Minimum connection times are also referred to as legal connection times. Last Tuesday, I came up with this situation. It’s not enough to deal with cross-town traffic to the airport, returning the rental car, taking the shuttle to the terminal, checking your bags and going through TSA security. Just when you think that you can relax, connection issues creep up. Here is what happened and how I handled it.
Last November, I wrote a guide about what minimum connection times are and why they are important.
Minimum Connection Times
To recap from my previous post, minimum connection times are the least amount of time airlines allow you and you checked bags to make it from one flight to the next. Typically in the U. S., minimum connections times are:
- 40 minutes for domestic connections
- 60 minutes for international connections
These connection minimums generally work when the originating flights arrive at the connecting airport on time. If you already have a connecting flight with minimum connection time, you need to make sure that your originating flight is on time. Here is where my trouble began.
Here Comes Trouble
I had booked a reservation with Alaska Airlines with two flights to get me from Phoenix, AZ, to Portland, OR. The booking had a connection time of 46 minutes which is within the minimum connection rules.
The problem began before I arrived at the airport. My Alaska app showed flight 581 departing 20 minutes late and arriving just five minutes late. So far, so good, my connection is still at 41 minutes and within the connection rules. When I arrived at the gate, the departure time had slipped some more. Fifteen minutes later, the departure time slipped again.
As you can see, flight 581 is now departing at 2:09 pm which is 34 minutes late. Now there is no way that I will have the minimum connection time to make it to flight 1989.
Here Is What I Did
The first thing that crossed my mind is that I am not going to wait for Alaska Airlines to reach out to me about a potential missed connection. In a case like this, you have to be proactive and figure out plan B right away. That is just what I did, I checked available flights from Seattle to Portland using the Alaska app and I found flight 2061.
If you are in this situation, you want to be first to deal with changing your connecting flight for two reasons:
- Seats on the new flight might be limited especially for first class and
- If you have checked bags, the only way to reroute them is to do it early.
I went to the gate and I spoke with gate agent Karen. She confirmed that there were two seats available on flight 2061. She rebooked my wife and I before somebody else could take those seats. Since I started the rebooking process early, they had time to locate my two checked bags and retag them for transfer to flight 2061.
If I had waited, we wouldn’t have had seats available for flight 2061 or the bags could not be located for rerouting.
If you are traveling on a booking consisting of two or more flights, double-check to make sure that you have the minimum connection time to make the connecting flight(s). If you find yourself in the situation, be proactive and get to the gate agent first before other people do. If you handle this situation early and you have checked bags, you will have a better chance of getting your airline to reroute your bags to your new flight. Kudos to gate agent Karen for locating my checked bags and rerouting them to my new flight.