Booking a flight with at least one layover can save you $100 or more on a trip, says George Hobica, founder and president of the website Airfarewatchdog. But it also increases travel time—and the chance that delays could make you miss your connecting flights. If your trip involves a connection, follow these tips to increase your chances of making it to the next gate on time—and decrease the likelihood of getting stranded far from your destination.

Lengthen Your Layover

In theory, any ticket that involves connecting flights should allow you ample time to make your connections. But that’s assuming that you arrive at your connecting airport on time. In reality, things rarely go that smoothly. “I wouldn’t book a ticket that gives you less than 2 hours to connect on domestic flights, or 4 hours on international routes,” Hobica advises.

Sit Near the Front

Sitting near the front of the cabin can easily shave 15 minutes off your deplaning time, Hobica says. Let flight attendants know you have a tight connection so they can help you get out quickly.

Work Your Apps

Your airline’s app should give you updated info on boarding gates and on delays for each leg of your journey so that you know where you’re going and can start rebooking, if necessary, ASAP. The apps FlySmart and GateGuru (free for Android and Apple) have terminal maps for all major airports to ensure you don't head down the wrong terminals to your connecting flights.

Avoid the Day’s Last Flight

If you miss your connection and it’s the last one of the day, you’ll be stranded until you can get another flight to your destination. The airline might provide overnight accommodation—but that’s often not the case. Usually, it will only rebook you on the next available flight.

Stay Away From Certain Airports

Whenever your trip involves connecting flights, avoid traveling from or through airports that are prone to delays. Of the country’s busiest airports, these eight had the worst on-time departures performance between January and May of this year: Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International, LaGuardia Airport, Miami International, San Francisco International, Chicago O’Hare International, John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, and Los Angeles International. You can find on-time arrival and departure statistics data for the largest U.S. airports and airlines on a monthly basis in the Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report.




Editor's Note:
 This article also appeared in the October 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.