Flying is difficult these days and unless you are lucky enough to fly direct to your destination you will have to book a connecting flight through another city. Anytime there is a connecting flight you are likely to have problems getting to your destination. Airlines contribute to this problem in many ways but the first problem can occur when you are booking your flight.
When booking a flight from one city to another the airlines will give you all options available to get to your destination. This is the part of the process where you can minimize any problems. When booking you will be shown a grid of the flights and the times. The problem is that many times the connection time is not long enough to allow you to get to your next flight. It is common for the booking screen to show you connecting times of thirty minutes or less. Unless your flight gets in early and the next flight is at the next gate you will most likely miss your flight.
Below is an example of flights from Phoenix to Toronto on U.S. Airways. They give you the “Best Match” flights at the top and then a selection of other flight options. The problem is that the Departing “Best Match” flight only has 46 minutes between flights. This is cutting it very close and there is a good chance that you will not make the flight. It is also the last flight of the night so if you miss the flight you will be sleeping in the Charlotte airport. The airline will not pay for your hotel since they did not directly cause the problem. I would contend that they did cause the problem because they should have never given you that option in the first place.
The Return option is even worse. There are only 43 minutes between flights and you will also have to go through customs. There is no way you are going to make that flight. You are better off looking for other options than what the airline considers the “Best Match” options.
Based on the above example you need to pay attention to what flights you are booking and how much connecting time is between flights. Below is an example of what I would choose for my flights.
The flights that I chose under this scenario give me 1:13 minutes to connect on my first flight. I feel safe with this amount of time. On the return flight I have 2:34 minutes which should give me plenty of time to go through Customs and get to the next flight. Note: On international flights if you checked your bags you will have to pick them up at the baggage claim and recheck them to your final destination. Allow extra time for this process.
TIPS FOR BOOKING A CONNECTING FLIGHT
- Allow at least a one hour minimum time between flights. Add more time for busy airports.
- Allow at least two hours if the connection involves a change of airlines. Allow three hours if you have to change terminals and go back through security.
- Allow at least two hours when flying internationally and you need to go through customs.
- Take an early flight. This will give you more of a chance to get to your destination if problems occur.
- Know where your next gate is and how far away it is from your arrival gate.
- Request a cart if you need assistance getting to the next gate.
If you miss your flight the airlines will try to get you on the next one but most flights these day are flying full you will likely have problems getting another flight.
When you are booking your next flight if you pay attention to the connecting times you will be able to minimize any problems.