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Airport Connection Times



When you book your travel, one thing that never really comes up is how much time you need between flights at your connecting airport. I often either laugh or shake my head at the screen when I am searching for a flight and one of the first results shows me an itinerary with about 40 minutes between flights in an airport like Atlanta or Chicago. I've spent twenty minutes taxiing around the Atlanta airport just trying to get to the gate and then they called it on-time when it was not. They fudge those numbers all the time.

The essential story here is that if you book a less-than-minimum connection on websites like Travelocity, Priceline or even the airline website and don't make it, the airline doesn't owe you a fix and is no under obligation to do anything about it. It is considered an illegal flight or hot connection . Not exactly terms that sound like friendly skies? They really shouldn't offer these flights but I see them displayed all the time.

You need to make sure you book at least the minimum connection between flights. And this information isn't listed on those search results. You can easily just go by the price and book a flight with a connection that is too short for anyone but a magical wizard.

If you've ever booked your own flight, you've noticed that you are offered connections with times as low as 30 minutes to as long as 13 hours. You probably want something in between. I believe that 75-90 minutes is ideal for any major city airport to be fairly comfortable. Sixty minutes is pretty good for places like Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, Cincinnati and many others. And I choose cities like these over the ones below whenever possible. The wild card is that you don't know where the gates of your flights will be until the last minute. You could have gates right next to each other. So you have a short walk and lots of time to enjoy the ambiance. Or you could arrive at the far end of one terminal and have to go the far end of an entirely different terminal for the next flight. Maybe the moving walkway or tram link is working at full speed. Or maybe not.

So what are the minimum times? I'm glad you asked and I list them below for some of the largest connection airports. I personally recommend that the average person add a half hour to these times to be safe and comfortable. Add even more time with children or if you have trouble moving around quickly. Traffic delays, runway delays, storms and fellow passengers all cause problems about 20% of the time. Do you want to be biting your nails, watching the time nervously, running through the crowds and then board your next flight after all the carry-on space is taken? Do you want to wait hours for another flight? Do you want to sleep at the airport? Or would you rather just stroll the airport, use the restroom, get a drink, shop, read and check your messages for little bit of extra time?

Minimum connection times for some major airports in the United States. Again, I would add a minimum of 30 minutes to all these times for my choices and even more in storm seasons.

Atlanta

ATL – Hartsfield-Jackson (10 miles from city center)
Domestic to Domestic – 55 minutes
Domestic to International – 1 hour
International to Domestic – 1 hour 30 minutes
International to International – 1 hour 30 minutes

Boston

BOS – Logan International (3 miles from city center)
Domestic to Domestic – 40 minutes
Domestic to International – 1 hour
International to Domestic – 1 hour 30 minutes
International to International – 1 hour 15 minutes

Chicago

ORD – O'Hare (11 mile from city center)
Domestic to Domestic – 50 minutes
Domestic to International – 1 hour 15 minutes
International to Domestic – 1 hour 30 minutes
International to International – 1 hour 30 minutes

MDW – Midway (18 miles from city center)
Domestic to Domestic – 25 minutes
Domestic to International – 1 hour
International to Domestic – 1 hour
Inter-airport ORD to/from MDW – 2 hours 40 minutes

Dallas Fort Worth

DFW – Dallas/Ft Worth International (12 miles from city center)
Domestic to Domestic – 50 minutes
Domestic to International – 50 minutes
Domestic to Canada – 50 minutes
International to Domestic – 1 hour 10 minutes
Canada to Domestic – 50 minutes
International to International – 1 hour 10 minutes

Denver

DEN – Denver International (23 miles from city center)
Domestic to Domestic – 50 minutes
Domestic to International – 1 hour
International to Domestic – 1 hour
International to International – 1 hour

Houston

IAH – George Bush Intercontinental (20 miles from city center)
Domestic to Domestic – 45 minutes
Domestic to International – 1 hour
International to Domestic – 1 hour
International to International – 1 hour 15 minutes

Los Angeles

LAX – Los Angeles International (10 miles from Los Angeles city center)
Domestic to Domestic – 1 hour 10 minutes
Domestic to International – 1 hour 30 minutes
International to Domestic – 2 hours
International to International – 2 hours

Miami

MIA – Miami International (7 miles NW of Miami city center)
Domestic to Domestic – 55 minutes
Domestic to International – 1 hour
International to Domestic – 1 hour 30
International to International – 1 hour 30




Adam | Oct 5, 2009 | Category: Air Travel

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