Last Updated on Dec 19th, 2023 by Renu Dahiya, 7 comments
If you find yourself in a long layover with plenty of time, you may want to take the opportunity to leave the airport, and hang out in a new city. Everyone has to deal with a layover at some point. It can surely save you big bucks on your journey, and with a little forward planning, they can be released and straightforward. And, even fun! It is a great way to catch up with a friend and explore the glitz of a new city. But, wondering can you leave the airport during a layover, or are you allowed to leave the airport during a layover? Stop worrying! We’re here to help you.
This blog walks you through everything you need to know before you leave the airport on both domestic and international flights. Let’s dive right in.
Yes, you can leave the airport on domestic flights in a layover and you don’t need to present any documents, but if you have a short layover, make sure that you don’t miss your flight because you will need to go through the security checkpoint again before boarding the plane. Ensure that you have a long layover and a ton of time to explore a new place.
Many countries do allow passengers to leave the airport during an international layover without even having a visa of that country. But, if the country requires a visa, you just can’t leave the airport like that, you have to apply for a transit visa at the airport to leave the airport and explore the place. For international flights, it is advisable to not exit the airport if you don’t have at least 6 or 7 hours between the flights. You will be required to go through the security checkpoint again before your next coming flight and there will be long lines.
Keeping track of all the details of an international flight can be difficult, particularly if you’re taking one or two connecting flights or layovers. It’s even harder if you’re doing it for the first time. But, don’t you worry! We will help you by providing all the relevant information and tips about an international layover.
Tip for passengers – So, if you’ve landed in a beautiful large airport, just stay in it and enjoy its amenities, rather than risking missing your flight and wasting more time going through the airport security.
There are certain questions whose answers are very important for you to know if you want to spend your layover time peacefully.
This is the most important factor in your decision of leaving the airport during a layover because if your layover is too short, the rest doesn’t matter. Think about every factor carefully such as subtracting out the time it will take for you to get off the plane and go to the taxi at the gate, the time you need ahead of your second flight, and the time you need to and from the city or wherever it is you want to go during your layover, etc. Then analyze how much time you have left. Or, is it enough time to explore the city? If yes, then you should definitely leave the airport and visit a new city otherwise consider staying at the airport only.
If you’re flying from one end of the country to the other and you have a layover in the middle, there are no immigration procedures to worry about. You just only have to go through security again to get to your second flight. But, if your layover is in another country, you will have to go through customs and immigration if you want to leave the airport. It adds extra time to the first item on the list. It can take as little as 10 minutes or several hours depending on the lines and where you are.
Many (but not all) countries require visas to enter the border of the country. You’ll have to get a visa to leave the airport in one of these places. Some countries require you to get one ahead of time, while others do a visa on arrival. So, it is advisable to always check visa requirements for your nationality for each country you travel through, even for layovers.
If you have a layover from early morning until late afternoon or sometime that night, you’ll have lots of daylight hours to explore the city. But, sometimes your first flight will land in the middle of the night and the next flight will take off early in the morning. And, in these cases (overnight layovers), it is not a good idea to leave the airport and check out the city. Just find a safe and comfortable place to sleep within the airport. There are many airports that have proper sleeping areas.
Firstly, verify with the airline whether they are going to transfer your checked bags from one flight to the next. If the airline won’t be able to tag it to your final destination, then luggage lockers can be a good option for your bags while on a long layover. Train stations are also a good place to try, depending on the city. You can also book a luggage storage solution on various web portals. They have connections with hotels and other stores where you can drop off your luggage and pick it up again later.
What if you get lost exploring the city? So, always make sure you have maps or a GPS to guide you back to the airport on time in case you get lost. And, always carry a portable battery charger so that your phone can remain charged up in emergencies.
Tip for passengers – What if you miss your connecting flight? Don’t fret! We have a handy guide that explains what you should do if you miss your connecting flight. Check out now.
One of the main issues that usually come to our mind during connecting flights or layovers is luggage. After all, luggage is the second most important thing on the flight (after yourself, of course!) People often wonder, if you’re going to stop for a significant period between flights, what happens to your luggage? Is it automatically rerouted to your next carrier, or are you expected to pick it up yourself and recheck it in the new airport? Stop worrying anymore! We will give you all the answers to your doubts.
Domestic Travel – Usually, you don’t have to recheck your bags when you’re flying domestically. The main motive for rechecking the baggage of passengers is for the customs to make sure that you’re not bringing in anything illegal from another country. If your destination is in the same country, there’s no need to get your luggage rechecked. But, if you have booked your connecting flights with different airlines and both the airlines don’t have an interline agreement, then you have to recheck your bag.
International Travel – If you are flying internationally, the rechecking of your luggage heavily depends on which countries you’ll be flying through. If you’re flying to India from the USA, they require everyone from international flights to re-check their baggage upon the first landing point. For example, if you’ve booked flights from New York to Delhi to Hyderabad, you’d have to pick up your bag in Delhi, go through the customers, and then drop off your bag again for your next flight to Hyderabad.
Suggested Read: The List of Biggest and Busiest Airports
The simplest way of confirming a luggage recheck is to check the label that the airport employee will attach to the handle of your luggage. The label contains complete information about where the bag is heading. If it says that your checked bag is going to your final destination, not the layover, then you won’t have to recheck your luggage. But if, for example, you are planning to book Chicago to Delhi flights and the route will be Chicago to Amsterdam to Delhi, you should make sure that the label says Delhi. If the label says Amsterdam, you’ll have to recheck your bag in Amsterdam.
Note: If you are transiting through Amsterdam for USA-India travel, then check out the complete information about the documents and requirements for transit in Amsterdam. Check out now!
If you’re trying to decide if you can leave the airport during a layover, ask yourself some questions and analyze every single factor. Spending a long layover in the airport can be tedious. So, leaving the airport to explore the city can be a much better option if you have enough time and visa requirements aren’t much hassle. But, if you don’t have enough time between your connecting flights or have a short layover or an overnight layover, it is better to stay at the airport only and enjoy its amenities.
Note: If you want to know what is the difference between a layover & a connecting flight, here’s a guide.
A: No, you should never have to pay extra luggage fees, no matter how many times you check in your luggage. The baggage allowance or fee you pay on purchasing your flight ticket applies to each segment of your itinerary.
A: Try exploring the things to do at the airport and all the lounges. Nowadays, most of the airports offer enjoyable layover experiences for passengers. Avoid leaving the airport during a short layover.
A: Yes, you can leave the airport during an international layover. But, it is never easy as compared to the domestic layover. The country you’re in could require a visa to explore it. So, if you have a valid visa for the country it is safe to step out of the airport.
A: A layover time could differ depending on the airlines, airport, or the countries you are flying to. It could be as short as 30 minutes, a few hours, or even longer, and around 23 hours and 59 minutes on international flights.
A: Leaving an airport during a short layover is a risk, but if you just want to stay in a hotel and you won’t go far from the airport it is a good idea to step out of the airport. Most airports and airlines recommend arriving at the airport 2 hours before a domestic flight and 3 hours before an international flight, the time may vary depending on the airport & airlines.
So, can you leave the airport during a layover? Absolutely! But if you want to leave the airport during a layover on an international flight or domestic flight, just be sensible about it. And, with this handy guide, you can make your layover hassle-free and enjoyable.
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Renu Dahiya is a passionate writer who worships her profession. Her love for writing has encouraged her to pursue her career as a writer. Her friends call her a “travel worm” and always come to her to know some interesting traveling tips and destinations. Renu is a repository of knowledge about traveling who knows which place should be visited in which season. Oh yes, she is insanely in love with dancing too. Writer, traveler and dancer, a perfect combination! Without a doubt, she is a complete package.