A Guide to Connecting Flights for First-timers

man waiting for flight

Flying to a faraway country usually requires a connecting flight. It’s two separate flights with a long interval, which you’d normally spend in an airport. For first-timers, a connecting flight can be stressful. Spending hours inside an airport isn’t only boring but can trigger anxiety, too. You’d constantly worry about missing your flight or whether you’re waiting at the right place. You’d want to look around the airport as well but might fear getting lost.

Thankfully, your layover doesn’t have to feel that way. If your connecting flight occurs in an airport as beautiful as Singapore’s Changi, you’re even luckier. The cozy airport hotels at Changi can accommodate you. You can even explore the airport’s various attractions. All while being conscious of the time, of course. But with your beautiful surroundings, time can feel a little too short.

Wherever your connecting flight is, here’s what to expect and how to spend your time without feeling anxious:

1. Keep a Note of Your Flight Number and Details

Keep your flight number and details somewhere you can easily find them. You can write them down on your phone since the device most likely stays in your hand all the time. Keep your boarding pass somewhere secure, where they won’t crumple or tear.

As soon as you arrive at your transit airport, head to the screens and find your gate number. Stay alert of the audio announcements as well; it informs you whether your flight is delayed or canceled or if you need to change gates.

2. Familiarize Yourself With the Airport

Ideally, you should be familiar with the airport before arriving there. But it’s impossible to memorize your way around if you’ve just seen a map. So look up your transit airport on Google, and note the important areas. Those would be the terminals, boarding gates, restaurants, shops, and restrooms.

In some airports, you need to take a shuttle or train to reach the other terminals. Take note of that as well to avoid getting lost.

3. Know the Minimum Connection Time Require at Your Airport

Every airline sets minimum connecting times at each hub it serves. If you booked your connecting flight as a single itinerary through the airline’s website or a travel agency, the airline has automatically set the minimum time at your connection point. If you missed your flight, the airline would put you on the next flight without additional charges.

The minimum connection time can be a hassle, though. Some airlines only allow 30 minutes of connection time — at least for domestic flights — even if their transit airport is big. International flights are usually more than an hour, so it’d be much more relaxing to book one.

airport scene

4. Rest and Exercise Your Legs

When you arrive at your transit airport, your legs are probably sore from sitting on the plane. Take your time as you walk to your connecting flight terminal, especially if you have hours to spare. Explore the airport’s shops at attractions, all while making sure that you won’t get lost. Spending your time exploring instead of waiting can tamp down your anxiety and let you enjoy your journey.

If you laid over at Changi Airport, you could even take a shower. Several lounges and spas in the airport let passengers freshen up for a fee. Afterward, you can relax in one of the lounges, with a good book or a podcast to keep you company. Then go and see the shops if your legs crave movement again.

Even if your transit airport is small, try to enjoy the place still. Connecting flights are often long-haul, so your legs should get the exercise they need before staying still in a plane.

5. Wear Comfortable Clothes and Shoes

Staying comfortable is important while waiting for your connecting flight. So keep your airport fashion low-key. If you want to look stylish, load up on accessories that won’t fall off or restrict your movements.

Comfortable clothes are important for one more thing: running. Sometimes, enjoying the wait too much can make you lose track of time. In that case, you’d need to run to catch your flight. That’s a scary scenario, but better be ready for it than miss your flight because of your heels.

Also, your comfortable clothes will allow you to sit on the plane without fidgeting or adjusting your garments too much. Some connecting flights last more than eight hours, so wear comfortable clothes from the get-go rather than change them in the plane’s restroom.

If you’re still anxious after noting these tips, don’t worry; even experienced travelers still get the jitters during a connecting flight. But your preparation will pay off. If you can take the flight with a companion, do it so that you feel more secure.

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