Connecting flights aren’t the potential travel hazards that they once were. In fact, in today’s world of commercial air travel, they’re becoming more and more standard. Most airlines operate as effectively as possible, utilizing hub-and-spoke route systems. So travelers that are willing to change flights at stopover airports to get to their destinations, have more options and chances to save money. But the chances of missing a connection are much lower than they used to be, it can still happen. Whether you’re flying across the country for an important business meeting, or across the world on a dream vacation, nothing can play havoc with a day of air travel more than missing a connecting flight. That’s why it’s important to know what you can do to minimize the chances of it happening to you.
Here are 6 essential tips to follow you never miss your connecting flight.
Avoid Booking Several Different Airlines on One Itinerary
While the price might be right on that itinerary with several different non-affiliated airlines, it might cost you when it comes to a missed connection. Obviously, the airlines involved are not working together to get you to your destination, but rather as separate beings. If you miss your connection on one of these airlines, you might not be graced with a complimentary re-booking by your next airline. It is after all not their problem that you missed their flight due to another airline’s delayed flight. In order to avoid missing a flight, it is best to book those multi-stop itineraries with one airline or at least one airline and all of its codeshares. That way if your flight is delayed on one leg, you won’t have to worry about being rebooked or having to pay for another airline’s problem.
Intentionally Book Long-ish Layovers
When we travel, we want to get where we’re going quickly. But the savvy traveler knows that a little patience can pay off in the big, scary world of air travel. Most people think that a layover only needs to be 45 minutes to an hour long to ensure ample time to make a connecting flight. You actually need 2 hours — especially if you’re using two different airlines — to allow for any extra time to change planes. And that’s only for domestic tips without any special needs, like wheelchair assistance or service. If you have something like that, it should be 3 hours. And if you’re flying internationally, your layover should be even longer.
Don’t Forget About Customs
Many travelers get tripped up and miss flights because they don’t calculate having to deal with customs on their layover. Some flyers seem to think that they only have to go through customs when they’re leaving the airport, but if you’re changing from an international flight to a domestic flight, you’ll have to go through customs during your layover. The process can take over an hour in some airports and maybe even longer during busy times of the year or if there’s an unforeseen issue. And missing international connections can be the most costly in both money and time. So, it’s best to leave 4 hours in between any connecting flights that are international.
Avoid the Final Flight of the Day
Everything in life has a beginning and an end. This can be a harsh reality when it comes to air travel. Booking cheap flights late in the day can be risky. The benefit of booking early flights is that you’ll have backup flight options if you happen to miss your original connection. Many airlines operate multiple flights between two cities during a given day and can accommodate you on a later flight to your destination if you miss a connection. If you just aren’t a morning person and choose the final flight of the day, and something goes wrong, you’re in for a disappointment. The only thing you’re going to get on in your connecting city is a shuttle bus to a hotel.
Try to Book Seats in the Front of the Plane
Sometimes, every second can make a difference when something has gone wrong and you’re rushing to make a connecting flight. A simple but effective way to buy yourself those precious seconds is to try to book seats in the front of the plane on your first flight. We’ve all experienced the frustration of waiting to get off a packed plane. No matter how efficient everyone is (and they often aren’t), it can take a long time for you to get off if you’re sitting in the back. Booking seats in the front will save you the hassle of waiting for slow people with all the time in the world to get moving so you can make your next flight.
Download and Study a Map of the Airport
Knowledge is power. And knowing the layout of your connecting airport can be a timesaver in your quest to make it to your connecting flight. When studying the map of the terminal, take note of the location of your connection gate as it relates to the rest of the airport. You can also look for details about what people moving services the airport offers, such as trains between terminals or moving sidewalks. Pay attention as your inbound plane taxis to the gate on arrival. You can often spot your arrival gate number from outside as the pilot eases in. This will help you assess where you are so you can plan your journey to where you need to go.
Know of any other advice on how to never miss a connecting flight? Tell us about it in the comments below!