When flying on an airline to a particular destination, a passenger may be required to travel on a connecting flight, which is a flight that lands in a location that is not the passenger's final destination. The passenger must get off the plane and board another plane to reach the final destination. A connecting flight may be taken if there is no direct flight available from the passenger's home or starting airport to the final destination airport. These flights is common in air travel, especially when a traveler starts in a location with a small airport with few direct flights.
When a passenger lands at an airport to transfer to a connecting flight, his or her flight itinerary allows for some transition time. This is called a layover, and it is intended to allow passengers to make their way through the airport to the new flight's boarding gate. A layover may also exist simply because the only available flight does not leave for several minutes or hours after the original flight lands. A layover can last for just a few minutes or several hours, depending on the flight itinerary.
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Travel to some destinations may require the passenger to board a connecting flight on another carrier. One airline carrier is typically able to accommodate travel to a final destination, but when that carrier does not travel to a particular destination, a passenger can obtain a travel itinerary that has them flying a certain airline to begin with, then getting on a connecting flight from another carrier. This is common when large airlines dole out local or regional flights to smaller carriers. If, for example, a passenger was flying from Phoenix, Arizona to Hartford, Connecticut, that passenger may begin his flight itinerary on a major airline that flies from Phoenix to New York City. The passenger will then have a layover in New York, then board another flight from a regional carrier from New York to Hartford.
Connecting flights are also common in international travel. A passenger flying from Phoenix, Arizona to Rome, Italy may take a flight from Phoenix to New York City. He or she may then board a different flight from New York City to London. Once in London, that passenger may board yet another flight from London to Rome. In this case, the passenger has boarded more than one connecting flight to reach the final destination, and in the process, he or she has most likely changed airline carriers.