How much time do you need between connecting flights internationally?
Two to three hours is the minimum recommended time for an international layover, but more might be needed. Sally French is a travel rewards expert who joined NerdWallet in 2020.
Travel advisers say there's a lot to take into account when booking connecting flights, but a general rule of thumb is 60-90 minutes between domestic flights and at least two to three hours for international itineraries.
The recommended layover time for international flights is generally longer, as you will have to go through customs and immigration before boarding your next flight. In most cases, a 30-minute layover for domestic flights and an hour for international flights is considered a minimum, or short, layover.
Do You Have To Go Through Customs During A Layover? Customs and immigration are usually required at the connecting airport for international flights. You don't always have to for domestic flights. In most cases, passengers on layover flights must clear customs and immigration at the first point of entry.
Most (but again, not all) airports connect international terminals airside. When you're connecting from an international flight to a domestic one, you'll always have to exit and reenter security as you'll need to go through customs and immigration (unless you have gone through preclearance aboard, which is rare).
If you miss a connecting flight through no fault of your own, in most cases you have the right to be rebooked for free on the next available flight.
If the missed connection is the airline's fault (a delayed initial flight due to mechanical problems, for example), the airline should rebook you on the next available flight. If the next outbound flight is the following morning, the airline should either book you on another airline or provide accommodations and meals.
If you can't avoid connecting, don't book the shortest layover, because you'll be building in stress and the possibility of missing your flight. A 1-hour layover is not enough anymore. Thirty minutes, not a chance. In most cases, 3 hours is safe.
MCTs (Minimum Connecting Times) are standardized and agreed data sets that provide the minimum possible connecting time for both a passenger and their luggage to connect between an arriving flight and their departing flight. They are applied globally to develop and ensure viable connections.
It's really hard to put an exact number on how long you need for your layover. At a minimum, I'd say you should plan for one hour for domestic layovers and two hours for international layovers. But this is not a hard, fast rule! If you have to go through security again on a domestic layover, you might need more time.
How do international connecting flights work?
What is a Connecting Flight? Connecting flights are flights which require passengers to leave the plane and board a different aircraft in order to reach their final destination. For example, imagine you are flying with Lufthansa from London Heathrow to Shenzhen in China.
You'll need to clear customs and immigration. Next, you'll recheck your luggage for the domestic flight. Finally, you'll need to go through Transportation Security Administration screening.
When layover flights are booked with the same airline, your baggage will be automatically transferred through to your final destination. However, if the two flights are with different airlines, you may have to claim and re-check your baggage during your layover.
Leaving the airport during an international layover is possible but can be more complicated. Depending on the layover country, layover flight rules may require you to secure a visa before being allowed to venture out of the airport.
If your destination airport is indicated (e.g. MIA), then your luggage is checked through to your final destination. If the airport indicated is CDG or ORY, you need to collect your luggage in Paris and check it in again.
If your itinerary was purchased as one ticket (as in: you have only one itinerary and one confirmation number), and the connection time was too short and you miss the second (or third) flight, you can rest easy, no matter what happens. The airline will simply put you onto the next available flight, free of charge.
The short answer is sometimes, but not always. Airlines may or may not hold a plane for connecting flyers depending on the circumstances. In this in-depth guide, we'll explore the key factors that determine if your connecting flight will wait or depart on time.
Your airline is obligated to get you on the next available flight to your destination. Or, if that doesn't work for you, ask them to refund your flight and put you on a return flight to your original point of departure instead.
You missed your connecting flight
If you miss a connecting flight, and arrive at your final destination with a delay of more than 3 hours, you are entitled to compensation. This compensation is calculated according to the length of the delay and the distance to your final destination.
Mayers recommends two hours as a standard buffer between flights to be safe. This gives you a cushion in case things go wrong during your journey. You'll definitely want at least a two-hour window if you've booked a “hacker fare,” as opposed to flying with the same airline your entire trip.
Do you go through customs when leaving the US?
Final Thoughts. If you are wondering “do you go through customs when leaving the U.S.”, the answer is no. All countries have customs inspection procedures at borders and international airports. However, only passengers entering a country are subject to customs inspection.
If your connection is from TBIT to TBIT, the MCT is 2 hours for an international-international connection. If you're arriving from SYD and not connecting from TBIT to TBIT, the MCT is 1 hour, 50 minutes for an international-international connection.
Flight delays, air traffic jams, overcrowded terminals and many more are expected at airports. It's better to have a slightly longer layover than a tight time, like 1.5 hours. The average layover time is between 2 and 3 hours.
What is an MCT and who controls it? An MCT is set by the airports (not airlines) and is considered to be the minimum amount of time required to transfer from an incoming flight to another flight (international or domestic) by an able-bodied person given the circumstances involved in that transfer.
Every commercial airport in the world has what's known as a minimum connection time (MCT). MCT is the amount of time the airport has determined is the absolute least amount of time an able-bodied person needs to make a connection to a continuing flight.