Can You Leave The Airport During A Layover?

A layover is a great way to catch up with a friend and explore the glitz of a new city.

If you find yourself in a long layover with plenty of time, you may want to take the opportunity to leave the airport, hangout and relish.

But are you even allowed to leave the airport?

Generally you can leave the airport on domestic flights in a layover and you don’t need to present any documents, but if you have short time ensure that you don’t miss your flight, because you will need to go through the security checkpoint and just alike other passengers.

This post walks you through everything you need to know before you leave the airport in both domestic and international flights.

Let’s dive right in.

men with two bag a the airport
Source: Andrea Piacquadio /

Tip: Check out this Travelpro Platinum Elite 21” Carry-On Spinner, a sleek and versatile carry-on that is designed to fit within the limits of most airlines, to save you from the hassle of the airports and the pesky airline fees.

Leave The Airport On a Domestic Flight

Yes, you can leave the airport during a layover on a domestic flight, and if you are traveling on a connecting flight you don’t even need to worry about your checked baggage if you have one, as your airline will take care of it.

If you are traveling with only a backpack or two and have plenty of time between your flights, it is a good idea to explore the city.

You won’t need any documents to leave the airport, jut keep in mind that you will go through the security checkpoint again before boarding your plane.

Ensure that you have a long layover and ton of time to try a local classic style pizza like Laura did in Chicago.

Quick TIP: If you want to avoid the hassle of airports and airlines headache, it is better to travel with the right luggage.
I would recommend using one piece carry on like this Travel Backpack, it will take everything you need on for trip, keep everything neat and organized and I’m sure you will be impressed how much you can fit on it because of its compartments and pockets to secure your documents and personal items.
It also comes with USB Charging Port , so you can charge your phone during the layover.

Leave The Airport On International Flight

Most of the countries do allow passengers to leave the airport during a layover if you don’t need a visa of that country.

If the country requires a visa, you just can’t leave the airport like that, you may need to apply for a transit visa at the airport.

However, for international flights it is better to 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 and there will be long lines before your next coming flight.

If you find yourself in a beautiful large airport, you can just stay in it and enjoy its amenities, rather than risking to miss your flight and waste more time going through the airport security or during your way to the city.

Tae have a 12 hours layover in Amsterdam and wanted her friend to give her some advice and places to explore during her layover.

Conchita gave her large list of local things to do and to enjoy, and all of them are food centered.

Going Through Customs On A Layover

Only on some international flights.

If you have a transit or layover in another country and you want to exit the airport, you will be required to go through customs and immigration, because you will cross international borders.

There is nothing complicated if you already have everything in place, like needed documents and you don’t take any prohibited items.

In some cases you won’t go through customs during a layover until you get to your final destination.

For example if you are traveling from the US to Europe and you have a layover in any Schengen country like France and you want to have fun in Paris , you can go through immigrations but you will not go through customs until you get to your final destination.

For more details on how layovers work in both domestic and international flights, you can refer to this detailed guide on travel made simple

Is a 6 Hour Layover Enough Time To Leave The Airport?

Leaving the airport in 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 really worth it, rather than staying inside the airport for a few hours.

Most airport securities and airlines recommend arriving at the airport two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight, even though the time will vary depending on the airport. If you are traveling in low season when the airports are less busy you can still catch your flight. 

But you will need to allow enough time as you will have to go through the same process as other fellow passengers.

If you are traveling in low season when the airports are less busy you can still catch your flight.

Reasons You Can’t Leave The Airport During A Layover

  • A short layover: you don’t have enough time. Clearing the security checkpoint will take between 45 minutes to 3 hours depending on the airport, if you are traveling with a group or with family members that will add up more time therefore you may end up wasting more time in queues.
  • You need a visa: for destination flights you will need to be eligible to enter that country, so if you don’t provide proper documents you won’t be able to pass the immigration during a layover and explore the city.
  • You want to explore the airport: a great idea If you just want to stay at the airport, we have already provided a list of the best ways to enjoy and kill time at the airport, which we are sure you will love them.

Prepare For Your Layover

  • Research your flight: If you are planning to discover the city it is better to do some research about your flight ahead, ensure that your layover has over 7 to 8 hours to fully enjoy many things as you can.
  • Use a backpack or one piece carry on: always travel with a backpack or one carry-on bag so you don’t need to lug your luggage around, you can also leave your baggage at the airport until you come back from your adventure, if your airline didn’t transferred automatically your bags.
  • Research the city: if you already planned how to get to the city, what to do and where to explore in the city will save you plenty of time.

Final Thoughts

In domestic flights, if you have enough time you can leave the airport during a layover without any issues.

Just ensure that you did your research, so you don’t waste time because you don’t want to know how to get the city or what thing to do and explore.

Also you don’t want to miss your flight.

For international flight ensure that you have the right documents , check if the country of your layover requires a transit visa.

Happy travels

We hope this helps

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