Airport Connection Time
I’m far from an air travel expert. I loathe booking award tickets, primarily because I’m terrible at it. (Or maybe it’s the other way around.) I don’t care to know the nuances of different aircraft types. I have no fancy tricks to rely on when air travel goes awry. But on that last one, I do implement a rather obvious strategy. It’s one that’s probably ripe for satire in a future Progressive commercial – if it hasn’t been part of one already. Here’s my airport connection time strategy and how it recently paid off yet again.
My Airport Connection Time Strategy
First and foremost, I focus on non-stop flights when available. But we moved from a big to midsize metro area about six years ago, and I’m now faced with more unavoidable connections – especially going out west. My airport connection time strategy boils down to this: I want a three hour connection time, or as close as I can get to that duration.
So why three hours? First, it leaves plenty of buffer for the second flight. If the first flight is delayed, it doesn’t necessarily throw my travel itinerary into disarray. I like to travel efficiently, but I rarely have any need to be in a hurry. Some are comfortable with shorter timeframes. Second, I can generally connect at major airports offering at least one desirable lounge I can visit. Third, flying with my family is more pleasurable at a leisurely pace.
My Strategy Wins the Day
As many of you know or unfortunately experienced, a recent FAA outage resulted in a massive amount of flight delays and cancellations. I was snarled by this. Long story short, my first flight was delayed an hour and a half. Since my original connection time was a hair over three hours, I had no issues. I made my connection with plenty of time to spare – enough to pick up a satisfying snack at the Capital One Lounge DFW.
30 Minutes – What?
Okay, some of you probably don’t think I’m saying anything mindblowing here. Give yourself plenty of airport connection time – gee, thanks. But the airline industry has encouraged travelers to choose very tight connections. And the push just seems to get stronger. Based on my experiences, airfare rates, whether paid with cash or miles, are substantially lower for flights offering short connection times. It’s simply remarkable how tight the times are these days. I’ve routinely noticed airport connection times as low as 30 minutes or so. In order to meet that connection, everything has to go perfectly. When’s the last time your air travel experience was like that?
Indeed, the airlines are basically daring travelers to pick that eye-popping deals with the short connection times. There are warnings all over those itineraries. But they keep offering them; some travelers must enjoy living on the edge.
My strategy definitely isn’t for everyone. I know it’s simply not practical for many. And the thought of shelling out more miles for a longer connection will surely make some avid travelers’ heads hurt. Nonetheless, I don’t see my philosophy changing, especially since we have plenty of airline rewards currencies to burn. If you must connect, what’s your optimal layover time? How did you settle on that duration?
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