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How much time needed at a layover airport?

I’m looking at flights, hoping their will be a direct flight from JFK to Venice, but maybe it won’t happen by spring. In that case, we will have 1 stop. Both stops have about 1 hr. 30 min. Is that time to do what we need to do and catch our next flight? I don’t know what the procedures are during covid and entering either Paris or Amsterdam. Thank for your help.

Posted by
110 posts

90 minutes is not enough time at CDG (Paris) 3-4 hours needed there. Many stories of travelers missing flights there with short layover. AMS (Amsterdam) I've heard is better. More organized & good signage. Might be pretty tight. If I was going to do that I would make sure it was on one ticket so the airline is responsible for getting you to Venice.

Posted by
5258 posts

Mark's CDG estimate seems pessimistic, but maybe his experience is more recent than mine. I'd suggest at least two hours for any European hub airport. And definitely do the whole trip on one ticket so the airline will put you on the next flight if you miss the connection.

No one knows what any country's Covid-related rules will be next spring. If Italy is your only destination, and you can get a transatlantic flight straight there (like Rome) you'll only have to deal with that one country's rules. That simplicity might be worth some scheduling inconvenience.

Posted by
18301 posts

And a scheduled stopover of 1½ hours doesn't mean that you will actually have 1½ hours to make the connection. First, the flight might arrive late. Out of eleven flights to Europe in the last 20 years, I've been an hour late on two, maybe three occasions. Also, a lot depends on how long it takes to get off a crowded, wide body airliner. You don't start moving to your connecting gate the second the plane arrives at the arrival gate.

Posted by
4249 posts

We just had 50 minutes at Amsterdam and made it, barely. Amsterdam is a fairly well organized airport. I would agree that I would allow more time at CDG, but I'm not sure 3 -4 hours is absolutely necessary. The most important thing to do is make sure all your flights are connected/on the same ticket. Then the airline is responsible for rescheduling.

Another consideration might be that CDG is more prone to strikes. I got that advice from a travel agent. Still, I often use CDG, but when I have a choice, I pick Amsterdam.

Posted by
1725 posts

We flew through CDG in August. It took us two hours from deplaning to be at our gate for our next flight. I would not do 90 minutes there. Honestly, I would just avoid CDG as it just seemed unnecessarily difficult.

Posted by
4249 posts

Just to be clear, I don't think 50 minutes is ideal, that was the itinerary we were able to get. With further research, I saw the next available flight was at least 6 hours later, plus if I changed it, it was going to cost more. So I kept it as is knowing the airline would have to put me on the next flight which had a lot of empty seats.

Posted by
4455 posts

I would check each option to see what the next flight would be if you couldn’t make the connection. As others mentioned, Amsterdam has always been smooth for making the next flight. I haven’t had a missed flight issue at CDG, but I always take a layover around two hours.

Where you’re sitting in the first plane can make a difference, too. Will you be in Comfort Plus or higher to be near the front of the plane?

Posted by
4249 posts

On a couple of occasions when my layover time is short, the airline has moved me up in the plane. Once even into a higher cost section at no charge.

Posted by
2080 posts

I'd recommend checking Flight Aware to determine if your intended flights are currently being flown. The airlines have a pesky little practice, especially since covid, of selling flights they HOPE will be flying by the future trip date.
Safe travels!

Posted by
40 posts

I agree that 1.5 hours is the bare minimum for an international layover. So many things can go wrong. Your first flight could be late; passport and security checks could have very long lines; you might be pulled out of line to have your bag inspected, etc etc etc. And that doesn't even factor in Covid glitches.
You might be stuck with too much free time during a longer layover, but that's better than being stressed out. If you're lucky enough to have extra time, use it to grab a bite to eat, and to practice using euros. :)

Posted by
1601 posts

Pat, thanks for the reminder to check Flight Aware. With the potential fare increases I'm starting to seriously look at refundable flights for September. One that I have been considering hasn't flown since Covid started per Flight Aware. It's an AA flight and BA partners with them on that flight. Very interesting...and obviously I now need to do more research.

Posted by
13532 posts

By the skin of my teeth I have made one hour layovers in Istanbul, Amsterdam and Frankfurt. The last time I was at Chucky D it was a nightmare, but I made it in about 2 hours. My last trip to Heathrow took a solid 3 hours. BUT, I would buy the ticket and just be prepared to be on the following flight.

Posted by
34 posts

Given all the uncertainty about travel in these Covid times, I’d fly direct from JFK to an airport in Italy, as a previous poster suggested. I’d opt for Milan and take the train to Venice from there. There is frequent rail service to Venice from Milan, trip is about 2.5 hours on a high speed train, and the route is scenic. I get that it may be a hassle to transfer from an airport to a railway station, especially after a transatlantic flight, but at least you wouldn’t have to contend with Covid restrictions in more than one country. And if your flight is delayed, you’d have multiple options for the onward trip to Venice.

Posted by
5258 posts

Picking a random date next spring, I see nonstops from JFK to Milan on Iberia and Emirates, and nonstops from JFK to Rome on Iberia, Finnair, JetBlue, and Delta. I didn't look at onward flights, but there must be some from Rome and the train from Milan would be a good choice. Why deal with Paris or Amsterdam when you can fly straight to Italy? Then at least you're in the right country if there are delays.

Posted by
860 posts

Thank you all so much. I think I’ll pass on the layovers since I’ll be biting my nails the whole time worrying.
Dick, I went to look at the JFK to Milan stop. I think that may be a good idea if it’s only 2.5 hours. I also can wait to see if any direct flights are added and change. Sort of bummer to train in and not fly in. It’s pretty cool to see Venice from the air and take the water taxi as a welcome for a newbie! It will be my son’s first European trip.

Posted by
386 posts

It's impossible to know what the "right" amount of layover time is, but I always figure that if an airline is offering a flight with a layover, they are of the opinion that it can be done. It they were wrong, they have to get you on another flight. If you are already in Europe, at a major airport, it should be very possible to get you on another flight later that same day. That's why I always book my overseas trips with the layover in Europe, not in the US. Buy insurance for the trip. If you miss the connection that the airline thought was do-able, and they can't get you on another flight until the next day, your insurance should provide a benefit of something like $200 to $300 per person per day to spend on transportation, meals and lodging. So you'd get yourself into Paris and recover from your jet lag there, instead of in Venice. An afternoon to stroll the streets of Paris, and have dinner there, doesn't sound too shabby to me. We returned home to the US from Rome on Nov. 8, the first day that Italians were able to travel to the US for non-essential purposes. Rome's airport, always busy, seemed extra busy to me that day. Yet, we made it all the way from our hotel in Trastevere to our departure gate in just 90 minutes! That included the cab ride, health screening line, check in line, security line and passport control line, with a tram ride and long walk on top of it.

Posted by
218 posts

If your flight are all on one ticket the airlines will get you to your destination. However, you will be on the next available flight in the next available seat, and that seat will not necessarily be in the same cabin you booked. Fine if you booked standard economy, you will probably lose your premium seat (PE, business, or even extra legroom). In that case you are only entitled to the fare difference refunded.

Pre-Covid I figured 2 hours or so for Frankfurt, and have been fine. When I booked my flights last December for my (aborted) trip last September I allowed another hour, because I didn't know what Covid hoops I would have to jump through. A schedule change that left me with only a 1 1/2 hour connection in FRA returning home was one factor in the cancellation; if I missed the connection I would lose my business class seat and I really couldn't tolerate sitting in economy for 11-12 hours (due to hamstring injury).

Munich was designed from the start for transit connections and is much easier to navigate. I've made a 45 minute connection there with no issues, and even my bicycle in it's over-size travel case made the flight.

I usually figure 2 hours for connections in major US hubs as well (SFO, ORD, EWR, ATL, etc.).

Posted by
13068 posts

Arriving in Venice by train is not a bummer at all. I now prefer it to flying in. (We get our views of Venice from the air by flying out of Marco Polo airport.)

If you arrive at the airport, you must somehow transfer to your destination in Venice by boat, or bus then boat. Taking a water taxi all the way from the airport to your hotel is very expensive—-like €120 unless you can arrange a shared taxi or pre-book one. The cheaper boat option from the airport is the Alilaguna, which was €15 per person the last time I checked; they may charge extra for luggage (€3 per bag). The ride across the lagoon is not all that scenic, especially on the Alilaguna with its dirty windows. The ride down the Grand Canal is lovely in a water taxi ( we did that once) but not so much in the Alilaguna ( the windows are even dirtier with salt spray). The third option is a bus from the airport to Piazzale Roma and vaporetto ( water bus) from there. This gives you a nice ride down the Grand Canal if the boat is not too crowded. But the arrival in Venice at Piazzale Roma is not particularly scenic—-just a big parking lot. From the vaporetto dock all you see across the canal is a big blocky brick building with no Venetian character at all.

https://www.google.com/maps/@45.4391703,12.3191112,3a,75y,34.34h,81.47t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s4ArsMqtWaAwZe1XsQDuq8Q!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Arriving by train, by contrast, gives you a beautiful view of a Venetian scene, with the Grand Canal in front of you and some typical Venetian palazzi across the way, and the iconic Venetian lampposts in the piazza in front of the station. I love that view as it welcomes me back to Venice.

https://www.google.com/maps/@45.4410138,12.3217875,3a,75y,151h,99.92t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sPRgD2h6JT11x2uKzNOHDVg!2e0!6shttps:%2F%2Fstreetviewpixels-pa.googleapis.com%2Fv1%2Fthumbnail%3Fpanoid%3DPRgD2h6JT11x2uKzNOHDVg%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26w%3D203%26h%3D100%26yaw%3D107.1642%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100!7i13312!8i6656

So flying into Milan and taking the train into Venice is a great idea. We have tickets for that path next spring ourselves—- flying non-stop JFK to Milan on Emirates, overnight in Milan ( we want to see the Duomo and other things we missed before) and then the train to Venice. I particularly wanted to fly directly from a US airport to Italy, without the potential for covid-related complications that might arise from transiting through another European country.

Posted by
843 posts

Interesting thread. I have nothing to add from my limited experience other than my travel agent always makes sure there is plenty of time for transfers and offers alternatives, based on her experience, for, say, train connections from as far away as I wish to land. She has suggested two-day train rides and even a cruise since I arrive two days early. Would be a great way to see lots of countryside that I'm not otherwise touring along with the RS group.

Anyway, I stopped booking closely spaced flights decades ago, even just going 1000 miles.

Posted by
1601 posts

I have enough anxiety without having to worry about tight flight connections or running to catch the next flight. I just booked a 2 1/2 hour connection outbound and a long 5 hour connection inbound, both are east coast US airports. I think I’m OK with those times.

Posted by
21054 posts

If I were starting a trip in Venice, I'd probably end up flying into Milan myself for reasons of cost, though I haven't compared the airfares recently. However, be aware that the 2-1/2 hour travel time by train is from Milano Centrale (the downtown main station) to Venice. Malpensa Airport is not near Milano Centrale. The entire trip from Malpensa to Venice will take at least 3 hr. 59 min.

In terms of cost, consider that it is really not possible to know when you'll be at the Malpensa train station, ready to hop on a train you'll be able to catch, so there's some risk in buying a train ticket way ahead of time in order to snag a cheap fare. I'd figure on buying a full-fare ticket after clearing Immigration in Milan. I see a few departures for the next 24 hours or so priced near 100 euros, though there are many departures costing around 60 euros or less. I'd expect things to be stickier around holidays, though.