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Changing Airports: Things You Need to Know


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Connecting flight leaving from another airport?

Have you been looking for cheap flights, and noticed that there non-protected self-transfer connecting flights which involve change of airports? This means that you need to change airport because your connecting flight leaves from another airport that might be located at the other end of the city, or even further away — in another city altogether.

These type of connecting flights might be cheaper, but are they worth it?

Read on to find out more about such flights.

Dubai Metro
Metro in Dubai

Changing Airports: Things You Need to Know

You have booked a self-transfer flight which involves change of airports.

This means that you need to leave the airport to catch a connecting flight leaving from another airport. In this case, you are responsible for reaching the other airport on your own. You have to plan your transport and arrive in time in order to make your connecting flight. Not necessarily these are flights with different airlines. All your flights may also be with one airline. The former, however, is more likely.

Here’s your plan of action – step by step:

  1. Once you land, clear Immigration and Passport Control.
  2. Claim your baggage if you have any.
  3. Find a shuttle to the other airport (this is faster).
  4. If there’s no shuttle, find transport into the city.
  5. Change train (or bus) in the city to get to the other airport.

Alternatively, use a taxi to get to the other airport.

If you are planning on booking such a self-transfer flight, pay attention to a few important details. Here’s what you should keep in mind when booking a self transfer connection like this:

  1. Leave yourself plenty of time for your connection.
  2. Find out if you need a visa for transit like this.
  3. If there’s no visa, find out if there are other entry requirements (like, an entry form, etc.). Check these rules also shortly before the flight.
  4. Find out how long does it take to get from one airport to another?
  5. What mode of transport should you use?
  6. How much does it cost to get from one airport to another?

Now, let’s dive in deeper in and explore each of these in more detail.

Dubai Airport Entrance
Dubai Airport Departures

1. Leave Yourself Plenty of Time for Your Connection

How many hours should you leave between the flights?

Your best bet is something like half a day (6-8 hours).

Minimum time for this kind of transfer depends on the city you are transiting through. Changing airports in London won’t be the same as changing airports in Bangkok. Is it a big city? What’s the distance between the airports? Are you going to travel between the airports during the rush hour? What are the transport options between the airports?

Don’t forget that it will take time until you get off the airplane and collect your baggage. Quite often you will need to wait until your luggage arrives. What if there’s passport control? You’ll need extra time for that, too. Also keep in mind, that you need to arrive at the airport at least two hours before the next flight.

It all adds up:

  1. Time needed to leave the airport
  2. Traveling between airports
  3. Arriving 2-3 hours before the next flight

2. Do You Need a Visa?

Find out if you need a visa or transit visa.

Are there any entry requirements?

You will need to clear immigration before you claim your bag. This is necessary because you are going to leave the airport, to travel to the other airport where your connecting flights departs from.

If you are transiting through a country which doesn’t require you to have a visa, everything’s fine! Then you don’t need to worry about visas. Just find out if there are any other entry requirements, such as entry forms, COVID-19 tests, etc. 

If visa or transit visa is required, you may need to apply for it in advance. If you are transiting through the U.S., you need an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) or transit visa for this connection. This applies also to airline-protected connecting flights.

Find out more about transit visas.

Amsterdam Metro
Metro train in Amsterdam

3. How Long Does It Take To Get From One Airport to Another?

The other airport might be located at the other end of the city.

Or even further away — in another city altogether.

Take this into account when booking such a flight. Use Google Maps to find out what is the distance, and what is the minimum time for travel. Use travel forums like Tripadvisor, or Facebook travel groups, to learn more about other people’s experience doing the same.

See what taxi apps are available there, in this city, and if they are operating from the airport. Sometimes this will be your best option. You can also find out in advance, what is the average price for a taxi ride from one airport to another.

Uber, Yandex, Bolt and Grab are some of the most popular options.

4. What Mode of Transport Should You Use?

There are cities with limited transport options.

And there are cities with a wide variety of transportation options.

Often the easiest way to plan your journey is to use Google Maps. Just type in the destination, press “Show directions” and choose “Transit” option. This, however, doesn’t work in every city. 

Another great way is to use Moovitapp. You can use Moovitapp to see how you can get from Point A to Point B. In this case, from one airport to another. The app will show you all possible options. Unfortunately, this app also isn’t supported everywhere either. You can find country-specific transport apps on app store.

In Shaghai China
In Shanghai, China

5. How Much Does It Cost to Get From One Airport to Another?

You have not booked the flight yet.

You are thinking of booking the “change airport” option because it’s cheaper. But is it, really? OK, the plane ticket is cheaper. But what about transport, like taxi, train or bus fare? Often airports are located far from each other. There are situations when an airport may be located in a completely different city. And transport is not always cheap.

Let’s take Girona Airport for example.

This airport is often called Barcelona Girona Airport. The airport, however, is not actually located in Barcelona, but in Girona. It’s a city located 40-minute to 1.5 hour train ride away (depends on the train type). A train ticket from Girona Airport to Barcelona costs starting from 14 EUR. But then you still need to get to or from the Barcelona airport.

There are shuttle buses operating between Barcelona and Girona airports. The ticket price is around 20 EUR one way.

This is just one example. There are plenty of others.

Make sure to compare the total costs.

Have you ever booked a self-transfer flight which involves change of airports? Where was it? What was your experience? How much time did it take for you to transit between airports?

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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Connecting Flights Guide

Your go-to guide to air travel rules and regulations. Connecting flights, self transfer, onward tickets and more – we want you to understand air travel better

This article may contain compensated links. Learn more in our disclaimer.

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