Recently I booked a flight from Texas to Germany with two stops, one of them being Atlanta with a connection time of just a bit more than an hour. It could be quite tempting to book a flight like this, especially if you are already familiar with the airport, desperate to arrive at your destination and you know 40 minutes is enough to connect using time efficiently. While I was just flying back from vacation, the mild inconveniences I experienced when my original schedule was canceled could have been pure hell in a different scenario.
The most important thing you should keep in mind when booking a flight this way is that any connection that falls under the minimum connecting time stated by any airline at any given airport can get you automatically bumped by their system. This doesn’t mean you’ll be flying first or business. You will be forced to postpone your entire schedule, which was exactly my experience. If this happens to you, make sure to call the airline, don’t use their online site to rearrange since it might not show all the options they have. Keep in mind as well it might be more convenient to choose a trip for which passengers have not yet checked in otherwise you will be given the last empty seats no one wanted to take.
Are still tempted to take a flight with little connecting time?
Make yourself familiar with the airports beforehand. If you haven’t been there, download some apps or check the maps online. Sitting at the front is also a great idea since you want to deplane as soon as possible. And please inform yourself about the weather conditions. Paris was my second stop and at the time of my flight there were heavy snowfalls in the region. Several flights were at risk of being canceled. While I could have successfully completed the first part of my itinerary and connect in time, my long-haul flight could have been canceled leaving me stranded in an unfamiliar city and with no compensation. This was confirmed to me by Delta over the phone, not many airlines will compensate you if the reason for the delay or cancellation is the weather. Make sure to discuss the worst possible scenario with them if there are any delays in your tight schedule.
Lastly, you are at risk of losing your checked bags temporarily, since they might be able to make it in time while you don’t. In case of further delays or cancellations this could be quite inconvenient, so make sure you can survive on you carry on for at least 48 hours.
Short connecting times can get you better fares and on the occasion that everything goes as planned they might help you reach your destination faster. The bottom line is not to pick them whenever you have any important appointments following your arrival, your chances of a postponed schedule are high.