Connecting flight: Meaning and Definitions | Useful information for passengers

In short, a connecting flight is one that requires passengers to change from one aircraft to another at a hub airport on the way to their final destination. The following paragraphs explain in greater detail what connecting flights are.

Why do connecting flights exist in the first place

Connecting flights facilitate air travel. They allow us to reach literary any point on the world’s map. A significant part of the flights served daily are part of networks similar to the public transport networks you find in a typical city. For example, if you want to get to work from your home, you may need to change a few buses. Similarly, If you need to get to some city around the world, you may need to change flights. 

Frequently used terms related to connecting flights


Stopover literally means “ a break in a journey”. Applied to connecting flights, stopover relates to the connecting point (the airport where you change flights). A connecting flight has at least 1 stopover. Complex itineraries may consist of multiple stopovers (for example if you hold a round the world ticket).

As per an alternative read, stopover is a break in a journey of over 24 hours. Anything less than that is referred to layover.

Layover vs Stopover

Layover literally means “ a period of waiting before a further stage in a journey”. Often layover and stopover are used as synonyms, but it is important to note the hue. Layover relates to time and stopover relates to place. For example a connecting flight with a layover of 4 hours at Heathrow airport means that you have at your disposal 4 hours to switch flights.

As some sources suggest, layover is a stopover, shorter than 24 hours. While it may sound confusing, both terms are practically identical. 

Long layover

Literally, long layover means that you have plenty of time to spend at the connection airport. Anything above 4 hours is generally considered a long layover. Many reservation systems indicate “long layover” with a special tag, so that you are aware. Some long layovers are also overnight layovers, which practically means you have to spend the night at the connecting airport.

Number of connections 

This term refers to the number of stopovers in your itinerary. For example your trip from Singapore to Dublin may involve two stopovers - one in Doha and one in London.

Minimum connection time

Minimum connection time refers to the minimum time necessary for passengers and their baggage to transfer between flights. Minimum connection time is defined by the airport authorities and the airlines serving the particular airport and can vary depending on the specifics of the flight connection. For example the minimum connection time for a domestic transfer is usually shorter compared to the time needed for transfer to an international flight. Generally, an airline is not allowed to sell you tickets with a connection time shorter than the minimum connection time.

Short connection

A short connection is a connection, which has a connection time close to the minimum connection time. For example, if the minimum connection time for your connection is 45 minutes, and you have in total of 55 minutes to transfer, it means that you have a short connection.


Hub is referred to an airport, specialized in serving transit passengers. Hubs are the home bases of large airlines such as British Airways, Qatar Airways, Lufthansa. These airports are designed in a way facilitating connecting flights. Famous hubs are London Heathrow, Doha Hamad, Dubai International, Frankfurt International.

Airside connection

Airside literally means the side of an airport beyond the customs and passport control, also known as transit area. If you are connecting airside at a given airport, it means that you don't formally enter the country (no passport control) and you move only within the transit area of the terminal. An airside connection can happen within different terminals of the same airport, where passengers are transported by internal buses or trains. If the transit process involves passing through immigration, baggage collection and customs, it is referred to as landside connection. 

Transit visa

Transit visa allows its holder to travel through a given country on the way to another country. Transit visas allow short term stay (usually 24 hours) and are necessary for nationals of certain countries for landside connections. Some countries such as Australia require transit visas even if you do short airside connections. 

Missed connection

Missed connection refers to an event that prevented a passenger from catching their connecting ​flight. In most cases missed connections are caused by late arrival of preceeding flights. 

Transfer passenger

Transfer passenger is someone who has a layover (stopover) between the origin and final destination and then board a connecting flight with the same or different airline. Often "transit passenger" is used as a synonym of "transfer passenger". It is useful to mention that as per official definition of some airlines, "transit passengers are such that board a connecting flight with the same flight number. 

Feeder airline 

Feeder airlines (also known as commuter airlines) transport passengers from local destinations to hubs. Very often feeder airlines operate codeshare flights in partnership with large carriers. 

Codeshare flight

When an airline operates a flight in partnership with other airlines we have a codeshare flight. For example an Austrian Airlines flight from Vienna to Zagreb is operated in partnership with Croatia Airlines and is assigned both Austrian Airlines and Croatian Airlines flight numbers. Passengers of both carriers can board the flight, which facilitates their connecting flight networks. 

Self connect

"Self connect" refers to a combination of connecting flights booked separately. The operating carriers regard self connect passengers as point-to-pont ticket holders. More information regarding self conenct is available in the following article

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