Travel Noob; Is a 32 minute layover too short for two first time fliers?

posted 1 month ago in Travel
Post # 31
7778 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

I have flown through ATL a billion times…32 minutes is enough time if everything is running exactly on time and you know where you’re going. Otherwise no! There are like six terminals connected via trains, and each terminal is practically a mile long. Even if your flights are on the same airline, they could be in totally different terminals and at opposite ends of those terminals. 

I always like to have 1.5-2 hrs for layovers, just less chance of getting screwed. Also, I don’t know where you live, but if there’s an airport a little farther away that you could fly out of and only have one connection rather than two I’d prefer that. Again, less chance of getting screwed!

ETA: I see a lot of people saying it won’t be too bad if you miss your connection. Yeah, that is true if there are additional flights that day with space on them, and you only have one connection! But it doesn’t always pan out like that. If it’s the last flight out of the day you will be screwed and it will be on you to pay for a hotel in the area if the delay is due to weather, which they almost always try to claim it is! And if it’s weather related you can expect long ass lines at customer service since there will be hundreds of passengers in the same boat, and perhaps zero hotels left in the area, so you may be forced to sleep on the floor of the airport. 

With a long ass flight like going to hawaii, you may have to wait til the next day since there may not be multiple flights there per day, delaying your vacay by a day and losing money on a hotel you’ve booked in Hawaii. I guess I’ve just been screwed one too may times with this type of thing so I would really try to avoid a 30 min layover if at all possible!!

Post # 32
14882 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

If the airline scheduled it like that, I’d go with it.  It’s tight, but I’ve done it a bunch, I dont think they’d schedule it like that if it wasn’t possible.  And if you miss it cause they are running late, they are still responsible for getting you there.

If you’ve booked separate flights with that connection time and the missed flight would be on you, then no way.

Post # 33
9074 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2013

another thing to note that i didn’t see mention above.  boarding typically stars 30 minutes before departure time listed.  so really, you would have 20 minutes at most to deplane and book it over to the other gate.

i once had a really tight layover when flying to costa rica.  my luggage did not make my connection.  the airline or airport brought it to me 30 hours later.  they had to wait for another plane to coasta rica and then drive it up to where i was.

Post # 34
1213 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2019 - City, State

It is short, but if you’re packed so that you can run if need be, then it’s doable.  Make sure to tell the flight attendant that you have an extremely short connection time.  It’s likely other people on the same flight will be connecting with you, and sometimes they’ll ask passengers to stay seated so people who are crunched for time can get off first.  Just be prepared to actually run, because it’s likely you’ll need to.

Post # 35
63 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: May 2020 - City, State

If you do this itinerary and miss your flight, don’t panic! Just go to the customer service counter (you can usually find them just walking down a terminal, but don’t be shy about asking someone if you aren’t sure where it is). They will book you on the next flight, and they should do it without issue if you’ve booked it with the same airline and there was some slight delay or whatever.

My last flight I missed my connection (ATL basically closed due to freezing rain and the entire East Coast was basically effed… my connection was in Charlotte), just missed the doors even after sprinting through the airport. A lot of sh*t had hit the fan in my personal life that day too, and I NEEDED to get home. I’ve flown a lot, but I was still freaking. 

Got rebooked and landed home only about an hour after I was originally supposed to, no big deal.

So if there aren’t any other options for your flight, just do it. It’s not the end of the world if you miss a connection! 

I also don’t know that I agree with people about not checking bags. I’d rather NOT have to deal with dragging a suitcase in a stressful situation, thanks! So I would just check the darn bags, and carry-on a backpack/purse (with a day’s change of clothes on the very slight possibility your bag doesn’t make it to your destination with you). They’ll get your bag to where you’re going. Let them worry about it.

Post # 36
248 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2020

I think it is technically possible, but as first time flyers on a very important trip I would not risk it.  You want this first experience flying to be as low stress as it can be traveling.  You are going to be worried about rushing and running and wondering if you will make your flight.  Any delay is going to send your anxiety up.  Not being able to go to the bathroom when you really need to because you have to run across the airport is not going to be good.  See if you can rebook for a longer layover. 

Post # 37
2360 posts
Buzzing bee

It’s true that if you miss your flight due to a short connection they’ll rebook you, but IMO that’s still risky because that airline might not have another flight from that airport for hours. And they may need to reroute you and give you another layover to catch a flight leaving a different city. Not ideal if you need to arrive by a certain time or you have limited travel time. 

Something else that hasn’t been mentioned yet is that layovers (with enough time built in) are sometimes nice on long haul flights. Assuming you’re going from the East Coast to Hawaii, that’s a pretty long time you’ll be on a plane. If possible I’d try to get a layover further west so that you can get off the plane and stretch/eat midway through the flight (unless it’s a redeye that you’ll be able to sleep through). Planes are not very comfortable for long periods and on longer flights I actually welcome being able to get off — with enough time to get up and walk around/stretch, use a real bathroom, grab some food. (Everything at airports is overpriced though so if you can pack snacks and reading material in your carry ons, that’s always recommended.) 

Post # 38
1326 posts
Bumble bee

Atlanta is the busiest passenger airport in the world.  A 30 minute layover is a crapshoot.  If you’re already a nervous traveler I would not book this itinerary if I could help it.  I’m not a nervous traveler and I would not book this itinerary.

I fail to see what difference it makes to carry on vs check a bag as a few people have suggested.  Your checked bags are going all the way to Hawaii.  In fact, a bulky/heavy carry on would be what to avoid in this scenario.  A 30 minute layover requires optimum speed on foot.


Post # 39
6337 posts
Bee Keeper

smalltownbigworld :  not enough time at all!  Planes can be late and you run the risk of being on opposite ends of the gates

Post # 40
9210 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

Hope you like running through ATL lol.

That airport is the bane of my existence. 

Post # 41
1444 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2019 - Cortland, NY

PPs are right. Just adding that the likelihood of everything being okay does increase with earlier flights. 5 am flights are way less likely to run late than an 8 pm flight. 

Post # 42
990 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2016

I agree that ATL is particularly bad for that–I’d imagine if the airline is booking that ticket, the second flight would be out of the same terminal, but you never know with that airport. It sounds like you’ve already booked it though, so if you can’t change I would just go with it and try not to stress–I really think that chances are you’ll make it. If not, they’ll rebook you on the next flight automatically (many airlines will update your boarding pass on your app without even needing to go to customer service when you land). If it’s just a bit behind, they also may hold the next plane for a few minutes to allow connecting passengers to get to the gate. Good luck and have fun on your trip! 

Post # 43
1856 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

smalltownbigworld :  Who are you flying through? I know that if they changed your flight to an unnatainable layover, you should get to change your flight for free (at least through delta). I live in minneapolis, and the airport is big, I would allow at least an hour. I’ve had tight layovers in Atlanta before, and they are nearly impossible. 1 hour is pushing it. There is a train between areas, that is how big it is. We had a 1 hour layover there in February and just barely made it. 

Post # 44
2307 posts
Buzzing bee

I would never willingly choose a short layover when flying through ATL.  That airport is the absolute worst for short layovers because of the size.

If you have no choice in the matter, just take a look at the map that they will have in your seat back pocket of the plane (or pull it up on your phone ahead of time), then talk to the flight attendant and find out which gate you are flying into and which gate you are flying out of.  Map out your plan before you land and prepare to run.

We had to do this before because of a delayed flight and we made it with seconds to spare.  

Post # 45
1216 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

I’m a pretty seasoned traveler and that’s wayyy too tight of a layover for me- I’d never book anything less than an hour (and am most comfortable with at least 90 mins). That’s mostly my risk tolerance though- I’m always the person who leaves super early to get to the airport just in case since I’d rather be sitting around for an hour waiting for my flight than get stuck in traffic and potentially miss it or have to make a mad dash. Meanwhile I know people who think if they don’t get there right as their flight is being called for boarding than they got there too early.

Could you physically make it? Probably- if your airline is offering that flight schedule to you then they certainly think it’s physically possible. But those are going to be LOOONG flights and as others have said- you’ll want some time to walk around, use a real bathroom, charge your electronics, and get some food- sure there MIGHT be food available for purchase on the plane but you’ll have a pretty small selection. You’re going to need and want some time to relax rather than dashing off between terminals. Otherwise it’s going to be a really long and stressful day. 

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