How much time do you need to make your connection? It's hard to say...
Readers often ask me if they can make a connecting flight within a certain time frame. Unfortunately, it's an impossible question to conclusively answer. There are so many variables for every traveler and airport. But I can share my best strategies and advice for making the most of a tight connection and improving the odds of catching your next flight. So tighten your shoelaces and prepare to abandon all moral principles! This is how you make it through an airport in record time!
Pay and pick
Prepare for battle
Speaking of tying your shoes.... Stilettos are a fine choice for most occasions, but they're not up for an airport battle. Running shoes are the way to go! And with a little luck, you'll know exactly which way to run once you exit the plane. Most airline magazines have a map section towards the back that gives the layout of the major airports on their routes.
Ask for help
If your connecting flight is with the same airline and part of one flight path and there are many passengers in the same situation, the connecting flight MIGHT be held until you arrive. But probably not. I've never been lucky enough to have this happen to me! Bottom line: be courteous and hope for information, not miracles.
Surrender to security
I've never managed to master the rules of why I have to go through security in some circumstances but not others so my default expectation is security, security, security. All the more reason to sit at the front of the plane! And if you're combining security with a visit to customs, well that's all the more reason to......
Be the airport a$%
KIDDING! It's never okay to risk the safety and security of others and it's never okay to be an airport a$%. But it IS okay to run like heck and it IS okay to call out a polite "Coming through! Excuse me!" when making your way through a crowd.
Considering that every person you pass on route to customs represents 5 minutes saved in the line, it's well worth making a spectacle of yourself. I think people expect to see all kinds of chaos at an airport. Running like a deranged - yet courteous - wildebeest is acceptable, even expected. Find your spirit animal and GO!
You know I'm gonna say it.... PACK LIGHT!
All of this is nothing compared to the trouble you'll face if you ARE supposed to collect and recheck your luggage - but it doesn't arrive. It's virtually impossible to travel without your checked luggage, so if your connection gets rescheduled and you beg your airline to bump you to an earlier flight with a code share partner, you better have your suitcase in hand.
There's an argument to be made against carry on luggage, as the extra weight can prove unwieldy as you dash through the airport, but I think the pros outweigh the cons here. Plus, you can use that swinging pack to knock people out of your way as you run. (KIDDING!)
It's virtually impossible to say how much time is needed to make a connection. I've sweated the details on major connections, only to discover that the gates were right next to each other. I've made frantic Hail Mary runs where I dashed on the plane with just seconds to spare. I've also made the mistake of assuming my connection would be a leisurely one, only to realize it took all my time to battle to the terminal.
I've learned that there's not much you can do aside from being as prepared and organized as possible - and of course, channeling your inner wildebeest and running your heart out!
Good luck and God speed readers!