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How to choose the right connecting airport for your flight

We’ve all had the nightmare experience of a screech-to-the-finish layover. I’ve run through the mile-long terminals in Atlanta, desperate to catch my connecting flight with just minutes to spare. I’ve arrived on time for my connection, only to sit at the gate waiting for a crew. And I’ve landed late only to find my next flight already gone.

If there’s any travel situation that requires a well-informed choice, it’s which airport you’ll go through for a connecting flight. The connecting airport is usually determined by the airline you’re flying, either for its compatible schedule or lower fare. But when you have a choice among different airlines (or are trying to decide between comparable flights with different layover airports), consider the following:

  • Will you have to exit one terminal for another, requiring you to go through security again?
  • Will you have to reclaim and recheck your baggage?
  • Could your landing and departing gates potentially be miles apart?
  • Do the flight arrivals and departures give you enough time to get between terminals?
  • Does the connector airport offer a variety of restaurants, shops, and services to fill your time on a long layover?

Doing some preliminary legwork may lead to a less-rushed, more comfortable travel experience.

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