map: http://clt.clickoptimize.com/ Might be helpful for your passenger to just take a look at it and get a mental image of how the airport is laid out.

        Good luck with everything, and let me know if I can help with anything else!

        • Dipesh
          August 21, 2014 at 6:29 am

          Pleased to get a prompt reply from you. Fortunately, my passenger succeeded to catch the connecting flight after the immigration clearance withing 1 hour 40 mins.

          I am highly inspired by your blog. Will follow this wonderful blog which helps thousands of travelling around the world. And also i would love to speak with you one on one in voice. Please let me know if that is possible.

          • Ali Garland
            August 22, 2014 at 10:00 am

            I’m glad your passenger made the connecting flight!

            Thank you so much for the kind words about my blog, I appreciate it! Email is probably best if you want to discuss something with me. Between time zone differences and traveling, that’s the easiest. My email address is ali@travel-made-simple.com

    21. Maxine Skingsley
      August 29, 2014 at 3:37 pm

      Hi I am due to go from London Heathrow direct to Sydney Australia but have a layover stop in Singapore of about 2 hours. I am really not a traveller and am quite nervous of the whole experience. Can you tell me if I will have enough time and also do I have to check in again and anything else I might need to know. The only thing I can tell you is that I am flying from LHR on the A380 and the flight from Singapore to Sydney is also on the A380, does this mean my luggage will stay on that aircraft or do you still think I will have to collect my luggage and check in again. This is my first time and I am dreading it

      • Ali Garland
        August 29, 2014 at 5:49 pm

        Hi Maxine! Two hours should be enough time for your layover, and Singapore is a really nice airport. I don’t have any way of knowing if you’ll be on the *exact* same plane for each flight, but as long as you’ve booked the whole thing as one itinerary (not two separate flight bookings) then the airline will transfer your luggage from the first flight to the second flight. You won’t have to go through immigration in Singapore, just look for signs that say “transit” and find your connecting gate. Also, check out this link: http://www.viasingapore.com/experience-changi-airport/transit-tips/

        You’ll be fine! Let me know if you have any other questions, and have a great trip!

    22. Stephen Parslow
      August 31, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      Hiya Ali,
      I am flying US Airways from Heathrow to Los Angeles with a layover at Charlotte.
      I am traveling with my wife and her parents, two pensioners(not all that quick on their feet)
      Having traveled to the states many times we are used to long waits at immigration and security, but we have always flown direct in the past, so although longs waits in line are a pain they are never a problem.
      I have a 2 and a half hour layover in Charlotte and i am very worried this is going to be tight, especially with two elderly passengers in tow
      If the wost happens and i miss the connecting flight, what is likely to happen, my flight out of charlotte is at 16.00 and the whole booking is with US Airways. how likely is it to get on a later flight?

      • Ali Garland
        August 31, 2014 at 10:22 pm

        Hi Stephen! Unfortunately the airlines are not always so helpful with rebooking you if you miss your connection, but 2 and a half hours sounds like enough time. Obviously I can’t guarantee anything, but I think you have a good chance there. As far as your wife’s parents, you might want to see if you can get the airport to transfer them with those motorized cart things. It’ll be easier on your in-laws, and save some time. I honestly don’t know if that’s something the airline or the airport sets up for you, but if you contact the airline, I’m sure they can point you in the right direction.

        I usually tell people to try to get seats as close to the front of the plane as possible, and make sure your carry-ons are all packed up and ready to go before you land so you can just grab your stuff and go when the plane touches down. The only other thing I can think of is seeing if the airline can reschedule you now for a later connecting flight, though I’m sure it will still cost something extra to do that.

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

      • Dipesh
        September 1, 2014 at 3:31 am

        Hey Stephen and Ali !!!

        Recently, I had a NON US Citizen passenger who was travelling in US airways through Charlotte with 1 hour 42 mins transit. She had to identify her baggage, clear the immigration and security. Still she made the connecting flight. So, 2 and half hour is enough time for Charlotte.

        The only thing i had done in my passenger booking is that i have requested transfer assist to the airlines, i think that might have had helped her. So you can request through your travel agent or airlines for assistance in the transfer. This might help you.

        Hope you have a smooth journey !!

        • Ali Garland
          September 1, 2014 at 9:40 am

          Thanks Dipesh!

    23. stephen parslow
      September 5, 2014 at 6:22 pm

      Thank you both for your replies.
      I am going to take the gamble and leave the flights as they are.
      I am also going to kit my in laws out with roller skates so i can whiz them to the next gate lol
      Thanks again and both have a great weekend.

      • Ali Garland
        September 5, 2014 at 10:04 pm

        I have my fingers crossed for you, Stephen! Have a great trip, and let me know how your in-laws do with those roller skates :-)

    24. Charlene Smith
      September 11, 2014 at 2:27 am

      Hi Ali, I’m so happy that I found your blog! I am traveling to Thailand from CT. In Feb ’15. I’ve been unable to make a decision on which flight to take. The one I’d like to take is United from BDL to Washington Dulles (IAD). The layover is only 58 min. I’m not sure I can get everything into a carry-on (I’ll try) so I’m worried about the layover and my luggage making it through. My next layover is in Tokyo Japan (1 hour 40 min), I think that will be ok. My return flight is the reverse of my outbound. But the layovers are longer. Any thoughts on the 58 min layover would be greatly appreciated!

      • Ali Garland
        September 11, 2014 at 9:47 am

        Hi Charlene! That’s a tough call, but I think I’d lean towards the Tokyo layover since it’s longer. The layover in Dulles might not be too bad since you won’t have to deal with immigration/customs on the way out, BUT when you fly back, if that is your first point of entry back in the US, a 58 minute layover will NOT be long enough to go through immigration/customs. I know you said the return flights have longer layovers, but I’d recommend at least a 2 hour layover for getting back into the US because the lines at passport check can be really long. I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions, and have a great trip!

        • Charlene Smith
          September 12, 2014 at 2:03 am

          Ali, Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I should clarify my flight schedule. It’s all on United.

          Hartford to Dulles —> 58 min layover
          Dulles to Tokyo —> 1hour 40 min layover
          Tokyo to Thailand

          Thailand to Tokyo —> 1 hour 35 min layover
          **Tokyo to Dulles** —> 1 hour 55 min layover … I think this is the leg of the flight you were concerned with. It seems that it should be fine, close enough to the 2 hour minimum?? In Dulles I would need to go through immigration/customs and pick up my luggage. So, If I only had a carry on I would assume it makes it better and makes the layover less of a concern. Right??
          Dulles – Hartford

          Again Thanks for your help! I’ve been reading through some of your other blog posts… so very helpful!!

          • Ali Garland
            September 15, 2014 at 10:57 am

            Hi Charlene! Sorry, I was offline for the weekend. Yes, I did misunderstand you earlier, this makes so much more sense! Your 58 minute layover might be a bit tight, but leaving the US is easier/faster than returning, so hopefully it won’t be a big deal. Returning with 1 hour 55 minutes shouldn’t be so bad, hopefully. I don’t have any experience with layovers in Dulles specifically, but I think you’ll be ok. Having carry-on would make it a little easier, but I don’t think the process of picking up your bags and rechecking them takes much time. In many airports, it’s all right there in the immigration/customs area, so it just takes a couple minutes. It’s more about how long the lines are at passport check, so if you can’t get your luggage down to carry-on only, don’t sweat it. I hope this helps!

    25. Erica
      September 12, 2014 at 6:32 am

      I’m travelling Sydney to Singapore to London and have a 50 minute stopover in Singapore.

      Will I make the connecting flight? I’m a bit worried as this is a very short stopover and with 300+ passengers getting off and on in 50 minutes?!

      • Ali Garland
        September 15, 2014 at 11:02 am

        Hi Erica, 50 minutes does seem a bit tight. Luckily you won’t have to go through immigration/customs in Singapore, so that will save you time. When you check in for your flight, see if you can get a seat as close to the front of the plane as possible, and consider getting an aisle seat. That way you can jump up and go as soon as the plane lands and the seat belt sign goes off. Also, make sure your carry-on is all packed up and ready to go towards the end of the flight. Sometimes the flight attendants get a list of connecting gates, so if they don’t announce anything towards the end of the flight, ask if they know what gate your flight leaves from. Or when you get into the Singapore airport, look for the big departures board. You’ll have to go through security again in Singapore, BUT they have security set up for each individual gate or sometimes a group of just a few gates, so it will really just be your flight in line there, so don’t worry about that part. I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions, and enjoy your trip!

        • Erica
          November 9, 2014 at 3:48 am

          HI Ali,

          I made the connecting flight! Thanks. I was really worried when the plane landed and thought, how are we all going to get off in time for me to get the connecting flight onto London. I looked at the departures board in Singapore and my connecting flight was already boarding! I had to dash across the terminal (It was all the way on the other end of the terminal) but made the boarding just in time. You don’t have time to stop, go to the loo, or shop. You have to walk across the terminal very fast (which I did). Enjoyed my trip. Thanks again!

          • Ali Garland
            November 10, 2014 at 1:35 pm

            I’m so glad you made it, Erica! No, I can imagine you definitely wouldn’t have time for a bathroom break or anything else with such a short layover. I’m happy you had a good trip too!

    26. meg
      September 14, 2014 at 12:09 am

      I’m wonder if you have any thoughts – i’m flying international arriving in the US at FLL, arriving early in the morning 6:15am, and then have a connecting domestic flight 2.5 hrs later (departs at 8:40am) on a different airline…I will have one checked bag.
      I “think” / hope that this will give me enough time, to clear customs (US Citizen) and to get my luggage, but I just thought you may have a word of advice.
      Thanks for all your helpful hints and words and the blog!


      • Ali Garland
        September 15, 2014 at 11:06 am

        Hi Meg, thanks! FLL isn’t a big airport, so hopefully it won’t take you too long. Sometimes there are separate lines at the check-in counter for people who have already checked in online and just need to drop off checked luggage, so if you can check in online and print your boarding passes, that might save you some time. I also don’t think FLL sees nearly as much international traffic as other airports, like Miami, so the odds are in your favor that the passport/customs lines won’t be too long, especially at that time of the day. I can’t guarantee anything, but I think you’ll be fine. Enjoy your trip!

    27. Jing Fan
      September 14, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      Hi Ali, I’m glad I found your article. It’s very useful. I’m planning to fly from Nashville to Guangzhou on December and the flight route is BNA to EWR -Liberty (layover 1 hour 15 minutes) to NRT-narita (layover 2 hours 25 minutes) to CAN. I am worried about 1 hour 15 minutes layover in EWR since I arrive at terminal A and depart from terminal C. Do you think I could make it in 75 minutes? Do I need to recheck the luggage and go through security again? Many thanks!

      • Ali Garland
        September 15, 2014 at 12:03 pm

        Thanks, glad to help! If you’re flying FROM the US, you will not have to recheck your luggage in Newark, assuming your flights are all on one itinerary through the same airline or partner airlines and they’re tagging your luggage to your final destination. Your layover in Newark will be similar to any domestic layover. As for security, as best as I can see, it looks like there are separate security check points for each terminal, so you would have to go through security again if you’re switching terminals. This site here has some helpful info about Newark Airport: http://www.ifly.com/newark-liberty-international/terminal-map I think 1 hour 15 minutes should be enough time to make your next flight. Let me know if you have any other questions, and enjoy your trip!

    28. Genevieve
      September 21, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      Reading this post has been helpful but also made me a bit nervous. Myself and my partner are flying from London Heathrow to New York. We stay in New York for 3 days. We then fly from New York to Atlanta and have a 1hr 6minute layover then Fly from Atlanta to Cancun our final destination.
      Both internal flight are with Delta. We booked via a travel agent who did all the booking with us.
      I’m just worried this is not enough time now. Do the airline transfer our luggage or do we collect it at Atlanta and recheck it in for our Cancun flight?? Will the process be longer with security etc as we are English citizens so do not have a U.S. passport?

      • Ali Garland
        September 21, 2014 at 3:01 pm

        Hi Genevieve! I think you’ll be fine. As long as your NY to Atlanta and Atlanta to Cancun flights are on one itinerary, Delta should transfer your checked luggage from the first flight to the second. When you’re checking in for your flight in NY, verify with them that they are tagging your luggage to go to your final destination, but that should be what they’re doing. (For more on how layovers work, check here: http://travel-made-simple.com/how-do-layovers-work/ ) Once you’re in Atlanta, you won’t have to go through security again. The person checking you in at the airport in NY should be able to print boarding passes for both of your flights, and they are the ones who you’ll show your passports to. It’s not like in other countries where there is a separate passport check area. So once you land in Atlanta, all you have to do is find your next gate. If it’s in a different terminal, follow the signs to the other terminals and hop on the tram that connects each terminal. Sometimes the flight attendants on your first flight will know some of the connecting gates, but if not, there are big departures boards throughout the airport so you can look for your next flight.

        What is your flight like going home? Are you flying through the US to get back to London? If you are, you WILL have to collect and recheck your luggage at the airport you connect through in the US, and you WILL have to go through passport check and customs. Again, the US is different from other countries in that you have to go through the immigration process even if you’re not leaving the airport. So a one hour layover will likely be too short in this direction.

        I think your Atlanta layover on your way to Cancun will be fine. You don’t have time to waste, so maybe don’t stop at the bathroom or anything, but I think you’ll be fine. Let me know if you have any other questions, and have a great trip!

        • Genevieve
          September 21, 2014 at 3:45 pm

          Thanks Ali for that response. It really clarified it for me it is on one itinerary. Getting back home we have a direct flight from cancun to Heathrow.
          Thank again for your help I feel much more at ease. Just counting down.

          • Ali Garland
            September 22, 2014 at 10:13 am

            Glad to help!

    29. Gail
      October 30, 2014 at 1:17 am


      i will be traveling from Singapore to Pittsburgh, with layovers in Japan and Dulles – my layovers in japan and dulles are both 2 hours long. Will I have to go through security, customs, etc. in Japan as well as Dulles? Will 2 hours in each airport be enough time?

      Thanks so much!

      • Ali Garland
        October 30, 2014 at 10:48 am

        Hi Gail! You shouldn’t have to go through customs and immigration in Japan, but you will most likely have to go through security again. When you get off the plane in Japan, look for signs for transit passengers. If you need help, be sure to tell the person you ask that you just have a connecting flight and you’re not staying in Japan. When you get to Dulles, you *will* have to go through customs and immigration. The US even makes you pick up and re-check your luggage at the first point of entry. I haven’t flown through Dulles, but many airports have a conveyor belt for you to re-check your bags while you’re still in the customs area, so it doesn’t take more than a few minutes. I think 2 hours should be enough time for your layover in Japan, and unless something crazy is going on when you land in Dulles, you should be fine there too. Just to be sure you don’t lose any time at the airport, I’d recommend you go to the bathroom on the plane before landing so you don’t have to deal with it during your layover, and ask the flight attendants towards the end of your flight if they have a list of connecting gates so you know where to go once you clear customs. For more about how layovers work, check out this post: http://travel-made-simple.com/how-do-layovers-work/ Have a great trip, and let me know if you have any other questions!

    30. Anthony
      November 7, 2014 at 5:29 am

      Hi Ali,

      Wandering if you could help, i am traveling on my honeymoon in February and have a international connecting flight From Dallas airport to Sydney. Flying with American Airlines who i will have checked in with @ Aspen. I think the international flight to Sydney is operated by Qanta though. Do you think i will have to check baggage in again @ Dallas and will 2.5hrs be enough time to make the connecting flight to Sydney.
      Thank you

      • Ali Garland
        November 7, 2014 at 1:11 pm

        Hi Anthony! American Airlines and Qantas are partner airlines, so as long as you booked both flights together on one itinerary (one transaction, not two) then your checked luggage should get transferred from the first flight to the second in Dallas. Also, 2.5 hours should be plenty of time to make your connection. Connecting flights within the US aren’t really any different than domestic connections. You might have to switch to the international terminal, but you won’t notice much else that’s different.

        On your way back, you will have to go through immigration and customs in the first US airport you land in. So if your return flight is the same connection in Dallas, you’ll get off the plane in Dallas, stand in the passport check line, go talk to the customs person and give them the form you fill out on the plane. At some point there, you will have to pick up your checked luggage and recheck it. In many airports this is a really simple process right in the immigration area and won’t take you more than a few minutes. Then you’ll also have to go through security again before proceeding to your second flight. Again, 2.5 hours should be enough time for your connection. Sometimes the passport lines are really long, but anything over 2 hours should be safe.

        Have a great honeymoon in Australia, it’s such a great country! If you have any other questions, feel free to email me at ali@travel-made-simple.com

        • Matthew Cheyne
          November 8, 2014 at 1:31 am

          As an Australian living in Australia, I would like to be the first to welcome you to our beautiful country. There are so many incredible places you can go for a honeymoon that it would be endless to list them all.

          May the two of you have a beautiful wedding and honeymoon and may the union between you and your wife be a long and strong one.

          • anthony
            November 10, 2014 at 7:45 am

            Thank you Matthew for such kind words. We are very excited!!!

        • anthony
          November 10, 2014 at 7:44 am

          Thank you Ali for your response. You have put all my worries to bed.

          I will send you a email with my travel stories upon my return.

          • Ali Garland
            November 10, 2014 at 1:36 pm

            Thanks Anthony, enjoy!

    31. Ann
      November 14, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      Hello! I’m flying from San Fran to LAX (Virgin America, Terminal 3) to catch an international flight (Virgin Atlantic, Terminal 2). My layover is 4 and a half hours. Will I have to leave the terminal and check in etc for my next flight? LAX is quite a big airport – is that enough time?

      It doesn’t say anything about connecting flights within Terminals 1, 2 and 3 here: http://www.lawa.org/welcome_lax.aspx?id=1318#q15

      • Ali Garland
        November 14, 2014 at 9:25 pm

        Hi Ann! Did you book both flights together on the same itinerary? Or did you have to book each one separately? If you booked them both on the same itinerary, your checked bags should get transferred from the first to the second flight, and when you check in for your first flight, they should be able to print both boarding passes. Good to check with the airline on that, but that is usually the case. However, if you had to book these two flights separately, they probably won’t be able to tag your luggage to go all the way to your final destination, and they probably won’t be able to print your second boarding pass. In that case, you would have to go to baggage claim to pick up your bag, and then go to the check-in counter to check in for your second flight. As annoying as that is, I think 4 1/2 hours is still plenty of time. I don’t know if Virgin America and Virgin Atlantic are related enough to be able to tag your luggage to your final destination and print your second boarding pass even if you have two separate itineraries, but it’s worth asking if they can do that for you just in case. Let me know if you have any other questions, and have a great trip!

        • Ann
          November 14, 2014 at 11:31 pm

          Hi Ali, I booked them separately so I guess I’ll have to do check in again. Thanks for your help!

          • Ali Garland
            November 17, 2014 at 11:21 am

            It’s still worth asking if they are able to tag your luggage to go to your final destination. It just depends on how connected Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America are, especially with the computer systems.

    32. Takhmina
      November 18, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      Hi Ali,

      Wondering if you could help, please. My fellowship program have provided me with two options to get to my final destination (from US to Tajikistan). I have looked through the time and in both cases I think there is a very short layover between two transit flights.

      My first option is the route DC-Munich-Istanbul-Dushanbe is very exhausting one, and the time between the layover in Munich is only 55 minutes which is really hard I think. The terminal is the same though.

      My second option is the route DC-Dubai-Dushanbe which I think is the best one but the arrival and departure will be in different terminals. From my last year experience getting from terminal 1 to terminal 2 took 20 minutes and the shuttle bus leaves according to schedule. The lines for check-in are really long there and I am afraid I can be late for my flight with this option too. If I have only 1 hour 30 minutes of layover, then from 20 to 20 minutes will be spent for transiting from terminal 1 to terminal 2, and I do not know how long I will be waiting for check-in.

      I wrote this to my program but seems like I have to choose one from these two options. What would you advise me. I would be very thankful for any advise. Thanks a lot in advance.

      • Ali Garland
        November 18, 2014 at 9:51 pm

        Hi Takhmina! Wow, that’s a tough one. I normally go in favor of fewer layovers unless the layover is *really* short. Are your flights all on one itinerary or are they separate? If they are separate flights and all pieced together, you will have to collect your checked luggage and check in for the next flight. This will take a lot of time. But if the flights are all on one itinerary, the airline(s) should be able to print all your boarding passes and transfer your luggage from one flight to the next. That also means you should only have to go through security checks at the layover airports, not check-in.

        Unfortunately I can’t make this decision for you. You have to decide if you’re more comfortable with the short layover in Munich knowing you won’t have to switch terminals, or take a chance on the 1 hour 30 minute layover in Dubai knowing you’ll have fewer changes. Again, if the flights are all one one itinerary and with the same or partner airlines, you shouldn’t have to check in for each individual flight as you go. But if you did that on the way to DC, then maybe you have separate flights.

        I’m so sorry I can’t just tell you which one is better! Neither one is ideal, but neither one is horrible either. Go with whichever one makes you feel more comfortable and less stressed out. Let me know if I can help with anything else!

    33. Manuel
      November 21, 2014 at 8:42 pm


      I have a flight booked with american airlines, from Aruba to Miami and then to Atlanta (Also with AA) but the layover is 1 hour 10 minutes only.

      I’m kind of worried, the plane arrives at MIA at 7:55 PM and the other one departs at 9:05 PM. I think both arrives and departs at the same terminal but I’m not sure if its enough time to make it.

      What do you all think?

      • Ali Garland
        November 22, 2014 at 11:08 pm

        Hi Manuel! That does sound like a short layover, especially since you’ll have to go through customs and immigration. Since American Airlines has a hub in Miami, I imagine there are quite a few flights between there and Atlanta. Is it possible to change the MIA to ATL flight to a later one to give yourself more time? If not, it might be worth calling AA’s customer service and ask what their policy is if you miss your connection due to long lines at customs.

        My tips for trying to make your connection: Try to get an aisle seat as close to the front of the plane as possible on the Aruba to Miami flight. Make sure your carry-on is packed up and ready to go when the plane lands in Miami so you’re not trying to put stuff back in instead of getting off the plane. Go to the bathroom on the plane so you don’t have to go at the Miami airport. As the flight attendants if they have a list of gates for connecting flights.

        None of these will save you tons of time, but a few minutes could be enough to get you to your next flight. I hope it works out for you, and enjoy your trip!

    34. Kurt
      December 5, 2014 at 10:01 pm

      Hello, very informative site. I will be travelling from Vancouver, Canada to Dallas-Fort Worth with a one hour layover and then catching a connecting flight to Brazil. Both flights will be American Airways. Is this enough time? I will be checking a bag.


      • Ali Garland
        December 6, 2014 at 4:44 pm

        Hi Kurt, thank you! One hour sounds tight. When you connect through the US, even if you’re not leaving the airport since your final destination is another country, you still have to go through customs and immigration. During that process you also have to collect your checked luggage and recheck it. It’s annoying and can be time consuming if the lines at passport check are long. You might want to consider contacting American Airlines and see if they have an earlier flight from Vancouver to Dallas that you could switch to, and ask what their policy is if you miss your connection due to customs and immigration.

        If you decide to go for it the way your flights are booked now, here’s my advice for increasing your chances of making the connection: Try to get an aisle seat as close to the front of the plane as possible on your Vancouver to Dallas flight. Go to the bathroom on the plane towards the end of the flight so you don’t have to go in the Dallas airport. Make sure anything you’ve taken out of your carry-on bag is packed up and ready to go before the flight lands. Ask the flight attendant towards the end of the flight if they have connecting gate info, though I’m pretty sure all international flights leaving Dallas are out of the international terminal, but knowing the exact gate is helpful. As soon as the plane lands and the seat belt sign is off, grab your stuff and GO. Don’t stop for the bathroom, don’t stop for a snack in the terminal, just get to your next gate.

        Good luck and enjoy Brazil! Let me know if you have any other questions!

    35. Heidi
      December 7, 2014 at 8:06 pm

      Hello! I need your advise! Please help! I have booked a ticket from American Airlines traveling from Hong Kong to Nashville round trip. The port of entry was in Texas. Recently, AA just changed their schedule. Instead of getting 3:55 hrs of layover from Texas to Hong Kong, I got only 1 hrs layover. Do you think the time is enough for me to catch the flight to Hong Kong if my luggage was checkin at Nashville and I don’t need to claim my luggage at Texas? Is there security check in Texas going to HongKong?

      • Ali Garland
        December 9, 2014 at 6:58 pm

        Hi Heidi! One hour is really cutting it close, especially on your flight back from Hong Kong to Texas to Nashville. You will have to go through customs and immigration in Texas since it is your first point of entry into the US. They also make you pick up your checked luggage at that point and recheck it. In many airports, that’s still within the customs/immigration area, so it doesn’t take long, but it’s still time eating away at that short layover. And once your’e done with that, you will have to go through security before going to your connecting gate, but again, in most airports it’s still in the customs/immigration area, not the main security line. I’m sure it’s possible to get off the plane, through customs/immigration/security, and to your next gate in one hour, but it is not very likely that that’s enough time. Going from Nashville to Texas to Hong Kong will be more simple and will mostly feel like a domestic layover, but you’re likely to have to switch terminals. In that case, you probably won’t have to deal with security again, just depends on how that particular airport is set up. But your luggage won’t be an issue on the Nashville-TX-Hong Kong section. An hour is easier to deal with here, but still tight.

        Since AA changed your flights, maybe they will allow you to switch the domestic one in each direction so that you have a longer layover? Usually if the airline is the one to change the flight schedules, they allow you to make a change without cost. It’s definitely worth calling and asking. If it were me, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with just one hour, especially on the way into the US. Let me know if you have any other questions!

    36. Brenda
      December 9, 2014 at 12:06 am

      Hi, Thanks for the insightful advice. I booked a January flight from Philly to Liberia, CR via Dallas back in September. At that time, the layover in Dallas was a bit over an hour. But, American just pushed back the Philly departure so now I am arriving in Dallas at 9:25 am instead of 9:00 am. The flight to Liberia is at 10:05, so the layover is now reduced to 35 minutes and American is showing a terminal change. Also, once in Dallas, the only means to reach CR if I miss the connection is through Miami. Though American assures me I should still be able to make the connection, I am considering re-routing, which American has agreed to, by just going to Miami the night before and getting the first flight out the next morning. The downside is the hotel expense in Miami and (possibly) a great deal more time in airports. The weather factor makes the connection even more iffy. Also, would American say it is my fault if I missed the connection under this circumstance? What would Ali do? Thanks, again.

      • Ali Garland
        December 9, 2014 at 7:13 pm

        Hi Brenda! Honestly, I would not feel comfortable with a 35 minute layover, especially with a terminal change. I can’t understand why American is telling you that you won’t have a problem making that switch. Unless they know for a fact that the Dallas to CR flight will wait for connecting flights, but that’s usually not a decision they make ahead of time. I don’t know what their policy is on missing connections in this situation, but I’m hearing more and more about people being told it’s the passenger’s responsibility to make the connection, and if the flight is on time and you miss it, tough. This isn’t with every airline though, so it’s probably worth asking American what their policy is if your PHL to DFW flight is on time but you miss your connection because 35 minutes is too short. Even aside from YOU making that tight switch, I’d worry that it might not be enough time for your checked luggage to make the switch. And the weather in January…always a big concern with connecting flights.

        “What would Ali do?” (I love that, by the way!) I would talk to American and try to change my flights in the most convenient (to me) way possible to allow for a better layover. I agree with you, it doesn’t sound ideal to have to fly to Miami the night before and get a hotel, but if it’s the *only* way to make sure you make that flight, it might be worth it. I don’t know what time the flights are from DFW or MIA to CR, but I wonder if there’s an earlier flight out of Philadelphia to either of those cities? Even if it’s one of those painful 6am flights or something?

        Also, make sure you have even more time for your layover on the return flight. Flying back into the US takes a lot more time because you will have to go through customs and immigration, plus claim and recheck your luggage and go through security again at the first point of entry back into the US. And if I had to pick Dallas or Miami for that, I’d pick Dallas, simply because Miami is notoriously a pain since they see so many international flights from Latin America.

        I hope this helps, but feel free to email me if you have any other questions! And enjoy Costa Rica!

    37. Rich
      December 25, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      Hello Ali,

      I work and live in Saudi Arabia but home is near Tampa, FL. I’ve traveled back and forth quite a bit the last 6 years and think I have a little bit of experience on this topic. I’ve read quite a few of the comments and your replies. I thought your comments were extremely accurate, helpful, and I learned a few tips from them. I especially like your truthfulness but personal and hopeful assurances you gave nervous fliers with short connection times on international flights. Very nice!

      • Ali Garland
        December 25, 2014 at 1:37 pm

        Thank you so much Rich! You’re so kind to stop by and let me know, and I’m glad to help! Happy travels :-)

    38. Maggie
      December 28, 2014 at 7:40 am

      Hi Ali,

      I’m taking a trip to TN in 3 weeks and I haven’t been on a plane in 14 years. I have a question regarding my 1 hour layover in Atlanta (Hartsfield-Jackson Airport). Both flights are with Delta Airlines, so does that mean the connecting flight will be located in the same terminal? I’m very nervous because I would hate to miss my connecting flight do to lack of time running around this very large airport. What are the chances that I will need to travel to the opposite end of the airport? Thank you for the information.

      • Ali Garland
        December 28, 2014 at 11:27 am

        Hi Maggie! 1 hour is tight but doable if both flights are domestic. Yes, Atlanta is a big airport, and unfortunately since Delta’s hub is there, there are several terminals that have Delta flights. Where are you starting your journey? If both of your fights are really short, you might end up on smaller planes, and a lot of those go out of the T-gates, so in that case you won’t have to switch terminals. But if you do have to switch terminals, just look for signs for baggage claim and the other gates, and that will get you to the tram that connects the terminals. Get on the tram in the direction towards the gate you need to get to, and in just a couple of minutes, you’ll be at your terminal. While you’re on your first flight, ask the flight attendant if they have a list of gates for connecting flights. Often they do, at least for more popular flights, and that will help you know where to go. I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions!

    39. Rath
      January 3, 2015 at 5:26 pm

      Hi Ali,

      I’m glad to find your very useful info. I’d appreciate your comments on my itinerary. My international flights from BKK-PEK-LAX should be fine with 5:30 hr and 3:50 hr layover respectively, shouldn’t they? 3:50 is for me to take another itinerary for the flight to MCI after getting through immigration and customs.

      But my real concern is on the return flight. Starting with the flight back from Kansas City where I have to take the connecting flight to LAX at Phoenix with only 41 minutes layover. It is the same itinerary with the same airline (US Airways.) BTW both flights are stated in my ticket to disembark/board at terminal 4, and my seat is very close to airplane exit. Should it be OK?

      Many thanks,

      • Ali Garland
        January 5, 2015 at 6:54 pm

        Hi Rath! 5 hours 30 minutes and 3 hours 50 minutes both sound like plenty of time for layovers. I don’t quite understand where the layover is you’re referring to where you have to switch to another itinerary, but I’m guessing that’s somewhere in the US. If that’s correct, just remember you’ll be required to pick up your checked luggage and recheck it. Since your next flight is on another itinerary, you’ll have to check in with the next airline to get your boarding pass. Also, with regards to your checked luggage: Some airports have you put your luggage back on a conveyor belt while you’re still in the customs/immigration section, and if you have a separate itinerary for your next flight, you’ll have to go to baggage claim to pick it up, and then bring your bag to the check-in counter. Kind of a pain, but it sounds like you have plenty of time to deal with all of that.

        Your Kansas City – Phoenix – LAX flight should be ok. Domestic layovers are usually pretty easy, and I think an hour and 41 minutes should be plenty of time for that. The fact that your ticket is already telling you terminal 4 is great. Just be sure you verify the departure gate of the second flight when you land just in case it has changed.

        Sounds like you’re well-prepared! Enjoy your trip, and let me know if you have any other questions!

        • Rath
          January 6, 2015 at 12:56 pm

          Thanks Ali! 3.50 hr time is for me to get through immigration, claim my luggage, pass customs and rush to check in with domestic flight in another terminal (United Airline) at LAX. According to my experience I’m not that worried about this one though. However the flight transition at PHX on the return flight I have only 41 minutes, not one hour and 41 minutes. I guess it’s kinda close but I hope it should be enough. Any recommendation? Thanks again Ali!

          • Ali Garland
            January 6, 2015 at 5:31 pm

            Yes 41 minutes is pretty tight, sorry I misread that. You said you have a seat near the exit, so that is helpful. If you don’t already have an aisle seat, see if you can switch to an aisle, although don’t end up farther back in the plane for that. You could also talk to the people next to you and explain that you have a tight connection and see if they’ll let you jump out ahead of them when the plane lands. Make sure your carry-on is all packed up before the plane lands. Then when you land, you can grab your stuff and try to get off the plane as quickly as possible. Don’t make any stops in the airport (so if you need a bathroom break, go on the plane), just go straight to the next gate. Sometimes the flight attendants have a list of gates for connecting flights, so it’s worth asking if they have your next flight so you’ll know exactly where to go. But the fact that the airline is already telling you the first flight lands in terminal 4 and the next one leaves from there as well should really help. Good luck!

    40. Will
      January 6, 2015 at 12:04 am

      Hi Ali

      You’re very informative, and your posts are really helpful. I have a flight booked on Friday from Vancouver to the UK, with layovers in Seattle and Amsterdam with a British passport. Firstly, when I depart from Vancouver to Seattle, it says I’m flying Alaska Airlines operated by Horizon Airlines. Which kiosk should I check in with? Then I have a 1hr 58 min layover in Seattle before boarding my flight to Amsterdam? Will this be sufficient time? Also, it says it’s a KLM flight operated by Delta Airlines. I’m really confused as to which kiosk I check in with at Seattle…KLM or DELTA? It seems to me that from reading previous posts that I will have to reclaim my baggage in Seattle,and go through the whole checking in and immigration process again. Will just under 2 hours be enough to accomplish this? Lastly upon arrival in Amsterdam, I have a short 1hr 15min layover before my flight to the UK. It is also a KLM flight – would I be correct to assume my luggage will follow me to the UK? And do you think the short layover will be long enough to board my final flight? My whole flight path is booked on 1 itinerary.


      • Ali Garland
        January 6, 2015 at 12:42 pm

        Hi Will! Thanks, glad to help! I understand your confusion with the airlines, that stuff isn’t always so clear. Horizon Airlines is a sister company of Alaska Airlines, so their check-in counters should be together. Look for Alaska Airlines and you’ll be fine. Your 2 hour layover in Seattle should be ok, but yes, you’ll have to go through customs and immigration and re-check your luggage. Canada and the US are about the only countries that make you do this even when you’re not leaving the airport. However, if all of the flights you mentioned were booked on one itinerary, you shouldn’t have to check in again in Seattle. Alaska Airlines should be able to print all of your boarding passes because all of the airlines involved are partners to some degree. When you check in in Vancouver, verify with the ticket agent that your bags will get tagged all the way to your final destination. (As mentioned, you’ll still have to pick up your checked luggage in the customs area in Seattle and recheck it, but usually “rechecking” just means putting it back on the conveyor belt a few meters away.)

        Delta and KLM are partner airlines and both are Skyteam airlines. Basically what that means for you is that you have a flight from Seattle to Amsterdam booked through KLM but you will most likely be on a Delta airplane with Delta crew members. As I said, you shouldn’t have to check in for that flight separately, but if for some reason you do, just look for the Delta counter. If there even are KLM counters or agents in the Seattle airport, they will be together there.

        When you arrive in Amsterdam, look for signs that say “transit” and you should be able to get to your next gate without dealing with customs and immigration because you’re not staying within the Schengen Zone, though you’ll have to go through a security check. Again, since you should already have your boarding pass, it’s just a matter of finding the gate, and your luggage will get transferred from the 2nd flight to the 3rd. Much easier than the layover in Seattle.

        There are rare occasions when you’ve booked an itinerary like this and the first airline isn’t able to print the boarding passes for the other airlines, so just verify this at check-in. I’m 99.99% sure Alaska Airlines will be able to print your Seattle to Amsterdam boarding pass. If for some reason they can’t print Amsterdam to the UK, when you land in Amsterdam, still look for the “transit” signs and then look for a KLM counter, though it will most likely be on the other side of the security check.

        I hope this helps! Everything should run smoothly, and it shouldn’t be as complicated as they’re making it look with all the different airlines involved. Let me know if you have any other questions and have a good trip!

        • Will
          January 8, 2015 at 1:35 am

          Thanks Ali, you’ve put my mind at ease!

          • Ali Garland
            January 9, 2015 at 5:47 pm

            Glad to help!

    41. Patricia
      January 13, 2015 at 6:32 am

      Hi Ali,

      My daughter will be flying from Hilton Head to Portland on Friday and has a connecting flight in Charlotte. Her layover is 53 minutes. She is nervous because she has never flown on her own with someone helping the connections, do you think is enough time? She is flying US Airways for the first but the second says operated by US Airways expressway. Wondering if she has to change terminals or something. Thank you.

      • Ali Garland
        January 14, 2015 at 12:27 pm

        Hi Patricia! 53 minutes is tight but not completely out of the question. US Airways Express is just the commuter sister company to US Airways, so they’re essentially the same airline. When she checks in for her first flight, they will print both boarding passes for her, and her checked luggage will get tagged to the final destination. US Airways has a hub in Charlotte which means they will use gates in most of the terminals. According to this http://charmeck.org/city/charlotte/Airport/AirlineandFlightInformation/Pages/default.aspx they use all but terminal A. Here is a map of the terminals, and if you hover over the terminal letter, it shows you the airlines: http://clt.clickoptimize.com/

        If she doesn’t already have an aisle seat, see if she can switch to an aisle, although don’t end up farther back in the plane for that. She could also talk to the people next to her and explain that she has a tight connection and see if they’ll let her jump out ahead of them when the plane lands. Make sure her carry-on is all packed up before the plane lands. Then when she lands, she can grab her stuff and try to get off the plane as quickly as possible. Tell her not make any stops in the airport (so if she needs a bathroom break, go on the plane), just go straight to the next gate. Sometimes the flight attendants have a list of gates for connecting flights, so it’s worth asking if they have her next flight so she’ll know exactly where to go.

        I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions!

    42. tracy
      January 16, 2015 at 1:10 pm


      im flying from Dublin to perth with a stopover in Amsterdam and kuala lumpur, I only have 1 hour in Amsterdam. is this enough time to connect?

      • Ali Garland
        January 16, 2015 at 2:13 pm

        Hi Tracy! An hour might be tight, but not impossible. Since you’re not staying in Amsterdam or anywhere within the Schengen Zone, you should be able to get off the plane in Amsterdam and look for the “transit” signs. That will get you to your connecting gate without having to go through immigration and customs. If you’re able to get a seat on the Dublin to Amsterdam flight that’s on the aisle and near the front of the plane, that will help you get off the plane quicker when it lands. Make sure your carry-on is all packed up before the flight lands. If you need to use the bathroom, go on the plane, don’t stop in the airport in Amsterdam.

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

    43. Anna
      January 25, 2015 at 3:57 am

      Hi Ali,

      Do you think an hour layover in Mexico city and LAX is sufficient (only carry-on)? Havana (Aeromexico)->(1hr layover )Mexico city(Volaris) ->(1hr layover )LAX (Eve)-> Taipei


      • Ali Garland
        January 25, 2015 at 4:13 pm

        Hi Anna! Honestly, one hour is really cutting it close. You shouldn’t have to go through customs and immigration in Mexico City, but there are usually stricter security checks on flights going to the US, and that could take a little longer. But my bigger concern is the one hour layover in LAX. Even though you’re not staying in the US, you WILL have to go through customs and immigration, plus collect and recheck your luggage, and LAX is a big airport. That could definitely take awhile, and if you miss your connection, the airline is unlikely to be any help unless you miss your flight because of a delay. Even then, all of your flights would need to be booked on the same itinerary. If you have any other options, you might want to consider a different flight. Also, check out my tips for what to do if your layover is too short here: http://travel-made-simple.com/if-you-think-your-layover-is-too-short/

    44. Anna
      February 2, 2015 at 4:17 pm

      Hi Ali, thanks for your prompt reply. I will travel carry-on only without any checked luggage and will have approx. 1hr 15mins layover in LAX if flight to LAX not delayed… do you still think its too short?? Its difficult to book my flights on same itinerary as book separately is much cheaper. Thanks again.

      • Ali Garland
        February 3, 2015 at 11:20 am

        I still think it’s short because you will have to go through customs and immigration in LAX, and that could take awhile. It’s not impossible, you could get lucky and have short lines, but you could also spend an hour just standing in line. Try to check in for your LAX to Taipei flight online and print your boarding pass ahead of time, if this is an option. That way you won’t have to deal with checking in for that flight at the LAX airport. And just be aware that you’re taking a chance here, and if you miss your connection, the airline is unlikely to be any help, which means you’ll have to buy another ticket on another flight for probably a LOT more money. I completely understand your desire for that cheaper flight, but do the math and decide if the savings is worth the risk and potential extra cost.

    45. February 5, 2015 at 4:24 am

      Nice post!! I was searching through google about layovers/transits and came to your blog. I was wondering if you are familiar with layovers in Kuala Lumpur particularly KLIA2. I will be landing in KL from Yangon at 9 pm (via Airasia) with my next flight leaving at 1:20 am using a different airline (Cebu pacific) to Manila. Both airlines use the same Terminal (2). I would have around 4 hours and 20 minutes in between flights. Would you think that’d be enough? From what I heard Airasia does not have the most punctual record out of all airline companies which makes me unsettle.

      • Ali Garland
        February 5, 2015 at 2:01 pm

        Hi Chris! I have only ever flown in and out of KL’s low cost carrier terminal, which is where you’ll be. It’s not a pretty airport, but it’s also not really big. A 4 hour 20 minute layover sounds like *plenty* of time. I personally haven’t had any problems with flight delays on AirAsia, but I also haven’t ever looked at their actual statistics. But your AirAsia flight would have to be rather late for you to miss your flight to Manila. The annoying thing is that I’m 99.9% sure you will have to go through customs and immigration since your flights are on two separate itineraries. But with the amount of time you have for your layover, it shouldn’t be a problem from a time perspective. Enjoy your trip, and let me know if you have any other questions!

        • February 5, 2015 at 9:15 pm

          Thanks for responding quickly! That made me assure. This is the first time that I’ll be using a connecting flight with 2 distinct airlines. I had a choice of taking the 1 am flight or a flight at 5 in the afternoon which is quite a long wait for me.

          • Ali Garland
            February 8, 2015 at 10:41 am

            I think you made the right choice, Chris! Enjoy!

    46. Jay
      February 7, 2015 at 12:24 am

      Hi Ali,

      I am traveling to Grand Cayman this week. I will be coming home through Charlotte and have a 1 hr 23 min layover. I will only have carry on luggage with me. Do you think that be enough time to clear immigration and customs and make the connecting flight?

      • Ali Garland
        February 8, 2015 at 10:47 am

        Hi Jay! An hour and 23 minutes is a little tight. However, having only carry-on will save you a little time, and Charlotte isn’t quite as popular for international flights so hopefully there won’t be too many other flights landing at the same time and lining up for passport check. Charlotte is also a somewhat small airport, so it won’t take you as long to get around as in bigger airports. If you want to be a little more assured about the length of your layover, you could try calling the airline and asking about changing one of your flights so you’ll have a longer layover. Whether you do that or you decide to go for it as is, check out my tips for what to do if you have a short layover: http://travel-made-simple.com/if-you-think-your-layover-is-too-short/ And have a great trip!

    47. Melanie
      February 8, 2015 at 2:31 am

      Hi Ali,

      I’m flying from Toronto to Costa Rica with a layover at Chicago O’Hare. I only just realized that I have a really tight connection, only 1:05. There aren’t any other doable flights.

      I’m planning to do carry on only. Both flights are with United. My real question is this: would a United flight coming from Canada go into the International arrivals in Terminal 5 (in which case I think there’s no way I’m going to make it) or their domestic arrivals in Terminal 1 (where their International departures also are)?

      Thanks so much!

    48. James
      February 13, 2015 at 8:16 am

      Hi great blog! I will be flying from Dallas to Munich with a 1:47 layover at O’Hare. Both flights are United but my itinerary shows a change of terminals from 2 to 1. Is the 1 hour and 47 min layover enough time to make the connecting flight? Thanks!

      • Ali Garland
        February 13, 2015 at 11:36 am

        Thanks James! O’Hare is notoriously tricky for layovers because they have separate security lines for each terminal, which means if you have to switch from 2 to 1, you’ll probably have to deal with security checks again. An hour 47 minutes is probably fine for your Dallas-Chicago-Munich flight, BUT it’s the way back I’d be more concerned with. I don’t know what your return flight looks like, but if it’s similar to this, I’m not sure the layover is long enough. When you fly into the US, you have to go through customs and immigration, plus claim and re-check your luggage, at the first airport you land in. This takes quite some time to get through. Be sure to check out my tips for dealing with a short layover: http://travel-made-simple.com/if-you-think-your-layover-is-too-short/

    49. Peter
      February 15, 2015 at 5:53 pm

      Hello…My sister is flying into Toronto, then after a 4 hour layover, my two girls and myself are joining her on an identical flight to see my parents in Slovenia (No one has seen anyone in just under 10 years!) I live 15 minutes away from Pearson YYZ and wanted to quickly pick her up and take her to see our new home. Based on all that I have read, it probably is not possible. The customs factor is seemingly the unknown which could cause issues.
      Anyway , thought I’d share our wishful plan.
      Cheers…you put a lot of effort in your replies…that is obvious and commendable..Karma will take good care of you.

      • Ali Garland
        February 15, 2015 at 9:24 pm

        Peter, thank you so much for your kind words! I never thought this post would become a layover advice column, but I’m glad to help people out when I can.

        You’re right, I don’t think a 4 hour layover is quite long enough for your sister to leave the airport. I think the best you could do is meet her for a coffee or something at the airport, though she would still have to come out of the secured area and go back through security again afterwards.

        Enjoy your trip to Slovenia!

    50. Bjoern Ahrens
      February 16, 2015 at 5:10 pm

      Hi Ali,

      it would be super cool if you could give me some advice concerning my Newark layover problem:
      Me and my girlfriend booked a United flight from Hamburg/Germany to Las Vegas via Newark which originally had a 3.5 hour layover in Newark. Pretty perfect for immigration, possible terminal transfer and so on. The thing is: We just got informed by our travel agent that United rescheduled the flight – which reduces the layover time to a mere 1.5 hours.
      I’ve never been to Newark, but the last time I flew to the U.S., it took ages to get through JFK immigration.
      Do you think 1.5 hrs are enough to catch our flight to Vegas? Or should we better book a later flight (with far more layover time)? We’re a bit lost in this case, so your advice is highly appreciated!
      Thanks so much,

      • Ali Garland
        February 17, 2015 at 12:41 pm

        Hi Bjoern! An hour and a half layover in Newark sounds really tight to me. You’ll have to go through the customs and immigration process and claim and re-check your luggage, which is almost never a fast thing. It’s not a super huge airport, but it does still have a few different terminals, and you could have to switch. If you decide to go for it, be sure to check out my tips for dealing with a short layover: http://travel-made-simple.com/if-you-think-your-layover-is-too-short/

        Since the airline changed your flight, I think you might be able to change your itinerary to a better connection without cost. Even if you end up with a layover that’s longer than you’d like, it might be a better option than taking the risk of missing your connecting flight.

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

        • Bjoern Ahrens
          February 19, 2015 at 10:45 am

          Hi Ali,

          thanks for your reply!
          As it turned out, it would cost us 250 € p.p. to switch to a later flight.
          Since our layover time in Newark is far (well, 25 minutes) longer than the MCT, there’s no chance to rebook with no cost. So, we’ll just try our best to catch that flight… keeping your short layover tips in mind. If we shouldn’t make it, United is by all means obligated to get us to Vegas that day (at least that’s what our travel agent told us) – be it with the next direct flight or with a stopover in Houston/Cleveland/Denver.
          Seems like it’s going to be a thrill ride from the very beginning :-)

          • Ali Garland
            February 19, 2015 at 3:05 pm

            Ah that stinks they won’t let you change your flight without the fee. Hopefully you’ll get lucky and the passport lines will move quickly in Newark. Good luck, and have a great trip no matter what!

    51. Dipesh
      March 26, 2015 at 8:55 am

      Hey Ali,

      Long time. I am traveling to Canada in April. Do the baggage get transferred to domestic sector or do i need to claim the baggage and re check in the baggage as like in US (International to Domestic transfer) . Mt Flight is KTM – (Fly Dubai) – DXB – (Emirates) – YYZ – (Air canada) – YEG

      • Ali Garland
        March 26, 2015 at 12:08 pm

        Hi Dipesh! It is my understanding that Canadian airports are similar to US airports in that you have to go through customs and immigration AND claim and re-check your luggage at the first point of entry. So yes, you would have to collect your luggage and re-check it in YYZ before boarding your flight to YEG.

    52. sally beatty
      March 31, 2015 at 11:43 pm

      Hi Ali!

      What a great blog and very helpful information you give!

      I haven’t seen comments on layovers on the airports I have questions on, so hope you don’t mind another inquiry before I book the flights.

      My 20-yr old daughter will be flying from Pittsburgh to London in late June – first time flying on her own.
      For the trip over, we are looking at a one-stop flight with the layover being at JFK in New York.
      She will be leaving Pittsburgh on at Saturday on a 5:20pm Delta flight, arriving at JFK at 7:00pm.
      She can then either choose an 8:30pm departure or a 10:30pm departure – both Delta flights to London.
      Is she better off with an hour and half layover or a 3-1/2 hour layover?

      Coming home is more complicated.
      She will be returning on a Sunday in mid-July.
      Her choices are:
      1) Leave London at 10:30am and fly on Delta to JFK; have a 2 hr 11 min layover before catching a 3:45pm flight to Pittsburgh
      (There was another all-Delta option that only had a 1hr 39min layover at JFK – from reading your blog, I’m thinking that should be ruled out?)

      2a and b) Fly from London to Charles De Gaulle in Paris on either
      a) 8:20am flight labeled as Air France operated by HOP! Regional (sounds fishy to me?), arriving at 10:35am with a 2 hr 55 min layover at CDG before catching a 1:30pm Delta flight to Pittsburgh
      b) 9:45am flight labeled as Delta operated by Air France, arriving at noon with a 1hr 30 min layover at CDG before catching the same 1:30pm Delta flight to Pittsburgh

      3) leave London at 2:25pm on a Delta flight to Detroit (DTW), arriving at 5:55pm with a 3hr 40 min layover and then a 9:35pm Delta flight to Pittsburgh

      We’d greatly appreciate your advice!!!! Thanks!!! Sally

      • Ali Garland
        April 1, 2015 at 10:31 am

        Hi Sally! No problem, glad to help! Flights from the US to international destinations are barely any different from domestic flights. Her luggage will be checked in from Pittsburgh, so she won’t have to deal with that on her JFK layover. But it looks like each terminal at JFK has a separate security checkpoint, which means she’ll have to go through TSA again if she has to switch terminals, and that could take some time. An hour and a half could be enough, but if there are any delays or long lines at security, it might be cutting things close. The longer layover would be a safer bet, but I understand how annoying it is to have such a long layover, so that’s a personal judgement call.

        As for the flight back, she will have to go through customs and immigration, plus claim and re-check her luggage, at the first US airport she lands in. For that reason, I don’t like option #1. She’ll have a lot more to do at the airport before she can get to her connecting flight, and JFK just doesn’t make things easy for claiming and re-checking luggage. I don’t think 2 hours 11 minutes is long enough.

        If she transits through Paris, she won’t have to deal with customs because she’s not staying in the Schengen Zone. (The UK is not in Schengen, but France is, so she would be viewed as just transiting.) So in that case, I think option 2A is fine, but I think 2B is too short of a layover even without the hassle of customs. As for HOP! Regional, I don’t know anything about them, but from a quick search, it looks like they are a subsidiary of Air France, so they should be fine.

        Option #3 might be the easiest for her since it doesn’t involve dealing with another foreign country/language. The layover should be plenty of time to get through customs, claim and re-check her luggage, go through security, and find her connecting gate. Personally, this is the one I’d choose, with 2A as a second choice.

        I hope this helps, and let me know if either of you have any other questions! I hope she has a great time in London!

        • sally beatty
          April 1, 2015 at 11:36 pm

          Thank you Ali!!! Boy, you really are good at this. Appreciate your insight very very much! Thanks again.

          • Ali Garland
            April 2, 2015 at 1:03 pm

            Aw, thanks Sally, always happy to help!

            • sally beatty
              April 3, 2015 at 4:51 am

              Hi Ali!

              Sorry to bother you yet again.
              Yesterday, when I went to book the Delta flights you’d advised on, the prices had gone up $400 overnight! Maybe hitting April 1 made a difference.

              Other airlines are in line with the lower original prices (for now). So if you don’t mind, I have yet another question.

              For a savings of $300, we could do the following United flights:
              Leave Pittsburgh at 2:50pm on a Saturday, arriving in Washington DC (Dulles) at 3:53pm
              2 hour 7 min layover
              Leave Dulles at 6:00pm, arrive in London at 6:20am
              RETURN TRIP:
              Leave London at 3:20pm on a Sunday, arriving in Chicago (O’Hare) at 6:15pm
              3 hour layover
              Leave Chicago at 9:15pm, arrive in Pittsburgh at 11:41pm

              Does that work? And do you think it’s worth the savings? Any opinion on United vs Delta?
              The aircraft for the short domestic flights is Embraer ERJ-170, which I’ve never heard of, but that doesn’t mean anything.

              The other option for the same cost is to fly on United from Pittsburgh through Newark, with a 2 hr 10 min layover on the way over to London and either a 2 hr 29 min or a 3 hr 54 min layover on the way back home.
              These short flights use a Bombardier Q400, which is a prop plane – maybe a rougher ride?

              Yet again, any insight is most appreciated. THANK YOU!!!

            • Ali Garland
              April 3, 2015 at 12:22 pm

              No problem! Honestly, I think either of these options is fine. The layovers are long enough, though I might give just the tiniest advantage to the Newark layover because it’s an easier airport to deal with. But I’d probably pick the longer layover there just to be safe.

              The prop plane could be a little bumpy, but the Embraer is a small plane too, so I don’t think it makes much difference. The smaller planes are more efficient for shorter distances. As for Delta vs United, I used to fly Delta all the time when I lived in Atlanta, so I don’t have much experience with United. If she’s collecting frequent flyer miles, it’s probably better to book with whichever airline she has miles with or whichever airline is in the same alliance as an airline she has miles with.

    53. sally beatty
      April 3, 2015 at 2:25 pm

      Thank you Ali! Appreciate your wonderful advice.

      • Ali Garland
        April 6, 2015 at 12:08 pm

        Thanks, and no problem!

    54. Genil Speer
      April 8, 2015 at 9:46 am

      Hi Maam!

      Good Day! I just wanna ask, my husband in flying from Atlanta,Georgia to O’Hare to Narita,Japan to Cebu,Philippines. His main destination is from Atlanta to Cebu,Philippines. He booked his flight thru United Airlines under one itinerary. Im just worried because he only have 46 mins layover from O’hare to Narita,Japan and I think thats not enough for him to get everything situated. Do you think that United Airlines will give him 2 boarding pass ? I just need some of your advice.

      Thank you!

      • Ali Garland
        April 9, 2015 at 11:02 am

        Hi Genil! I agree with you, I don’t think the 46 minute layover in O’hare is long enough. Each terminal in ORD has its own security checkpoint, which means your husband will have to go through security again if he has to change terminals, and that can take a long time. United should be able to print all of his boarding passes in Atlanta, so that won’t be a problem, but I’d still be nervous with such a short layover at O’hare. It might be worth calling United and seeing if there is an earlier flight from ATL to ORD, or at least find out what their policy is if the ATL to ORD flight is on time and he still misses his connection. Also, check out my tips for dealing with a short layover here: http://travel-made-simple.com/if-you-think-your-layover-is-too-short/ Let me know if you have any other questions!

    55. Raffaele
      May 14, 2015 at 2:38 pm


      I’m flying from Chicago O’Hare to Milan on December

      Chicago – Montreal 13:30 16:29
      Montreal – Frankfurt 17:10 06:30
      Frankfurt – Milan 08:30 09:40

      Can you tell me if 41 minutes layover at the Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport are enough?

      Thank you for your attention 😉

      • Ali Garland
        May 14, 2015 at 11:53 pm

        Hi Raffaele! Honestly I think 41 minutes is a bit tight for a connection in general, but especially for an international connection. Canada is like the US in that they require you to go through immigration and customs even if it isn’t your final destination. You could get really lucky and have short lines and get through quickly, but I wouldn’t necessarily count on that. Check out my suggestions for dealing with a short layover here: http://travel-made-simple.com/if-you-think-your-layover-is-too-short/ And it might be worth calling the airline and seeing what their policy is if you miss your connection because of customs and immigration (NOT what the policy is if the first flight is delayed) and see if there is an earlier flight you can take from Chicago to Montreal.

        • Raffaele
          May 20, 2015 at 8:00 am

          Hi Ali

          Thank you very much for your tips! I followed your advice and I took an earlier flight…
          Thanks again for your work, much appreciated!

          Have a nice day!

          • Ali Garland
            May 20, 2015 at 2:31 pm

            Glad to help! Have a great trip!

    56. Patricia
      May 19, 2015 at 6:24 pm

      Hi! I´m loving this article and all of the answers on the comments, but I was wondering if you may have some insight on the flights I´m looking at. I´m going to Disney World with my youngest cousin (she´s 12) and it´s her first time traveling. I have traveled in the past, but I´ve never gone through MIA o Fort Lauderdale´s airport. Spirit offers an early flight from Costa Rica (where I´m from) to Orlando with a 1 hour layover at Fort Lauderdale, but since it will be my first point of entry to the US, and I´m unfamiliar with the layout (and traveling with a child), I´m not sure if it´ll be enough time. Also, US Airways offers a flight with a 2 hour layover at MIA, but I´ve heard that that airport is massive, so, again, not sure if it´ll be enough time. Any advice? Thanks for all the info (and pardon my grammar).

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