Last month I had nearly a three-hour connection between flights in China. I got to the airport with plenty of time, but then my first flight was delayed over an hour. By the time I got to my connecting airport, went through security, caught a tram to another terminal, then ran non-stop for ten minutes to get to my gate, I had just minutes left to board my flight.
Have a connecting flight? Read these airport transit tips to ensure you don’t miss your connections! What would you add to our list?
Airport Transit Tips
Have you ever run through an airport in a desperate attempt not to miss your flight? After visiting forty-five countries, I have to say it’s happened to me once…no, twice…more like a dozen times.
And it wasn’t necessarily my fault. There are various reasons why you might find yourself running through an airport and many times the situation is out of your control. The main culprit is: your connecting flight.
These are the worst because they take you by surprise. You can control what time you leave your home or hotel to go to an airport (and do your best to account for traffic conditions) but you have no control over your flights:
- Initial flights may get delayed/cancelled
- Connecting flights may be delayed/cancelled
- Bad weather can impact flight conditions
- Gates are changed (and some terminals are massive)
Even if you choose international connections with several hours in between (and I recommend you do) things still happen.
It’s inevitable that you’ll find yourself a panting, frantic, sweaty mess at some point in your travels. These are the things you should do to make this situation slightly less frustrating:
➊ Flight Number
Make a note of your flight number and keep it easily accessible. Have it in a visible location where you don’t constantly have to fumble around in your purse to find it.
As soon as you arrive into your transit airport, head to the screens and determine your gate. Pay attention to any audio announcements in case your terminal gets changed.
This happens frequently enough to be the root of some panicked jaunts across an airport terminal!
Try to determine your terminal before even arriving at the airport! Some airports have more than one terminal and large ones have hundreds of gates.
You may have to take shuttles, trams, or even walk thirty minutes to get to other terminals– all these things need to be accounted for with transit time.
Wear shoes that are secure and won’t fall off mid-run! In my most recent marathon sprint through an airport, my right shoe would not stay on my foot and I had only minutes to make my flight.
It had rained the night before, and my ballet flats had not dried properly. I hadn’t noticed that the moisture loosened the shoe materials. It was so difficult to run that I almost took them off and ran barefoot!
Obviously this wasn’t something I could predict, but these are scenarios you don’t think about when you choose the shoes you’ll wear as part of your plane outfit.
Here are our tips on what to wear on a plane!
➍ Pack Light
Making my connection with the Jansport Backpack
Packing light with your carryon and personal item is extra important when you have close connections! Whether you’re rolling a suitcase or hauling a backpack, know that whatever you have with you will need to move with your body as quickly as you can run across an airport.
This is also one thing to consider when choosing a new suitcase. Determine if it’s easy to maneuver or if it has a mind of its own. A flailing suitcase won’t help your situation. You want luggage with sturdy wheels and handles.
Don’t let a heavy bag weigh you down. Read this post on how to save weight in your baggage.
➎ Accessible Hair Clips or Ties
Wear a breakage-free elastic on your wrist, in your pocket, or place a hair clip somewhere that’s easily accessible. I guarantee that you will need it at some point in your journey. For short hair, you might want a few bobby pins or an elastic hair band.
As you may have seen in my Minimalist Travel airport video, I always place a hair clip on my purse or backpack handle for easy access. While you may not get a chance to put your hair up while running, I guarantee that after a ten minute sprint, you’ll de desperate to get your hair out of your face.
Here are some easy travel hair styles!
➏ Hands Free
Traveling luggage free for a one-week trip
You may need to go through security in transit if you are entering a new country through your connecting airport.
This means you can’t have any water (they always get me on this one in transit!) and you’ll need to remove your laptop/jewelry/etc and place everything on a tray while you walk through the metal detector.
Depending on the country, this process can take a few minutes or thirty minutes or more (especially if you’re entering the US).
Take this into account when planning your connection times. I usually try to have no less than an hour and forty five minutes in between flights and on international connections that can even cut it too close.
Read these tips on how to move quickly through security.
Do you have any airport transit tips to add? Please share your comment below!
For more air travel tips, please read:
- Airport Tips: How Savvy Travelers Save Time Before a Flight
- How to Choose the Best In-flight Travel Purse
- Boarding a Flight: My 5-Step Foolproof Pre-Flight Routine
- Quick Tips for Air Travel: 9 Useful Ways to Enjoy a Smooth Flight
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