Tips for Making Tight Connections

Unless you live in an air transport mecca like New York, London or Dubai, making stops when you travel is an unfortunate fact of nomadic life. Although airlines do their best to schedule flights into banks to ensure optimal connection time for the majority of passengers, it is possible that you may have an hour (or even less) to make your next connection.

The good news is that if you miss your connecting flight, the airline takes responsibility for booking you on the next one. The bad news is that you often have to fly standby, which means you do not know for sure whether you have made it on the flight until you are talking through the boarding door.

Making Overbooked Flights Work in Your Favor

Hate having to fly standby when you miss a connection? Make sure you don’t miss your scheduled flight in the first place with these helpful pointers.

Move Fast
It should go without saying, but the faster you move, the more likely you are to make your connecting flight. But moving fast doesn’t stop at walking briskly through the terminal, although that is very important. Grab your belongings as soon as the captain turns the seatbelt off and be the first one from your row in the aisle – don’t waste time getting off the plane. Once inside the terminal, proceed directly to your boarding gate.

Be Prepared
Have the boarding pass for your next flight printed and readily available. If you unpacked your bags, re-pack them completely before the end of the flight and place them in an easy-to-reach spot. If you’re making an international connection, fill out immigration documents in advance – and, if you’re landing in the United States, sign up for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which lets you bypass immigration lines completely.

Flight Cancelled? 5 Tips to Get on the Next Flight

Don’t Check Luggage
This is essential if your connection requires you to exit security, such as if you’re connecting in a foreign country. It usually takes a minimum of 10 minutes for bags to begin dropping onto the conveyor belt – and that’s if you’re lucky. By packing everything you need into carry-on bags – remember, most airlines allow one carry-on and one small personal item, you save yourself the hassle of waiting for checked luggage.

Use Transfer Desks
Although many foreign governments require passengers who transit through their airports to clear customs and immigration prior to boarding their next flights, others offer Transfer Desks that allow connecting passengers to proceed simply by re-clearing security. Thailand and the United Arab Emirates are two examples. Ask the gate agent who meets your flight if transfer services are available at your destination airport.

Ask If You Don’t Know
One of the most common reasons people miss connecting flights is that they turn up at the wrong gate. Even if your connecting gate is printed on your boarding pass, verify that it is still correct, either with a gate agent or at information monitors in the terminal. If you don’t know the quickest way to get to your gate, ask any airline or airport employee to tell you the best route.


About the author

Robert Schrader is a travel writer/photographer and editor of the blog Leave Your Daily Hell, your source for destination information, travel photos, practical travel advice and inspirational travel essays. Robert’s writing and photography has been published on websites such as CNNGo, Tripping and Shanghaiist and in print publications like That’s Shanghai and East & West magazines. Robert’s travels have thus far taken him to more than 40 countries and to all six inhabited continents. Follow the Twitter feed, “Like” the Facebook page or add Robert to one of your Google+ circles.


Published: January 30, 2012