My Three Hour Layover Wasn’t Enough — Reader Mistake Story
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader David, who nearly missed an international connection:
A few years ago, I was traveling to Bohol in the Philippines. We booked one round-trip flight to Manila (MNL), and another (on a different airline) from Manila to Tagbilaran (TAG), leaving about three hours after our first flight was scheduled to land. I assumed that would be plenty of time, since we were arriving and departing from the same airport.
After landing an hour late and filling out forms for lost baggage, we still had about an hour to make our Bohol flight, which I thought would be fine since we just needed to get from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3. It turns out we couldn’t get there on foot, and since it was rush hour, we were told the shuttle would take 40 minutes to get between those two terminals of the same airport! There was no faster connection, so our only option was to hail a cab and convince him to drive like a maniac. We almost got into three accidents, but we made it two minutes before the gate closed.
If you’re booking two separate flights back-to-back, it’s customary to leave extra time to deplane, collect bags, and re-clear security. But don’t forget to also consider the transfer times between terminals; it can take longer than you think! I would recommend looking up the airport ahead of time so you know what to expect.
I agree with David that researching unfamiliar airports in advance is prudent, especially if you have a tight connection or need to get somewhere quickly upon arrival. Most major airports offer information like terminal maps and transit options online, but you can also find independent sites (like this transfer guide to Manila airport) that go into much greater detail. Some navigation apps also include interactive airport maps; TripIt Pro, for example, offers point-to-point navigation in 78 airports worldwide. All of these resources can help clarify what to expect on the ground.
No matter how efficiently you navigate an airport, however, you’re bound to run into problems if you don’t schedule enough time between flights. To that end, I recommend checking the minimum connection time (MCT) posted by your airline (and others serving that airport). You’re unlikely to be scheduled for less than the MCT if you’re transiting as part of a single itinerary, but if you’re arriving and departing on separate tickets, checking the MCT before you book is crucial.
Both Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific list minimum connection times of three hours between Terminals 1 and 3 at MNL, so while David assumed he had scheduled adequately, in reality he left little margin for error. He probably could have taken a leisurely pace if not for the late arrival and lost baggage, but delays are inevitable in the long run and you have to account for them. You can make up lost time if you don’t mind deplaning in beast mode and sprinting through the terminal. But if you prefer a more relaxed layover, just book the next flight out instead.
I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending David a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to firstname.lastname@example.org, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.
Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!
Featured photo courtesy of Albert777MAX /Wikimedia Commons
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees