Realistic minimum connection times for the SLC airport are very short!

Realistic minimum connection times for the SLC airport are very short!

If you’re feeling worried about an upcoming short layover at the Salt Lake City International Airport, don’t be. Thanks to how efficient the new terminal design is, minimum connection times at SLC are far lower than what they used to be.

  • Realistically, connection times can be as low as 35 minutes if you’re going from one domestic flight to another.
  • Add an additional 20 minutes if you’re connecting to a international flight.
  • You’ll probably want at least an hour and 10 minutes coming from a international flight to a domestic flight.

Navigating through the Salt Lake City Airport is a piece of cake. If you don’t believe me, keep reading, and I promise it’ll make you feel better about that tight connection you have coming up…

What is the minimum connection time for domestic flights at SLC?

35 minute connection times aren’t realistic at many airports, but they are at SLC. Even though the Salt Lake City Airport consists of two large main concourses, the wide open spaces and moving walkways makes short domestic flight connections extremely easy.

While I don’t recommend booking an itinerary with a connection that tight, just know that you shouldn’t have much of a problem getting to your connecting gate within minutes.

Assuming you’re flying the same airline (or partner airlines), the chances of having to run across the entire airport to make your connection are slim. Most likely, you’re connecting flight will be in the general visitaty of your arriving flight.

SANspotter selfie SLC airport
If you need a something to help you visualize what a 50-minute connection at SLC looks like, here you go. It was as laid back as it looks!

What is the minimum connection time for international flights at SLC?

Just as it is with pretty much any other major airport in the world, it’s hard to accurately estimate the minimum time you’ll need for a connection at SLC that involves an international flight. However, it becomes a little clearer if we look at each scenario individually:

Connecting FROM an international flight

Connecting from an international flight to a domestic flight will involve going through passport control and customs. You’re also going to have to retrieve and re-check your bags, all of which is going to add time. Personally, the minimum on amount of time that I would want for an international to domestic connection at Salt Lake City is an hour and 10 minutes.

The all new Salt Lake City Airport is state-of-the-art and was designed from the ground up for maximum efficiency. It’s a massive airport that isn’t as busy as some of the other major hub airports in the US, so you won’t have much difficulty moving through it relatively quickly.

connecting passengers at SLC
This man could be in the middle of a 1 hour international to domestic connection here at SLC, but his chill demeanor doesn’t even show it. It’s almost as if I could hear him saying “I got this…”

Connecting To an international flight

Plan on a minimum of 55 minutes for a domestic to international connection at SLC. In all honesty, you’re probably not going to need that much time, but it’s a safe estimate considering that you’ll need to be on board the plane earlier than you would for a domestic flight.

Note that there is no designated international terminal at SLC. Your international connecting flight will likely be grouped together (somewhat close) to your arriving flight – assuming you’re flying Delta.

A brief overview of the terminal layout at the Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)

Imagine my surprise when I landed at the Salt Lake City International Airport in February 2021 (after finishing up a fun Delta A220-300 economy review) to find an all new airport. I’ve flown through SLC many times over the years, and I had no idea that they had demolished the old building and replaced it with one of the best airport terminals in the world.

BTW, if you’re curious to know what the old terminal used to be like, do be sure to read my review of Delta 737-800 first class from SLC to SAN in December of 2015.

The Salt Lake City Airport consists of one main terminal building divided up into two separate concourses (A and B). These concourses are connected via an underground walkway, and you will not need to pass through additional security checkpoints to move from one to the other.

slc terminal map
The terminal map of SLC is deceiving since it doesn’t actually take that long to walk from one end to the other. Basically, it’s a really awesome airport to have a really hairy connection at.

There are plans to expand these concourses as time goes on, but the good news is that all the proposal so far seem to hint at the idea of extending the concourses that are already in place.

The reason why short connection times are ok at SLC

As I alluded to earlier, short connection times are easy at SLC due to how expansive and wide open the main concourses are. This is not the same crowded, cramped, and dark Salt Lake City International Airport you remember from the early 2000s. There’s room to run (if you need to).

Another thing that makes short connection times SLC possible is the abundance of moving walkways throughout the entire airport. I haven’t done it, but I’m guessing that would be fairly easy to get from one end of the airport to the other in less than 100 steps.

Finally, the fact that all gates can be reached without having to go through additional security checkpoints makes things so much easier. There’s only one security checkpoint at SLC, and that is located at the entrance of Concourse A.

SLC airport concourse A
Wide concourses and moving walkways makes SLC a breeze to move through quickly (at panic attack speeds).

Travel time between all terminals at SLC

Getting from one end of Concourse A to the far end of Concourse B at SLC takes a lot less time than you might think it would. On paper, this seems like a really big airport. In real life, it’s actually a very well-designed terminal which allows for brisk walking (and running if necessary).

From West end of Concourse A (gates A1-A16) to:

  • East end of Concourse A (gates A15-A25): 7 minutes
  • West end of Concourse B (gates B1-B8): 10 minutes
  • East end of Concourse B (gates B9-B-24): 10 minutes

From East end of Concourse A (gates A15-A25) to:

  • West end of Concourse A (gates A1-A16): 7 minutes
  • West end of Concourse B (gates B1-B8): 10 minutes
  • East end of Concourse B (gates B9-B-24): 10 minutes

From West end of Concourse B (gates B1-B8) to:

  • West end of Concourse A (gates A1-A16): 10 minutes
  • East end of Concourse A (gates A15-A25): 10 minutes
  • East end of Concourse B (gates B9-B-24): 6 minutes

From East end of Concourse B (gates B9-B24) to:

  • West end of Concourse A (gates A1-A16): 10 minutes
  • East end of Concourse A (gates A15-A25): 10 minutes
  • Wast end of Concourse B (gates B1-B8): 6 minutes

As always, you’re going to need to add a few minutes to these time estimates if you’re a slow walker. Note that there are a lot of great restaurants located all throughout the airport, so adding a few extra minutes to indulge is perfectly acceptable. I won’t judge you for it.

What is the ideal connection time at SLC?

Now that you know what the absolute minimum connection times are for all scenarios at the Salt Lake City Airport, it might be helpful to let you know what my opinions are for the time required for a “no stress” connection at SLC. I mean, yeah, while 35 minute connection times are indeed possible at this airport, it’s not going to be very fun. Here’s what I would prefer:

Domestic to domestic connections

I recently had a 50 minute domestic to domestic connection at SLC, and to be honest, it was absolutely perfect. It was short enough that I didn’t have to wait very long for my next flight, but long enough to make it feel like I wasn’t being rushed. 

SANspotter at SLC airport concourse A
I can’t remember exactly what it was that I was looking at here, but I’m suspecting it was something the along the lines of “things to do in the Salt Lake City Airport.” It was the most unexceptionally uneventful 50 minute layover of my life!

Domestic to international connections

I think an hour and a half would be good for a no-stress domestic to international connection at SLC. No, you won’t need to go through any additional security checks before boarding the plane, but you will need to be on that plane earlier than you would for a domestic flight.

If you want to have enough time to get something to eat before that international connection, two hours would be plenty.

International to domestic connections

Given how efficient the Salt Lake City International Airport is, two hours is the minimum amount of time that I would need to feel comfortable making an international to domestic connection.

I’m all about having as little stress as possible when I travel, so if I’m feeling especially paranoid, three hours would be enough to put my mind at ease.

Tips for making really short connections at SLC

The most important thing you need to know about SLC connection times is that you’re most likely going to need far less time than you think.

The last time I connected through SLC, I had a 50 minute connection, and it was more than enough. If you’ve got a connection shorter than that, here are a handful of tips that will help you not only to move through this airport as quickly as possible, but to help put your mind at ease as well:

  • If it all possible, try to book flights on the same airline. Not having to change airlines will almost always guarantee less walking time from gate to gate.
  • Take advantage of the moving walkways (they’re everywhere) – and don’t be afraid to get aggressive when trying to get around people who stand in the middle of them blocking the flow. You’ve got a plane to catch!
  • If you’re flying Delta, rest assured that the gate agents for your connecting flight will be very aware of your tight connection. They know which flights connecting passengers are coming from, and they will be alerted to any flights that are arriving late. In some instances, they will hold the closure of the flight until all connecting passengers arrive.

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