This article is reprinted by permission from NerdWallet. Most airlines recommend arriving at least two hours before domestic flights and at least three hours before international flights. But do you need that much time for connections between international flights?
Layovers of just 30 minutes can be feasible for domestic flights, especially at small airports where the next flight might be just one gate over. But international layovers are typically far more complicated, and even two hours can be insufficient. Here’s how to book flights with an international layover, and how much time you really need.Ways to book a flight with an international layover Let’s say you’re flying from Houston to Hanoi, Vietnam. There might be no direct flights between those two cities, but you could get there via layover. The most common, least risky way to book international flights necessitating a layover is by searching for flights between your departure and arrival cities. Even with no nonstops available, the airline automatically determines your layover and puts both flights on one reservation. This strategy is ideal for a few reasons:
If you miss your second flight because the first was delayed or canceled, airlines will generally rebook you at no additional cost so you’re not just stranded in say, Hong Kong, on the way from Houston to Hanoi.
Checked bags are less likely to get lost, as they’re usually checked to the final destination.
You won’t need to know how long you need between flights because airlines won’t let you book less than the minimum connection time, or MCT, anyway.
Minimum connection times vary by airport and sometimes even terminal. For example, the lowest MCT is …