Is 3 hours enough for a connecting flight?
Now a days with the variety of flights you can choose from to get you to your destination and the variability in prices, people have been opting for the less expensive flights with a layover. Flying on domestic flights US based airlines make it really easy to choose your departure airport and destination airport and will give you options of layover cities. Thanks to code sharing between airlines, we don’t have to book with multiple airlines and pay the taxes and fees twice, you can book with one airline but you may be traveling on two or three different airlines. Even though you are dealing with multiple airlines, the original airline that you booked the flights with is responsible to get you to your final destination no matter what.
When you are traveling internationally this code sharing between airlines doesn’t always occur, especially if you are looking to fly a particular airline or into specific destinations. I recently had two clients fly to Italy and they wanted to fly on a certain airline out of a specific airport. Unfortunately, that airline no longer flew to the city in Italy that they were visiting. I had to get them into Rome on one airline and then booked them on another airline to their final destination. That is right, two bookings on two separate airlines. If you miss the connecting flight, unfortunately it is on you. So how do you know how much time to leave for connecting flights when you have booked with two separate airlines?
The rule of thumb is that you leave AT LEAST 3 hours from arrival to departure for international flights and 1.5 hours for domestic. You still have to get your bags, clear customs, re-check your bags and then go through security for your next flight. All of this can take a couple of hours. Also, there is always mother nature we have to worry about too. She can delay your flight which will delay your arrival.
Now if you are flying internationally, flights back to the United States only have one or two departure times per day. You don’t want to miss that last 4pm flight back home because if you do then the next flight is the next day.
If you do decide to be on the safe side and take the flight itinerary with the longer layover, you may want to mill around for a couple of hours in the airport. Go shopping, eat something, have some coffee, or wear yourself down so you can get some rest. Consider purchasing the airline’s lounge pass. They have areas where you can get some rest, and recharge your cell phone and other smart devices. This can really be well worth the money, especially if you were unable to sleep on that overnight flight and your connecting flight is another couple of hours. Drinks, food, and a nice chair or couch to spread out on for a few hours can really recharge you.
Remember with connecting flights, you may think that you can make it to the next flight no problem, and you may just be able to do it. But throw in some obstacles like slow people deplaning, long security lines, concourse changes, customs, and security and you will miss your flight. Be on the safe side and give yourself extra time. Life is Better Traveling when we are relaxed and on-time.
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