Canonical "do I need to recheck luggage?" question

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Do I need to go through security for a connecting flight at JFK?

For journeys between terminals, it’s free. To make your connection, follow signs for AirTrain. You will need to reclear TSA security once you arrive in your departure terminal.

Whats the difference between a layover and a connecting flight?

A layover is a broad term that means any connection between flights. … For them, a layover means an overnight stay while a connection refers to a shorter stop, but for fliers and travel providers, it’s ok to use these two terms interchangeably.

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Do I really need to be at the airport 3 hours early?

Both United and American Airlines require travelers to check in at least 60 minutes before most international flights. … Another reason to leave three (or more) hours before your international flight: Just because you’re running late, doesn’t mean you can skip to the front of the security line.

How many hours before flight should you arrive?

When you’re traveling within the United States, we make the suggestion to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours prior to departure.

Whats the Minimum Layover Time When Traveling with Checked Luggage?

The ABSOLUTE minimum time you need for a short layover is 30 minutes for domestic flights and 60 minutes for international flights. Assuming you arrive on time, you won’t have to recheck your luggage, and the customs and security lines will be short enough that you’re sure to catch your next flight on time.

That being said, I never book flights with such short layovers. I recommend booking flights with 2-hour layovers for domestic flights and 3-hour layovers for international flights. Most people who travel frequently generally agree with this rule, and some even prefer to add an additional hour to the layover.

You should allow more time for layovers because often planes will be delayed for 20-60 minutes. I can say confidently from my own experience, that this happens maybe once in every four flights. Also, sometimes you may face double security, or security and customs lines could be unusually long on that particular day.

Personally, I like to freshen up, get some fresh air, and have a meal during an extra-long layover. Having this much free time can help you to avoid much of the stress that you might accumulate during transit.

How to Know When Youll Have to Recheck Your Luggage

Usually, passengers don’t have to recheck their bags when they’re flying domestically. The main purpose of rechecking luggage is for the customs to make sure that you’re not bringing in anything illegal from another country, like perishable foods, or plants. If your destination is in the same country, there’s no need for it.

The only instance where you’d have to recheck your bag when flying domestically is if both airlines didn’t have an interline agreement. But this will be a rare occurrence, as most airlines have these agreements nowadays.

If, however, you’ll be flying internationally, it’s likely going to be a different story. Though this can heavily depend on which countries you’ll be flying through.

If you’re connecting in the U.S., they require everyone from international flights to re-check their baggage upon the first landing point. For instance, if you were flying Paris – New York – Dallas, you’d have to pick up your bag in New York, go through the customs, and then drop off your bag again for your next flight to Dallas.

Other countries, like Australia, don’t require you to re-check your luggage when you’re connecting internationally but do when you’re connecting domestically. For instance, if you’d be flying Singapore (Asia) – Sidney (Australia) – Wellington (New Zealand), you wouldn’t have to re-check your bag in Sidney, because your next destination is New Zealand. If, however, you’d be flying Singapore (Asia) – Sidney (Australia) – Melbourne(Australia), you’d have to re-check your bag at Sidney.

In Europe, usually, you’ll have to re-check your bags only if your destination airport doesn’t have customs. For instance, if you were flying New York (USA) – Amsterdam (Netherlands) – Girona (a Smaller Spanish airport without customs near Barcelona), you’d have to re-check your bag in Amsterdam, because Girona doesn’t have customs facilities. If, however, you’d be flying New York (USA) – Amsterdam (Netherlands) – Barcelona (Spain), you wouldn’t have to re-check your bags at Amsterdam, because Barcelona has customs facilities.

And when you’re flying through other countries, especially if the connection airports are small, it’s best to assume that you’ll have to recheck your bag at every connection. So if you’re purchasing tickets separately, make sure that the connection times are long enough. You may also want to do some prior research pertaining to your layover destinations and specific airports, just to make sure you don’t get caught out.

Read Next: How Long Can You Stay In an Airport?

What happens with checked luggage on a layover?

For domestic layovers, your checked luggage will be tagged to your final destination, so there’s nothing for you to do while on your layover. Your bags will get taken off the first flight and loaded onto the second flight.

For international layovers, this varies depending on the airport and the country where your layover is.

If you fly from somewhere outside the US or Canada to an airport in the US or Canada, you will have to collect and recheck your luggage no matter where you’re going on your second flight.

In most other countries, as long as both of your flights are on the same airline or partner airlines, your luggage will get transferred from the first to the second flight for you.

Again, if you’re not sure, just ask the agent when you’re checking in if you will need to collect and recheck your luggage at your layover airport.

Avoid luggage worries by learning how to pack light and travel carry-on only! Check out the best carry-on luggage.

Duty-Free and Connecting Flights

If you purchased anything from duty-free and it is over the liquid requirements for carry-on luggage (3.4 ounces), make sure to put your purchases in your checked luggage after you clear customs.

Why?

You were able to purchase duty-free after you cleared security for your first flight. When you go through customs, you will need to go through security again. Your duty-free booze is likely too big to be allowed to go through security.

If you don’t put it in your checked bag, you will be forced to either throw your item(s) away or drink it on the spot when you go through security the second time. This woman didn’t know about the restrictions and had to drink her liquor. If you’re checking bags, you may like one of these beauties! 

Liquids can only be 3.4 ounces and go through security, even if you purchased it in duty-free. Many people end up having to throw away their duty-free purchases because they can’t bring them through security and it is too late to go back and put them in their checked bag.

Photo by Calle Macarone on Unsplash

Photo by Calle Macarone on Unsplash

Do you have to go through security on your layover?

Like most things, this varies on the airport. The simple answer is you will probably have to go through security.

For most domestic layovers, you won’t have to go through security again. However, some airports have separate security checkpoints for each terminal, so if you land in one terminal and your next flight is in another, you would have to go through security again.

On international layovers, even those where there is a transit area, you will most likely have to go through security.

Some airports in other countries have security checks for each individual gate or a small group of gates. In this case, you will have to go through security again, but it should be a short line.

There’s also the chance your first flight lands in the same area your second flight leaves from, in which case you might be able to stay within the secured area and not have to go through the security check again.

Unfortunately this means any liquids you purchased beyond security at the first airport won’t make it through security at the layover airport.

For a better travel experience, check out these 30 airport hacks every traveler should know from my friend Eden at Mint Notion.

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