If you don’t have a lot of experience dealing with connecting flights, having a short layover can be a bit nerve-racking. Many travelers wonder whether or not 50 minutes to one hour will be enough time to make it to their connecting flight.
I’ve flown on many connecting flights including those with a one hour layover and so I’ll tell you everything that you need to know based on all my first-hand experiences. I’ll also provide you with some tips when dealing with short layovers.
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Is a 1 hour layover enough time for a connecting flight?
Yes, one hour is enough time for a layover when making a connecting flight in many airports. However, if you are flying from a destination known to have delays or flying international you may want to choose a flight that allows for more time.
Let’s take a look at some of the major factors you should consider.
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Same itinerary or different itinerary?
Your biggest concern when dealing with a one hour layover is whether or not your reservation is on the same itinerary or different itineraries.
Being on the same itinerary means that whenever you view your booking, you see all of your connecting flights listed together (even if they are on different airlines or codeshares).
Different itineraries means that you made separate bookings for your flights and you essentially designed the connection.
If something happens and you miss your connection when your flights are on the same itinerary, the airline that caused the delay should work with you to either offer you a refund or find you another flight.
On the other hand, if you miss your connection because your flight on a separate itinerary was late, you may not have any recourse at all.
That’s why I strongly recommend against going with a one hour connection if your flights are on different itineraries. You could end up out of luck and out of money.
Another thing to consider is that if you book a connection with the same airline there’s a good chance that your connecting flight will be in the same terminal.
For example, on a recent connecting flight with Alaska Airlines our connecting flight was only a couple of gates over which meant that it only took a few minutes to get to the boarding area for the next flight.
But if you book separate itineraries with different airlines your connecting flight might be at a completely different terminal.
That might mean that you need to walk an extended distance or even ride a tram to get to your connecting flight. In some cases, you might even have to go through security once again.
Related: Are Airlines Responsible for Missing Connecting Flights?
Minimum connection times (MCT)
A minimum connection time (MCT) is the minimum amount of time you have in order to make a successful connection at an airport.
You can generally find how much time you need for a connection by searching for minimum connection times (MCT) for specific airports on forums like Flyertalk.
A lot of factors can determine the MCT such as the layout and specific procedures of an airport as well as the day of the week, etc.
Therefore, it’s not always so black-and-white as to whether or not your connection time would be under the minimum connection time. This is why you want to book your connecting flight on the same itinerary.
An airline is not (or at least should not if things are working properly) sell you itineraries that force you to make a connection under the minimum connection time.
Tips for dealing with a one hour connection time
Below are a number of tips that should help you deal with a one hour connection time.
Get help from the airline if you can
One thing to note is that some alliances have agreements in place to facilitate connections when the connection is going to be tight.
For example, the Star Alliancehas a team/serviceto help you make your connections at airports including:
- Frankfurt (FRA)
- Munich (MUC)
- London Heathrow (LHR)
- Chicago (ORD)
- Denver (DEN)
- Houston (IAH)
- New York- Newark (EWR)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Toronto (YYZ)
Furthermore, if your original flight is delayed and you’re flying the same airline/itinerary, the airline will probably hold the door open a little bit longer if it is practical for you to still make it to the gate in time.
This is especially true if there are multiple passengers connecting from that delayed flight. I recall a Southwest flight where they waited several minutes for a dozen or so passengers to arrive.
So it might give you a little bit of peace of mind to know that airlines are willing to help you out in these cases.
Purchase first class or upgrade to economy plus
If you purchase a first class ticket you will likely be among the first to board and also the first to get off the plane.
Being able to exit the plane first can save you several minutes which can be very valuable whenever you are cutting things close.
If you’re not able to purchase a first class ticket then consider upgrading to something like an economy plus ticket.
With a ticket like that, you can get extra legroom and even other perks sometimes like free alcohol. But in this situation with a one hour layover the big perk is being able to exit the plane quickly.
Related: Is Business Class Worth It? (What to Look for)
Get familiar with the airport map before you depart
Whenever you print your boarding pass and you have connections you may be able to see the exact gate that you will be landing at and also the gate where your connecting flight will be departing from.
Some airlines even send you a special email to help you navigate the connection so be sure to check your inbox whenever you land. (You can also often see this in the airline’s app.)
If you know where your connecting flight will be departing from then you can do a quick Google search and pull up the map of the airport to get a sense of where you need to go.
If you are unsure about how long it will take you to get where you need to go, just ask someone that works for the airline how long it will take you to get to your desired gate as soon as you enter the airport and they should be able to help.
Don’t book one of the last flights of the day
If you’re going to be potentially cutting things close with a one hour layover, you don’t want to book the last flight of the night. That’s because if your flight happens to be delayed your only option might be to wait until the next morning to fly out.
This could cause you to have to book a hotel or if you can’t do that having to essentially spend the night at the airport.
Related: 19 Ideas on What To Do When Bored at the Airport
Pre-purchase snacks for your second flight
When dealing with a short layover, you may not have time to wait in line or to wait for your food to be prepared when ordering from one of the restaurants inside the airport.
For that reason, it is a good idea to bring some snacks with you so that you will not be starving on the plane or pressured to cut things way too close.
If you are flying first class, you’ll probably receive a meal or some snacks so those can hold you over.
Go to the bathroom towards the end of your flight
Just like hunger, having to go to the bathroom when rushing to make a connection can make matters much worse.
It can also slow you down and if you are dealing with any kind of delay on a one hour layover, every minute counts.
So my advice is to go to the bathroom right before or whenever it’s announced that you need to put your seat back in its normal position and get ready for landing.
Optimize your luggage situation
Flights will generally start to board about 30 to 40 minutes prior to departure. This means that when you only have 60 minutes on a layover you may not arrive when boarding starts.
That could mean you boarding with one of the last boarding groups and missing out on valuable overhead storage bin space.
To avoid having to check your carry-on bag and dealing with all of the stress that comes with it, consider minimizing your carry-ons.
Speaking of your luggage, you also always want to verify that your luggage would not have to be picked up at your connecting airport.
For your typical domestic flight, your luggage will arrive at your final destination so you won’t have to worry about picking it up on your layover.
If you’re flying with different airlines you can inquire about interline baggage agreements.
This is when airlines (including non-partners) will allow your baggage to go through to your final destination sometimes even on connecting flights that are not part of the same itinerary.
I’ve done this a few times in the past but one of the times I did it my luggage was lost so I try to avoid it.
Still, this could be a lifesaver in some situations especially when you only have one hour to make your connecting flight.
Consider the weather
Certain destinations are known for weather delays.
For example, if you were flying in January through the Northeast, there is a chance you might be dealing with a snowstorm.
If you’re flying out of Southeast Alaska during the summer or rainy season, there may be fog or low lying clouds that delays your flight.
Try to avoid booking tight connections when there is a decent chance of a weather delay.
Give yourself more time for international flights
Under ideal conditions, you could make a one hour connection work on an international flight, especially if you have something like Global Entry, no checked baggage, etc.
However, in a lot of cases you may not be able to make your international flight.
That is because in a lot of cases such as whenever you land back in the US, you will have to go through customs and immigration and then also go back through security once again.
If the airport is a madhouse then getting through all of those and collecting your bag and re-checking it could easily take over one hour and you could miss your connection.
Get TSA Pre-Check
TSA Pre-Check can help dramatically with getting you through the airport efficiently.
There are quite a few benefits to the program that allow for more convenient travel through airports.
First, you often only have to pass through a traditional metal detector (as opposed to the invasive full-body scanners) and you also get to enjoy the following benefits:
- Shoes can stay on
- Belt can stay on
- Light jackets can stay on
- Laptops allowed to stay in bag
- Liquids (3-1-1 Rule) can stay in bag
If you ever find yourself having to go through security in order to board your connecting flight this could shave off a good 10 minutes or more in some cases. Again, every minute counts sometimes.
What to do if you miss your connecting flight
If you happen to miss your connection on a one hour layover, don’t panic.
If you have all of your flights on a single itinerary you just need to approach a desk for that airline and let them know about your situation.
They should be able to start working on a solution for you immediately.
If you want to help speed things up you can actually start to search for other flights that could work and that might expedite the situation since you can offer proposed flights to change to.
If your flights are on different itineraries there is a very high chance that the airline will tell you that they cannot do anything for you.
If you are arriving within two hours of your departure you can request that they use the “flat tire rule” which is sort of an unofficial rule that allows passengers to get placed on flights or standby whenever they miss their flights.
This will probably be your only solution other than purchasing a walk up fare which could potentially be much more expensive.
A one hour layover should allow you to make your connection on a domestic flight without any issues in the majority of cases.
If there is a substantial delay to your original flight then you might run into some trouble but even then a lot of times you can still make your connection.
If you are flying on an international flight and having to go through baggage claim, customs, immigration, and security, then a one hour layover is almost certainly a bad idea.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.
If you can't avoid connecting, don't book the shortest layover, because you'll be building in stress and the possibility of missing your flight. A 1-hour layover is not enough anymore. Thirty minutes, not a chance. In most cases, 3 hours is safe.Is 1 hour too short for a layover? ›
Mayers recommends two hours as a standard buffer between flights to be safe. This gives you a cushion in case things go wrong during your journey. You'll definitely want at least a two-hour window if you've booked a “hacker fare,” as opposed to flying with the same airline your entire trip.What is the minimum layover time for connecting flights? ›
For peace of mind, particularly when connecting in a large city, try to schedule a layover of at least 60 minutes. If you have gate-checked items or are traveling with someone with special needs, extend your connection time to 90 minutes if possible.What happens if your layover is too short? ›
The airline will simply put you onto the next available flight, free of charge. No need to worry uselessly.What happens if I miss my connecting flight due to delay? ›
If you miss your connection booked with the same airline that your were on for your first flight, and the issue is due to a delayed take off or anything else that's in the hands of your airline, it's the airline's responsibility to rebook you on the next available flight.Is a 45 minute layover okay? ›
Usually 45 minutes is enough, unless you have special circumstances such as health/mobility issues, traveling with small children, tendency to get lost, etc. Personally I try to get layovers 1.5 hours long so I'll have time to grab a quick meal, use the washroom, and shop.What happens if you miss your flight? ›
Most airlines will classify you as a "no-show" and keep your money. Note that your return flight will also be canceled automatically. If you contact the carrier before the flight departs, you may be able to get a partial ticket credit depending on the kind of ticket you have.What is American airlines minimum connection time? ›
American's 25-minute minimum connection time in Austin
Airlines all publish minimum connection times (MCT). As the name suggests, this is the minimum amount of time that you need to plan for a connection at an airport, as an airline won't sell you a shorter connection than that.
If the airline you are traveling has issued a ticket with 40 minutes connecting time, yes indeed that's sufficient. Different airports have different minimum connecting times or M C T.What is the minimum connecting flight? ›
There is no one-size-fits-all answer here, it can vary greatly from one airport to another. Some international airports have a minimum connecting time as low as 30 minutes. But usually, when traveling internationally, the MCT is at least an hour. It can go up to 2 hours in large airports requiring a change of terminal.
So yes, it can be done. However, you need to consider the nature of the connection. If it's from a domestic to an international flight, chances are, you have to switch terminals so you may have to go through security again.What is minimum connection time? ›
What are MCTs? A Minimum Connection Time is the amount of transfer time, agreed in advance between airlines and airport authorities, that is considered sufficient for a passenger to make a connection between an arriving flight and a departing flight.Is 30 minutes enough time to catch a connecting flight Delta? ›
Is that enough time to get off and catch the next flight? Minimum connection time for a Delta-Delta domestic connection is 30 minutes, so it is legal. Both of your gates should be on the A concourse so easily doable unless you are late inbound, stuck way at the back, or have mobility issues.Do airlines delay flights for connecting passengers? ›
Re: Do airlines hold flights for connecting passengers? For a single passenger, typically not. However in a situation like you mentioned, where they can see that a large group of passengers is connecting from a single fIight, then they sometimes will.Who pays if you miss a connecting flight? ›
If you missed your flight connection due to your previous flight being delayed or canceled, you will likely be booked on the next flight free of charge. The airline is also required to provide you with care, including food, refreshments, and access to communication.Do airlines know if your connecting flight is delayed? ›
They usually won't. However, if the delay is due to crew, mechanical problems, etc., then they will provide a hotel room for you if you miss the connection. In either case, they'll rebook you on the first flight with an available seat the next day.Is 1 hour 30 minutes layover enough? ›
Yes, one hour is enough time for a layover when making a connecting flight in many airports. However, if you are flying from a destination known to have delays or flying international you may want to choose a flight that allows for more time.Is 40 minutes enough time for a connecting flight in DFW? ›
What is the minimum connection time for domestic flights at DFW? As I've already mentioned, a connection time of 40 minutes is about as low as you can get at DFW. The problem is that it's a huge airport, and even when taking advantage of the inter-terminal train, it takes a while to get from one end to the other.Will my bags make my connection? ›
If you're flying on separate tickets, yes you will have to collect your bags and re-check in. However, if you're flying on a single ticket your bags will be transferred directly to your connecting flight even if you're flying a different airline.Can you get a free flight if you miss your flight? ›
Many airlines will let you standby for a later flight for free if you miss your flight, whether under the airline's standby policy or otherwise. It's always worth explaining your situation and asking the gate agent to add you to the waitlist if they can't confirm you on the next flight.
Is it better to cancel a flight or be a no-show? If you know you can't make a scheduled flight, it's better to cancel your flight rather than be a no-show. If you cancel, you might receive a partial or whole credit for the fare purchased, to be applied to a future flight.Do you lose your money if you miss a flight? ›
Most airlines aren't obligated to help if you miss your flight. That could leave you out some serious cash if you have to rebook, in addition to the lost funds from your original ticket.Does American Airlines wait for connecting passengers? ›
The outbound flight will only wait if both flights are on the same airline, the outbound flight is very long and infrequent, and there are many passengers transferring from the same inbound flight.Why are American Airlines wait times so long? ›
Long telephone hold times are the new normal when trying to reach an airline. They shed reservations agents during the pandemic. At American Airlines reservations agents were moved to the airport. And today's travelers - predominantly leisure customers - call the airline more than business travelers did.Is American Airlines always on time? ›
10. American Airlines (78.29% punctuality; 1,076,100 flights).Is 40 minutes enough time for a layover in Chicago? ›
If you're connecting on the same airline, in the same terminal, then yes, it should be enough time. Check first the airline's and flight's on-time record. If you need to change airlines, and terminals, it could be tight.How long will a connecting flight wait for you? ›
Although it's difficult to say exactly how much time should be left between connecting flights, you should always try to have at least an hour for domestic connecting flights and at least two hours for international connecting flights.How long will an airline wait for you? ›
While flights have a scheduled departure time, there is an unwritten final-boarding rule. The gate agent will often close the door to the plane 10 minutes before departure, which, depending on what side of the door you're on, can either mean a huge sigh of relief or a delayed or even ruined trip.Is 45 minutes enough for a connecting flight? ›
As a rule of thumb, on domestic routes, you need a minimum of 45 minutes between flights. That's because you don't have to go through security, customs, and immigration.How can I make a connecting flight faster? ›
- Know the minimum connection time required at your airport.
- Fly on a single ticket when you need to connect flights.
- Stick to one airline or alliance on a connection.
- Avoid two-ticket trips when connecting flights.
- Pad your schedule.
- Avoid the last connection.
40 minutes is almost never enough time for a layover in Atlanta. Even if you arrive right on time, and your next flight is one gate over from your incoming flight, the Atlanta airport's ability to transfer baggage from one plane to another very often exceeds 40 minutes.Do airlines wait for connecting passengers? ›
No, if your first flight is delayed and you won't make it in time to catch your connecting flight, the plane won't wait for you. However, if you're travelling on a through-ticket, the airline must rebook you on their next available flight to your destination, provided that there are seats available.