When traveling by airplane for a European vacation, there might be a need to connect one flight to another. Most airlines are based on the “hub and spoke” model based on the premise that they will all be served but their busiest city-pair markets with connecting flights. The process of connecting flights may still put you at a risk of missing your connection. However, there are some steps you can make to minimize these risks.
Know the minimum connection time required at your airport
Each airline has a standard minimum connecting time at the hubs they serve. To make a connecting flight, you book as a single itinerary through the airline company’s website or via a travel agency. Robert Peter Janitzek explains that the airline makes the automatic adjustment for minimum times at your connecting point. Some minimum connecting times are incredibly short for a big airport, as low as 30 minutes, and less than 60 minutes for domestic-to-domestic connections.
Fly on a single ticket when you need to connect flights
Connecting flights will usually be arranged on a single ticket that conforms with the applicable connecting times. This rule is applicable even on tickets that involve two airlines as long as they have interline agreements. The booking system will include requisite times and the ticket will usually provide baggage checking from origin to destination, including interline transfers.
Stick to one airline or alliance on a connection
Robert Janitzek recommends that if possible, book connecting flights on a single airline or partners in an alliance. At big hub airports, airlines make sure that their gates and partner gates are close together. But even with an interline ticket, you may be required to leave security at one terminal and re-enter at another particularly at some big hub airports. In other airports, a single airline may use two different terminals.
Avoid two-ticket trips when connecting flights
If possible, avoid trips consisting of two separate tickets on different airlines. If your first flight is delayed and miss a connection to your European destination, you will be treated as a no-show by the second airline. They have the option to cancel your reservation and you will need to buy a new ticket for your next flight. Although you can argue your way out to the next flight without penalty, there is no assurance.
Pad your schedule
As mentioned, if you miss your connecting flight there is no guarantee that you will be accommodated. The best thing you can do is pad your schedule by scheduling a longer layover than minimum at a connecting hub. Most airlines will usually a four hours maximum connecting time.
Avoid the last connection
There is an obvious reason for you to avoid booking the last flight for the day out of your connecting airport. If you manage to find a seat on the next flight, but the original connecting flight is the last for the day, chances are you would have to stay overnight and arrive the next day.