Q. When I book tickets on Travelocity, Orbitz and the airline sites directly, they frequently only offer 45 to 60 minute connections, sometimes even less, even at busy airports such as Amsterdam's Schiphol. I want to make sure I make my connections, so how do I get around these automated schedules and build in more layover time?

A. You might try contacting Travelocity (or whatever online service you use) by phone to see if they can build in a longer layover, or you can call your local travel agent or the airline directly. In most cases, airlines will let you to a forced layover of up to 4 hours without incurring any extra charges for a "stopover."

The only downside to calling a travel agent or airline is that you'll have to pay a service fee (most airlines now charge $20-$25 to speak to a human), but perhaps it's worth it considering the alternative, which might be missing your connecting flight. It is indeed difficult if not impossible to build in longer layovers using online airfare searches, so it's best to involve a real person to help you.

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