Airplanes have become a popular transport means for many reasons—including their relative safety, speed, comfort, and reliability over other means of transportation. However, flying on an airplane can seem somewhat technical to some people, and it’s not uncommon to have questions about how airlines work. For example, it’s pretty normal to ask if connecting flights will wait for late passengers, especially if you’ve never used one.
No acceptable time for a passenger ...
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Airlines will not wait for connecting passengers. Waiting would likely disrupt other passengers’ schedules and may cause them to miss their appointments. However, the airline may book another flight for the late passenger or put them in a hotel for the night if there are no planes available.
Some airlines may wait in rare cases—although there is no way of knowing if they will since it’s not part of any airline’s operating procedure. But there’s no need to fret if you miss a connecting flight—lots of people do! And in this article, I’m going to give you a rundown of the essential things you should know about connecting flights.
What Should You Do if You Miss a Connecting Flight?
Connecting flights are pretty standard in air travel, and you can easily book one using an airline’s website. The flights are generally cheaper than direct flights, but they typically take more time to get you to your destination, and you need to get off one plane and get on another to complete your journey. You might be tempted to panic if you miss a connecting flight, but there’s no need to since there are guidelines on handling the situation.
If you miss your connecting flight, contact the airline as soon as possible. Although you can reach out to them using their website, I’d advise you to call their local number. You can also talk to gate agents if you’re at the airport, and they’ll help you figure out what to do.
Airlines have a wait time for connecting flights, and it’s typically at least 30 minutes for local flights and two hours for international flights. However, the actual wait time depends on the flight you’re on and the airport’s schedule. You can check the minimum wait time—called a Minimum Connecting Time (MCT)—by consulting your travel itinerary or the airline’s website.
I recommend you contact the airline for assistance if you miss a flight—whether it’s the main or the connecting flight. They usually expect a couple of connecting passengers to be late, and most airlines will put you on another flight for free. The airline may also put you in a hotel for the night and book you a new flight if there are no flights to your destination.
However, you may need to pay additional fees in some cases, especially if you missed the flight due to personal reasons. Still, airlines generally treat passengers that miss their connecting flights reasonably well, and you may only pay a fraction of the cost if you’re booking a new ticket.
Remember to be friendly to the airline workers when you contact them, even if the delay was out of your control or even the airline’s fault.
Do Connecting Passengers Have To Go Through Airport Security Again?
The aviation industry might seem like a complicated group of elaborate airlines, mind-boggling flying machines, and complex routes in the sky, but airplanes work in much the same way as more straightforward modes of transport do. They function like buses, complete with waiting times—called layovers—and connecting flights. However, do you have to go through the hassle of airport security if you’re a connecting passenger?
Connecting passengers don’t have to go through airport security during a layover, especially if it’s a local flight. However, some international flights might require you to go through security checks again, but it’s pretty uncommon. Ultimately, it depends on the airline and the airport’s policy.
It’s more common to go through security as a connecting passenger if your layover is at an airport with separate security checkpoints for each terminal. These airports usually do not have connected terminals, so they may check all passengers joining a flight—connecting or otherwise—to ensure that everything and everyone is in order.
Still, security checks for connecting passengers are pretty rare as the airlines expect they would have to go through security at their departure airport.
I recommend reaching out to the airline or asking the airport agents for help if you have a connecting flight and are unsure of the security policy for connecting passengers. They can help you so you can carefully plan your journey.
Tips for Making a Connecting Flight
You can miss a connecting flight for various reasons—including a faulty alarm, departure delays, technical issues, or even plain bad luck. And even though missing a connecting flight can disrupt your schedule, you don’t have to worry too much about it. Still, I expect you’d like to always make your connecting flights, so here are a few tips on how to do that:
- Ensure you learn how long your airport requires for a Minimum Connection Time (MCT). MCTs vary for different flights, airports, and airlines. Knowing the needed waiting time at your connecting airport will help you plan your trip more efficiently.
- Book flights with more extended layovers so you can allow for delays. You can personalize your connecting flights to an extent, and you may be tempted to book flights with short layovers. However, booking a flight with a longer layover will enable you to fly with the comfort that you’ll make your next flight even if there are delays.
- Buy a single ticket for connecting flights. You may be tempted to use a self-connecting flight or buy two tickets for your trip, but it’s usually not worth the extra stress, even if it might be cheaper. Flying on a single ticket will help you get through terminals quicker and ensure your journey is more comfortable.
- Ensure your seat is as close to the front of the plane as possible. You may have to pay extra, but sitting close to the exit of your first flight can help you save significant time when deplaning.
Here’s what happens if you miss your international flight.
Airlines will not wait for connecting passengers, but they’ll make provisions for you if you contact them. Most airlines will put you on the next available flight or put you in a hotel if there’s no available flight left for the day. Missing a connecting flight doesn’t have to be stressful, and you can successfully reach your destination if you follow the tips in this article.
- Skycop: 5 Great Reasons To Travel By Air
- Claim Compass: Minimum Connecting Time: How to Enforce Your Right to Compensation
- National Geographic: As Billions More Fly, Here’s How Aviation Could Evolve
- To70: Self-connect; a new way of connecting flights?
- Alternative Airlines: A Guide to Connecting Flights
- Tripadvisor: Will airlines wait for transferring passengers?
- Travel Stack Exchange: Will the airline wait for me if my incoming flight is delayed (same airline)?
- Vox: Airlines don’t usually hold connecting flights for delayed passengers. That could be changing.
- Scott’s Cheap Flights: What is a Connecting Flight?
- AirHelp: Missed Your Connecting Flight? Here’s What to Do
- Momondo: How to book the best connecting flights for your next trip
- Quora: How do I book connecting flights on different airlines?
- USA Today: Tips for making a connecting flight
- Smarter Travel: Tight Airport Connections: What You Need to Know About Making a Connecting Flight
Linda Jones is a professional travel advisor, author of Travel Agent Secrets and The Ultimate Travel Planner + Journal, and founder of Crafted Travel Company. She has helped thousands of people plan better vacations and travel more.
Do airlines wait if you have a connecting flight? ›
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.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.How long will a plane wait for connecting passengers? ›
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.What happens if airline makes me miss connecting flight? ›
Missing a Connection with the Same Airline
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.
In most cases, a 30-minute layover for domestic flights and an hour for international flights is considered a minimum, or short, layover.What is it called when you have to wait for a connecting flight? ›
A layover is a broad term that means any connection between flights. This could include a stop as short as 30 minutes (depending upon the airport) or as long as four hours (or up to 23 hours and 59 minutes on international flights).How do I avoid missing connecting flights? ›
- Avoid Booking Several Different Airlines on One Itinerary. ...
- Intentionally Book Long-ish Layovers. ...
- Don't Forget About Customs. ...
- Avoid the Final Flight of the Day. ...
- Try to Book Seats in the Front of the Plane. ...
- Download and Study a Map of the Airport.
Depending on where you're headed, anywhere from 2% to 8% of passengers miss their flight. But there are ways to fix the problem and get to your destination.What to do if you have a short layover? ›
- Change your flight. ...
- Change your seat. ...
- Pack up your carry-on. ...
- Travel carry-on only. ...
- Ask for your connecting gate. ...
- Look at the airport map. ...
- Don't make any stops in the airport. ...
- Wear comfortable shoes.
American: Reported to be 25 minutes. Delta: 30-minute minimum connection time. Southwest: At least 30 minutes if you have checked bags. United: 30-minute minimum for domestic, 60 minutes for international.
What is the rule of connecting flight? ›
How do flight connections work? Generally, if you are on an internal flight, once you land for your stopover, you will pass through the transfer area that will take you to the gate for your next flight where check-in is not required. Your bags will be passed on to the next flight without you having to pick them.What is minimum connecting time? ›
Minimum connect time (MCT) is defined as the shortest time interval required to transfer a passenger and their luggage from one flight to a connecting flight.Will my luggage make it with a 40 minute layover? ›
There is never any guarantee that bags will make a connection, but a longer layover does increase the chances. A 53-minute connection will work under normal circumstances, but your chances would be far better will an additional hour or so, especially if your first flight is slightly delayed.Can you make a connecting flight in 50 minutes? ›
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.Can you make a connecting flight in 40 minutes? ›
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. It's decided by looking at the infrastructure, distance between terminals and other things.Is the a difference between a layover and connecting flight? ›
What is the difference between a layover and connecting flight? While these terms are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. A layover is the time you spend at the airport between two flights. A connecting flight is the next flight in your itinerary that you're waiting at the airport to take.What is the longest layover allowed? ›
A layover is a connection that lasts no longer than 4 hours for domestic flights and no longer than 24 hours for International flights. Layovers are fairly common, especially overnight layovers, but usually they aren't long enough to benefit you.What airport has the most missed flights? ›
Conversation. : Ibiza airport has the most missed flights in the world. #FACT”.What happens if my flight is delayed and I miss my connection Delta? ›
We will rebook you on the next available flight on Delta at no additional cost. If a Delta flight is unavailable, we will arrange an alternative flight operated by another airline with which we have a ticketing agreement at no additional cost.How much is too little time for a layover? ›
Two hours. 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.
How do I know if my luggage will be transferred? ›
To be certain about baggage transfers on your itinerary, you'll need to reach out to the airline directly before your departure. It's also advised to verify this information with an airline agent at the airport check-in counter, and check that your baggage tags have the final destination airport printed on them.What to expect during a layover? ›
In general, if you're on a domestic flight, once you land for your layover, you'll pass through a transfer area that will take you to the gate for your next flight without having to check in again. Your bags will automatically pass through to the next flight without you having to collect them.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.Is 1hr 45 enough for connecting flights? ›
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.What happens if your connection is late? ›
If a delay in your first flight is the reason you're missing your connection, don't worry too much. Usually, most airlines will rebook you on the next flight, and that too for free. Although, you might have to fly on standby depending on seat availability. Some airlines, in fact, automatically rebook you.What connection time is too short? ›
My rule: never let the airline book you a domestic connection of less than 90 minutes. If they do, you stand an excellent chance of missing your flight, your bags being lost—or both. Overseas it's even worse. A legal connecting time at London's Heathrow Airport is two hours.Is a 1 hour connection enough? ›
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.What happens if your flight is delayed and you miss your connecting flight southwest? ›
Southwest will find you another trip to your destination and reimburse your original ticket price if you miss your connecting flight due to an irregular operation, such as a flight delay or cancellation on Southwest's part.Which airlines have the most delays and cancellations? ›
Which US airlines are the worst about delays and cancellations?
|Delta Air Lines|
What if i missed my connecting flight due to Delta flight delays? If you miss your connecting flight due to your first Delta flight being delayed, you may be eligible for missed connection compensation. In order to qualify for this compensation BOTH flights must be booked under the same booking number (PNR).
How long can an airline delay you? ›
Since the duration of a flight delay can vary depending upon the reason for the delay, there is no time limit for how long a flight can be delayed. For example, once a flight was amazingly delayed by bees for up to four hours until a beekeeper was called to resolve the situation.Does Southwest wait for connecting passengers? ›
Generally, Southwest and other air carriers may delay flights to accommodate connecting passengers who are delayed but other factors may interfere with this general practice, such as delays that may interfere with other customers' itineraries.