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Travel on Point(s) is an independent, advertising-supported website. This site is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites like This compensation does not impact how or where products appear on this site. Travel on Point(s) has not reviewed all available credit card offers on this site. Reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any partner entities.

Minimum Layover Time

Without fail, every day we are seeing one or more questions in our Facebook group asking, “will I make my flight with a xyz layover?” It is asked so often that we wrote an entire post on short connection times. But, that still does not answer most folks' question about the minimum layover time needed to comfortably make their flight. I am here to tell you that this is not a question you should crowdsource. While everyone wants to help, there is no right or wrong answer, without knowing everything about you. We would need to know things like your age, physical limitations, carry-ons v. checked baggage, terminals, travel knowledge, visa/citizenship status, et al.

To confirm this theory, I polled the Facebook group about two different connections for Sarah and I and, in results that should honestly surprise no one, the responses are all over the place. Today, I'll break down why no one can give you a definitive answer to what minimum layover time works for you.

Minimum Layover Time: Polling the Group

Back in January, Sarah and I traveled to Lisbon, Portugal, Seville and Madrid, Spain. On the flights over, we had a very short layover (1 hour and 29 minutes) at Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport in Paris. On the way home, we had a 50 minute layover at John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport in New York. I decided to poll the Facebook group to ask what they thought about these options and the minimum layover times needed. Here were the results.

minimum layover time

Layover in Paris

As you can see from the above poll, I gave very little info on our flights. I did not mention that we were flying in business class, that we were #teamcarryon, or that we are extremely fast walkers. Side note, you'll rarely keep up with us in public, even when not in a hurry! When asked in the comments on this poll, I responded with the information requested. Overall, this poll received over 700 votes. Let's round to 700 for simplicity's sake. Of the 700 votes:

  • 609 votes (87%) for a 1h 29m minimum connection time was easy peasy, with time to spare.
  • 91 votes (13%) for a 1h 29m connection not having a chance of success.
minimum layover time

Layover in New York

In contrast to the Paris layover, I intentionally included more information on our layover in New York. I wanted everyone to grasp what was required for this very tricky, very tight connection. As with Paris, when asked for more information in the comments, I included everything relevant to our situation. Thanks to the Facebook algorithm, this poll received lots more attention. We had over 900 votes, which we will round down to 900, and the results were this:

  • 684 votes (76%) for 50 minutes had a zero chance of being an adequate minimum layover time.
  • 216 votes (24%) for a 50 minute layover, when flying business, on separate tickets, and connecting terminals on an international itinerary is doable.

Case Study: A Tale of Two Layovers

Sarah and I were both excited for these layover challenges. We planned and strategized for these connections and really wanted to put the minimum layover time arguments to rest. So what happened? We learned that crowd sourcing is not accurate, honestly not very helpful and likely to lead to inflated confidence in a bad itinerary. On the flip side it could add needless worry and anxiety over an adequate itinerary. Here are our results.

What Happened in Paris Let Us Go to Lisbon

We arrived at CDG in Air France business class. Like the vast majority of international long-haul flights, we arrived a few minutes early. Sarah and I got off the plane in Terminal 2 and, as proud members of #teamcarryon, made a beeline for Customs / Immigration. After all, 1h 29m to make a connection does not allow for time to dilly-dally. After walking over a mile, going on numerous moving walkways, riding a train, and clearing customs/immigration we arrived at the Air France business class lounge. Total time in transit? Thirty-three minutes. Yes, 33 minutes. We could have done it much faster if we actually ran or speed-walked, but that was not the goal.

So what does this mean? First off, 91 of 700 votes (13%) were wrong. For every 6 responses received, 1 was wrong. Second, this poll should have been close to 100% for us making our flight with the 1h 29m minimum layover time. Given the facts outlined in the poll, and in follow-up comments, just about everyone could make our connecting flight and it was not even questionable. However, change the fact pattern even a little bit and a different result could occur.

minimum layover time

What Happened in New York (Almost) Stays in New York

For our return flight, we flew to JFK in Iberia business class. We were connecting to a domestic Delta flight, which was booked on a different ticket. Again, like our Air France flight to Europe, we arrived at JFK on time. However, the boarding door somehow got jammed. We did not begin deplaning until eight minutes after gate arrival. This put us at 42 minutes to make our connection. We left the plane as the 2nd and 3rd people off and immediately began sprinting towards customs/immigration. Thanks to our Global Entry, we were the first people in line. Less than 6 minutes after leaving the plane, we were headed towards the Airtrain to switch terminals and had 36 minutes to go.

Due to terminal closures, we had to take the long way around the airport. The airtrain ride took 11 minutes, plus a 4 minute wait. Once we exited, we were left with 20 minutes left. We sprinted to the Clear line, only to see it had dozens and dozens of folks waiting to be escorted to the gates. We turned around and tried the Clear line at the opposite end of the terminal and it was, unfortunately, the same. With 15 minutes left, and boarding doors closing with 10 minutes to go, we gave up trying to get through security. As luck would have it, the Delta flight closed doors early and began taxiing 4 minutes before the scheduled departure. There was absolutely ZERO chance anyone on earth could have made this connection this day, as 50 minutes was far below the necessary minimum layover time.

Getting Rebooked

We quickly booked another flight back to D.C. from La Guardia, which left in 2 hours. We quickly hopped in an Uber and raced over to LGA to come home. All in all, we arrived home 2+ hours later than intended and paid for some expensive last minute flights. (Thanks, United Travel Bank!)

What did we learn? A whole lot of people were wrong! Over 200 people (24%) said this 50 minute connection was more than the minimum connection time needed and we'd make our flight. In reality, no one on Earth was making this connecting flight the day we traveled. While 76% of you were correct, hearing hundreds of voices in support of this (frankly) insane itinerary is problematic.

Minimum Layover Time: ToP Thoughts

While almost everyone was well intentioned in the polls, it is easy to tell the poll results are not trustworthy or reliable. In an easy example, 13% of the answers were wrong. In a more complex example, 24% were wrong. The results do not account for our age, mobility (or lack thereof), class of service we were flying, travel savviness, familiarity with airports, luggage, visa/immigration/citizenship status, and many other factors. If you change one or more of these factors, the results may be very different. In short, if you ask the question “What is the minimum layover time for me to catch my flight?” you will get a lot of responses. Many of the responses are wrong and you won't ever know what is right and wrong until you attempt it yourself. That is why we say this is not a question you can crowdsource. There are just too many variables.

While this post may not outright tell you whether your layover is sufficient time, we hope it gives you food for thought and explains why you should not crowdsource this info.


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