My Vacation Lady is pretty spoiled in that we have tons of nonstop flight options from the New York area. But there a certain destinations that we can’t fly to nonstop and, as much as we hate them, the flights require a layover.
Here are 5 tips on surviving an airport layover:
- Download some apps in advance of your trip. Apps like GateGuru (terminal maps, dining and shopping options), LoungeBuddy (find an airport lounge), Mobile Passport (for those without Global Entry – this can help speed your way through Customs), Grab (browse menus around the airport, order and pick it up) and MiFlight (will tell you how long the waits are at TSA checkpoints) can help you survive a layover.
- Make sure you have enough time between flights. While 30-45 minutes between flights may be a LEGAL connection, consider the time it may actually take you to get from one gate to another or get between terminals. For instance, if you are heading home from the South Pacific through LAX, you are going to land at the Tom Bradley International Terminal (terminal B) but your domestic flights back home will be in terminals 1-8. The domestic terminals are a walk or shuttle ride away. Give yourself 3 hours to go thru customs and immigration, collect your luggage and get yourself to the next terminal. You’ll need to check in your luggage and go through TSA security again.
- Lounge access- some credit cards will give you lounge access and those lounges can be a life saver. Free internet, food and drinks with comfortable seats can help make a long layover tolerable. Some even have showers to freshen up. If you fly first class (at least on United), lounge membership is included. There are some plans that will allow you to purchase lounge membership for a fee (https://www.prioritypass.com/en/Select) and there are other lounges that will allow you to purchase a day pass.
- Airport entertainment – as strange as that sounds, many airports offer things to see and do while you are stuck on a layover. Nashville International Airport offers 100 free events and concerts a year. San Francisco International has an art museum. Munich airport features an “Oktoberfest” for travelers with a beer garden and brewery. Check out the Space Museum in the Honolulu Airport. Spas, children’s play areas, shopping areas and even movie theaters can help you pass the time. Check on the airport’s website to see what amenities they may offer.
- Get out of the airport and explore the city- if (and ONLY IF) you have enough time, get out of the airport and explore. Minneapolis (MSP) is only a 6 minute light rail ride to the Mall of America. Amsterdam is one city that you may explore during a long layover at the airport. There are actually “layover tours” in London to spend some time exploring the city instead of sitting at the airport. While JFK is only a dozen or so miles from Manhattan, traffic will often make the trip much longer than is safe to venture out of the airport unless you have a multi hour layover. Always consider the amount of time that you have in an airport before even thinking about leaving. The last thing you want to do is to miss your next flight.
While we, at My Vacation Lady, always try to offer our clients the best possible connections during a layover, sometimes long layovers are unavoidable. The best source of what there is to see and do at the airport is the airports’ websites.
Let the team at My Vacation Lady help plan your next vacation or your dream honeymoon!