For many of us, keeping costs low when planning a vacation can be tough. Around 15% of Baby Boomers say that budgeting is their biggest challenge when taking a trip, but for cash-strapped millennials, it’s a top priority. One easy way to save money on airline flights is to forgo a direct route for trips that involve a layover. But while connecting flights are great for traveling on a budget, they can make some travelers feel incredibly stressed out.
So how do you make your connecting flight without being crippled by anxiety? Check out the five tips below.
Use One Airline
When you’re flying internationally, it may be hard to stick to one airline throughout your trip. But whether you’re traveling across the country or across the world, it’s a good idea to try. Airlines try to make sure that all of their gates (and gates for the partner airlines they work with) are in the same general area. This doesn’t always happen, of course; in some cases, an airline may actually be divided between two different terminals. However, the airline will usually take this into consideration when creating its routes. If you aren’t able to fly on a single airline, research which carriers are in “alliance” with one another and try to stick to those partners.
Give Yourself Time
You might be eager to reach your destination as soon as possible, but don’t be tempted to book a connecting flight that departs too close to your arrival time. You should give yourself a layover of 45 minutes at the bare minimum (or at least an hour if you plan to check bags). Remember that deplaning and finding your next gate could take at least 30 minutes. And if you don’t abide by the carrier’s connecting flight recommendations, you might be totally out of luck if you miss your flight. Unless you want to be frantic and panting around the airport, give yourself a bit more time than you think you need between flights.
Avoid the Last Flight
Although taking the red-eye can save you some cash, be careful not to book the last connecting flight out of a given hub. Even if the airport is obligated to put you on their next flight due to an error on their part, you’ll have to wait until morning to get on it — and they don’t have to pay for your lodgings anymore. Plus, you’ll get to your destination a day later than you intended. If your flight is delayed due to a late departure, a mechanical problem, or inclement weather, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding an outright cancelation if you forgo those late-night airline flights for earlier ones.
Know Your Hub
When it comes to connecting airline flights, it’s best to know thine enemy: namely, the airport you’ll be flying through to get to your final destination. There are certain hubs that are especially prone to delays. This list includes Chicago O’Hare, LaGuardia, and Atlanta, all of which are popular layover destinations.
In 2017, New York’s LaGuardia had the highest percentage of canceled flights at 3.23%, according to research by InsureMyTrip. However, Atlanta had the highest number of canceled flights overall, with 5,419 cancellations last year.
If you can’t completely avoid these airports, at least be prepared when flying through them by giving yourself plenty of time and by familiarizing yourself with the layout. There are plenty of apps that provide airport maps and other helpful tips to assist in your navigation, regardless of where you’re flying out of.
Befriend an Agent
If all else fails (or even if you want to try to secure some perks), you might want to talk to a gate agent or someone at the ticket counter. They can provide you with valuable information about delays or might even be able to upgrade your seat to the front of the plane, making it easier for you to catch your next flight. Even getting the chance to explain your worries to an actual human being can relieve you of some of that anxiety and allow you to think more clearly!
Though we would all hope that our airlines provide accurate arrival and departure times, that’s unfortunately not always the case. But with these tips, you should be able to catch your connecting airline flights with no mishaps.