Are some transit times simply too short for the traveller?

By David Flynn, January 21 2019

TALKING POINT | You know the feeling. We all do. Having just stepped off a long flight of 8-12 hours, you make a beeline for the lounge, grab a bite to eat, pop open your laptop or fire up your smartphone to check emails and catch up on the news, all the while racing the clock before boarding starts for the next onwards leg of your flight.

Travellers often argue against the coming wave of non-stop flights such as Sydney and Melbourne to London and New York in favour of a short break.

But do you ever feel that break is too short?

That was certainly the case for me when Qantas flew to London via Dubai – there was barely an hour in Emirates' sprawling Dubai business class or first class lounges.

Today's Sydney-Singapore-London routing of QF1 is also on the tight side: QF1 reaches Singapore at 10.05pm and takes wing to London at 11.55pm, while the QF2 return leg lands in Singapore at 5.45pm and continues on its way at 7.15pm.

For the red-tailed Airbus A380 superjumbo, that's between 90 and 110 minutes on the ground.

But for passengers, it's rather less. You can allow a good 10-15 minutes from the arrivals gate reach the Qantas Singapore Lounge – and due to the Singapore Changi Airport's per-gate security checks, you'll want to be back at the departure gate a good 30 minutes before the flight is scheduled to depart.

So now your loungetime – the amount of time you will actually spend in the lounge – is within the range of roughly 45-60 minutes.

60 minutes can be enough for a shower, a meal and a drink if you're organised, but 45 minutes is often just about enough for a relaxed meal and a drink or two – as long as you don't get waylaid by duty-free shopping.

And while technically that's long enough, I sometimes wonder if the stopover wouldn't be a bit more enjoyable if it was a bit longer – if one didn't have to be ever-mindful of the next flight, or keep one's eye on the clock, but instead could relax a bit more, settle back and after all those long hours in the air, basically 'decompress'.

It's a potential point in favour of some hub airports with a high frequency of flights – for example, if you're flying from Sydney to London with Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific, the wide range of flights on both legs means that travellers can plan for a longer layover.

What's your take – is 45-60 minutes in the lounge sufficient for a stopover between very long flights, or should there be a bit more time in transit?

David
David

David Flynn

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

motef

motef

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2015

Total posts 43

I thought this exact issue when recently travelling on QF11 from SYD to JFK via LAX.

By the time we arrived only slighlty late, disembarked, got our bags, dropped our bags and cleared all the customs etc I think we sat in the lounge for about 15mins to get something to eat.

It all felt very rushed. Even the QF ground staff at LAX were rushing people

megmcw

megmcw

24 Jul 2015

Total posts 3

45 minutes plus IN the lounge and I would be happy. With Etihad you are lucky to get 10 mins. Certainly for economy class passengers not worth paying to use the lounge. Recently on all,our Etihad flights we have barely had time to sit down, let alone shower. Most of their scheduling allow for about 60 to 90 mins on the ground. Very rushed, especially coming from London where they are inevitably late leaving.

SYDINI

SYDINI

16 Jan 2018

Total posts 67

If you went by the airport minimum connect requirements then is the time you need to do all of that - minus going to the lounge. Any lounge access means adding the time you want to spend there on top of that. Lounge access isn’t given to the majority. So the rules for the majority are always displayed.

Zolan

Zolan

28 Jul 2011

Total posts 5

I definitely prefer a longer transit time, in fact my favorite is around 4-6 hours in places like HK or Singapore where I can take a fast train/taxi into the city, walk around the streets, have a local meal then back to the airport feeling like I have actually cleared my head of planes, airports, etc and done some well needed exercise. Then if I have time go to the lounge for a quick drink before going to the gate. This probably won't work for less efficient airports but is certainly achievable in HK and Singapore.

kimshep

kimshep

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 479

Whilst the article rests on the premise of lounge access availability time, there is a wider range of reasons why airlines keep intermediate layovers short. These include:

  • available take-off banks and slots
  • availability and timing of connecting flights
  • aircraft utilisation factors
  • regional weather issues
  • tardy rejoining passengers
  • costs incurred at 'partner' lounges (shorter time = lower cost)
  • inconveniencing non-tier / Economy passengers


Some destinations are worse than others. On QF's 7 SYD-DFW service it seems that there is generally always a 3-4 hour wait between arrival in DFW and connecting at second tier cities with AA flights.

drsimon50

drsimon50

qantas

10 Oct 2013

Total posts 113

i regularly do the EK BHX-DXB and on to ADL flight - and there is never enough time to even get to the lounge as boarding has generally already started for onwards flight - so no i dont think there is enough time at all - but i understand as per above from kimshep why! not all of us have lounge access to enjoy a sit down

Phil Young

Phil Young

Qantas

22 Oct 2012

Total posts 260

I much prefer longish transit times. Not only does it provide some relaxing time in the terminal or lounge, more importantly it provides a buffer of time in case the first flight is delayed. There is nothing worse than being anxious on a long-haul flight as to whether you'll make your connecting flight. If anything, I'd prefer to be bored for a little while than being anxious for several hours.

MarkivJ

MarkivJ

22 Jan 2018

Total posts 61

I always always have this issue with Cathay pacific flights. My corporate travel site doesn’t let me pick earlier departures (which would mean more transit time to enjoy those brilliant HKG lounges). Plus, their departures to HK are almost always delayed. As a result, I end up with less than an hour between my YVR/SFO arrivals to HKG and BLR/HYD departures (happens the other way around), I get just about enough time to shower, and go running to my gate (which, in that hot airport means I’m sweaty again by the time I reach the gate!).

oliverfreeman

oliverfreeman

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Dec 2017

Total posts 6

Yes! I agree. I personally fly Qatar Airways a lot from London to Perth, connecting in Doha. Qatar Airways only each flies once per day to Australian cities. The Perth flight leaves Doha at about 2:20AM (+4 GMT). There are two Qatar Airways flights that arrive at Doha from London which are good for Perth departure. The QR4 (A380) leaves a 1:20ish hour connection time. The QR4 has the reverse herringbone seats which I Iike but not as much as the QR8 flight which has the new, fabulous QSuite seats. This flight leaves London around 4pm and arrives Doha at 1:10AM (+4 GMT). It is nice to get that flight which those amazing QSuites, however, that flight only leaves you a 50minute connection in Doha. Given how crowded Doha is at that time of the night, I rarely hit the lounge (which the Al Mourjan Lounge is fantastic) when arriving on the QR8.

The flight lands at 1:10AM

Passengers deplaned by 1:20-1:25AM

That leaves 15 minutes before the gate closes (Qatar Airways is pretty strict with the ‘Gate Closes 20 Minutes Before Departure’ Perth flight due to a small block time)

15 minutes isn’t even time to get a drink at the lounge and have time to get back to the gate which (by the way) the QR900 Perth flight has occasionally started boarding before my QR8 has even arrived.

To answer your question, in my experience, there are times where connections are too short to visit the lounge.

Toria

Toria

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2018

Total posts 9

Recently I flew QF1, and if I hadn’t known exactly where the Qantas Singapore lounge was, I would not had enough transit time to make the dash worthwhile. I had just enough time in the lounge for a shower and 2 rushed drinks of lemon barley water before the hike back to the lounge, where boarding had commenced.

Jflyer

Jflyer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Aug 2017

Total posts 14

A plane sitting on the ground is not making revenue.

IntegralMan

IntegralMan

01 Sep 2018

Total posts 29

David, with respect, I think you're drawing a very long bow with this one.

An hour stopover is plenty of time to have a quick shower and bite to eat before heading back to jump on the next flight. There are often minor delays which provides a further buffer.

Ultimately, my priority is to get home as quickly and safely as possible.

Another point to take into account is that the vast majority of pax do not have lounge access. They have an even greater interest in avoiding spending time in the terminus.

As other posters have noted, airport slots and aircraft utilisation are key factors here for the airlines.

adethyasjce

adethyasjce

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jul 2018

Total posts 13

I agree with the point that one hour is plenty of time to shower and a quick bite - personally, I have done this many times in MEL J Lounge before I get onto my flight for work in SYD. In that being said, timing depends on how busy the shower is. There are instances I had to wait for 20-30 mins before the shower could become free (very rare occurance TBQH)

Usually when I do overseas trips, I add a domestic segment in as part of my trip to get more SC's


Is it alright to assume that the airport would want pax to spend more time in the airport as it could potentially lead to duty free sales, better use of food courts or use of massage spas etc ? I'd think with more pax in the terminals/shopping vicinity would mean more trade and business ?

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2322

No ‘long bow’, and we're certainly not suggesting that airlines should toggle to three-hour stopovers – I'm simply making an observation based on my own travel experience and asking readers to share their opinion on the matter.

adethyasjce

adethyasjce

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jul 2018

Total posts 13

My 2 cents :

When I'm connecting - I'd personally prefer 2-3 hours of transit time - it allows me to relax the muscles, take a shower, pour myself a nice drink and enjoy a light meal before I set foot back on the next leg of my journey.

There are times when I literally ran to the next flight with my name being called out asking to contact a ground staff ASAP

My thoughts resonate with those of @Phil Young - I'd rather be bored for a few hours than stay anxious for the next few hours .. happened to me in BNE (MEL-BNE-SIN-BLR) leg - My flight from MEL-BNE was early in the morning and BNE-SIN was early afternoon - gave me enough time to enjoy the lounge, nice meals and relaxed before the next flight

Lmc

Lmc

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Nov 2018

Total posts 52

I think everyone is different and for me if im flying for business i want a quick transfer and minimal delays, for leisure i like to relax between flights, shower, nice meal and a drink etc. Having first lounge access certainly helps!

rob01

rob01

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Nov 2011

Total posts 121

Internationally I'm usually flying SQ and always opt for a longer layover if possible. I'm just not interested in the stress of it all if my first flight is delayed. That being said, the staff at Changi are super efficient at facilitating these connections. I've gotten off delayed flights and seen a whole army of staff and golf carts ready to get people to their onward connections.

Rigs

Rigs

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Dec 2015

Total posts 30

It is a bit short. Mostly because it doesn't leave a lot of room for something to go wrong on a leg. I don't really care about the lounge experience, I just want to get there.

patrickk

patrickk

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 395

The issue can be transfer time. On a 777 flight to Dubai that was parked out in the back blocks of the field it took us one hour to get to the terminal. The two hour transit time quickly became a mad scramble. I prefer a couple of hours at the least for a transfer but airliines don't like that as there is a temptation for more lounge time. I will call to book an earlier flight if it is not on the web and there is only a little over an hour transit time.

oldfolky

oldfolky

02 Mar 2013

Total posts 27

I prefer longer transit times when going to Europe, i’ll even overnight in the transit city. Stopping for a nice meal and a walk around Hong Kong or Tokyo is much preferred to the midnight dash in Dubai.

I’ve done this in Seoul and Shanghai as well but Hong Kong and Tokyo are easiest for a stop of less than 24 hours.

moa999

moa999

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1374

With more and more direct flights thanks to greater flying range, the stopover will become a thing of the past.

MRYJDrake

MRYJDrake

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

31 Oct 2016

Total posts 70

Oooh, disagree strongly here.

While a vast number will choose direct routes, the hub and spoke method will continue in earnest and layovers will continue. Because unless absolutely essential, I can't imagine spending 17 odd hours in the same seat without at least one stop.

Andrew Barkery

Andrew Barkery

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Mar 2011

Total posts 265

Yes, and the airlines are smart enough to make the cheapest connection city fares with the shortest connection times.

1hr15mins to transit from a QF flight to an AirNZ flight in MEL, this really puts me at a disadvantage from ADL, if I want to fly J and see what the AirNZ MEL J int lounge is like, even if its in the basement.

A lot of flights from MEL to AKL (apart from the mid morning one with a very short connection time from ADL), is with AirNZ is on the 320 without a J service.

And joining Koru lounge as a member is very $$$.

tris06

tris06

China Airlines - Dynasty Flyer

22 Sep 2012

Total posts 68

Well definately depends on the passenger. Those with lounge access like myself quite enjoy 2-4hr stops which makes me feel less stressed and yet not too long sitting around. Those without lounge access (the great majority of passengers, maybe 93-95 percent of the total passengers on the plane) prefer as short as possible to get to their destination (30-60mins). I find planes even in premium cabins not always so comfortable for like sleeping. But I do try to make each time I fly an experience to enjoy. So the lounge is part of that experience. Often also during my stopovers in the early morning or evening the showers are in demand so you may need to wait up to an hour to get in a shower.

jch

jch

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

15 Nov 2017

Total posts 52

I really enjoyed my Singapore airlines flights from Beijing to Perth i.e two ~5/6 hour legs. Have dinner in Beijing Friday night, leave around midnight, basically walk straight to the gate of the flight to Perth (i.e. stretch the legs), then arrive in time for a late lunch. Wouldn't make sense to extend the transit time, but I can understand if travelling long haul between time zones where this would make sense. Specifically thinking of SYD-SIN-LHR.

andyf

andyf

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Dec 2014

Total posts 113

It depends on lounge as well, and how busy it is, doesn't it?

E.g. a few hours stuck in SIA's lowly Kris Gold lounge in Singapore is no good. While I'm sure their First Class lounge is much more pleasant.

Stephen D

Stephen D

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

12 Nov 2017

Total posts 15

The Private Room is even better! So quiet and peaceful and the most wonderful food...although service is hard to come by.

turbojezz

turbojezz

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2014

Total posts 127

2 hours is the absolute minimum for a connection time for me. i have connected in dubai for 8-10 hours and it was actually bliss! two showers, a nap, lots of great food! it was awesome!

Libertyscott

Libertyscott

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 150

If you want a short transit time, try NZ1/2 AKL-LAX-LHR. The LAX transit involves disembarking, going through passport control and then through security again before returning to the departure lounge. This can take 30 minutes or well over an hour.

Frankly, as long as I have time to get a shower in a lounge and get changed, it's enough. I don't want more than 3-4 hours tops. I have had a HKG transfer which was barely enough to get to a lounge, have a shower and get to the gate for the final call.

Rufus1

Rufus1

04 Dec 2013

Total posts 122

Any longer than the minimum needed to have a shower and not have to run between gates is fine with me. While it might be nice to have a drink and a bite in the lounge, you'll find yourself being fed and watered on the next leg anyway.

tris06

tris06

China Airlines - Dynasty Flyer

22 Sep 2012

Total posts 68

True though again that may depend which class your flying with lounge access. I tend to never finish my meal on the plane when (rarely unless short haul flight). As I filled up pretty well In the lounge. But yes by far first priority was to shower.

aggie57

aggie57

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 148

On business trips I just want to get there. Time spent on the ground connecting is just wasted time, if I miss a connection there’s another plane and it’s only really an issue if I’ve got meetings immediately on arrival.

But for me traveling for pleasure is different, the travel is part of the trip and it’s always nice to treat the family. But the funny thing is they really don’t care. More than once we’ve sat out at the gate when we could easily have spent time in a lounge. Can’t win!

craigj77

craigj77

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

09 Aug 2016

Total posts 15

They ain’t makin’ money sitting on the ground..

Neon

Neon

31 Jul 2018

Total posts 7

Completely agree. Too long to stay close and wait. Too short to enjoy the time refreshing and relaxing at the lounge in a positive way. As Phil says, it doesn't take much to miss a connection with these close times.

AWA2602

AWA2602

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2013

Total posts 209

I've just enjoyed a very relaxing and leisurely jaunt between Australia and New York with CX via HKG. Being able to time my flights from Australia to HKG with onward departures gave me a nice 4-hour stopover in both directions. I was able to have a long soak in one of the glorious bathtubs in the cabanas followed by a light supper in the Wing First Class lounge on the way to the USA and a nice long shower, foot massage and a full four-course dinner on the way back to Australia. I loved being able to take my time wandering through the duty-free shops and actually catching my breath and enjoying the change of scenery in the lounges. It did make me think I'd still prefer a longer layover to the harried and frantic 90-120 minute ones we tend to see. Yes the overall travel time is longer but the sense of calm and relaxation has a range of other benefits.

ausJCP

ausJCP

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Aug 2014

Total posts 212

When flying MEL-DXB on QF, and then onward to LHR/CDG/DUS with EK, the transit times were consistently too short to get my checked baggage unloaded from QF and then loaded onto my EK flight... even with a 60+ min transit. The number of times I arrived at my destination with no baggage was borderline ludicrous. Surprising for such a well-engineered hub like DXB!

Bavarian

Bavarian

23 Aug 2012

Total posts 33

If I connect to the same aircraft, such as the LHR-SIN-SYD flight, a short connection is great - delays don't matter. I rather hate short connections when say connecting from SYD to CBR domestically afterwards, with all these unpredictable customs, immigration, bus transfers etc.
While just stopping I don't mind the lounge and shower - if there proper arrival lounges / showers.

Stevo58

Stevo58

04 Jan 2019

Total posts 3

I essentially only fly for travel/holiday experiences, so my business class flights for myself and partner are the start of our fun.

A few champas in the lounge before boarding and on our way. Being Krisflyer members, we always go through Singapore and find that two hours is needed to get to the Lounge, have a shower, eat etc and relax before trapsing off to the next boarding lounge.

This year, we are flying back fom Stockholm via Moscow and will have only 1 hr between flights...definitely not enough time after about fifteen hours of travelling.

So.... No! An hour is not enough between flights, makes no allowance for flight delays or time to walk through the airport just to get to a lounge etc.

OttoV

OttoV

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2018

Total posts 38

One of the great joys of flying can be the break between flights of over seven or eight hours. Imagine flying direct from Melbourne to LHR and connecting to Barcelona all in one day. Sadly in Perth the one and a half connection is barely sufficient for a shower; the two and a half break in LHR might be tight if a delay occurs. That is a total of more than twenty three hours of flying, albeit in J. With that schedule coming up in April, I would prefer a slightly longer transit time.

cow

cow

25 Aug 2017

Total posts 8

I do not think less than 2 hours is enough even for economy travellers without access to a lounge. We all need to stretch our legs, chill out and not stress about getting to our next flight

tris06

tris06

China Airlines - Dynasty Flyer

22 Sep 2012

Total posts 68

Most of the times I do desire the longer 2-3hr break in the lounge is when I come off a long flight to hop onto usually a shorter regional flight. One is like many others also not to worry about connections. When you fly east to west the day becomes extremely long and probably smelly if you last showered at 8-10pm in east asia or Australia arrive in Europe early to mid morning with or without a connection I have about reached my limit and really need that shower. Also often asian airlines run their cabins a little warmer and it is easy to sweat when trying to sleep.

Rita Cavanagh

Rita Cavanagh

01 Dec 2011

Total posts 11

I flew to UK last year and on the way home, we were late leaving MAN, so late into Muscat. I made the next flight, but my checked baggage didn't. As I was returning home and staying in Melbourne for a few nights, it didn't matter--my case was delivered to my hotel the next day. In May, I'm going to Africa on holiday, booked as a sale fare. I was concerned that there is only 1 hour transfer in SYD, but to change it would cost $400. However, the lady at QANTAS said that if I missed the connection, I'd be re-routed with another airline if necessary. It's cheaper to lose a nights accommodation in Jo'burg and not have to stay in SYD, so I'm taking the risk. As I only fly for leisure, I'd prefer a longer transit time, but I understand everybody's opinions.

Himeno

Himeno

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 918

Yes.

Due to the QF website being really bad, I was forced to book a 85 minute D>I connection at SYD for an upcoming trip next month, even though earlier flights into SYD were available. Every attempt to select those earlier flights resulted in the booking system erroring out.

Traveller14

Traveller14

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

A good travel agent should sort that out.

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