Is a 1 hour layover enough time in Calgary? Yes, but it depends on…

Is a 1 hour layover enough time in Calgary? Yes, but it depends on…

Of all the major Canadian airports to have a short layover at, Calgary (YYC) is usually the easiest. Its relatively small size makes for relatively low minimum connection times.

  • Domestic to domestic connections can be made in as little as 35 minutes.
  • Domestic to international connections can be made in his little as 45 minutes.
  • You’re probably going to want at least an hour and a half for international to domestic connections.
  • The same goes for international to international connections. An hour and a half is doable (but it’ll be cutting it close).

Reasons why a 1 hour layover is enough time in Calgary (most of the time)

One of the nicest things about the Calgary Airport is it’s compact size. It’s not a behemoth in the same way that YYZ and YVR are, and getting from one end to the other is possible in mere minutes.

Additionally, 4 out of the 5 terminals are connected behind the security checkpoint. You can move freely between them. There’s even a train that stops at all terminals that can help you get you where you need to go (it’s faster than walking).

landing at Calgary airport
Flying into Calgary can be very scenic, but it’s hard to appreciate the beauty of it all when you know that your connecting flight has already started boarding. Don’t worry – you’re going to make it (and it’s ok to admit that air travel sucks *** sometimes).

Reasons why a 1 hour layover might not be enough time

The only time when a 1 hour layover might not be possible in Calgary is if you’re coming off and international flight and connecting to another one (either domestic or international).

Getting through the customs and immigration process doesn’t always take very long, but it can get backed up sometimes. You’re basically never going to make a 1 hour connection if there’s a long line to get through customs. Especially if you have checked baggage, as that will require you to retrieve it before going through the customs process.

Terminal C Calgary Airport
If you do end up missing your connecting flight, the far end of Terminal C would be a good place to sit and think about how it all went wrong. It’s cozy.

What is the minimum layover time for domestic flights in Calgary?

The minimum amount of time that you’ll need in Calgary for connecting from one domestic flight to another is 35 minutes. The domestic terminals are relatively small at YYC, and you won’t have to go through security to get from one to the next.

What is the minimum layover time for international flights in Calgary?

As it is with most major airports, the time that it will take you to make an international connection in Calgary will vary depending on where you’re arriving from and flying to:

1. Connecting TO an international flight (non-US)

Connecting to an international (non US) flight from a domestic flight can be done as little as 45 minutes at YYC. It’s simply a matter of walking from one gate to the next.

2. Connecting to a US bound flight

Connecting from a domestic flight to a flight bound for the US is going to take at least 1 hour. This is because you are going to have to go through US Preclearance, which consists of United States passport control and customs. You’ll officially enter the United States before you leave Canada.

3. Connecting FROM an international flight (US and non-US)

Connecting from an international flight to a domestic flight in Calgary requires an hour and a half (minimum). It can take some time to get through the customs and immigration process, so plan accordingly.

4. Connecting from one international flight to another (US and non-US)

International to International connections can me made in as little as an hour. You’ll simply go from one flight to the next without passing through passport control and customs.

International to US connections aren’t all that common at YYC, but if you find yourself in that situation, you’ll need 2 hours (since you will need to clear both Canadian and US passport control and customs). 

Terminal E Calgary airport
I’ll bet you anything that everyone in this pic is thinking something along the lines of “holy crap that was easy!”

A brief overview of the terminal layout at YYC

There are five terminals at YYC (A, B, C, D, and E). Terminals A, B, and C are for domestic flights. Terminals D and E are for international flights.

Calgary Airport Terminal map
The Calgary Airport terminal map. And because I’m sure there will be at least one of you who is going to ask, Tim Hortons is located in Terminals A, C, and D (post security).

It’s important to note that domestic flights sometimes arrive and depart out of Terminal D (even though it’s specifically labeled as part of the International Terminal). Terminal E is reserved specifically for US bound flights.

Terminal C Tim hortons Calgary airport
Tim Hortons, Terminal C (provided for reference, should you need to stop for coffee on your mad dash across the airport).

Walking time between all terminals at the Calgary Airport

If you hustle, it’ll be possible to walk from Terminal A to Terminal D in about 12-15 minutes. Taking the inter-terminal train (YYC Link) will shave several minutes off of that. In my experience, the following is how long it usually takes me to walk from one terminal to the next at the Calgary Airport:

Terminal A to:

  • Terminal B: 3 minutes
  • Terminal C: 6 minutes
  • Terminal D: 9 minutes
  • Terminal E: 12 minutes (not accessible without going though US Prelearance)

Terminal B to:

  • Terminal A: 3 minutes
  • Terminal C: 3 minutes
  • Terminal D: 6 minutes
  • Terminal E: 9 minutes (not accessible without going though US Prelearance)

Terminal C to:

  • Terminal A: 6 minutes
  • Terminal B: 3 minutes
  • Terminal D: 3 minutes
  • Terminal E: 6 minutes (not accessible without going though US Prelearance)

Terminal D to:

  • Terminal A: 9 minutes
  • Terminal B: 6 minutes
  • Terminal C: 3 minutes
  • Terminal E: 3 minutes (not accessible without going though US Prelearance)

Terminal E to:

  • Terminal A: 12 minutes
  • Terminal B: 9 minutes
  • Terminal C: 6 minutes
  • Terminal D: 3 minutes

If I’m being honest, taking the train really doesn’t save that much time – nor does it make it any easier. It’s really only beneficial if you don’t want to (or can’t) walk.

How long of a layover do you need in YYC for a no-stress connection?

My normal advice for these airport connection guides is for you to get as long of a layover as you can. However, due to how efficient and compact the Calgary Airport is, it’s not really necessary.

A. Domestic to domestic connections

An hour and a half will make for a very easy and carefree connection at YYC.  The terminals are small, and there’s a very good chance that you won’t have to walk very far to reach your connecting gate. Grab something from Tim Hortons and relax!

B. Domestic to United States connections

2 hours is more than likely way more time than you’ll need to make a domestic to US connection in Calgary, but it’ll definitely provide you with enough time to move at a slower / casual pace. 

C. Domestic to international connections (to anywhere other than the US)

2 hours to make a domestic to international connection at YYC will make things easy. There will be no additional security checks to go through, and you can take your time to move from one gate to the next.

D. International to domestic connections

2 and a half hours to go from an international flight to a domestic flight is more than enough time. The Calgary Airport doesn’t get a lot of inbound international flights on a daily basis (at least compared to YYZ and YVR), so getting through customs and immigration should be relatively quick.

E. International to international connections

I’d probably want at least 2 hours if I was going from one international flight to another in Calgary. There will be no security checks to go through (you won’t even have to go through customs), but it’s always nice to have some extra bit of buffer time to do some duty free shopping (and/or eating).

Calgary airport chairs
Yes, those chairs are as comfortable as they look. Do yourself a huge favor and book a layover long enough that will allow you the opportunity to get lost in one of them.

Useful tips for making a short 1 hour layover at Calgary

In my opinion, the Calgary Airport is so easy to navigate that it’s a bit challenging to come up with a list of things and that will make a short layover easier to pull off. Minimum connection times are very low at YYC, but here are a few extra tips that might help:

  • Take advantage of the inter-terminal train (the YYC Link) if you’re a slow walker. It stops at all terminals and will speed up the process of reaching your connecting gate.
  • Have your travel documents ready if you need to enter Terminal D. There will be no security checks to go through, but they may ask to see your boarding pass and passport.
  • Sit as far forward as you can on your inbound flight. Having a seat near the front of the airplane will mean that you’ll be one of the first off when you arrive.
  • Find out ahead of time where your connecting flight will be departing from. At the very least, figure out which terminal it will be. The individual terminals are relatively small, so it doesn’t really matter where the actual gate is.

Comments (2)

  1. Gillian Locking

    January 27, 2024
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      January 27, 2024

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