Are Your Flight Connections Terminal?
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Tags: Airport stress Connecting flight tips connecting flights
What do you think is the number one reason for air travel disruptions? Well, according to recent data on U.S. air travel, the number one complaint is missed flight connections. For those of you who travel by air regularly, this will come as no surprise. We all have stories of running with shoes in hand trying to find our new departure gate, which inevitably will be at the opposite end of the terminal. Oh the horror!
I still wake up some nights thinking about our experience a few years ago returning from Belize with a connection in Houston. We had a 90 minute connection time and arrived only 10 minutes late so we thought we had it made – until we entered the immigration “ hall” to find approximately 500 souls stacked in long, long lines in front of us.
Surprisingly we actually made it through immigration, found the baggage carousel, found our luggage, found our way to in-transit departures, checked our bags again, and made it through security. Tense & sweaty, we ran to the departure gate with 5 minutes to spare, only to find that the airline had changed gates, and our frantic running was for nothing. The good news was, we were able to get the next flight out only 6 hours later. Oh the horror! I won’t mention the airline but it beings with “ C” and ends with “ontinental”.
So the question is how do you avoid these nightmares? Travel agents and online booking agents provide itineraries with allowable connection times, and airports are often dealing with more passengers and ongoing personnel cutbacks. Is anyone really responsible or at fault? The correct answer is you.
You must realize that travel agents and booking agents are trying to get you to your destination as quickly as possible and are relying on connection times provided by airlines and airports that are based on “ideal” travel conditions. In other words they are assuming the plane arrives on time and gets to an open gate and that there are no road blocks at immigration, baggage claim and security and that the arrival and departure gates are in the same terminal. In our experience the chances of all these “ideal” travel conditions working out are next to impossible.
Here are a couple of suggestions that might make your next connection not so terminal.
- Allow 3 hours between connections. It’s going to make for a longer travel day but at least you know you’ll arrive and you will be a lot less stressed when you do.
- Check the departures board as soon as you deplane for any terminal or gate changes effecting your connecting flight.
- If you have to travel between terminals use a shuttle or tram. Terminal maps and distances can be deceiving and make for a long walk……or jog.
- If at all possible travel with carry-on only. If you are arriving internationally it will allow you to cut out the whole baggage claim and transfer experience.