I’m flying with Qatar Airways from Manchester To Melbourne in July and I’ve only got fifty minutes to connect between planes in Doha. Is that enough time? Mike, Warrington
Qatar Airways’ website says you need to leave at least 45 minutes to transfer at the new Hamad International Airport in Doha. You’ll be cutting it fine, especially if you have to get ‘bussed-in’ from a distant parking stand to the terminal. However since Qatar have sold you a through ticket, one with a single booking reference, then they’re responsible if you miss your connection.
They’ll need to arrange alternative onward travel to your destination, and if that means a long wait or an overnight stay, you should be entitled to free accommodation and even meal vouchers. Just be aware that if you miss the connection through your own fault, such as spending a bit too long in the duty free shop, then technically they don’t have to provide any assistance.
Tight connection times can be stressful and should be avoided if possible. Inbound flights can easily get delayed, especially at busy airports like those in the Middle East. Another thing to think about is whether there is enough time to transfer your checked-in baggage, which often won’t make the next flight, even if you do. If you can, try to carry hand luggage only, or at least ensure that any medication or essentials are in your carry-on.
Another good tip is to try and get seated in the aisle as close to the front of the plane as possible so you can get off quickly, or let one of the flight attendants know that you have a short connection. They’ll often contact the airline during the flight to find out whether your connection is on time and what gate it’s leaving from. It’s worth downloading a map of the airport to your iPad too, or looking in the inflight magazine for one, so you’ll have some idea where to go when you land.
Be aware that minimum connection times vary at airports around the world, depending on the size of the airport and whether you have to change terminals. Be particularly careful if you’re transferring from an international to a domestic flight in the USA. Immigration queues can be eye-wateringly long at times. Last year, I missed an onward flight at Washington Dulles Airport because the immigration line took three hours to clear!
It’s also worth keeping an eye on your flight times in the weeks or days before you leave. Airlines sometimes change the timing of the connecting flights but don’t tell you, especially if they don’t have your contact details. Just a few minutes less on a tight connection can make all the difference, so if you can, log in to your online booking or give the airline a ring to confirm that everything is still as planned.
Also check your travel insurance to make sure you’re covered for missed connections, especially if you’ve booked onward train travel, flights or hotels at your destination.