One question I get a lot from readers is how much time to leave between connecting flights. It’s a great question and in the past few years, the recommended time has changed dramatically. Ever since the pandemic, airlines and airports have cut capacity and staff so it’s more important than ever to make sure you don’t miss your flight. There are now fewer flights and more passengers traveling, which is not a great combo for the traveling public. RELATED: 10 Things You Should Assume About Every Flight You Take

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What this means if you miss your flight is that you might not be able to get on the next one like in the “old” days. In fact, you could be stuck for days, depending on the airline you’re flying and your destination. And if you’re traveling with multiple people in your party, there’s a very good chance you won’t be sitting together. RELATED: 8 Hacks For Getting the Best Coach Seat on a Plane.

For this reason, you really want to avoid flights with a connection whenever possible. In some small markets and for certain destinations, this may be impossible. But if you’re choosing to make a connection because you’re going to save a few dollars, then I would consider splurging for the reasons listed above.

However, if you’ve read my 17 ways to find cheap flights and decide to make a connection that is going to you hundreds or thousands of dollars, then by all means roll the dice. Just do it smartly.

One way is to not check bags because having a connection not only increases the chances of you misconnecting but your checked bags missing the connection as well. PRO TIP: If you do check a bag, pop an Apple AirTag or Samsung SmartTag in it so you can track your bags yourself. But the most important thing you can do to be a savvy traveler when you’re making a connection is to leave plenty of time in between flights.

If you’ve been following along with my family’s epic summer trip to Europe, then you know that for our flight out of Italy to Toronto (YYZ), I had a few options. We were on the island of Ischia, which is off the coast of Naples, near Capri. There’s no airport on the island so one option, after taking the ferry back to Naples, was to take the train to Rome and fly nonstop from there. But it was much more expensive and just too much schlepping for my little kids, ages six and three.

The flights from Naples (NAP) were cheaper but they required a stop somewhere. Our best option was flying Lufthansa via Munich (MUC) but I had a choice: Either spend the night in Ischia, then take the ferry in the morning to make a 1pm flight to MUC or leave Ischia the night before, get a hotel on the mainland and take the early flight at 6:20am.

You’re probably thinking the no-brainer is the first choice but what I didn’t mention is that the 1pm flight had just a 50-minute connection. That’s way too risky in 2023. Actually, it’s way too risky even pre-pandemic.

So we did the latter and had a couple of mini-adventures, which pretty much ensured we’d make our connection. FYI: Our mini adventures included spending the night in Naples and eating some great food and then having an eight-hour layover in Munich, where we got a day room at the airport and went into the city center to grab lunch so my kids could (literally) get a taste of Germany.

I’m not the only travel expert who knows it’s better to leave plenty of time in between flights.

Peter Greenberg, CBS News Travel Editor says: “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. But here’s what they won’t tell you: The airport considers three hours a legal connection time for your checked bags. Do the math. Give yourself a three-hour connection, no matter what the airline says.”

Scott Keyes, founder of, told Travel + Leisure, “Every airport has a minimum connection time (MCT), and an airline won’t book you on a layover below that amount.” However, MCTs can vary within an airport. As an example, he notes that “the MCT at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) is 40 minutes for domestic flights and 50 minutes for international flights.” Those times may not be enough, especially if you’re traveling with a lot of baggage, have children, need to change terminals, or just don’t feel like having to sprint to your next flight.

As Scott mentions, there are a lot of variables when it comes to booking connection times so you need to do your research. If you have baggage, are traveling with children or adults who can’t run, need to change terminals, or have to clear customs or security again, you will need more time.

You’ll also want to find out how frequently your airline services your destination. If they’re only flying where you’re going once a week, don’t even think about a short layover. If they have multiple flights a day and you’re not in a big hurry to get to your destination, then you can be a little riskier.

Just remember: Airplanes are going out at or near capacity so if you miss a connection, you will need to hope that some of your fellow passengers misconnect in order for you to find a vacant seat, which just isn’t a sound strategy.


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1 Comment On "How Long Should a Layover Be When Booking a Connecting Flight?"
  1. Kristin Zern|

    IBeria flies from Boston to Madrid daily leaving at 5:20pm. Most people aren’t flying to Madrid rather they are taking a connecting flight to another destination in Spain and beyond. Arrival of IB 6166 is due to arrive in Madrid at 6:00 am if it’s on time. Then a person has to get on immigration line, security line and change terminals. Most connecting flights leave Madrid at 7-7:10pm. There simply isn’t enough time to get to one’s connecting flight and as Johnny Jet says don’t think you can rebook to another flight that day, if there is one. IBeria used to make connecting times at at least 1:30 hours but now they are down to 50-60 minutes. IBerias website allows you to book connecting flights under 60minutes although their agents on the phone say it’s impossible to accomplish.

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