Are Connecting Flights Always in the Same Terminal?


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About the author:

Co-founder and Editor at Connecting Flights Guide

Una is an organized globetrotter and foodie who’s been living a digital nomad lifestyle since 2013. She always starts her day early with a good book before diving into work. Apart from traveling and aviation, her other passions include gym, hiking and cycling. Una is also a strong proponent of AI technology. She firmly believes in its potential to simplify life and has often advocated for its wider adoption in our day-to-day activities. Her favorite airlines are Qatar Airways, Emirates, and KLM.

Are connecting flights always in the same terminal?

Whether connecting flights are in the same terminal or not depends on the airport and airline you’re flying with. Some airports have a central terminal where all airlines operate, while others (usually larger airports) have multiple terminals or concourses, which may require you to take a shuttle, train or walk a distance to reach your connecting flight.

Read on to learn more about transferring between terminals.


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A modern airport terminal

1. Are Connecting Flights Always in the Same Terminal?

It depends on the airport and airline.

Connecting flights may take off from the same terminal, but often they do not.

Many airports have multiple terminals and separate areas for different airlines, so connecting flights may depart from different terminals or gates within the same airport.

Additionally, some airlines offer connecting services at their own hubs, where all of their flights depart from the same area. In this case, you would stay in the same terminal for your connecting flight.

When booking a trip with a layover, be sure to check the details of your travel itinerary so that you know which terminal or gate your connecting flight departs from. Depending on how long your layover is, you may need to leave the airport in between flights. If so, you should plan ahead and familiarize yourself with the airport’s layout, as well as be aware of any transportation options that are available, such as shuttles or buses.

Additionally, it is important to account for security lines and other delays when planning your route.

By preparing in advance and knowing the details of your travel itinerary, you can make sure that you arrive at the right airport terminal on time and have a successful connecting flight.

2. Transferring Between Terminals: Transportation

Are connecting flights always in the same terminal?

They could be. But if they are not, you will need to get from one terminal to another. There are several ways how you can get between terminals in large airports:

  1. Shuttle bus. Many airports provide free shuttle buses that run between terminals. Look for signs indicating where to catch the shuttle bus or ask airport staff for directions.
  2. Airport train. Some large airports have an inter-terminal monorail or tram system that can be used to get around more quickly. These trains run between terminals or to nearby parking garages. They are often free or require a small fee.
  3. Moving walkways. Moving walkways, also known as travelators, are walkways that move passengers along a path. They can be found in many airports to help passengers get from one terminal to another.
  4. Walkways or tunnels. Depending on the layout of the airport, there may be walkways or tunnels that connect terminals. Look for signs or ask airport staff for directions.

For smaller airports, moving walkways, pathways or tunnels are typically sufficient for transportation between terminals. In some cases, due to the airport’s layout and design, providing other type of transport may not be feasible.

When transferring flights at a small airport, still make sure there’s ample time between them. For an airline-protected flight, airlines suggest no less than two hours in order to avoid any delays or complications. In some cases, however, shorter layovers (1 hour or even 45 minutes) have been successful due to airlines factoring in minimum connection times as well as the design of airports and baggage handling processes.

Rain Vortex Waterfall in Changi Airport, Singapore
Changi Airport Skytrain and Rain Vortex Indoor Waterfall – Changi Airport in Singapore is one of the best airports in the world!

2.1 How To Get Between Terminals?

How to travel between terminals?

How to get between terminals at Heathrow, Singapore Changi, New York JFK Airport or other large airport?

For those who are travelling to and from an airport, it is important to know how to get between terminals. Depending on the size of the airport, the distance between terminals can be significant and it is essential to know what options are available in order to make your travel easier.

  1. Follow the signs. Once you arrive at the airport, follow the signs to your connecting flight’s terminal. Airports typically have signs and maps that can help you navigate between terminals.
  2. Use airport transportation. Many airports have shuttles or trains that can transport passengers between terminals. Look for information desks or signs that can guide you to these transportation options.
  3. Walk. If the terminals are close enough, walking can be a good option. Follow the signs or ask airport staff for directions to the pedestrian walkways between terminals.
  4. Allow enough time. Give yourself plenty of time to transfer between terminals, especially if you need to go through security or customs again. It’s always better to have extra time than to be rushing to make your connecting flight.
  5. Check your bags. If you have checked baggage, make sure it’s tagged to your final destination. Some airlines have agreements with other airlines to transfer baggage, so check with your airline to see if this applies to you.
  6. Ask for help. If you’re unsure about anything or need assistance, don’t hesitate to ask airport staff for help. They can guide you to your connecting flight’s terminal and answer any questions you have about the transfer process.

3. Transferring Between Terminals: Luggage

What happens to checked baggage on connecting flights?

If you have an airline-protected connecting flight, you don’t have to worry about your bags. In most cases, they will be transferred to your final destination.

What if your connecting flight is operated by 2 or more airlines?

In many cases, airlines may have partnerships or codeshare agreements with other airlines, allowing you to check-in for both flights at the same time and have your baggage transferred automatically to your connecting flight, even if they are in different terminals and operated by different airlines. As long as it’s a connecting flight booked under one booking reference number, your bags will be taken care of.

Read more: Connecting Flight Baggage Transfer: Different Airlines

4. Transferring Between Terminals: Boarding Passes

If you have an airline-protected flight with the same airline, you can get all of your boarding passes when checkin in for your flight online.

All you have to do is to check in online and download boarding passes. Usually check-in starts not earlier than 24-48 hours before the flight. You will receive email from your airline informing about that.

We have an in-depth guide on connecting flights. There you can learn about the differences between airline-protected connecting flights and self-transfer flights. In short, the former are several flights booked as a single journey, while the latter — separately booked flights.

What if your connecting flight is operated by two or more airlines?

So, even if it’s an airline-protected flight connection, booked directly, it may still be operated by two different airlines. Sometimes there are three or four airlines. For example, you booked a connecting flight from Lufthansa, and one of your flights is operated by airBaltic or Austrian Airlines, their partner airline.

In this case, you may need to check in at the airport. Wait until online check-in is available. Usually it starts not earlier than 24-48 hours before the flight. Try to check in online. If that’s not possible on neither airline’s website, don’t worry about that. Arrive to airport 2-3 hours before the flight, and check in there.

Learn more: How to get boarding passes for connecting flights?

Are connecting flights always in the same terminal? They could be. It’s important to check your itinerary and terminal maps before your trip to ensure you know where you need to go for your connecting flight. If you’re not sure, you can always ask airport staff or the airline for assistance to make sure you don’t miss your connection.

About the author:

Co-founder and Editor at Connecting Flights Guide

Una is an organized globetrotter and foodie who’s been living a digital nomad lifestyle since 2013. She always starts her day early with a good book before diving into work. Apart from traveling and aviation, her other passions include gym, hiking and cycling. Una is also a strong proponent of AI technology. She firmly believes in its potential to simplify life and has often advocated for its wider adoption in our day-to-day activities. Her favorite airlines are Qatar Airways, Emirates, and KLM.

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