Short airport layovers can be fantastic.
If everything goes just right.
As in if your first flight arrives on time, and if your connecting flight departs from a nearby gate.
A quick connection can also be a total nightmare. After having to run through airports in high heels, (more often than I care to admit to), just trying to make my next flight, I have come up with
some strategies to help you make those tight airport connections, and make sure you don’t miss your next flight.
10 Tips To Make Tight Airport Connections
1. The Gate Guru App
As soon as we land I fire up my Gate Guru app and see which gate my connecting flight is departing from, and where in the terminal it is in relation to my arrival gate. Gate Guru updates faster than anything else, and has never steered me wrong.
2. Get an Aisle Seat Up Front
When you know ahead of time that your connection will be tight its well worth the extra few dollars to book an aisle seat at the front of the plane, or as close to the front as you can get. The time it takes for everyone else to disembark when you are at the back of the plane can cost you the minutes you need to make that connection. It can also cost you your sanity…
3. Check In At The Gate
If you can’t reserve a seat up front, take the time to check in at the kiosk. If you are polite and friendly and can explain your situation calmly you will often find that the gate crew will move things around for you and get your seat swapped for a forward seat.
4. Talk To Your Flight Attendant
If you can’t get your seat changed, try talking to your flight attendant. Sometimes they can either get another passenger to swap with you towards the end of the flight, or if you are lucky they may even keep everyone seated until you deplane.
The key is to always be really pleasant and not get irritated if you are not getting what you want.
5. Observe The 45 Rule
When booking your flights give yourself a minimum of 45 minutes between the connection. I try to have at least an hour. If your first flight arrives late or if there is a delay waiting for a gate to open that 45 minutes can get eaten up quickly.
6. Avoid O’Hare.
I try to never fly through Chicago O’Hare. Basically because I have never, ever had an unfettered connection out of O’Hare. Last year I missed my son’s concert at Interlochen, in the middle of summer, due to O’Hare’s nonsense. This year I am flying to Detroit and then driving 5 hours rather than having to go anywhere near the dreaded O’Hare. Some airports are just notorious for delays and missed connections, so the best plan is to avoid them.
7. Travel Light.
Ideally you will check your bags through to your final destination, and not have to go to baggage claim and recheck your bags. That just leaves you with you cabin bag (s). The fewer items you have to coordinate and run through the terminal with, the better. The entire exercise gets really stressful when you have extra hats and scarves and coats and bags and water bottles etc to drag around. Think your game out ahead of time, have a cabin bag on wheels and have all the extra pieces packed into it so that you can move quickly and efficiently.
8. Map The Airport Ahead Of Time
Sometimes your connecting flight is just a few gates away from the flight you are arriving on, othertimes you have to get to an entirely different terminal, maybe on foot or maybe by train. It’s helpful to know what you are dealing with when you first book your flight, or at least before you land. The Gate Guru app on your phone has airport maps, so if you have a gate change you can quickly see where you have to go.
9. Pack Food, Use Restroom Before You Land.
The two biggest time vampires on the ground are the lines waiting for the restrooms and the lines waiting for food. Most domestic terminals here in the US have completely craptastic food anyway – high dollar, high fat, high sodium, so you’re not missing out on anything if you pack food to bring with you. I try to have fresh fruit and healthy snacks in my bag every time I fly.
If you know you only have a short time to make your connecting flight use the restroom on the plane before you land.
10. Don’t Waste Time On The Ground.
Disembark the plane as quickly as possible and then hightail it to your connecting flight’s gate. Don’t make phone-calls, check email, or update social media etc until you have reached your next gate. In other words don’t lollygag. Missing your connection can be really expensive, so get to your gate quickly, then figure the rest out.