The One Question You’re Not Asking About Connecting Flights
Flight connections can be a pain. You need to have enough time to make it from one airplane to another without needing to sprint from one side of the airport to the other. But you don’t want too much time, because who wants to linger in an airport? However, there’s one thing you should consider before hopping gates: your luggage.
You need to make sure your suitcase also gets from Destination A to Destination C. Now, many airlines will make sure that your checked luggage is sent past your layover to your final destination. However, if you’re flying one airline from Destination A to Destination B and another to Destination C, you might need to check in on your bags.
Many airlines are part of huge, worldwide partnerships, which means that they operate shared routes. For instance, British Airways (BA) and American Airlines (AA) often share flights to the United Kingdom from the United States. If your first flight is with BA and your second is with AA, then your bags are most likely going to your final destination automatically.
However, if you booked separate flights to do some tricky budgeting and hack the system — maybe two separate flights from Delta and Air China from Destination A to Destination C were cheaper than a joint ticket from AA and BA — you need to check on where your baggage is going. When you check in for your flight and check a bag, ask the desk agent to clarify whether you will need to get your luggage from the baggage claim in between your flights. Do the same if you gate-check your suitcase — just ask the flight attendants where you should claim your things.
If you’re hopping a bunch of flights and do need to grab your bags from the baggage claim in between flights, make sure to give yourself plenty of time because you’ll have to dance through the security line all over again to re-enter the terminal. The standard recommendation for a flight transfer varies by airport, but we always aim for at least two hours. And to be safe, add some buffer time for that wait as the baggage carousel dumps all of the suitcases from your flight. You know yours might come out dead last.
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