It’s totally natural to want to get to your vacation destination as fast as possible. We fully understand the primal urge to book the shortest flight duration so you can explore a new city, hike a mountain, or just sit on a relaxing beach ASAP. But, when booking flights, it is, in fact, critical to think carefully about how much time you need for a layover. Because the one thing that can ruin your vacation is missing the flight to get there.
Luckily, airlines and airports do have a few rules in place to try and ensure smooth connections.
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.
So, how long should a layover really be, then? That depends on a few things.
Are your plans flexible?
You need to consider any consequences that may come with risking a short layover. But, if the stakes are low, you can go ahead and risk the shorter time frame.
Will you need to go through additional security?
If you’re making a domestic connection, odds are you won’t have to go through any additional security. However, if you’re making an international one, there may be both immigration and security involved.
How good do you feel about the airline you’re flying?
Do you have faith that your airline will accommodate you if you miss your flight? Perhaps you should read through its ticketing terms and conditions first, and look at if the airline has other flight options should you miss yours.
And does your first flight have a history of being on time?
Here’s a little good news: it’s very easy to check your flight’s performance record. As expert points out, services like FlightAware allow you to look at the history of your flight and how often it lands on time. This can help you decide if a short layover is worth it or not.
To sum it all up, assess how flexible your travel plans are, if you’ll need to go through extra security, and if you think you’ll get easily rebooked. And think hard about how badly you want this trip. Maybe waiting an extra hour and getting a coffee in your layover airport isn’t so bad after all.