Is there an official definition of Minimum Connection Time? Is it the minimum time it takes to make the connection? As in, is that the time it takes for the first one off the plane to be the last one in on the next plane? Or is it the minimum time it takes for anyone on an arriving plane to make it to the departure of the another plane in the same airport and terminal?

We have several questions such as this one on getting this data but what does it depend on? Just the airport plus arrival and departing terminals? Or are there other parameters?

  • 4
    Indeed but I recently encountered a 25 mins Minimum Connection Time and it took me 20 minutes to just disembark, I was in the 3 row from the back. Luckily, my connection was an hour later. In another case, I made the 45 min MTC but my luggage didn't! Since I had another connection though, Cathay Pacific put my luggage on a more direct route and it arrived before me! – Itai Jan 16 '17 at 15:04
  • If you're facing a very short connection time (or other delaying factors such as carrying an infant, etc), usually you can declare this to the flight attendants, showing your tickets as proof, and quite often - if they're able - they will help you to depart the aircraft faster, possibly by prioritising you over other passengers. I've seen this happen to others, and I've had it happen to me once (travelling alone with a two year old boy, on a flight that was delayed and a fast connection was forced by circumstances). – flith Jan 17 '17 at 6:46

The MCT is defined by IATA Resolution 765:

For the purpose of Resolution 765, in a passenger context, a Minimum Connecting time (MCT) interval is defined as the shortest time interval required in order to transfer a passenger and his luggage from one flight to a connecting flight, in a specific location or metropolitan area.

Establishment of and changes or exceptions to standard MCTs are governed by the provisions of IATA Resolution 765 Official MCTs are determined by the airport local MCT group, which consist of scheduled airlines and railways serving an airport, or if there is no such a group, by the Airport Operating Committee (AOC).


I believe you're looking at it from the wrong angle. As explained in the answers to the other question, it's the minimum time that should be allowed between connections. If a connection meets that threshold, the route can be booked and the airline is responsible for bringing you to your final destination. That's all there is to it; it's normative, not descriptive.

Since having passengers miss a connecting flight entails additional costs, airlines have strong incentive to make sure it's realistic but AFAIK how they go about it is completely up to each individual airline.

Also, scheduled flight times are understood from the moment the doors of the aircraft close to the moment the doors of the aircraft open again at the arrival gate. So that's what minimal connection times refer to as well, by construction.

Clearly, airlines then have to account for the time it takes to disembark and move through the airport and probably add some safety buffer but it's not something they measure so much as they define it.


From a slightly different perspective...(chx provides the technical definition. The practical result is this.)

Minimum connection time is the shortest duration between scheduled Arrival and next scheduled Departure* for which the airline will sell a single ticket.

This is determined by the airline and can be different between airports. Also different airlines can have different MCT's for the same airport.

This does mean that the 'official MCT' is somewhat irrelevant. For example, the official MCT for ATL might be 30 min (I don't know, it doesn't matter) but if Delta uses and internal number of 35 minutes, they will not sell you a ticket with a 30 minute connection, no matter how much you point to the official MCT.

*To be perfectly clear, each airline can have a different formula for this based on unpublished criteria. Schedule Arrival and Scheduled Departure are the published baselines for this.

  • Thanks! That'd an interesting view but that says nothing about if its highly likely to make it. – Itai Jan 16 '17 at 14:31
  • 1
    @Itai Well, no, but that wasn't the question. Each passenger has to consider their own MCT. There are answers to each of your questions, but since you've already accepted the Answer.... – Johns-305 Jan 16 '17 at 14:35
  • 1
    This is not correct. It's not calculated against the departure, it's calculated against the gate closing time (which is typically 15 minutes before). Otherwise at places like Vienna where MCT is 25 minutes you'd have ten minutes (!) to disembark and get to the next gate. – chx Jan 16 '17 at 14:51
  • 2
    @Johns-305 The criteria are published, but not for free. If you are not a travel agent you can use a tool like ExpertFlyer to get these data. Here are the first few thousand MCT criteria for ATL. – Calchas Jan 16 '17 at 15:50
  • 1
    @Calchas I'm referring specifically to the criteria the analysts internally use. Meaning, UA doesn't 'publish' it's baggage performance at ORD, but might use it as a factor in pair building. – Johns-305 Jan 16 '17 at 15:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.