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I am travelling from LKO to SEA on Friday. I have booked my tickets from DEL to SEA. I am an Indian citizen, and the flight is from T3, IGI Airport. However, I live in Lucknow(LKO) and need to reach Delhi in order to catch this flight. Tickets from LKO to SEA were 4x the price or required 18h layover in Saudi or so. Therefore, I am booking tickets separately, LKO to DEL and then DEL to SEA. My doubt is, how much time should I keep in between the arrival of the first flight and the departure of the second one?

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  • What time is your flight in DEL?
    – jcaron
    Commented Apr 9, 2022 at 17:27
  • Will the flight from LKO to DEL arrive at the same airport/terminal where the next flight departs from (IGI?)? I have only visited DEL once, so please check with someone who does this regularly. Anyway, I had a domestic flight from Bengaluru to Delhi. And getting to the international airport in Delhi was not trivial (for a dumb foreigner). I guess my problem was made more difficult because it was a relatively late hour :-) Commented Apr 9, 2022 at 19:43
  • What flight is that ? I'm not seeing any flights from DEL to SEA.
    – Hilmar
    Commented Apr 9, 2022 at 20:32
  • Unrelated but remember while booking separate tickets, domestic baggage allowances in India are somewhat limited when compared to what you would be allowed for internaltional travel. You may have to pay extra fees (typically Rs 300-500/kg) for domestic leg.
    – RedBaron
    Commented Apr 11, 2022 at 7:15

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The answer depends on this: how important is it for you to arrive in Seattle on time?

For me, personally, I would not risk connecting to a "big" flight (intercontinental, few alternatives etc) on separate tickets without at least 24 hours of buffer, meaning I would aim to get to DEL the previous day and stay overnight. But I'm quite cautious about these things, and realistically 4 hours is enough buffer 99% of the time. (At the average airport, anyway; if you're going to DEL in the winter fog season, this may not be enough!) With 4 hours, you'll probably be OK if the flight is delayed, but still run the risk of the flight getting completely cancelled etc.

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    One other thing to keep in mind when considering buying separate tickets is how long you would have to wait for the next flight if you missed your scheduled flight. Intercontinental flights usually only depart once per day (sometimes even less frequently), in which case missing the scheduled flight means at least a 24-hour delay in your arrival. Commented Apr 9, 2022 at 15:34
  • I think 99% for 4 hours is an exaggeration. I don't have stats for India, but in my personal experience a 3 hour delay is not uncommon. I'd give it 90% success but it's a guess.
    – ugoren
    Commented Apr 9, 2022 at 18:18
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    More importantly, if they miss the flight they're considered no show for DEL-SEA and need to buy new tickets.
    – ugoren
    Commented Apr 9, 2022 at 18:19
  • @ugoren While this depends on the ticket conditions and how much notice they give, the airline will usually be able to credit the existing fare towards a new ticket, so it's (probably) not a total loss. Commented Apr 9, 2022 at 21:14
  • @lambshaanxy, indeed depends on conditions, but until reading them I prefer to assume the worst (as airline conditions tend to be). Sure they can give credit towards a future flight, but they may prefer to just keep the money.
    – ugoren
    Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 7:02
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lambshaanxy recommends a large time gap. How much gap is determined by how frequent alternate flights are between LKO and DEL and what alternate means of transportation are available.

As an example, a couple of years ago, I booked round trip flights from Chicago O'Hare to London Heathrow. Then we decided to book an independent one-way from Indianapolis to O'Hare.

  • IND-ORD was to depart at 07:00 (arriving ORD at 07:05 after a 1-hour time change)
  • ORD-LHR was to depart at 16:00

As we were sitting in IND, it was announced that our flight to ORD was cancelled and they would rebook everyone. When we made it to the counter, they told us they could get us on a flight to ORD departing at 16:30 and that was the first available. You can see where we were in a bit of a bind.

We ended up cancelling our IND-ORD flight and getting a full refund. We walked to the rental car stand at IND and rented a car one-way to ORD. The car rental ended up costing less than a single ticket to ORD, and since we had plenty of time, we were able to take a somewhat leisurely drive along a major interstate, fight our way through standard heavy Chicago traffic and made it to O'Hare in plenty of time for our next leg.

We just rolled with the punches and did what was necessary. It actually made the time pass faster for us than just sitting at ORD would have and added to the adventure. However, had we not been able to drive, we would have been in serious trouble because we would have missed our flight and totally missed a 3-week vacation.

You will need to assess what your alternate travel plan options are. Can you rent a car to drive from LKO to DEL? If so, do you have enough time to do so and make it through security in time to make your flight? Are there multiple flights per day from LKO to DEL to give you plenty of options should there be an issue with the one you've booked?

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    For the record, Google Maps says that driving from Lucknow to Delhi would take nearly 8 hours, which means that time-wise, it'd be more like driving from Indianapolis to Atlanta. I have no idea if this is accurate; but the distance is almost twice that from Indianapolis to Chicago, so it wouldn't surprise me. Commented Apr 9, 2022 at 15:38
  • Fair point, @MichaelSeifert, and it reinforces my point that each journey will have to be independently assessed. There is no one-size-fits-all answer for this question.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 14:42
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Given that you do have separate tickets, I would approach this from a different perspective.

If you were already in Delhi and boarding a plane at DEL, how soon before the flight does DEL recommend that you enter the airport in order to check in for your DEL->SEA flight? That is the absolute minimum time difference you should allow after you flight arrives from LKO.

Assuming you have checked luggage, you will need to retrieve it from before checkin in to the DEL->LKO flight. I don't know DEL so I have no idea how long this takes, but you need to estimate it, and add that time to the DEL check in time. In addition add time for exiting the plane.

Next you need to estimate the chances that your flight arrives on time so you can perform the above 2 steps. Ideally some website should publish statistics as to how on time your LKO->DEL flight is. Depending on how comfortable you are with the on time statistics, you should add a margin that covers the majority of typical delays.

The above steps would help identify the bare minimum of time that you need to allocate in order to arrive at DEL on time. But I possibly would also add some time for rest and relaxation in DEL so that you are not sprinting from location to location.

Finally, depending on how paranoid you are, based on the previous calculations I would at least take the one flight prior to what the minimum times suggest. In that way if your flight gets cancelled (EG mechanical reasons) there is at least a chance that you can still make your DEL->SEA flight on time.

Oh, and make sure you have some really good travel insurance, and perhaps ask your DEL->SEL airline ahead of time what your options are if you do end up missing it.

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As you are buying your tickets separately, it is important to remember that if for any reason you can’t get to the check-in counter in DEL in time for check-in (probably around one hour before departure, you would have to check the specifics in your case), then you will be considered a “no show”, and unless you have a very flexible (read: very expensive) ticket, it is most likely your ticket will be cancelled.

In that case, you will have to book a new flight and pay for it. Which brings two issues:

  • The next available flight may be the next day, or even later on some routes or if flying during a very busy period
  • Last minute fares are often a lot more expensive.

Note also that many airlines have a “use coupons in order” rule, which means that your ticket will also be cancelled for any further segments.

If you are not prepared to pay for a new ticket (and hotels, and meals) at last-minute prices, then you need to have quite a bit of buffer to ensure that you will get to DEL in time even if there are any delays or difficulties (think weather or mechanical issues).

When you self-connect long-haul to short-haul (or short-haul to short-haul), the rule of thumb is usually to budget around 4 hours between the two flights. It gives you the time to do the connection (between one and 3 hours depending on the circumstances) and some buffer in case things get delayed a little. In the worst case you’ll have to buy a new ticket, but short-haul flights are usually more frequent and less expensive so the risk remains limited.

In your case, if you are late, the cost and delay may be quite high. For this reason, unless your second flight leaves really late and you can book and early incoming flight, it’s usually better to have an overnight connection. Arrive in DEL the day before, spend the night, and be ready for your flight even in the worst of cases.

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I don’t know when the question was posted but my experience having travelled Hyderabad to New York HYD-> EWR with change over at Delhi T-3 just the past week can add some authenticity.

  1. Travelled with wife with assistance (wheelchair)so got guided and no enquiries on route and directions. It was our first trip on route/sector. It was with 2 different airlines for domestic and international sectors. No changeover of Terminal required.
  2. Check in baggages booked directly to destination thus saved time of collecting at Belt and dragging along. Just had one cabin baggage though we could carry 4.
  3. Had to walk from Domestic Arrival to International Departure at different Levels on same building. Say distance of 1km plus. Exit Departure, come out of building and enter Arrival block.
  4. We had kept a float time of 5:30h with us. But counters Opened just 4 hours before departure of flight. It definitely depends on departure time of your flight (had similar experience when flying to Malaysia from Hyderabad). But in case airline had second or third flight of day, waiting for counters to open would not be required.
  5. Now the real experience begins (with no baggage to book). The queue has grown very long (because we did realise that we are in India and queues grow fast at exponential rate) one has to have strong calf muscles. The wheelchair number 12 when we joined queue.
  6. The Checkin process is very slow with multiple checks. To speed it up, the airline later deputed additional staff to check Passport, Visa, Covid free and Vaccination certificates while in queue. The process at counter still took 15 minutes before Boarding Pass was issued.
  7. Next follows Immigration. Wait in queue and extra vigilant checks, slowing process but for security of nation, no regrets. Two of us got different windows so saving time.
  8. Next Security checks. Get ready for real slow process. One can have dual checks of baggage at two X-ray machines if any thing not understood at first machine. Time added.
  9. Now walk up to gate. Not less than a km.
  10. Add time for window or real shopping if you wish to enhance experience at Duty Free area/shops, Without it we could reach our gate just 30 minutes before it’s opening. Our lunch was about 11 hours earlier at Hyderabad so I went for some food hunting and could return only when gate was just opening. Finished dinner quickly and joined the queue for boarding. Good 10 hours after leaving home and on a 16 hour non stop flight to destination, with an hour before roll down the taxi track. The real happy landing at EWR. Happiness that the Ordeal over.

Hope it helps you to plan your trip. You ought to be more energetic than me at 76th year of my age but can’t cut waiting time at each Stop much.

Some of the earlier responses too have added very imperative suggestions. Please have your own take on the lot. Bon Voyage.

Ashok

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  • While this is useful information, it doesn't indicate anywhere if you booked one single flight ticket from Hyderabad to New York, or if any of the legs was booked as a totally separate flight. For example, did you book round trip Delhi to New York, then book a separate flight from Hyderabad to Delhi? If this was all on one booking, then the airline was responsible for getting you to New York even if you missed one of those connections due to a late flight.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Apr 11, 2022 at 12:18
  • Dear Mr. Freeman, Nice to see your comment. It was a direct booking HYD>DLI>EWR. I did mention change over at Delhi with "No Check In" baggage. As it was booked directly to destination by the Airline (Air India) in Star Alliance group with United. A separate booking needs Baggage collection and re-booking. I did book round trip HYD>DLI>EWR on United but United does not operate except from DLI & BOM from India. Your second point is well taken, It was my maiden post in group thus deficiencies accepted. If it helped some body, objective achieved. Commented Apr 13, 2022 at 14:50

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