One of the things that can really get your trip off to a bad start is missing a flight or having your luggage miss a flight. I recommend a minimum of 2 hours for a layover and if you are connecting to a smaller airline or going through a large airport (like London Heathrow or Dallas or Newark…) then allow even more time. Smaller airlines may be cheaper, but they also aren’t as reliable and can take longer to get your luggage to you if your luggage doesn’t arrive at the airport with you. (There were 2 ladies on one of my tours who went without their luggage for 4 days!) Then of course if you are going through a large airport, you most likely will have to go to a different terminal which can take a considerable amount of time and if your first flight is late, then you’re likely to miss your second flight. (Another 2 ladies missed a day tour they had scheduled prior to joining my tour.) Is it really worth it to save an hour at an airport when you are going on a trip that is a week long or more???
Fewer Connections = Less Problems
I recommend going to the site Trip Advisor and looking for flights from your home airport to your destination and trying to find the flight that has the least connections with the appropriate amount of time for layovers. You can check the box on the left for 2 stops – don’t go for more stops than necessary just to save money –> it can ruin your vacation!
Purchase Flights from the Airline
But I do not recommend purchasing your flight on tripadvisor or any other site that you use for comparison. I would recommend going to the major airline site and book the flight on their site. If you book on the airline site directly,
- you have a person to talk to if there is an issue regarding your flight,
- you can usually pick your seats and
- you can sign up for miles.
For instance, if you are flying from Dallas to Glasgow and American Airlines is the flight from Dallas to London (it says “operated by” below the flight), then go to the American Airlines website and search for flights from London to Glasgow. If you can’t find the same price on line, call them and ask for the specific times you saw on tripadvisor and see what price they can come up with.
Low Cost Carriers
In addition to searching on Trip Advisor, I also use 2 other airlines websites:
Iceland Air allows you to take a layover in Iceland. They have a fairly short layover in Iceland (near Reykjavík) but it is a small airport and they control the flight in and the flight out (both are on Iceland Air) so they make sure you make your connection.
Norwegian Air is a low cost airline but it has Dreamliner planes with better cabin pressure so you don’t feel as tired when you arrive to your destination. They fly to London Gatwick then you’d have to add your own flight (and transfer your luggage) to your final destination. (Be careful to fly out of Gatwick and not Heathrow because it is not fun to get between the two.) Some Norwegian flights may only fly on specific days of the week or specific times of the year but it is cheaper and the planes are new and nice.
See the example below: Use the sliders to set the earliest departure time and latest arrival time. If you select the first flight, then open the flight details, you’ll see that the layover is too short. The next 2 flights listed have similar longer layover times, but the second one leaving at 5:55 might be better because you’re more likely to be able to sleep on a later flight, and when you arrive 1:25pm it is closer to check-in time. But the 3rd one looks like it is operated by British Airways and has a lower “Fly Score” than American.
Some more notes:
I quit flying British Airways economy from Denver to London after they left me – at the gate – at London Heathrow airport while they worked on the plane for over 4 hours and made me miss 4th of July with my family. Their planes are old and don’t have air vents nor do they have wifi. Update 2023: BA is supposedly getting new planes and even though flying through LHR was a problem in 2022, flying through other countries like Germany and the Netherlands also had problems. Please call me or set up a chat if you want to discuss your specific flight options.
If you go to one of the sites where you can book hotels, flights & cars then use that to book the cheapest flight possible, I’ve seen a couple of issues with that:
- The layover time between flights may not be long enough so you end up missing your connection and your luggage also misses the connection so it can be delayed several days
- The cheapest flight may have you taking 4 or 5 flights when you only need 2 or 3 which causes a more likelihood of missing connections and losing luggage
- It’s harder to find things on their sites like where to enter passport information or to select your seats
I also had a couple who had purchased their tickets using the hopper app. They routed them from the UK to Chicago to Philadelphia. That intermediate flight (Chicago to Philadelphia) was cancelled, so Hopper rebooked them a day earlier so that meant that they were supposed to leave the UK before their tour was over. Hopper sent an email saying “You’ve been rebooked.” It took the couple a week of calling and not getting through and then calling and getting though but getting cut off multiple, multiple times before they finally got their flights fixed.