Travel Agony Aunt received the following question from a traveler in agony:
Dear Travel Agony Aunt, I just booked a trip Barcelona-Tokyo, changing planes in Amsterdam. Problem is, the layover in Amsterdam is just 35 minutes long! What is the best strategy to make sure that I don’t miss my second flight? I’ve noticed lots of budget fares have impossibly short transfer times, so any advice would be appreciated! Rachael, 24 years old, USA
Dear Rachael, I can relate to your problem, I have experienced a similar situation myself this summer, traveling from Rome, Italy to Las Vegas – an old leopard doesn’t change its spots! I had a 45-minute layover at Washington Dulles. To catch the connecting flight I had to run like a crazy woman, at my age! Fortunately, I did make the flight. The flight time between Barcelona and Amsterdam is approximately 2 hours so you should be fine. Here’s my 5-step action plan for you:
- Make sure to have some basic items in your carry-on bag. When layover times are that short, chances are that your checked luggage won’t make the connecting flight even if you do. Just to be on the safe side, pack the things you will need in the first 2 days at your destination in your hand luggage. That way, you won’t have to buy panties and a tooth brush to use while waiting for your checked luggage to arrive in Tokyo.
- When you check in for your first flight, make sure you remind the check-in staff that you are on a tight schedule and ask for a seat in the front of the aircraft, so that you are one of the first passengers off the plane when you arrive in Amsterdam. If your airline works with free seating, ask for priority boarding at a small surcharge, that way you will be one of the first people to board and you can pick the seat you want.
- Make sure you put your carry-on luggage in the overhead compartment directly above your seat, so that you don’t have to walk down the whole plane after touch down to get your bag in the back.
- Tell flight attendants on your flight to Amsterdam about your worries of missing the connecting flight. They will likely be able to reassure you that your flight will arrive in time. It’s a hassle for the airline to rebook you to a later flight and / or pay hotel expenses, so if the connecting flight is operated by the same airline, they sometimes wait for 5 or 10 minutes to assure you make the flight.
- Check the in-flight magazine for a map of Amsterdam Schiphol airport so that you will know where your terminal and gate are once you arrive. When the plane touches down and the doors open, make a run for it. Make sure you have local customer service phone numbers of your airline(s) at hand in case you have questions.
Enjoy your flights and your 35-minute Amsterdam vacation!