How much time should I allow for connections?

For many international trips, making a connection in a hub city is necessary to reach an international destination. As each airport has a different layout, baggage track, and customs/immigration protocol, the recommended connecting times can vary considerably. Moreover, the preferences for each individual traveler also varies. Some prefer shorter connecting times – even with the additional risk of missing a flight – for an overall shorter trip. Others prefer longer connections for added security and peace of mind. To establish a minimum standard, the airlines indicate a “legal connection time” for each airport.

What is a Legal Connection?
A ‘legal connection’ is an industry term that means a permissible connection, or what the airline considers is the minimum connecting time required to change gates, terminals, or head through customs and immigration. An airline will generally not sell you a ticket that does not meet this minimum requirement.
What are the advantages of booking a legal connection?
If you are unable to make a legal connection due to circumstances beyond your control such as a mechanical issue, weather delay, or last minute flight change, the airline is obligated to get you on the next available flight without additional charge. This does not always mean you will fly out the same day as originally scheduled, if alternative later departures are fully booked, but it does mean the airline will try and “protect you” on the next available flight.
What are the disadvantages of booking an illegal connection?
If you absolutely must ‘force’ a connection that is less than the legal connecting time, you do so at your own risk. This usually occurs when you must buy separate tickets, such as a domestic flight to a gateway city and a separate international flight from there. While this may save money in the short run, circumventing the minimum times means that neither airline is obligated to help you if you misconnect. You would need to purchase a new flight ticket at your own expense, as well as cover any hotels or other expenses you might incur. This can be very expensive and is generally not recommended.
How does price come into play with connection times?

Flight availability and pricing is primarily tied to the number of seats available on an aircraft at any given time. Frequently, options that have overly short connections are less desirable and thus have more seats available on the plane. This means there can be a considerable discount in booking a schedule with short connecting times. While a short connection option can seem like a good deal initially, missing flights (especially at the start of a tour) can mean additional hotel nights, rebooked international flights, and the high cost of lost days of your vacation!

Exito agents are trained to recommend longer connections, when available, and highlight short connection windows when lower pricing becomes a factor. That being said, we urge you to err on the side of caution with your purchase.

What does Exito Recommend?
As your airfare advocate, we recommend booking the longest reasonable connections possible. At a bare minimum, we recommend booking AT LEAST one hour connections through domestic US airports and AT LEAST two hours for customs and immigration. Like the legal recommendations made by the airline, however, these shorter windows can still be risky in the event of a delay, so we recommend booking longer if available! Two hour connections through domestic airports and 3 hours for customs and immigration are highly recommended, even if it means a higher priced ticket.


Why do some airlines charge for seats?
Seat assignments were once part of the package deal, but over the last 10 years, airline profit models have changed considerably in regards to how an airline views its seat inventory. The airlines understand that preferred locations, the preference for friends and families to sit together, and the availability of seats for those booking well in advance vs just prior to departure, can be monetized. Selection of preferred seat assignments prior to airport check in is often considered an ancillary chargeable service.
What seats do airlines typically restrict?

This can vary considerably but many airlines will charge more for economy seats close to the front of the plane, and for seats located on the aisle or window. Also, emergency row and bulkhead seats are often restricted until time of check-in.

How much do seat assignments cost?
Pre-assignment pricing ranges from an average of $20 – $200 per person / per flight. This pricing can vary depending on how many seats are available on the aircraft, the location of the seat, the length of the flight, and the type selected (standard, extra leg roomv, business, etc.).
I have seat preferences. What can Exito do for me?

Every airline has a different procedure for securing advance seat assignments, seats in preferred locations, and/or seats with extra legroom. Some airlines, like Delta for example, offer the selection of extra legroom seats prior to ticket purchase. Other airlines require that purchase to be made on their website after a booking has been confirmed. In some extreme examples such as British Airways, a fee may apply for all seat assignments made prior to check-in, including premium economy and business class.

Given the variability of airline policies and free versus chargeable seats on each flight, Exito will review seat options on a case by case basis. Please let us know your preferences and we will do our best to assign seats accordingly, or provide instructions if they must be secured after ticket purchase.

Can I assign emergency exit or bulkhead seats?
Most airlines will restrict emergency row and bulkhead seats for assignment at time of departure or check in. Other airlines allow pre-assignment of these seats for a fee.
Our seats have been assigned. Are they guaranteed?
Unfortunately no. Whether Exito has chosen seats on your behalf or you have purchased assignments directly, seats are not guaranteed according to airline policy. The airlines reserve the right to change seats for operational, safety, or security reasons. In most cases where a seat change occurs, it is due to a flight schedule or equipment change where the original layout of the plane is altered. In this case, Exito staff will do its best to secure comparable seat assignments – should they be available – or request a refund of seat purchases that can no longer be honored.
What role does frequent flyer status play in assigning seats?
Every airline has different perks for their most loyal customers. Seat charges may not apply to passengers with elite mileage status on a specific airline or that airline’s alliance partners. Adding a mileage account number during the booking process may result in better seat options on applicable flights.
I’d like to review a seat map prior to purchase. What should I do?

Great! If you prefer to review the layout of a flight prior to purchase we recommend the following website:

While the website does not show which seats are available in real time, or guarantee that the flight in question will operate with the same aircraft type, it does give more information on how the seats are likely to be arranged on each flight.

I don’t want to purchase a seat. When can I secure a free seat assignment?
Most airlines that charge for advance seating will allow seats to be selected free of charge 24 hours prior to departure, or within the airport check-in window.
Are there any downsides to waiting until time of check-in to make assignments?
While this can be great in terms of avoiding additional charges, waiting to make assignments until time of check-in can increase the likelihood of being bumped from a flight. If you are traveling in a group or with children, it also increases the likelihood that you will not sit together if adjacent seats are no longer available.
My flight does not allow seats until time of check-in? What should I do?

We recommend checking in online for your flight – if possible – 24 hours prior to departure. If an airport check-in is necessary, be sure to get to the airport as early as possible. This will increase your chances of getting a decent seat assignment prior to the check-in rush.

Schedule Changes

What are schedule changes?

Airlines offer flight schedules 11 months in advance on average, to give clients as much time as possible to plan their trips. However, after a flight is published the airline may make adjustments to the schedule, aircraft, or routes. These adjustments can include: 

While extremely inconvenient, it is within the airline’s legal bounds to modify a flight schedule, seat assignments, and other schedule related details without guarantee. 

How often do airlines make these changes?
There is no clear formula for predicting when a schedule change may occur, however the earlier you book your flight the more likely you are to see changes prior to your departure date.
How will I be notified if there is a change?

This depends on when a schedule change occurs. For all but the most last minute changes that are primarily day of departure, Exito Travel will notify you through email of the new flight details. Should a schedule change warrant further discussion, we may also reach out to you by phone. Further, you may also receive notification directly from the airline when a change occurs. 

What if a schedule change does not work with my travel plans?

Most schedule changes are minor and will only include slight modifications to departure, arrival times, or flight numbers. For these minor changes, our team will rework the schedule on your behalf and send you the new flight details. 

However, when there is a drastic change to a schedule, we will contact you or the primary travel agent assigned to your trip to discuss possible alternatives. When there is an agent involved in your ground planning, Exito will make every effort to keep them in the loop so that they are aware of the changes and can suggest modifications accordingly. 

How can Exito Travel help when a major change occurs?

Acting as advocates on your behalf, our agents will review possible flight alternatives and send them over for review. Our agents are trained to search for solutions that minimize the disruption to your travel plans. Should an alternative prove satisfactory, we will then call the airline to see if they will approve the alternative and if confirmed send you notification of the new flight listing. 

What if a satisfactory alternative schedule cannot be found?

In some rare instances, flights are canceled outright or a satisfactory solution cannot be found. If every attempt to re-protect you fails, you may be entitled to cancellation without penalty and a full refund. This may allow us to rebook on another airline should an alternative exist, however, keep in mind that if you get a refund you will also be without a flight. If this happens close to your departure date you may be stuck paying more than you anticipated for a new last-minute schedule.  

If a refund is approved by the airline, it may take up to 60 days for the airline to return the refunded amount to your credit card and up to 90 days to see this reflected on your credit statement. 

What happens if a last minute changes occurs while I am traveling?

If you are at the airport and experience last minute flight delays or changes the best recourse is often to speak directly to an airline representative, as they will have the most up-to-date information available. Also, your ticket may be under airport control status, which means that only the airline can make alterations. 

That being said, we are here to help you in any way that we can. Many times our clients will need to make changes to local in country flights when an international arrival is delayed. We will make every effort possible to assist should a last minute change occur. 

In Summary

Schedule changes are far from ideal. At best they are a minor annoyance and at worst they can cause major disruptions to a scheduled trip. However, here at Exito Travel, we believe that you need someone on your side should an issue occur and we will make every effort possible to help you realize your travel abroad. 

What to do if I have an Emergency

Can Exito help if I run into a problem during the trip?
Air travel can be a tedious and sometimes logistically complex affair. From flight delays or cancelations to airline strikes or mechanical problems, the number of issues that can arise during travel are numerous and daunting. Each emergency situation is unique and may require a different approach or measure to resolve, but as your partner in flight, Exito Travel is here to assist in any way that we can.
What constitutes a trip emergency?

A trip emergency is any major disruption of travel or change of flight plans. There are many examples of this but a few are:

What is not considered a trip emergency?
Basically any minor issue like changes to seat assignments, cabin upgrades or frequent flier mileage questions that can be addressed during normal business hours (M-F, 7:00am-5:00pm Pacific).
Who should I contact first in the event of an emergency?

This depends considerably on the situation. On the day of departure, as you get close to take off, airlines will put tickets under “airport control”. This simply means that some functions of the ticket are locked down and moved to airport personnel for change or reissue. In many cases where a last minute delay or cancellation occurs, the airline service desk at the airport is best equipped to assist with finding alternate flight plans.

That being said, a delay of your international flights will often cause a cascading effect to your schedule. Your local flight departures – often booked on different airlines – will need to be adjusted. We can assist in getting these tickets priced and exchanged for the least amount of disruption possible. 

How should I prepare for emergencies?

Purchase travel insurance: While certainly optional, this can help cover unexpected delays, flight rebooking, or similar events (please contact your insurance provider for exact coverage details). Having seen every problem in the book, flight insurance has really saved the day for many of our clients. 

Check-in for your flights: For most airlines, online check-in is allowed 24 hours prior to departure. While not required, checking in online can help you avoid long wait lines at the airport and alert you to any last-minute schedule or operational changes. 

Sign up for trip alerts: Many airlines have a text, phone, or email-based system for alerting passengers about delays or cancelations. Where possible, it’s always great to opt-in for this service on the airline’s website or at the time of check-in. 

Keep your boarding passes: It is important to keep these until your trip is complete. These can be used for proof of service should an error or argument with the airline occur. 

Arrive early / stress less: The general rule of thumb for airport arrival is no later than two hours before a domestic flight and 3 hours prior to an international departure. With increasingly long lines at check-in and airport security, adding additional time is always well advised. 

How do I get a hold of Exito in the event of an emergency?

Regular business hours are 5am-5pm, Pacific Time, Monday – Friday.

We offer 24/7 emergency customer service when confirmed travel is within 72 hours

Phone:  Toll-Free US/Canada: 800-655-4053,  and press 9  /  Worldwide: 970-237-4399
    1.     Please have your reservation number, contact information, and flight details ready.
    2.     You will be connected to one of our Client Services team members.

1.     Provide detailed information including your reservation number, contact information, and flight details.
2.     Please include the best contact information.
3.     One of our team members will respond within 60 minutes.

WhatsApp Chat: +1-970-237-4399
1.     We recommend that you install the WhatsApp software onto your mobile device. 
2.     Chat only. Voice features are not available at this time.


What is overbooking?

Overbooking is a legal (arguably unscrupulous) industry practice where an airline will sell more seats on a flight than are available. On average 40,000 – 50,000 passengers a year are overbooked (bumped) from US domestic flights alone. This can be a very frustrating part of the customer experience, especially when you book a flight so far in advance expecting confirmed service.

Why do airlines do this?

For the airlines, overbooking is a game of probability. On average, the number of people that do not check-in for their scheduled flight is around 5-15 percent, depending on the route, season, type of travel, etc. Airlines have collected this data over the years to determine an average percentage of passenger no shows. For the airline, every empty seat is a missed opportunity to generate more revenue, so they overbook the flights based on these percentages. As you can imagine, this is not an exact science, and when every confirmed passenger shows up this can cause an overbooked flight.  

How can I decrease the likelihood of getting bumped?

When a flight is oversold and there are not enough volunteers, airlines set their own boarding priorities — the order in which they will bump different categories of passengers in an oversell situation. Some airlines bump passengers with the lowest fares first, others the last passengers to check in. For passengers with the same ticket price, those that check in last are often the ones that are bumped. To decrease this likelihood, we recommend that you check in at least 2 hours prior to a domestic departure and at least 3 hours prior to an international flight.

As our Seat FAQ outlines, seat selection for many airlines is now an ancillary chargeable service if you wish to assign seats prior to check-in. Despite the additional costs, having confirmed seat assignments on a flight does decrease the likelihood of getting bumped. If you wait for airport check-in, there is a greater chance the flight will be oversold. While specific seat assignments are not guaranteed, having seats assigned early does increase one’s chances to avoid an oversell situation.

What happens if I am bumped from a flight?

Every airline has different rules in regards to overbooking and compensation. In terms of a possible scenario, the first thing that’s likely to happen with an overbooked flight is the gate attendant will ask people to volunteer to take another flight, and offer a travel voucher (often $200 and up) to sweeten the deal. Take note, by accepting this voucher, you essentially waive any possibility of further compensation from the airline. Alternatively, if you end up being denied boarding and do not accept a voucher, the airline may compensate you for the loss. It’s recommended that you reach out to the airline as soon as possible to file a claim, and you can often get the process started by talking to a gate agent while you wait.

How can Exito help?

We understand getting bumped from a flight a difficult and frustrating experience, especially if you are confirmed on a tour with pre-scheduled activities. At the airport, it’s best to speak to a gate or customer service representative about alternative departure options and what they can protect you on. If we can assist with this process during normal business hours, or help with connecting flights that would be affected by the delay, please reach out to us at 1-800-655-4053. Outside of normal business hours, please contact the agent responsible for your tour.


Traveling the Exito way means the adventure begins long before you book your flight. We believe that travel is a both a privilege and a responsibility – it takes preparation to open your mind, to be ready to learn and experience, and to have awareness of yourself and your surroundings on the journey.


Helpful Links:
Benefits and Fees 2024
TSA – Passenger Support
CDC – Travel Information
FlightAware – Live

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