People walking in the Chicago O'Hare Airport

On my left there is a rather large business man yelling in Dutch on his Blackberry and beginning to perspire. To my right, sits a lady looking slightly claustrophobic. We have been sitting on the tarmac for almost two hours in Charles de Gaulle International Airport (CDG), just outside Paris, France, waiting to disembark.  Unfortunately, CGD is so massive that there are not nearly enough gates for the amount of traffic they see each day. So unless you are on an Air France flight (Air France gets preference) you can expect a long wait when landing there.  As I sit watching other planes heading towards the runway, I realize that one of them is undoubtedly my connecting flight home to Boston.  Oh yeah, did I mention it is my birthday?

Years ago, I was traveling between Lucerne, Switzerland and Boston, MA quite often for work. We were required to book our own flights, sometimes with two connections. Catching a connecting flight is like walking into a casino. It is always a crapshoot, and the house usually wins.  Finding ways to control the stress of dealing with situations outside of your control will help you enjoy a more successful business trip and a more relaxing stay at home.  Here are some tips to ease the frustration of connecting flights and cool your jets (pun intended).

Always allow at least two hours between connections. Your first reaction may be to complain about sitting around the Frankfurt, Germany airport for couple of hours with nothing to do. Now think about missing your connection in Frankfurt and having six hours to visit the airport’s main attraction: the restrooms.

  • Use the internet to find a map of an unfamiliar connecting airport. A day or two before your flight, access the terminal floor plans to chart the shortest route between connections to save time. It will also ease the anxiety caused by navigating through a maze of signs, escalators and language barriers.  Of course, you will need to know your arrival and departure gates, but bring the chart with you just in case there are last minute changes.
  •  If possible, avoid airports that have a bad reputation:
    • United States: ORD (Chicago), JFK (New York City), LAX (Los Angeles), SFO (San Francisco), IAD (Washington DC), ATL (Atlanta), PHL (Philadelphia), BOS (Boston), LGA (New York City)
    • Europe: FRA (Frankfurt, Germany) , CDG (Paris, France) , LHR (London, England), FCO (near Rome, Italy), ATH (Athens, Greece)

This above list is compiled mainly from personal experiences. (If you want some other informed opinions, look at Travel and Leisure, Yahoo, Flightline and even Wikipedia.)  The above airports are both old and inefficient or under constant construction. Airports are always updating their facilities but rarely improving services.

Do you have any advice you’d like to share?


About The Author

John Wargo is a guest contributor to Healthy Travel Blog and a full time employee of HTH Worldwide. He hails from Philadelphia where he enjoys a slew of awesome activities including intramural kickball. His travel experience includes most of Europe, as far as Istanbul. During his college career he also attended the University of Valencia in Spain for two semesters. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Denison University in Granville, Ohio and hopes one day to be a contestant on the Price is Right.

1 Comment

  1. I completely agree with the 2 hour rule. By the time you de-plane, find your connecting gate and get there, you’ve used up at least a half hour. Since flights generally board at least 30 minutes before (60 for international), you really only have an hour at most to wait. Get a sandwich, grab a drink at the bar in the concourse or buy an interesting magazine. Have a few extra minutes to kill is way better than missing your connection.

    Also, if you can take an airline that has a lower/no charge for changing/canceling a flight, that may be your best bet (e.g. Southwest has no charge). Though you’d like to think the airline will get you on the next flight for free, you never know and this can help you save some money if you miss your connection.

    Finally, would it be less expensive/hassle to drive? Someone I know was recently connecting in Washington DC to come to Philadelphia. They missed their connection and instead of waiting around for another flight, they rented a car and drove. It took way less time!

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