getting your luggage during a layover
Getting your luggage during a layover – BrianAJackson (canva)

*This article is fact-checked for updated information in 2024 by Michelle Magerat

It’s no surprise that layovers can be taxing, and while nonstop flights are preferable, they are also pricier. However, sometimes this price difference isn’t worth the extra cost, and getting to your destination sometimes is only possible with a connecting flight.

Key Takeaway
You can get your luggage during a layover by asking when checking it in. If your layover is more than 4 hours, there’s a chance that it will be allowed and you’ll get it on the conveyor belt once you arrived. At 10+ hours layover, the airline might inquire you to take your luggage.

It’s crucial to understand the basics of layovers and the reason for this airline policy so you’ll have a better chance to get your luggage. Continue reading below

Can you get your luggage during a layover?

You can get your luggage during a layover under 2 circumstances:

  1. If your flights are booked under a single ticket, usually luggage will automatically be checked to the final destination. In this case, you may be able to inquire when you’re checking in your luggage.
  2. If you booked flights under separate tickets since you will need to gather and recheck your luggage before boarding the next flight.

Airlines will permit or require passengers to get their luggage if layovers are incredibly time-consuming. The general rules are:

  • 1-4 hours: short-checking luggage usually isn’t permitted during quick layovers in this duration.
  • 4-10 hours: airlines are hesitant to short-check luggage during moderately long layovers unless an acceptable reason is provided. You may or may not able to get your luggage.
  • 10-16 hours: at this duration it’s more expensive for airlines to hold on to your luggage versus handing it over to you. In this case airline might even require you to get your luggage.

Checking Before Booking A Flight

There’s always an exception to the rule and different airlines have different policies so it’s better to be safe. When you find the flight you’re going to book, contact the airline personally to confirm if receiving checked luggage during a layover is possible.

International flights with layovers in the United States are usually a good indication that getting your luggage is possible. This is because it’s a requirement in the US for belongings to be rechecked by passengers upon their first arrival to the United States from foreign countries.

How can I get my luggage during a layover?

To get your luggage during a layover, the first thing you need to do is inquiring about receiving your luggage at the check-in counter. If the airline allows it, the agent will place a label on your luggage during first-time checking at the check-in desk. Then, as long as the luggage is headed for the layover destination, you can pick it up upon arrival.

Read our article about airport check-in process for a smooth air travel experience.

Once you arrived at your layover airport, you may request to retrieve your luggage at the baggage claim area. However, remember that rechecking your belongings will be necessary and require going through security customs again.

If you don’t see your luggage even after the flight sign at the conveyor belt has changed, don’t panic. Your luggage can be delayed, or it can be lost. Here’s what to do if your luggage got delayed and what to do if it’s declared as lost.

Why airlines don’t let you access your luggage during a layover?

Most airlines aren’t keen on giving your luggage back during a layover since it has no real profit. In addition, it results in increased labor expenses. Skipping the next flight, also known as “hidden city ticketing,” is another concern for airlines.

Possessing an item in your checked luggage that’s not permitted in hand luggage which you’ll need during the layover, is a sufficient reason. Another acceptable reason is being unable to pack everything you need in your hand luggage during layover due to space or weight restrictions. Needing an item from checked baggage to be handed over elsewhere in the layover location is also possible.

Read more about what happens to your luggage during a layover to understand how the airline processes them.

Hidden City Ticketing – What is it?

Hidden City Ticketing is taking only the first leg of the flight into the layover airport then ditch the second leg of the trip. Opportunistic passengers often do it to book more affordable flights for same destination. This practice is controversial regarding retrieving luggage during a layover then ditching the next flight. Another common reason people doing this is due to a shortage in airline routes, and a solo flight to the layover destination isn’t possible.

Although no law prohibits this practice, many airlines look down on Hidden City Ticketing as distasteful because when passengers book cheaper flights, the company loses revenue. In addition, no-shows for the previous flight usually result in delays, even more lost income, and unsatisfied customers.

What happens to your luggage when you miss a connecting flight?

To manage the risk of bomb threats, airline regulations dictate that checked luggage needs to fly with a passenger. However, due to the repeated rush of daily airlines, checked baggage still manages to fly solo despite this rule. There is a rare likelihood that your luggage will reach its destination without you if you purposely or mistakenly miss your connecting flight. As a good rule of thumb, it’s highly advisable to travel with hand luggage solely if you’d rather skip your connecting flight.

Usually when this happen airlines will immediately attempt to trace the checked luggage’s location and get in contact with the passenger. Suppose the luggage has arrived at its final destination, and the passenger opts to book a later flight. In that case, a courier will be dispatched to transport the belongings back to their owner, although this isn’t preferred since courier fees are an extra expense for the airline.

To avoid unnecessary disaster, be prepared and always one step ahead during your trip. In this case, our first time flying tips have a few suggestions

Tip For Passing Time During A Long Layover

  • Rest: Airline traveling is taxing on our energy levels, especially if jet lag sets in. While airports aren’t ideal for comfort, catching up on rest may be easier with a travel blanket and pillow. However, ensuring your belongings stay secure during a layover is crucial, especially if you’re traveling alone.
  • Find Out About Your Destination: Researching a destination before arrival benefits first-time visitors. It’s an excellent opportunity to read reviews of attractions you plan on visiting, confirm restaurant and hotel reservations, and familiarize yourself with the destination’s street layout on a map.
  • Catch up on work: Remote online work is widely accessible and can be practically done from anywhere. As a result, lengthy layovers are the perfect opportunity to take care of any upcoming deadlines or get a head start on the next workload.
  • Exercise: It’s worth inquiring about airports you visit if they provide on-site fitness centers or yoga studios. If they don’t, you can try a DIY yoga regime or pack resistance bands and travel-friendly fitness equipment for a strength workout while you wait.


Any seasoned airline traveler should understand that layovers are likely to happen between flights and are sometimes necessary. To add to the complexity, individual airlines have their own rules and regulations regarding luggage retrieval during layovers. However, pragmatism and pre-planning before traveling are beneficial in making this process much smoother with fewer hassles.

To know more about layover, from ideal duration to the possibility of utilizing the time for city exploring, check out our article about booking a flight with layover.

Long layover is more probable if you’re booking a long distance flight, and a cheaper ticket tends to entail a longer layover. Read our tips on finding cheap flights and implement them to find the ones with the shortest layover for your next trip.

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