How much time do you need between connecting flights?
It's often the case that connecting flights are the only way to get to your destination. However, finding suitable flight times can be difficult, and the last thing that you want to do is to miss a connecting flight because of a delay or because you underestimated the flight connection time.
If your connecting flights were booked on the same ticket, it is the airline's responsibility to get you to your destination. So, for example, if you book a flight from London to Sydney that connects in Dubai, it is the airline's responsibility to make sure that you get to Sydney. If your London to Dubai flight is delayed and you miss the connection, the airline will put you on another flight.
However, if you make the two bookings separately (i.e. you booked a London to Dubai flight and then a Dubai to Sydney flight), the airline has no obligation to out you on another flight should you miss the connection.
Airlines will not sell tickets that do not meet the minimum connection times for a particular airport. So if you're booking an indirect flight in a single booking, you shouldn't worry about connecting flight times.
Domestic vs International
In normal circumstances, airlines recommend that you be at the airport two hours in advance of the departure time for domestic flights and three hours in advance of the departure time for international flights.
If you're booking separate legs, you should leave these times as an absolute minimum. You should also consider schedule changes or delays and how these might affect your route. We recommend that you leave three hours for domestic flights and five hours for international ones.
How to minimise the risk of missing connecting flights
- Plan your itinerary carefully, especially if you are booking well in advance of the travel date. Schedules can change in the weeks and days before departure.
- Ask that your checked luggage be checked straight through to your destination.
- Listen out for announcements on making connections.
- Ask a gate representative if you're unsure.
- Study the layout of the airport before you leave, so that you know where to go when you land.