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What is a Connecting Flight?

Dan Cavallari
By
Updated May 23, 2024
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When flying on an airline to a particular destination, a passenger may be required to travel on a connecting flight, which is a flight that lands in a location that is not the passenger's final destination. The passenger must get off the plane and board another plane to reach the final destination. A connecting flight may be taken if there is no direct flight available from the passenger's home or starting airport to the final destination airport. These flights is common in air travel, especially when a traveler starts in a location with a small airport with few direct flights.

When a passenger lands at an airport to transfer to a connecting flight, his or her flight itinerary allows for some transition time. This is called a layover, and it is intended to allow passengers to make their way through the airport to the new flight's boarding gate. A layover may also exist simply because the only available flight does not leave for several minutes or hours after the original flight lands. A layover can last for just a few minutes or several hours, depending on the flight itinerary.

Travel to some destinations may require the passenger to board a connecting flight on another carrier. One airline carrier is typically able to accommodate travel to a final destination, but when that carrier does not travel to a particular destination, a passenger can obtain a travel itinerary that has them flying a certain airline to begin with, then getting on a connecting flight from another carrier. This is common when large airlines dole out local or regional flights to smaller carriers. If, for example, a passenger was flying from Phoenix, Arizona to Hartford, Connecticut, that passenger may begin his flight itinerary on a major airline that flies from Phoenix to New York City. The passenger will then have a layover in New York, then board another flight from a regional carrier from New York to Hartford.

Connecting flights are also common in international travel. A passenger flying from Phoenix, Arizona to Rome, Italy may take a flight from Phoenix to New York City. He or she may then board a different flight from New York City to London. Once in London, that passenger may board yet another flight from London to Rome. In this case, the passenger has boarded more than one connecting flight to reach the final destination, and in the process, he or she has most likely changed airline carriers.

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Dan Cavallari
By Dan Cavallari , Former Writer
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.

Discussion Comments

By serenesurface — On Oct 04, 2011

@ddljohn-- The same has happened to me too. I think that risk is always there when there are connecting flights.

What I hate the most about connecting flights is when I have to run to the other end of the airport for my connecting flight. That's no fun! I also don't like having to switch over to different terminals to find my flight. I think it always happens in Chicago and many other international airports because the domestic flights fly out of one terminal and international flights through another.

That's fine, but it can be a hassle when you're trying to get to your connecting flight on time and you just had a 12 hour plane journey. Oh, and not to mention having to go through customs and security checks in the process.

By ddljohn — On Oct 03, 2011

I don't mind having a connecting flight, but I always get worried that I'm going to miss it if there is a delay in taking off.

It happened to me once during an international flight. The flight was delayed and took off two hours later than it should have but my connecting flight was on time and there was only a half hour layover between them in the first place. Of course, I missed my connecting flight. The airlines got me on another flight but I had to wait another two hours for that flight to take off.

Now, during international flights, I try and pick ones that have about two hours layover between connecting flights so there is less chances of missing it.

By burcidi — On Oct 02, 2011

I don't really prefer journeys with connecting flights but it's just not an option when flying internationally. There have been times where I intentionally chose to fly with connecting flights domestically too, because these flights are always cheaper than direct flights.

When there is as much as $100-$150 difference between a domestic direct flight and one with connecting flights, I'd rather save that money and have a longer journey than I need to.

It can be very funny how that works sometimes though. Once, my connecting flight actually took me back towards home until flying towards my actual destination again. So I paid less to spend an extra couple of hours in the air and see an another airport. It's so illogical, isn't it?

Dan Cavallari

Dan Cavallari

Former Writer

Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
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