How Do Layovers Work?
Layovers can be stressful. Whenever possible, I prefer nonstop flights, even if they’re a little more expensive. But sometimes the price difference is too big to justify, and sometimes it’s just not possible to get where you’re going without a connecting flight. So how do layovers work? What happens with your checked luggage on a layover? Do you have to go through customs and immigration if you’re only in the airport for a layover? Here’s everything you need to know about layovers and how layovers work to help make your journey a little less stressful.
How do boarding passes work with layovers?
Domestic layovers are usually pretty simple. Whether you’re flying within the US, Australia, Canada, or somewhere else, domestic layovers are relatively similar.
Assuming you booked both flights together on one itinerary (as opposed to two separate itineraries) you will get both boarding passes when you check in for your first flight. When you land at your layover airport, you need to look at the departures board and find the gate for your next flight.
International layovers can get a little more tricky. With so many variations of international layovers, there are also a variety of situations you could end up dealing with.
If your itinerary is entirely with one airline or even two airlines that are partners, in most cases, you will get both boarding passes when you check in for your first flight.
But if you used a booking engine and your flights are with two different airlines, especially airlines that aren’t really partners, you might only get your first boarding pass when you check in.
Then, at your layover airport, you’ll have to find a ticket counter for the airline that operates the second flight to get your second boarding pass.
Not sure if your flights are with partner airlines? Just ask at the ticket counter when you check in if you will be getting both boarding passes or if you will need to get the second one at your layover airport. They’ll tell you what to do.
>>Check out these layover perks you never knew about.
What happens with checked luggage on a layover?
For domestic layovers, your checked luggage will be tagged to your final destination, so there’s nothing for you to do while on your layover. Your bags will get taken off the first flight and loaded onto the second flight.
For international layovers, this varies depending on the airport and the country where your layover is.
If you fly from somewhere outside the US or Canada to an airport in the US or Canada, you will have to collect and recheck your luggage no matter where you’re going on your second flight.
In most other countries, as long as both of your flights are on the same airline or partner airlines, your luggage will get transferred from the first to the second flight for you.
Again, if you’re not sure, just ask the agent when you’re checking in if you will need to collect and recheck your luggage at your layover airport.
Avoid luggage worries by learning how to pack light and travel carry-on only! Check out the best carry-on luggage.
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Do you have to go through border control/immigration and customs on a layover?
This only applies for international layovers. Whether you have to go through immigration and customs really varies on the airport and the country.
As with checked luggage, if you have a layover in the US or Canada, you will have to go through border control at the first point of entry into the US or Canada, even if your final destination is somewhere else.
So for example, if you are flying from Europe to Mexico with a layover in the US or Canada, you will have to get your passport checked and fill out the customs form, as well as collect and recheck your luggage, even though you’re not staying in the country or even leaving the airport.
You are a transit passenger if you are not leaving the airport and not staying in that country. In this case, you often don’t have to go through immigration or customs. Look for a sign that says transit or transit passengers or transfer or connecting flights.
I’ve been able to do this in many airports, such as Singapore, Abu Dhabi, and Bangkok, and there are many more. If you don’t go through border control, you’re not technically entering that country.
However, if you have a really long layover and you want to go check out the city, you will have to go through immigration and customs in order to leave the airport.
Transiting through the Schengen Zone
Transiting through the Schengen Zone can be a little different since a flight from one Schengen country to another is considered domestic.
So for example, if you’re flying from the US to Paris and then onto Rome, you will go through immigration and customs in Paris but not in Rome.
If you have two layovers, it gets even trickier.
Let’s say you’re flying from the US to Frankfurt to Rome to Istanbul. When you arrive in Frankfurt, you will have to go through border control.
This is because domestic flights, which includes your flight from Frankfurt to Rome, are in a different section of the airport, so you’re leaving the international section and entering Germany, even though you’re not leaving the airport.
You won’t go through border control to enter Italy because you were already cleared in Frankfurt. But you will have to go through passport control in Rome to be stamped out of the Schengen Zone, and you’ll go through customs and immigration in Istanbul since Turkey is outside of the Schengen Zone.
It’s usually pretty obvious once you arrive. When you get off the plane, look for signs that say transit, transfer, or connecting flights. If you don’t see any, and the only option leads you to a passport check line, then you really don’t have a choice.
If you want to know ahead of time, ask the agent when you check in, or even one of the flight attendants on your first flight, if you will have to go through immigration and customs on your layover.
Do you have to go through security on your layover?
Like most things, this varies on the airport. The simple answer is you will probably have to go through security.
For most domestic layovers, you won’t have to go through security again. However, some airports have separate security checkpoints for each terminal, so if you land in one terminal and your next flight is in another, you would have to go through security again.
On international layovers, even those where there is a transit area, you will most likely have to go through security.
Some airports in other countries have security checks for each individual gate or a small group of gates. In this case, you will have to go through security again, but it should be a short line.
There’s also the chance your first flight lands in the same area your second flight leaves from, in which case you might be able to stay within the secured area and not have to go through the security check again.
Unfortunately this means any liquids you purchased beyond security at the first airport won’t make it through security at the layover airport.
For a better travel experience, check out these 30 airport hacks every traveler should know from my friend Eden at Mint Notion.
Do you need a transit visa for your layover?
Some countries require certain nationalities to get a transit visa in order to transit through the airport. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s worth researching before you book a flight with a layover, or at least before you board the flight.
For most nationalities, if you have a layover within the Schengen Zone and your final destination is outside of the Schengen Zone, you don’t need a transit visa. Again, verify this for your nationality.
The US requires transit visas for many nationalities, unless your nationality is on the list eligible for the visa waiver program. For more info, see here and here.
Since this is such a complicated area subject to variations based on your nationality, the country you will be transiting through, and how long your layover is, do a few online searches and check the website for the embassy of the country where your layover is to see if you need a transit visa.
If you’re still not sure, it’s also a good idea to check with the airline or even contact the consulate or embassy of the country you will be transiting through before you book your flight.
Whenever possible, I think it’s best to avoid layovers that require transit visas since there’s usually a fee involved. The hassle of filling out an application and paying a fee for a country you’re not even really going to just doesn’t seem worth it.
Make sure your layover is long enough, and don’t let layovers get you stressed out. Hopefully these tips and explanations of how layovers work will help you transit smoothly from one flight to another.
You might also be interested in:
- Best Carry-On Luggage
- 8 Things to do If You Think Your Layover is Too Short
- How to Maximize a Long Layover
- Can I Leave the Airport During a Layover?
July 1, 2016 @ 11:42 am
Hi there, I have a question regarding layover. I’m departing from Barcelona to Singapore, and will stopover at Doha for 19 hours+. I know that my luggage will be sent from Barcelona straight to Singapore. However I would like to claim my luggage at Doha and check in again for my next flight to Singapore. Can I do that and how? Thank you very much in advance 🙂
July 2, 2016 @ 5:43 pm
Hi, I think you could probably ask the airline when you’re checking in for your first flight if they can tag your luggage only to Doha and explain that you’d like to pick up your luggage there since it’s such a long layover. Then you’ll have to go back to the counter to recheck your luggage before boarding the second flight. If for some reason they can’t do that, just make sure everything you need for your layover is in your carry-on.
I don’t know if you already have plans in Doha, but check out my post about leaving the airport during a layover. Towards the end is a section about things to do during a long layover, and Doha is one of the airports that offers a free layover tour. There’s a link there to the tour, worth checking out if it fits your timing!
July 4, 2016 @ 6:04 am
Hi Ali, thanks for your prompt response! Hopefully I can do that with my luggage tagging to Doha. Also, thanks for the tips on free layover tour, it’s great! Have a nice day.
July 4, 2016 @ 11:19 am
Glad to help, have a great trip!
June 25, 2016 @ 11:40 pm
I’m travelling to Paris in October but was thinking of spending the last few days visiting friends in Scotland before coming home (Boston, MA, USA). My Question is, by having to book on another airline my itinerary will not be linked, will I have to pick up my luggage and have to recheck it in at CDG? Also immigration? And how much time do you think is sufficient for a Saturday layover at that airport? My original flight home to Boston is at Noon, but after reading your article and many comments and responses I’m thinking of pushing it out to a later flight.
June 27, 2016 @ 10:54 am
Hi Kit! Yes, you will have to pick up your luggage at CDG and recheck it for your flight to Boston. If you use the same airline, there’s a possibility they might be able to tag your luggage to go all the way through, but it’s very possible they still won’t be able to do it. That means you will have to go through immigration in Paris to retrieve your luggage, recheck it, and check in for your next flight. I’d aim for at least 3 hours, or even closer to 4 or so, in Paris to make sure you can do all of this. If lines are short, you’ll end up with extra time, but better that than missing your connection. I hope that helps!
June 25, 2016 @ 9:42 pm
Loving all the info above. I have a question. First time ever getting a connecting flight so a little bit anxious.. We are flying from Dublin to Newark, Layover 1 h 40 mins and then to Orlando for 5 nights from there Seattle for 10 days. On way home Seattle to Chicago with Layover 1 h 25 mins and to Dublin, all flights with United Airlines. (I have requested wheelchair assistance at all airports), With the new electronic passport system and my esta visa, we have been told our bags will go straight to Orlando so will we have to get them if we have to go through Customs in Newark? As we have never got a connecting flight I am worried about the layover times and bags especially if I also need wheelchair assistance?
Thanks In Advance
June 27, 2016 @ 10:46 am
Hi Linda! If United Airlines is telling you your bags will automatically get transferred from the Dublin-Newark flight to the Newark-Orlando flight, that might be a new thing they’re doing. Definitely verify this with United when you check in for your flight, and even once you land in Newark. I don’t see anything on the airport’s site or on United’s site. Luggage transfer has nothing to do with your ESTA. When you get to Newark, you’ll have to go through customs and immigration, which could take some time depending on the lines. You’ll also have to go through security to get to your next gate. An hour and 40 minutes is tight, but not impossible. If there’s any way to get a later flight from Newark to Orlando, it’s worth considering changing that flight. On your way home, the 1 hour 25 minute layover in Chicago also seems a little short. You will most likely have to switch from one terminal to another since ORD has a separate terminal for international flights, and each terminal has its own security checkpoint. Your luggage will automatically get transferred from one flight to the next here. There aren’t any official passport control procedures when exiting the US, so you won’t have to worry about that. (The agent who checks you in for your flight will check your passport.) Again, this is a tight layover but not impossible. If there is any way to get an earlier flight from Seattle, you might want to consider it. Getting wheelchair assistance on your layovers could save you a few minutes once they pick you up, it’s not necessarily faster if they aren’t already waiting for you at the gate and you have to wait for them to come get you. If you decide to stick with the layovers you have, you don’t want to waste any time at those airports. Check out my tips for short layovers here, and no matter what, enjoy your trip to the US!
June 27, 2016 @ 1:13 pm
Hi, just got confirmation last night but when you leave from Dublin or Shannon you have to go through customs and immirgration here, its called pre-clearance so you dont have to go through it in any airport in the US. So thats why we dont have to claim bags or anything all we have to do is change gates as we are arriving and leaving from Terminal C. So just said I would let you know. Thank you for all your help. Linda
June 27, 2016 @ 2:44 pm
Thank you for letting me know! I knew they did that in many airports in Canada, and now that you mention it, I do remember reading that they have the US customs pre-clearance in Ireland too. Thanks! That will *definitely* save you time on your layover, and 1 hour 40 minutes in Newark should be fine.
June 24, 2016 @ 12:05 pm
Perfect thanks Ali!
June 24, 2016 @ 10:16 am
Oh! And one more thing–will I have to recheck my luggage? Or will it go straight to Salt Lake City for me? Thanks!
June 24, 2016 @ 12:01 pm
Your luggage should be transferred from the Berlin-Zurich flight to the Zurich-Toronto flight. Check that Toronto airport site, but I’m 99.9% sure you will have to claim and recheck your luggage in Toronto, but “recheck” should be a really simple process near the customs area. Then you just pick it up in Salt Lake City.
June 21, 2016 @ 10:18 am
Hi Ali! I just had a quick question for you! It seems like you are pretty quick at getting back to people, so maybe you can help me. 🙂 I am flying from Berlin, Germany, to Zurich, Switzerland, and then connecting to Toronto, with Salt Lake City as my final destination. My layover is the shortest in Switzerland, but I was wondering if I will have to go through customs when I land in Zurich? I really hope not, but if I do, that will be good to know! I’m flying with Swiss Airlines for the first flight and then Air Canada for the next 2…but I think that they are sister airlines…do you know that by chance? And where do you think that I’m going to have to go through customs/security? I’m hoping that it will be in Canada, because my layover there is pretty lengthy (6 hrs). If you have any ideas, that would honestly be great to know! Thanks in advance!
June 22, 2016 @ 4:54 pm
Hi Taylor! Germany and Switzerland are both in the Schengen Zone, so you won’t have to do anything special to fly out of Berlin or to get into Zurich. But you will have to go through passport control in Zurich to get stamped out of the Schengen Zone. How long that takes really depends on the lines…how long is your layover there? As long as you have at least an hour, though I usually aim for at least two hours for international layovers, you’ll probably be ok. If you get to passport control and there’s a long line, you could always politely ask the people in front of you if you could go ahead because of a tight layover. You’ll also have to go through security in Zurich before boarding your next flight.
Swiss Airlines and Air Canada are both part of Star Alliance, so you should be able to get all your boarding passes at once. You will have to go through customs and immigration in Toronto, but they have this wonderful guide for connecting flights here that tells you what you have to do based on the airline, where you’re going, and where you’re coming from. I wish all airport websites had this! It looks like you’ll only have to deal with US customs there, since it’s one of the Canadian airports that actually has a US border control post, but check out that site.
I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any questions! I hope you enjoyed Berlin, it’s where I live!
June 22, 2016 @ 10:11 pm
Fantastic blog firstly 🙂 provided me with some useful insight and answered some questions I was asking myself and trying to Google.
I was wondering if you could shed some light on the uncertainty I have regarding my upcoming trip in September.
I’m from Ireland and I’m travelling to Cancun through various connections booked through United Airlines:
** Outgoing **
Dublin – London – Texas – Cancun (First flight is Aer Lingus) but booked through United.
** Return **
Cancun – Washington – Dublin
Basically I have concerns surrounding US Customs Check in & my subsequent connecting flights. I’ve obtained my Visa Waiver (ESTA) and will be going through Pre-Clearance for the US in Texas to my knowledge. My concern is about the potential time this could take and my connecting flights as the layover is not quite long.
Is there such thing as a “connecting flights – pre clearance” put simply will the custom dudes know people are in a rush to catch another flight out of Texas.
Any assistance/guidance provided would be greatly appreciated.
June 23, 2016 @ 8:34 pm
Thanks, glad you like the site! Unfortunately most airports don’t have a separate line for people with connecting flights, and even the one time I did see something like that (it was in Atlanta) the only advantage was that it was easier to recheck luggage. And I hate to say it, but US customs officials are not known for being friendly and/or accommodating. Your best bet is to try to get off the plane as quickly as possible (have all your carry-on stuff packed up and ready to go before the plane lands, think about switching to an aisle seat and as close to the front as possible) and get to the passport line as fast as you can. If there are stairs and an escalator, take the stairs and bypass all the people standing on the escalator. Don’t stop for a bathroom break. (Check out my tips for short layovers here.) Once you’re in line, if it’s a long wait, I think the best you can do is ask people in front of you if you can move up because you have a short layover and hope you have some nice people ahead of you.
It looks like there’s some really good info on the airport’s website here, and since you have an ESTA, you should be able to use one of the kiosks, which in theory should go faster than having to wait for an immigration official. The site also gives directions on where to go to recheck your luggage, which sounds like it’s pretty easy, but I’m sure there will also be signs. BUT I also found this: https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/travel-tourism/george-bush-intercontinental-airport-iah which basically explains that there’s some new program with United Airlines that you don’t have to claim and recheck your luggage on international layovers if you’re just transiting through the US, at least at certain airports, and it looks like Houston is one of them. Definitely verify this when you check in for your flight. It’s called the International to International (ITI) program. So that should save you time, too.
I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions, and enjoy Mexico!
June 24, 2016 @ 10:14 am
Perfect! That’s what I wanted to hear! My layover is an hour and 15 minutes in total…so I should be alright. Thanks for looking into that for me. 🙂
Oh that site for Toronto is beautiful…we need more of those! I’ll be in the same terminal, but my layover is 6 hours so it really doesn’t matter too much huh? I have a lot of time to get through customs and immigration.
You live in Berlin?? Are you German? I could’ve written this all in German! But I guess it wouldn’t really help anyone else that looked at these comments for help would it? Bummer.
I did have one more question–so I leave in July and it will be 85 days total that I spent in Germany. I was allowed 90 because I have a US Passport and no German Visa. I was out here on an internship with a start up company in Berlin. So at the passport control when they ask me why I came to Germany and I tell them that I was here for an internship, do I need to provide any paperwork to prove it? When I was flying in, I came through Frankfurt and the security guard at Passport Control asked me if I had any paperwork…he didn’t seem too happy to let me through when he stamped my Passport, but I was let through. I don’t want to get held up anywhere because I don’t have any paperwork. Since you’re in Germany, you would have a good idea about this. 🙂 And when I need some, what kind of paperwork does it need to be and in what language? I will have to answer those questions in all 3 airports I think…maybe not in Toronto…but I’m not sure. Thoughts? Thanks Ali!
June 24, 2016 @ 12:00 pm
Nope, I’m American but I’ve been living in Germany for 5 years, 1 year of that in Berlin. My German is horrible!
I would be really surprised if they asked you why you were in Germany when you’re leaving. You really shouldn’t need any sort of paperwork to leave since you were on a tourist visa and you stayed less than 90 days. If it were me, I would just say I was traveling, but I can’t advise you on that. When you were entering, he probably assumed when you said “internship” that you were going to be there longer and would have some kind of visa in hand, but that usually isn’t necessary for a stay of less than 90 days. And no one will ask you those sorts of questions at any other airport since you’re just transiting. And actually now that I reminded myself where you’re flying through, you won’t be dealing with any customs/immigration officers in Berlin since your flight from there is to Zurich. The passport control person in Zurich will check to make sure you haven’t overstayed your 90 day tourist visa, but that’s it. Don’t worry about paperwork. And no, definitely nothing to worry about relating to this in Toronto.
June 9, 2016 @ 3:46 pm
I will be going to Canada from Manila three weeks from now. My uncle booked the flight for me and gave me a copy of the itinerary indicating the details below:
Manila to Hongkong – Cathay Pacific
— 1 hour and 55 minutes before next flight —
Hongkong to New York – American Airlines
— 2 hours and 20 minutes before next flight —
New York to Toronto – American Airlines
Will I be needing a US Transit Visa if I will only be transferring from one AA flight to another when I arrive in New York?
June 11, 2016 @ 3:58 pm
Hi JM! If your citizenship is one that requires a visa to visit the US, then you will need a visa to transit through the US. When you land at a US airport, you have to go through customs and immigration even if the US isn’t y our final destination. It’s a pain, but there’s no way around it. See here for more info. Have a great trip!
June 16, 2016 @ 10:17 am
I see. Noted on that. I should’ve booked a different flight. 🙂
Anyway, I am scheduled for interview tomorrow at the US Embassy. Wishing for an approved C1 Visa.
Thanks for the information, Ali. I am glad I was able to read your blog. 🙂
June 16, 2016 @ 10:24 am
Glad to help, and sorry for the hassle! Good luck with the visa, I hope it works out!
June 9, 2016 @ 11:52 am
I am traveling from MSP (Minneapolis St Paul) to O’Hare International (Chicago) to Heathrow (London.) Both of these flights are on American Airlines. I will be staying in London a few days and then flying to Tegel Berlin to stay for a month. This is on British Airlines. Then after a month, I fly from Tegel (Berlin) to Heathrow (London) on British Airlines. Then from Heathrow (London) to O’Hare international (Chicago) on British Airways. Then I fly from O’Hare (Chicago) to MSP (Minneapolist St. Pau) on American Airlines My layovers are all approximately 3 hours, besides when I will be staying in London for a few days on my way to Berlin. All of my flights are booked on one itinerary. My questions are the following.
1. On my way to London will I need to get my bag in Chicago and check it on to my plane to London or will they do this for me?
2. Since both of my flights on the way to London are on American Airlines will I get both of my boarding passes at MSP? Or will I need to pick up the second one in Chicago.
3. When will I go through international secerity on my way to London (in MSP or O’Hare.)
4. On my way back to the United States will I need to go through international secerity at each airport?
5. On my way back to the United States will I need to pick up my bags at any of the airports or will they be transferred automatically for me?
6. On my way back to the United States will I need to pick up my boarding passes more than once? Or just when I leave Tegel.
June 11, 2016 @ 2:43 pm
Hi Tamara! I think I can help:
1) When leaving the US, as long as your flights are all booked on one itinerary (which it sounds like they are) your checked luggage will be transferred from the MSP-ORD flight to the ORD-LHR flight. You won’t have to pick it up in Chicago.
2) Again, as long as your flights are booked on one itinerary, American Airlines will print both of your boarding passes when you check in for your first flight in Minneapolis.
3) In the US, you simply go through security. There isn’t a different one for international flights, though some airports have security checkpoints for each terminal and might have a separate international terminal. You’ll go through security in MSP, and chances are you will have to change terminals in ORD since they do have an international terminal, and unfortunately ORD has separate security checkpoints for each terminal. There is no exiting passport control or customs when leaving the US, but the agent checking you in for your flight in MSP will look at your passport.
4, 5, 6) You’ll go through security as well as passport control when leaving Berlin since you will be leaving the Schengen Zone. When you land in London, as long as you already have your boarding pass for LHR-ORD, you should be able to bypass customs and immigration since you’re not staying in the UK. Look for signs that say “transit” or “transfer” or “connecting flights.” You’ll have to go through security again there as well.
If you booked as one leg TXL-LHR-ORD-MSP, then you should get all boarding passes when you check in at TXL. But if you booked two separate itineraries, MSP-ORD-LHR plus LHR-ORD-MSP as one itinerary and LHR-TXL plus TXL-LHR as another itinerary, you’ll probably have to find a check-in counter at LHR to get your LHR-ORD-MSP boarding passes. (In other words, what did you put into the flight search? Did you say you wanted to go MSP to LHR as one leg, then LHR to TXL as the next leg, and TXL to MSP as the final leg? Or was your final leg TXL-LHR and LHR-MSP?) Your bags will only get tagged to LHR if you’re on two separate itineraries, so you would have to go through customs and immigration to claim and recheck your luggage. But if this is your situation, talk to the agent when you check in at TXL. Since it’s the same airline, they might be able to work with you on it and tag your luggage to go the whole way, and they might be able to check you in for the LHR-ORD-MSP flights and print your boarding passes.
When you land in ORD, you’ll go through US customs and immigration, claim and recheck your luggage, and go through security before you can get to your next gate.
Your luggage will be transferred from the TXL-LHR flight to the LHR-ORD flight only if those flights are on one itinerary. (Or if they’re not on one itinerary but the check-in agent is able to tag your luggage that way.) You have to claim and recheck luggage in ORD because it’s the first US airport you land in.
I hope this helps, and I hope I haven’t confused you. Let me know if you have any other questions. And let me know if you have any questions about Berlin, that’s where I live and it’s a great city!
June 8, 2016 @ 2:59 am
Thanks for the great article!
I have some questions though. I will fly Honolulu –> Dallas –> London –> Stavanger (Norway). I will travel with the same travel agency on all my flights. Do you know where I will have to collect my luggage and recheck it again? And also, do you know where I will have to go through immigration and customs? My stopover in Dallas is 8 hours and the stopover in London is only 1.5 hours. Thanks!
June 8, 2016 @ 5:12 pm
Thanks Betina! As long as your flights were all booked on one itinerary, the airline should tag your luggage to go all the way to Stavanger and it will get transferred from one flight to the next, so you only have to collect it in Stavanger. Norway is in the Schengen Zone, but the UK is not. Since you won’t be staying in the UK, look for signs that say “transit” or “transfer” or “connecting flights” and you should be able to bypass customs and immigration there. You’ll have to go through security again to get to your next flight though. An hour and a half is a little tight, but since you shouldn’t have to deal with customs and immigration, you should be fine. You’ll go through customs and immigration in Stavanger. As for Dallas, nothing special to do there.
If you’re doing this in the reverse, you’ll have to go through passport control in Stavanger to get stamped out of the Schengen Zone. Again, you should be able to bypass customs and immigration in London. In Dallas (or anywhere you might have a connecting flight in the US) you’ll have to go through US customs and immigration and claim and recheck your luggage since it’s the first US airport you land in. Then you’ll have to go through security again to get to your next gate.
I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions, and enjoy your trip!
June 8, 2016 @ 10:35 pm
Thank you! Helped me out a lot 🙂
June 6, 2016 @ 9:41 pm
I have a serious questions on how these thing work especially since i have never been on a plane before. So lets say i leave the U.S and have a layover flight in Frankfurt with the same terminal and airline that will take me to Milan, would i have to go through customs? or pick my luggage up? go through security? I’m just really confused due to this is my first time flying. Thank you!!
June 8, 2016 @ 5:05 pm
Hi Sydnee! Yes, you will go through customs and immigration in Frankfurt since that’s where you’re entering the Schengen Zone. As long as your flights are booked together on one itinerary (you booked from the US to Milan, not one ticket from the US to Frankfurt and a separate one from Frankfurt to Milan) then the airline should tag your luggage to go all the way to Milan. You’ll also have to go through security in Frankfurt before reaching your next gate. The airline employees will speak English and almost all the staff at the airport will as well, so if you get confused or lost, don’t hesitate to ask someone to point you in the right direction.
I’m assuming you’ll be doing this in reverse at some point. It works slightly differently, but nothing major. You’ll fly from Milan to Frankfurt, and your luggage should get tagged to your final destination in the US. But in Frankfurt, you’ll have to go through passport control to get stamped out of the Schengen Zone. You’ll have to go through security again before getting to your gate. You’ll go through US customs and immigration at the first airport you arrive at in the US. If you have to connect in the US, you’ll have to claim and recheck your luggage. If the first US airport is your final destination, you just claim your luggage.
I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions and enjoy your trip!
June 4, 2016 @ 6:53 pm
I have a question. We are flying from dfw to Prague but have a layover in Frankfurt. Will this be like US to Frankfurt to Rome?
June 5, 2016 @ 11:07 pm
Hi Gracie! Yes, flying from the US to Frankfurt to Prague would be similar to flying from the US to Frankfurt to Rome. Germany, Italy, and the Czech Republic are all in the Schengen Zone, so you go through customs and immigration at the first Schengen airport you land in. Your luggage should automatically get transferred from one flight to the next, but I always recommend verifying this with the agent when you check in for your first flight. Once you get through customs and immigration in Frankfurt, you just have to find your next gate (it could be in a different section of the airport since you’ll be landing in the international side, but Frankfurt to Prague is sort of like a domestic flight) and you’ll have to go through security again before you reach your gate. I hope this helps! And check back on Travel Made Simple in a week or two for some great info on Prague – my husband and I are there revisiting right now so we can write up some helpful posts here for our readers!
June 3, 2016 @ 9:04 am
Hi Ali i hope you are doing good. I just want to ask if i am boarding my flight from New Delhi to Salt Lake via Amsterdam(the only layover) do i need to go through custom border and baggage clearance at amsterdam? What will be my first port of entry? I am travelling by KLM airlines on both the routes Delhi to Amsterdam and the amsterdam to salt lake.
please help me out
June 5, 2016 @ 11:01 pm
Hi! When you land in Amsterdam, since you aren’t staying there or anywhere else in the Schengen Zone, you should be able to bypass customs and immigration. When you get off the plane, look for signs that say “transit” or “transfer” or “connecting flights.” You’ll have to go through security again, but your baggage should automatically be transferred from the first flight to the second one, as long as your flights were booked together on one itinerary, which it sounds like they are. I always recommend verifying this with the agent when you check in for your first flight though. You will go through customs and immigration in Salt Lake City since it’s your first port of entry into the US, but you’re technically not entering the Netherlands or the Schengen Zone, so that’s why you should be able to bypass it in Amsterdam. I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions, and have a great trip!
June 1, 2016 @ 6:22 pm
Traveling back to U.S. from Calgary, Canada. Do I need to allow 2 hours for check in. My flight leaves at 6:45am. for Salt Lake City. Then I only have 45 mins between flight out to Orlando. I’m I ok with that time schedule.
June 1, 2016 @ 9:35 pm
Hi Brenda! Oof that’s early! Use your best judgement, but I imagine at that time of day, the lines at security won’t be too bad. If you can check in online and print your boarding pass, that will save you some time, and then you just have to find the luggage drop if you’re checking luggage. I’d probably still aim for 5:30 or a few minutes earlier just to be safe, but I agree that 4:45am seems extreme. Is the Calgary airport open 24 hours? If not, that could help you decide if 2 hours is even possible. Another thing to think about is some Canadian airports, including Calgary, have US border control posts, so you actually go through US customs and immigration while you’re technically still in Canada. It saves you time while traveling through the first US airport, but it means you’ll need a little extra time in Calgary. The full list is here. Again, shouldn’t be long lines at 6am, but still worth giving yourself enough time to deal with it. I hope this helps!
May 29, 2016 @ 6:40 am
hi. I am a US Citizen flying West Jet with a brutal 20 Hour layover in Calgary, then onto London. Do US Citizens, or anyone for that matter, leaving the US, have to pass through Canadian Customs/Passport control., or only in London since its transit stop and not entering into Canada proper itself? Thanks
May 30, 2016 @ 10:33 am
Hi Hagan! I have not personally flown through Canada, but all my research, and talking to some Canadian friends, tells me that Canadian airports operate like those in the US, meaning you will have to go through customs and immigration/passport control even if you’re just there on a layover and not staying in the country. I’m almost positive you’ll have to claim and recheck your luggage as well. But also, are you really planning on sitting in the airport for 20 hours? That’s long enough to get a hotel for the night and see some of the city for a few hours. Especially since you’ll have to go through immigration anyway, you might as well get out of the airport. Here’s some info I found about onsite hotels. I hope this helps!
May 27, 2016 @ 5:41 am
We have booked our international flight to India operated by United and its partner Lufthansa. We are starting from
1.Minneapolis to Chicago – United,layover of 1hr 30 mins
2.Chicago to Frankfurt – United,layover of 4 hrs
3.Frankfurt to New Delhi-Lufthansa
Ques 1. Do you think we have claim our checked baggage at Chicago and Frankfurt ?
Ques 2. Do we have to go through security checking once again in Chicago,looks like the terminal may be different ?
Thanks for your help
May 28, 2016 @ 5:04 pm
Hi Aditi! When leaving the US, your luggage should automatically be transferred from one flight to the next, so you shouldn’t have to do anything with checked luggage in Chicago. Simply find your next gate. Same thing in Frankfurt, since you’re not staying there, your bag should get transferred to your next flight. Look for signs that say “transit” or “transfer” or “connecting flights” and you should be able to bypass customs and immigration. Verify with the airline employee when you check in for your first flight to be sure, but that’s how the vast majority of airports work for international layovers.
It’s possible you’ll have to go through security again in Chicago. On the maps I’ve seen online of O’Hare, it looks like there’s a separate security checkpoint for each terminal, and you will most likely have to go to the international terminal for your second flight. I don’t think you have time to waste while you’re there, but I think 1 hour 30 minutes should be enough time. In Frankfurt, there are separate security checkpoints for every few gates, so you’ll have to go through security again there, but the lines shouldn’t be so bad since at most they’re only handling a few flights at a time.
I’m not sure if you’re going back to the US, but if so, you’ll have to go through customs and immigration plus claim and recheck luggage at the first US airport you land at.
Have a great trip!
May 19, 2016 @ 11:27 am
The site is very informative. This will be my first international flight and this helped me a lot!
I am visiting Halifax, Canada. My route is BLR -> FRA(5 hrs layover) -> YYZ(2.40 hrs layover) -> YHZ. I have purchased the ticket as one itenary with Luftansa airlines. The last flight from YYZ to YHZ is operated by Air Canada.
I hope I’ll get all the 3 boarding passes at BLR itself!
So, at the first layover of 5 hrs at Frankfurt : No immigration and customs, but security exists?
And, at the second layover of 2.40 hrs at Toronto : Both immigration and customs, and security exists, as it the first arrival to the country?
At Toronto, after the immigration, should I collect my luggage and recheck-in it going through all the procedures again? As the luggage will be tagged to my final destination.
Is the time of 2.40 hrs enough for all the procedures at the Toronto airport?
Thanks in advance!
May 19, 2016 @ 1:50 pm
Hi Apoorva! In general, you can bypass customs and immigration when you’re not staying in the country (or in the Schengen Zone in this case) by following the signs for “transit” or “transfer” or “connecting flights” when you get off your flight to Frankfurt. I don’t know all the visa rules, so you verify with the embassy that you don’t need a transit visa, but I found this on Lufthansa’s site which says Indian citizens don’t need a transit visa if you hold a visa for Canada. You will have to go through security before boarding your flight out of Frankfurt.
In Toronto, you will go through customs and immigration since it’s where you enter Canada. The Toronto airport has this wonderful guide for determining what you have to do when you land there, so definitely check that out. It looks like you do have to claim and recheck your luggage, but it says there’s a baggage drop-off area, so it shouldn’t be complicated or far away. You’ll have to go through security to get to your next gate.
Lufthansa should be able to print all of your boarding passes when you check in for your first flight, but if for some reason they can’t print your YYZ to YHZ boarding pass, you should be able to go to any Air Canada counter in the Toronto airport and have them print it for you. Especially since it’s Air Canada, you’ll be able to find counters air side (passed security) and you shouldn’t have to go all the way out to the normal check-in counters. But I really think you’ll get all 3 boarding passes when you check in for the first flight. And I think your layover times sound perfectly fine.
I hope this helps! Enjoy your trip to Canada!
May 16, 2016 @ 7:51 am
Hi! I also had a question about my future flights!
I haven’t booked anything yet but I am looking at flights by United from Chicago, USA to Florence, Italy. There is an hour and forty minute layover in Frankfurt before heading to Italy. Coming home I am leaving from Rome, then have an hour and ten minute layover in Frankfurt and then back to Chicago. It didn’t concern me that the layovers were so short until i noticed an advisory icon on united.com next to my flight choices saying “risky connection” on my flights coming home. Do i have to go through customs at the first place i get off? Will this be enough time? so confused that it didn’t say risky connection for my first flight either.
Please let me know what you think!
May 16, 2016 @ 11:51 am
Hi Jackie! Yes, you will have to go through passport control and customs (though customs is really no big deal if you have nothing to declare) at the first airport you land at in the Schengen Zone, so since Germany and Italy are both in Schengen, you’ll go through passport control in Frankfurt. It’s the same with leaving the Schengen Zone. Your flight from Rome to Frankfurt is similar to a domestic flight in the US, and you’ll have to go through passport control in Frankfurt.
An hour 40 minutes in Frankfurt on your way TO Italy is probably fine. Maybe a little short, but doable. Your luggage should automatically get transferred from the first flight to the second (though always verify this when you check in) and once you get through passport control, you have to get to the domestic side of the airport, but that shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes. Security checks aren’t usually so bad either because they have a different one for every few gates, so the lines are usually pretty quick.
But on the way back to the US, an hour 10 minutes seems a little too short. You have to get through passport control to exit, and it’s a gamble whether that line will be fast or not. I’ve gotten through in minutes, but other times I’ve waited on that line for 45 minutes to an hour. (I used to live near Frankfurt and used that airport a lot.) If it were me, I’d pick a different flight, at least for that leg. I’d try to aim for about 2 hours in either direction if possible. Check out my tips for short layovers here, and have a great time in Italy!
May 15, 2016 @ 7:21 pm
P.S. I looked at the Seattle terminal map and it looks like the flight would arrive at N7 and depart at C2C. They are next to each other but I don’t know how long it will take me to get from North terminal to C terminal.
May 15, 2016 @ 7:07 pm
Really enjoy your site. Here’s my question:
I am trying to use American Airlines expiring miles to visit family in Montana, and believe I can use them on Alaska Airlines. I can book a flight through Seattle, but the layover is only 40 minutes. I will only have carry-on luggage and first flight is Alaska Airlines, second flight is Horizon Air as HorizonAlaska. Is that enough time to de-plane, change terminals, and board? My only other option is a 20 hour layover. 🙁
May 16, 2016 @ 11:37 am
Thanks Debbie! A 40 minute layover is a bit tight, but not completely impossible on a domestic layover. And considering your alternative is a 20 hour layover…yikes! If it were me, I think I would take the chance on the 40 minute layover. Try to get an aisle seat on the flight to Seattle, make sure your stuff is all packed up before the flight lands so you can grab your bag and go as soon as they turn off the seat belt sign, and don’t make any stops in the airport.
As for your other comment about the terminals, it’s hard to determine how long it takes to get from C to North, but it looks like there’s a train connecting them. I found some info that might be helpful on this site here. And you can read my tips for dealing with short layovers here. Good luck and enjoy your trip!
May 3, 2016 @ 10:44 am
I have a layover of 26 hours in Singapore before getting my flight to Australia! Does this mean I am not officially transitting but actually “visiting” the country?
My flights are all with the same company and were all booked at the same time but my layover changed from 8 hours to 26 and now my itinerary on my booking app looks like 2 seperate itineries when before it was 1! Now I’m scared I will have to pick up my luggage and put it back, even though the flights are with the same airline. Also I have booked the transit hotel in Changi but now I’m scared I won’t be able to use it as apparently anything over 24 hours puts you as visiting not transitting. So confused! Help!
May 3, 2016 @ 11:33 am
Hi Rebecca! So sorry to hear your flight got changed so drastically! First, you might want to call the airline and see if there are any better options they can change you to since 26 hours is really long for a layover, and like you said, it makes it into two separate flights. If they can’t change your flight, ask about your checked luggage. Each airline handles things differently, so I can’t really answer that. My guess is that you will have to claim your checked luggage and that you won’t be able to recheck it until closer to your next flight.
As for the transit hotel, you probably aren’t eligible anymore. It’s worth verifying with them directly, but if they go by the exact amount of time between when your first flight lands and when the next one takes off, you’ll be over their time limit.
But the good news in all of this is you will have *plenty* of time to get a glimpse of Singapore! Yes, you’ll probably have to find a different hotel for the night, but there are plenty to choose from. While you’re there, you can take a tour. I have a post about layover perks including layover tours. Depending on what time your land and what time your next flight is, you could go to the night safari zoo. You could go to different hawker centers and try lots of tasty food. You could wander through Chinatown or Little India. And depending on the timing, your hotel will probably be able to hold your luggage if you still have time to explore after you have to check out. Just be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to retrieve your luggage and get back to the airport. Also, since Singapore is really hot, if you’re exploring during the day and your flight is at the end of the day (as opposed to leaving for the airport first thing in the morning) you can take a shower at the airport. I did that a couple of years ago when my husband and I had an evening flight since we spent the day exploring and getting sweaty. I wrote about it on my personal blog here: http://www.aliadventures.com/2014/05/that-time-i-took-a-shower-at-the-airport/
My advice is to embrace the long layover, get out of the airport, see the city a little, and enjoy. I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions!
April 7, 2016 @ 3:52 pm
I am planning a trip from London, Heathrow to Columbus, Ohio and back.
Both trips will have layovers in the Chicago.
Will I have to go through immigration, collect and re-check my luggage, customs at Chicago for travel from London to Columbus and then again at Columbus?
What is the minimum duration I should allow for a convenient layover?
How will it work for return?
Thanks so much for the help!
April 8, 2016 @ 2:38 pm
Hi Arpit! First of all, I’m assuming you’re talking about Chicago O’Hare, not Midway, as it is the bigger airport and more likely to have an international airport.
When you’re flying from London to Chicago to Columbus, you will have to go through customs and immigration and claim and re-check your luggage in Chicago. The US makes you do this at the first airport you reach in the country. You’ll also have to go through security again before you can continue to your next flight. Chicago is a big airport that lots of people complain about for layovers. So I’d recommend trying for a 3 hour layover in this direction. You might get lucky and not need it, but at least you won’t have as much worry about missing your connection, and you’ll have time to find food and stretch your legs after the long flight.
When you fly back, Columbus to Chicago to London, your luggage will get transferred the whole way. There is no official exiting passport control when leaving the US, but the ticket agent will check your passport when you check in for your flight. You will probably have to go through security again there because there’s a different security checkpoint for each terminal, and you’ll probably have to change terminals since you’ll be going from a domestic to an international flight. I’d try for about 2 hours for your layover in this direction. Again, this might be more than you need, but better to have too much time than not enough.
Here’s a map of the airport so you can see the different terminals: https://www.flychicago.com/ohare/map/pages/default.aspx If you click on the terminal, it shows you the airlines that use it, so that could help you understand where you’ll be going. I hope this helps, and enjoy your trip!
April 1, 2016 @ 9:25 pm
Love the article, interesting situation, long story short, i left my passport at my cousin’s house in san fran and told her to just hold on to it until i see her again in san fran (i have trust issues with the u.s. postal service). I live in Hawaii and now both her and i want to take a trip to vancouver. I found a flight from HNL to SFO then to YVR. My question is the layover in SFO is 2 hrs., could i just meet my cousin in the domestic terminal, or leave the terminal and meet my cousin outside, and get my passport from her before entering customs to YVR? or do i need it for my first flight in HNL? i will have carry on only, no checked baggage.
April 2, 2016 @ 8:14 pm
Hi Dylan! Ok, this is kind of a tricky one. In general, they will ask to see your passport when you check in for the first flight since they’re checking you in for all of your flights on that itinerary. The airline isn’t allowed to let you on the flight if you don’t have the proper documents. I suppose you could try to explain your situation to the agent and see if they can just check you in for the first flight, on the idea that you would have to check in for the next flight in SFO. (By the way, there is no exiting customs or official passport control checkpoint when leaving the US, which is why the agent who checks you in for your flight checks your passport.) But I’m not sure they’ll do it. I think your options are to have your cousin mail you your passport (I understand your hesitancy with the USPS) so you’ll have it from the start, or book two separate flights so when you check in for your HNL-SFO flight they won’t know you’re continuing on to Vancouver. Then you’d have to check in again in SFO after you get your passport from your cousin. You might not even have to leave the secured area to check in for the SFO-YVR flight depending on which airline you’re flying – many airlines have counters within the secured area and you might be able to check in with them. Regardless, having carry-on luggage only will help you save time and stress! I hope this helps, and good luck with whatever you decide to do!
April 2, 2016 @ 9:45 pm
I’d suggest to get the passport before starting the trip, not only for peace of mind but also to avoid missing flights, which could easily happen with a bit of delay here and crowds there. If you don’t trust USPS for whatever reason, use another delivery service (FedEx, UPS, DHL …)
March 29, 2016 @ 10:12 pm
I really enjoyed reading your article! Like them, I also have a question. 🙂 I have an upcoming trip from LAS to MNL which I booked with Expedia. My route is LAS-LAX (2hrs layover)-MNL and vice versa. My question are: 1.) Is it considered as 1 itinerary? 2.)Do I have to claim my baggage when I arrive in LAX? 3.) My LAS to LAX flight is with American Airlines, do you think they’ll charge me for check in baggage? I caleed Expedia about the fees but they don’t seem to know the answer and the agent from AA is not sure with the answer too. Hoping to hear from you soon! Thanks!
March 31, 2016 @ 6:14 pm
Hi Rozel! It’s considered one itinerary if you booked both flights at the same time on one booking. Your confirmation email will have both flights listed on it. It would be two itineraries if you booked each leg separately. It sounds like you probably booked yours together on one itinerary, so the airline should be able to tag your luggage to go all the way to MNL, so you won’t have to claim your luggage during your layover. As for the baggage fees, you have to check with American Airlines on that. Here’s the baggage info on their website: https://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/baggage/checked-baggage.jsp Have a great trip!
March 31, 2016 @ 6:31 pm
Thank you for your reply, Ali! My LAS-LAX flight is with AA and the LAX-MNL is with Philippine Airlines. Do you think I’ll need to pay for baggage fees too for my Retuning flight? I’ve heard that PAL allows two free check in baggage. I’m just not sure if that will be the same case with AA since they’re in one itinerary. Thank you again!
March 31, 2016 @ 10:36 pm
Since your LAX-MNL flight is an international flight, they will most likely allow you to have at least one checked bag. I’m really not sure about American Airlines, though I would hope that they’d check your bag for free since you’re connecting to an international flight. Your best bet there is to call AA and ask, even if they have to look up your itinerary to look at exactly what you’re doing.
Also, I should’ve mentioned earlier, but when you fly back to the US, you will go through customs and immigration in LAX and you *will* have to claim and recheck your luggage there.
March 31, 2016 @ 11:22 pm
I just called AA earlier and told me that I have 2 free chek in baggage allowance. Yay! And thank you for mentioning the immigration thing, I am also thinking about it. Thaaaaanks!
April 1, 2016 @ 9:48 am
That’s great! Glad to help, enjoy your trip!
March 26, 2016 @ 2:52 pm
Hello! I’m a U.S. Citizen traveling to Nepal. My route is – PBI-JFK-AUH-KTM. I purchased the ticket as one itinerary. From PBI, I’m flying with JetBlue to JFK, then with Etihad all the way to KTM. JetBlue and Etihad are partner airlines.
So, my question is, I have a 16 hrs overnight layover in JFK. Will my baggage be checked all the way through to KTM? Or will I have to collect it and recheck in the luggage at JFK? And since I have the flights under one itinerary, will I get my all boarding pass at PBI?
Also, let’s say that I’ll have to pick up my luggage, can I go through security with my luggages if I have my boarding pass? Then, re check it in after the counters open in the morning and go through security again? Or can I only stay landside? Because, terminal 4 at JFK has all their lounges and food courts post security I believe, which I can’t access if I have to stay landside
I called JetBlue, but the lady who picked up remained unclear about this. So, hopefully you can guide me through this a little. Thank you! 🙂 and great website!
March 29, 2016 @ 2:00 pm
Hi Sakura! This is a tricky one, but I’ll do my best! Since JetBlue and Etihad are partner airlines, you should be able to get your Etihad boarding passes from JetBlue when you check in for your first flight. There’s a chance though that they don’t have access to Etihad’s system. I once had an itinerary that involved Etihad and another airline, all booked as one itinerary, but the other airline wasn’t able to print the Etihad boarding passes. However, there are usually counters within the secured area where you can get the next boarding pass, so that shouldn’t be a problem at JFK. The other potential problem is the length of your layover. Since your Etihad flight is technically the next day, they might not be able to print your boarding pass so far ahead of time. (I had this happen to me recently, but it was because my second flight was more than 24 hours after the first, so I don’t think you’ll have the same issue.) As for your luggage, normally it would get transferred all the way to your final destination when you’re booked all on one itinerary. However, since you have such a long layover, some airlines can’t take luggage more than a few hours ahead of a flight and they might require you to collect your checked bags in JFK. Different airlines seem to have different ways of handling this, so I can’t tell you for sure. Unfortunately your best bet is to ask at the check-in counter if you will have to collect your luggage. You won’t be able to go through security with your checked luggage unless it’s actually carry-on sized and doesn’t have anything in it that can’t be taken as carry-on. So if you’re checking luggage with bigger bottles of liquids, TSA will confiscate the liquids. If you’re checking a bigger suitcase, it won’t fit through the x-ray machines. I know someone who recently had a long layover in NYC and they had to find a place to store their checked luggage during the layover because the airline couldn’t take it that far in advance. But they were also flying from Guatemala to NYC to Spain, so they had to claim their luggage because of customs. In your situation, you’re flying domestic and then international, so normally your bag would get transferred automatically. I just question the amount of time. If you do have to hang onto your luggage during your layover, there is a luggage hold place near Penn Station that opens at 8am, so maybe you could try leaving your bags there and hanging out in the city for a bit. It’s unfortunate that the JetBlue customer service woman wasn’t sure because that’s what I would suggest is calling the airline. You could try calling again, maybe another person will know the answer, or you could call Etihad and ask them. I’m so sorry I can’t give you definite answers! If you think of it, I’d love to hear how this actually works out once you have your flights. Good luck, and no matter how much of a hassle the luggage stuff is, I hope you enjoy your trip!
March 22, 2016 @ 12:39 am
thanks for your very helpul article! However apparently one of your statements is not so absolutely true:
>> What happens with checked luggage on a layover?
>> If you fly from somewhere outside the US or Canada to an airport in the US or Canada, you will have to collect and recheck your luggage no matter where you’re going on your second flight.
I tried passenger guides for connecting flights for Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal airports and in many cases you DON’T need to claim your checked luggage (only between 7:30am and 6:30pm at YVR). I think you even mention your experience in Atlanta in the comments, but apparently this is a more common practice, or maybe just in Canada? I didn’t play around too much, I tried only my case – UK via Canada to US, all on Air Canada, though some other airlines are fine as well to avoid even Canadian customs.
E.g.: “Most passengers will have their luggage checked-through to their final destination, so you will not claim your checked-bags at YVR.”
Montreal: “Your checked luggage will be transferred automatically by the luggage-handling system. Note, however, that U.S. customs officers are authorized to recall your luggage, if necessary, for manual inspection.”
I’m aware though that what you’re told in advance is not always true IRL, no matter how reliable the source – it’s the airport, airline, immigration or customs. So maybe you could just add a little note about such possibility even when transiting in US&Canadian airports …
March 26, 2016 @ 10:30 am
Hi Igor! Yes I think it depends on the airline and which terminals you’re at at some of the Canadian airports. I’ve definitely looked a few times at the Toronto site and had it tell me “claim and recheck luggage, and go through customs” though the interesting thing about Toronto (and a few other Canadian airports) is that they have a US customs point, so you can actually do your US entry procedures while technically still in Canada. My earlier Atlanta comment was my misunderstanding. I have since flown through Atlanta a few times, including when I was going from one country to another and NOT staying in the US, and I still had to go through customs. I didn’t have checked luggage, but I did take note that you would still have to claim and recheck luggage for any connecting flight. Atlanta actually has two different sides for immigration, one for people staying in Atlanta, and one for people with connecting flights. It makes it easier to recheck luggage for people with connecting flights because there’s a conveyor belt for collecting all the checked luggage after going through customs, so you wouldn’t have to go back out to the check-in counters as long as your bag is still tagged for your final destination. I actually have a draft post about connecting through Canada, I just need to put some time into researching more of it and writing it up. The rules and procedures change so often!
March 12, 2016 @ 6:37 am
Hi Ali, Thank for the article. I have a question and i hope you have an idea. I have booked a flight from Dubai to Japan via Singapore Airlines, so the layover is in SG. The thing is, due to some circumstances, I am not pushing through Japan and Im not going to take a Japan visit visa anymore (which was required) and decided to just travel to Singapore. Do you think they will allow me to travel using the same ticket? Can I just tell at Dubai airport that my destination will be Singapore ? Please let me know how it works. Thank you in advance.
March 14, 2016 @ 12:07 pm
Hi Larah! Most airlines will not allow you to do this. If you just take the first leg of your flight, it shows in their system that you didn’t complete the flight, and they won’t let you on the return flight. Most likely, you’ll have to change your flight booking if you want to stay in Singapore. You should call Singapore Airlines and explain your situation to see what they can do for you. Good luck!
March 11, 2016 @ 1:49 pm
I am flying from LAX to CDG (Paris, France) in November 2016 with AeroMexico and have a connecting flight in Mexico City with a 3 hour layover. My question is, would I have to go through immigration and customs once I arrive in Mexico City even though my actual destination is France and not Mexico?
March 14, 2016 @ 12:05 pm
Hi Alvaro! I haven’t flown through Mexico myself, so I don’t know for sure, but most countries besides the US and Canada allow you to transit through on a layover without going through customs and immigration. When you land in Mexico City, look for signs that say “transit” or “transfer” or even “connecting flights” and you should be able to bypass customs and immigration, go through security, and continue to your connecting gate. If for some reason they don’t have this option or you can’t find it, 3 hours should still be plenty of time to get through customs and immigration and get to your next flight. But when you check in for your first flight from LAX, they should be able to tell you if you have to deal with customs in Mexico City. Sorry I don’t know for sure, but I’m almost positive you won’t have to.
March 10, 2016 @ 12:40 am
Hi, Elaine! Thank you for this very informative guide on layover. It’s my first time out of the country and I’ll be flying to Germany from Manila in less than 2 weeks. I purchased my ticket via a travel agency/ticket reseller online. My flight is Manila-Hong Kong-Frankfurt-Dusseldorf. MNL-HKG is via Cathay then HKG-Frankfurt-Dusseldorf is via Lufthansa. My question is where will I proceed when I’m already in Hong Kong? Do I have to go to the immigration and have my passport stamped in HK? Same with Frankfurt and Dusseldorf? Sorry if this a dumb question. 🙂
March 10, 2016 @ 5:36 pm
I don’t know who Elaine is, but I’ll try to help you out 🙂 And it’s not a dumb question at all, this confuses lots of people.
Cathay Pacific and Lufthansa are partner airlines, so as long as your flights are all booked on one itinerary (which it sounds like they are) the agent who checks you in for your first flight should be able to print all of your boarding passes and tag your luggage to go all the way to your final destination. Verify this with the agent when you’re checking in just to be sure.
When you get to Hong Kong, look for signs that say “transit” or “transfer” or even just “connecting flights” and you should be able to bypass customs and immigration. You’ll have to go through security again, but since you’re not staying in Hong Kong, you shouldn’t have to go through customs/immigration or get your passport stamped.
When you land in Frankfurt, you will go through customs and immigration because you are staying in Germany. (Even if you were flying from Frankfurt to another city/country within the Schengen Zone, you would go through customs and immigration in Frankfurt since it’s your first point of entry into Schengen.) After you get stamped in, look for the big “departures” signs that show gates for upcoming flights and find your flight to Dusseldorf. You’ll have to go through security again before that flight. Your luggage should automatically be transferred from your Hong Kong – Frankfurt flight to your Frankfurt – Dusseldorf flight, but again, verify this when you check into your first flight in Manila.
Assuming you’re going back to the Philippines the same way, the process is similar. Dusseldorf to Frankfurt is pretty straight forward. In Frankfurt, you’ll have to go through passport control to get stamped out of the country. Again, you should be able to bypass customs and immigration in Hong Kong since you’ll only be there on a layover. And your bags should get transferred from one flight to the next.
I hope this helps, and enjoy your trip to Germany, it’s a great country!
March 7, 2016 @ 9:15 pm
I have a question for you if you don’t mind. My Nepalese boyfriend is flying from Japan to Nepal with a 19 hr layover in Bangkok. Since he is a Nepali citizen, he cannot leave Bangkok airport during his layover without a transit visa so he’s just going to remain inside the airport. Do you think the airline will check his luggage all the way through from Japan the Nepal even with a long layover in Bangkok? He’s flying on the same airline. Please let me know what you think!
March 8, 2016 @ 4:34 pm
Wow, 19 hours and he can’t leave the airport? Ugh, I’m so sorry! He should check with the airline to see if they will hold onto his checked luggage and transfer it to the next flight. In this situation, I would hope that they can, especially if it’s all on one itinerary. He can’t be the only person who has been in this situation. I think he should call the airline ahead of time and ask, and then at check-in, talk to the agent so they know he has the long layover and can’t go through customs to pick up his luggage and recheck it closer to the next flight. Good luck!
March 1, 2016 @ 11:09 pm
I’m flying to and from Heathrow and Burbank,CA with layovers in Salt Lake City and Seattle all flights booked through delta. Will I need to recheck my bags,go through customs etc during my layovers?
March 3, 2016 @ 10:47 am
Hi Elaine! When you fly TO the US, you will have to go through immigration/passport control and customs, as well as claim and re-check your luggage, and you’ll have to go through security again, at the first airport you land at, so you will have to do that on your layover entering the US. On your way back to London, when you check in for your first flight, the agent will check your passport, and it’s possible the gate agent for the second flight will check your passport again, but the US doesn’t have an official passport control checkpoint for exiting passengers the way most other countries do. Your bags will be tagged to go to Heathrow and they’ll automatically get transferred from the first to the second flight, and you won’t have to do anything special on your layover, just find your connecting gate and maybe go through security again depending on the layout of the airport. I hope that helps, and enjoy your time in the US!
February 28, 2016 @ 3:30 pm
Your article does not really cover the question I have.
We are planning to travel (in the summer) via Doha to Sri Lankla and intending to stop over in Qatar to visit our family .
If we stopover for about two days, do we have to check-out our luggage with us and check in again?
Do you know how it works?
February 29, 2016 @ 5:29 pm
Hi Saheer! In most cases, an extremely long layover like you describe would require you to pick up your checked luggage in between flights. Most airlines will view it as two separate flights, even if you were able to book it as one itinerary. I think they also don’t want to be responsible for holding onto your luggage for that long. And, in my experience, you probably won’t even be able to get your boarding pass ahead of time for the second flight, you’ll have to check in closer to the flight time. I hope this helps!
February 25, 2016 @ 8:28 pm
As a transit passenger from Panama PTY ( Copa Airlines) through Orlando MCO to Dubai DXB (Emirates), having checked-in luggage but not leaving the airport, do I have to pass immigration? Do I have to claim my baggage from Copa and check it in at Emirates or do they forward it directly?
February 25, 2016 @ 8:38 pm
Option 2, if I fly into Miami then transit to Orlando both on American Airlines, and then transit to Dubai is there any immigration/baggage collection along the way?
February 27, 2016 @ 10:22 am
Sorry, just noticed you left a second comment. Yes, even if you book both flights together with the same airline, you’ll still have to go through customs and immigration and claim and recheck your luggage. The advantage of doing your flights with this option is that American Airlines will be able to tag your luggage to Dubai, so even though you’ll still have to claim and recheck your luggage, things should be a little more smooth for rechecking it. Plus you’ll already have your next boarding pass, so if Miami has a rechecking spot within the customs area, you won’t have to go back out to the main ticket/check-in counters. I don’t know for sure if they have that at Miami (it’s been years since I’ve flown through there) but if they do, it’ll help.
February 27, 2016 @ 10:17 am
Hi Melvin! Yes, unfortunately you will have to pass through immigration and customs in Orlando. You will also have to claim and recheck your luggage. This is US policy for anyone landing there, whether you’re staying in the country or not. I’m not sure if Copa will be able to tag your luggage for the Emirates flight, so be sure to ask about that when you check in for your PTY to MCO flight. Either way though, you will have to pick up your luggage and recheck it. I don’t know about Orlando specifically, but some airports have a baggage recheck area within the customs and immigration area for people with connecting flights, so if Orlando has this AND if Copa can tag your luggage for the Emirates flight, you would be able to use that. Otherwise you’ll have to go to the Emirates ticket counter to recheck your bag. If you booked these two flights separately, you’ll almost definitely have to go to the Emirates ticket counter in Orlando to recheck your luggage, and to check in for your next flight. I hope this helps, and enjoy your trip!
February 14, 2016 @ 2:59 pm
Hi Ali the airline has booked me wheelchair assistance for all the airports and also for the way back thank you so much
February 14, 2016 @ 7:18 pm
That’s great, Paul!
February 14, 2016 @ 12:45 pm
OK I will phone them up today and ask what they can do. I will post again once I asked about assistance. Thank you Ali they should tell you this over the phone.
February 14, 2016 @ 2:50 pm
Glad to help, Paul!
February 11, 2016 @ 10:43 pm
Hi there great peace about the layover.
I am travelling from Manchester to manila in the Philippines I have booked with one airline but I have to get a connecting flight I change over In dubai do i have to go through passport control and do i have to recheck my bag . Both flights are with the same airline. Sorry to ask this is my first international flight and kinda scared as I am disabled but going to meet my partner.
Many thanks looking forward to seeing your reply
February 14, 2016 @ 12:18 pm
Hi Paul! In Dubai, you should be able to follow the signs for “transit” or “transfer” or even “connecting flights” which will lead you through security again, but you won’t have to go through customs and immigration since you’re not staying in Dubai. Your luggage should get tagged to Manila, so you won’t have to do anything with checked luggage while in Dubai. If you need any assistance getting around at the airport due to your disability, contact the airline ahead of time to see what options are available and what they can arrange for you. And try not to be worried, you’ll do fine!
February 10, 2016 @ 5:50 am
I am traveling on American Airlines from Heathrow to Seattle with a change of planes in LAX. I know I have to go through customs in L.A., but since my second flight is with Alaska (American’s affiliate) will they transfer my luggage for me, once I pass through customs? There are 3 hours between flights. I ask because I have to change terminals in LA and it’s difficult – you have to go outside with your luggage and the shuttle bus isn’t that close and it’s difficult to lift a suitcase onto the bus (I have a torn disc.) Also, it’ll be hot and I’ll be wearing a heavy coat. The last time I flew this route, there was less time between flights and I wasn’t sure if they didn’t transfer my bag for me because there wasn’t enough time, or because they just don’t do this. i missed my connecting flight, but- luckily I was put on another flight. Thanks very much!
February 14, 2016 @ 12:10 pm
Hi Sherrie! The thing about US customs is that no matter what, you have to claim and re-check your luggage at the first US airport you go to. They didn’t transfer your luggage last time because no US airport will do that when you’re arriving from an international flight. So when you get to LAX, you’ll have to go through immigration/passport control, pick up your checked bags, and re-check. It’s super annoying, but unavoidable. And yeah, LAX is not a pleasant airport for that unfortunately. My advice is to pack light so even if you still check luggage, it won’t be too heavy. You won’t be wearing that heavy coat on the 10 hour flight, right? So don’t put it back on in the airport and you won’t be hot. Dress in layers so you can stay comfortable on the flight and adjust to the warmer weather in LA. If you need assistance in the airport, you can arrange for either a wheelchair or one of those golf cart type things. I’ve never done it, so I don’t know exactly how to set that up, but I’d recommend calling American Airlines and asking them to help you sort that out. I have more tips for short layovers here, although I think you should be ok with 3 hours on your layover, I don’t really think that’s too short. I hope this helps!
February 14, 2016 @ 2:09 pm
Thanks so much for your help! To avoid any problems, I had my husband change the first leg of my trip from LAX to Raleigh/Durham Airport. There is no terminal change there, so after going through customs, it should be easier. I will be returning home with a heavy suitcase, but it easy to manage as long as I don’t have to lift it the stairs of a shuttle. So I should be good as long as the weather in North Carolina isn’t a problem. Love your blog. Thanks again.
February 14, 2016 @ 2:53 pm
Thanks for the kind words, Sherrie! I think RDU will be better for you. It’s a smaller airport, much easier to deal with. Also, on your return flight, you shouldn’t have to do anything with your luggage on your layover. As long as your flights are booked on one itinerary, the ticket agent at the first airport will tag your bags to your final destination, and your bags will get transferred from one flight to the next. You don’t have to claim and recheck luggage on your way OUT of the US, only on your way IN. So that’s a better direction for you to have a heavy suitcase!
February 9, 2016 @ 6:31 pm
Hello – this is such a helpful post.
Do you know what security checks would be and if checked in bags would continue to final destination for our itinerary?
New Orleans (Louis Armstrong Airport) to Newark with a layover overnight from 23:15 until 19:15 next day. We would plan to get hotel overnight. Final destination is Birmingham UK leaving Newark at 19:15.
Would we have to reclaim checked in luggage if journey is booked as one itinerary with same airline? Its a concern as we are in our 70s.
Thanks for any help or advice you can offer.
February 11, 2016 @ 12:43 pm
Hi Sue! In general, if your flights are all booked on one itinerary, the airline will tag your luggage to your final destination and they will transfer your bags from one plane to the next. So in theory, you shouldn’t have to claim your luggage in Newark. But since your layover is so long, there is a chance they can’t hold your luggage overnight, so I’d recommend calling the airline and asking. On your way back to the US, you will have to claim and recheck your luggage at the first US airport no matter what. So if you have another super long layover in that direction, you will almost definitely have to hold onto your luggage until a certain point ahead of your next flight. But for the New Orleans to Newark to Birmingham flights, you should call and check ahead of time. Sorry I can’t give you a more definitive answer on this one!
February 11, 2016 @ 2:51 pm
Thans for the reply – it’s a great help. The flight I asked about is actually our return flight so I will call the airport as you suggest. The outward flight from Birmingham only has a short stopover of about 4hours but someone has told me we will have to collect and re-check our luggage there as it’s our first port of entry into the USA. We are flying on to Memphis.
Thanks for your help.
February 4, 2016 @ 5:44 am
Hello Ali! Your clear explanation about international layover helped me a lot… But I still wanted to ask this question just to be 100% clear. This is my second time traveling alone but my first time with international layovers and I was wondering if you could help me.. My flight is from
Toronto (Pearson) — Chicago (O’Hare international ORD) — Narita (Japan).
I would have to check in baggage at Toronto and I assume it would be at Narita upon my arrival (since the airline I’m taking are partners). Would I have to to go through security and customs again to be able to go on my next flight? I know O’Hare is a huge airport and I only have an hour and 18 minutes to get this task done. If you could guide me roughly on how I should approach this as soon as I get off the plane in Chicago to boarding to Narita I would be thankful and appreciate it. Thank you for your time to read this post.
February 7, 2016 @ 11:23 am
Hi Maai! Toronto is one of the few airports that has a US customs/border control post so you actually go through US customs and immigration procedures while you’re still technically in Toronto, which saves you time when you land in the US (Chicago in your case). The process depends on your airline and where you’re going, so check this link to get step-by-step instructions: http://www.torontopearson.com/Connecting.aspx#
When you check in for your flight from Toronto, verify with the ticket agent, but I believe your luggage will get checked all the way through to Narita if you are able to go through US customs in the Toronto airport. Then in Chicago, all you will have to do is make your way to your connecting gate. O’Hare has security checkpoints for each terminal, so if you have to switch terminals, you’ll probably have to go through security again. Here’s a link to maps of the terminals: http://chicago-ord.worldairportguides.com/terminal-maps.php
An hour 18 minutes would be extremely short for a normal international layover, but as long as you are able to do US customs in Toronto, which I’m 99% sure you will, you should be fine. For more help, check out my tips for handling a short layover here. Enjoy your trip!
January 27, 2016 @ 12:41 am
Hi Ali. This is about transit between two international flights at Guarulhos airport. I’m flying from ASU Paraguay on TAM into GRU Brazil. I will be connecting to DXB on Emirates. I hold a Swiss passport and need no visa for Brazil. I may not have checked in baggage. My research indicates that arrival and departure are both at Terminal 3. As the tickets are both separate, where in the transfer area do I obtain my boarding pass for the Emirates flight to DXB? Or do I have to pass through immigration and get the boarding pass at the check-in area?
January 28, 2016 @ 2:05 am
Hi Edwin! In my experience, there are usually several airline counters within the secured area of most airports, so in theory you should be able to check in for your Emirates flight without going through immigration. I’ve only done this once, and at a different airport, but I was able to go to a transfer desk and get my boarding pass printed without having to go back out to the check-in area. Make sure you have a print-out of your flight details to show you’re transferring to another flight. If you do have to check luggage, you will have to go through immigration in order to claim your luggage and recheck it with Emirates, since it won’t get transferred from one flight to the next. I highly recommend calling Emirates customer service and asking them about your situation. In my case, my layover was in Vietnam and I was flying out on a Vietnam Airlines flight, so I had easy access to their ticket counters. But since Emirates is not a Brazilian airline, they might not have as much of a presence at the airport. So if they don’t have a ticket counter or customer service counter in the secured area, you’ll have to go through immigration to get to the normal check-in area. Luckily you don’t need a Brazil visa! But I think your best option is to call Emirates and see what their situation is at that airport.
February 25, 2016 @ 8:21 pm
If you have a flight ticket issued by the same airline that shows that your final destination is Dubai, then you do not need to go through immigration. However if you have two flight tickets, say Asuncion-São Paulo on TAM Airlines and another one Sao Paulo-Dubai on Emirates, then you will need to go through immigration (if you need a visa to enter Brazil then you need to produce it whether you are just transiting or leaving the airport). This answer applies to whether you have checked in luggage or not.
Helpdesk at GRU airport 11 2445 2256
February 27, 2016 @ 10:11 am
Good to know, Edwin, thanks! It’s hard to know how things are handled in every airport or every country. It sucks that you have to go through immigration for a situation like this. I once had a flight to Vietnam, 8 hour layover, and then a flight to Australia, but they were on 2 separate itineraries, and I was able to bypass immigration. It might have helped that the outbound flight was on Vietnam Airlines, so they have desks all over the airport, including where I came into the airport from the plane. I’m glad you got your Brazil situation figured out!
January 21, 2016 @ 7:06 pm
Hello I am wondering if you could assist me in answering a few questions I have regarding going through customs while travelling to Europe. I am flying from Edmonton to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Malaga, Spain. I have a layover for 3 hours in Amsterdam before flying to Malaga, Spain. When will I be required to go through customs? Will I have to go through customs in both Amsterdam and Malaga? Thank you for your help!
January 24, 2016 @ 5:39 pm
Hi Carla! You will have to go through customs and immigration in Amsterdam since that is your first entry into the Schengen Zone. As long as your flights were booked on one itinerary, your checked luggage will get transferred from the first flight to the second. You will not go through customs and immigration in Malaga since you already did so in Amsterdam. You will probably have to go through security again in Amsterdam before your flight to Malaga.
If your flights back to Edmonton are the same, you won’t do passport control in Malaga, but you will in Amsterdam. You’ll also have to go through security again in Amsterdam.
Have a great trip!
Dinesh Chandra Tiwari
January 11, 2016 @ 4:01 pm
Thank you very much for your kind advise.We have to move from terminal no 3 to 5
January 14, 2016 @ 3:41 am
That shouldn’t be too bad. Do a Google search for airport terminal maps for Chicago (but include O’Hare or Midway, whichever airport you’re going to) and see if you can find one that shows the security checkpoints. At least then you’ll know if you have to go through TSA again to switch terminals. I think at least some of the terminals have their own TSA checkpoint at O’Hare, but I haven’t flown through there in years, so I don’t know from personal experience.
Dinesh Chandra Tiwari
January 10, 2016 @ 1:30 pm
ON OUR RETURN JOURNEY FROM USA TO INDIA WE ARE FACING PROBLEM.
OUR TAMPA TO CHICAGO ARRIVAL BY FLIGHT NO 5154 AMERICAN AIRLINE IS 3.44 PM AND DEPARTURE FROM CHICAGO TO LONDON IS 5.10 PM FLIGHT NO 294.(TERMINAL 3 TO TERMINAL NO 5)
WE HAVE ONLY 1 HOUR AND 26 MINUTES .IS IT POSSIBLE TO GET THE FLIGHT (AFTER IMMIGRATION AND SECURITY)
PLEASE GUIDE US
January 10, 2016 @ 9:40 pm
Hi Dinesh! Ok, so you fly from Tampa to Chicago, arriving in Chicago at 3:44pm. Then your next flight leaves Chicago at 5:10pm, going to London. Correct? I think you’ll be fine. When leaving the US, you don’t actually go through immigration. When you check in for your first flight, the agent at the airport will check your passport to make sure you haven’t overstayed, but US airports don’t have a separate immigration/passport checkpoint like in most other countries. It’s possible an airline employee in Chicago will also check your passport, but again, it’s not a separate line you have to go through. So really you just have to get from one gate to the next, and possibly go through security again depending on where the gates are. You might not have time to waste, but I think you’ll be ok with this layover. Check out my tips for dealing with a short layover here to save time while you’re in Chicago, but try not to stress about it. Enjoy your trip!
December 30, 2015 @ 4:20 pm
Hi guys, I’m flying from Sao Paulo to Miami and I have a 2 hour and 10minutes layover before my flight to Seattle. I was wondering if it’s enough time, I can’t lose that flight! I have only carry on bags so that saves some time, but I have to go through customs and security check before boarding. Also, miami INTL airport is huge! Do you think it’s enough time?
December 31, 2015 @ 2:54 pm
Hi Natalie! It definitely helps that you’re flying carry-on only. A 2 hour 10 minute layover is not impossible. It really depends on how many other flights land at the same time as yours. As long as your flights are all on one itinerary, you should get both boarding passes when you check in for the first flight, to that’ll help too. Obviously I can’t guarantee anything, but I think you should be ok on this one. There’s a terminal map here: http://www.ifly.com/miami-international-airport/terminal-map and you can also put in the terminal you land in and the one you’re going to (if you know that info) and it’ll give you a little info about getting from one to the other. There is a sky train to help you get around faster. Also, read through my tips for dealing with a short layover here. Good luck!
December 31, 2015 @ 6:14 pm
Thank you so much for the info!:)
December 15, 2015 @ 3:46 am
Hi Ali, your article is so helpful and detailed! Thank you! I have a question: I’m flying from U.S. to Seoul South Korea (Newark EWR – Beijing PEK – Seoul ICN). Do I need to go through immigration & customs in Beijing or do I just connect to my flight to Seoul? I’ll be flying United.
Also, on the return I’m flying out of Pusan South Korea (Pusan PUS – Beijing PEK – Chicago ORD). Do I need to go through customs and pick up my checked luggage in Beijing??? This will be a Korean Air flight and then United for PEK-ORD (all the same itinerary/confirmation).
Thanks in advance for all your help and expertise!
December 15, 2015 @ 2:10 pm
Thanks Megan! You should be able to bypass customs and immigration in Beijing since you’ll just be on a layover. According to this https://www.visaforchina.org/SYD_EN/generalinformation/visaknowledge/269282.shtml (see #4) you don’t need a transit visa as long as you’re traveling on to another country within 24 hours. When you get to Beijing, look for “transit” or “transfer” signs. You’ll probably have to show your ticket and ID and go through security, and then you can look for your next gate. You won’t need to pick up your luggage in Beijing in either direction since the flights are booked on the same itinerary. I still think it’s a good idea to verify with the agent when you check in for the first flight that your luggage is getting tagged and transferred to your final destination. I hope that helps but let me know if you have any other questions, and have a great trip!
December 10, 2015 @ 12:45 pm
I think this is a brilliant piece on layovers and quite helpful for those who are new to this. Something strange happened to my brother who was travelling from Australia to Pakistan. He holds a Pakistani passport and is a permanent resident of Australia. He travel itinerary was Sydney – Bangkok- Islamabad. This is single airline ticket and bags were supposed to be collected at destination. There was a layover of 15 hours at Bangkok. My brother assumed that he’ll just kill time at the airport or maybe rest if there a hotel within the airport as he did not have a visa for Thailand. When he went to check in for the flight from Sydney he was told that he cannot board the plane since he does not have a Thailand visa even though he won’t be leaving Bangkok airport at all. So the airline rescheduled him to another flight with a 3 hour layover in Bangkok (at a premium cost differential of course). The check in agent also advised that if they didn’t find an alternate flight they might have let him board the original flight but in that case he might have trouble in Thailand. This is an odd case as to why would someone need a visa if they are not leaving the intermediate airport at all (this case being outside of north america). I’d appreciate your thoughts on this.
December 12, 2015 @ 4:20 pm
Hi Salman, that sure sounds an odd situation! Most countries don’t require a visa if you’re just transiting through and you’re not leaving the airport. But I don’t know the visa rules for every country, and it’s possible that Thailand requires a transit visa for certain nationalities. For example, the US requires transit visas for nationalities that also require normal travel visas. The difference though is that in the US you have to go through customs and immigration no matter where your final destination is, but that isn’t the case in most of the rest of the world. I had a layover in Bangkok a few years ago, but I just followed the “transit” signs, went through security, and continued to my next gate. Security looked at my passport as ID to make sure I was the person whose name was on the ticket, but I never went through customs, never got my passport stamped. It’s also possible it had to do with the length of his layover, since he did still fly through Bangkok. They might have a rule about needing a transit visa for layovers over a certain amount of time since, in theory, it’s long enough to leave the airport. Probably the best thing for your brother to do is check with the Thai embassy for their transit rules if he has to travel through there again. And it’s worth looking at the visa rules in other countries before booking a ticket if he flies through someplace else. So sorry he had to deal with that!
December 5, 2015 @ 6:44 am
My husband just got his visa to travel to the USA and he’s flying from Cairo to Heathrow to logan MA and then to lax. Does he have to pick up his baggage at MA and recheck them and go throu border customs? Or can he go directly to his next gate for lax?
December 5, 2015 @ 7:25 pm
Hi Vicky! He will have to go through customs and immigration in Boston/Logan Airport. He will also have to pick up his checked luggage and recheck it. Some airports have an easy drop-off point for luggage in these situations, but some don’t, and unfortunately I don’t know how Boston works. But it should be really obvious if they do have a drop-off point for people coming off of international flights, and of course he can ask if he needs help or directions. After re-checking his luggage, he’ll have to go through security before continuing to his next gate to go to LAX.
December 4, 2015 @ 9:05 pm
I wonder if I could ask this question.
If I fly from Madrid to New York with a stop in London, having US passport, which airport I pass Immigration?
Do I have to go through both countries immigration?
December 5, 2015 @ 7:21 pm
Hi Fred! Spain is in the Schengen Zone but the UK is not, so you will go through passport control to fly out of Madrid. But when you land in London, since you’re not staying in the UK or leaving the airport, you should be able to follow the “transit” or “transfer” signs, go through security, and find your connecting gate, without having to go through customs there. Then you’ll go through US customs when you land in NY. Your luggage should get transferred from the Madrid-London flight to the London-NY flight without you having to do anything, as long as both flights are on the same itinerary.
December 4, 2015 @ 2:28 pm
Thank you so much Ali
December 1, 2015 @ 5:54 pm
You’ve been so helpful to all that have come with concerns as a traveler. I was wondering if I could ask some advice about a travel plan I have.
I’m American in the US with plans to visit Japan. I normally always book my stops domestically before reaching the airport in Japan. However, I found a decent rate but would require me to have my stop/layover internationally. I’m a little apprehensive if I have to re-check my luggage and if I will have the time to make my connecting flight.
It’s basically reading as Tampa< Toronto< Japan airport
With the layover in Toronto only being 3 hrs. I'm afraid it wont be enough time to re-check luggage, go thru customs and security in time to make it to my flight for Japan.
Or do I only go thru customs??
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
December 2, 2015 @ 9:48 am
Hi Marie! Obviously I can’t make any guarantees, but I think 3 hours should be enough time. You will have to go through customs and claim and recheck your bag, but it sounds like they’ve made the process fairly simple. You shouldn’t have to go back out to the check-in counters or anything like that, just look for the “connecting baggage” belt. The Toronto airport website actually has some great info on connecting flights. This link lets you put in where you’re coming from and going to, along with the airline, and it tells you step by step where to go: http://www.torontopearson.com/Connecting.aspx# I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions!
November 30, 2015 @ 5:22 am
Hello Ali, I booked flight for my Mom from Moscow to Cancun and she will have 5 hour layover in JFK . She is Ukrainian citizen ( doesn’t speak English) Can you please tell me does she need transit visa,? Would she need re-check her luggage?
November 30, 2015 @ 5:56 pm
Hi Olga! I’m not an expert with visas, but in general if certain nationalities are required to get a visa to visit the US, they also need a transit visa to pass through the US. I don’t see Ukraine listed for the visa waiver program, which means your mom would need a visa. Start here for info: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/other/transit.html
Once she lands in JFK, she will have to go through passport check/immigration and customs and pick up her checked luggage. She will have to re-check her luggage and go through security again before getting to her next gate.
You can see a sample US customs form here: http://www.cbp.gov/travel/us-citizens/sample-declaration-form Maybe it would help to go through it with her ahead of time since she doesn’t speak English.
If her return flight goes through the US, she’ll need to do the same procedures as above. And make sure her transit visa is valid for both entries. Sorry I can’t be more help on the visas! Check with the US embassy for more guidance on that. I hope your mom enjoys Cancun!