Travel Tip: 6 Hour Airport Stopover, Salt Lake City

Long waits between connecting flights can be boring and frustrating. Most travelers remain in the airport–visiting restaurants or shops, reading, playing with electronics, walking around, and/or sitting. Savvy frequent flyers and business travelers might spend time idle time in airport lounges.

In a prior post, I showed what you could do (and what I did) with a three hour layover between connecting flights.

Here is what I did for a six hour stopover at Salt Lake City International airport.

First the setup. I was flying from Dulles to Anchorage, Alaska and ended up with six hours between flights in Salt Lake City (SLC).¹

Being an amateur genealogist, I know that the Family History Library (FHL), the world’s largest collection of genealogy records (operated by the Mormon church), is located in Salt Lake City.

For one specific piece of my family research², I wanted to see data in a particular book. There was only one copy of the book outside of Germany. Yes, at FHL.

With my initial itinerary (IAD-ATL-SLC), I only had a short layover and wished I had enough time to visit FHL.

With my standby good luck, I now had enough time!

When I arrived at SLC, I went to ground transportation, where I could take a taxi or public bus.

I opted for the public bus, to save money and for the adventure.

If I were to plan this stopover excursion again, I would lookup the bus information online. It shows the bus from SLC travels right to FHL. How convenient!

Once I arrived at FHL, I found a volunteer to help me find the book. FHL wants first-time visitors to sit through an orientation presentation–I explained I was between flights and knew my way around a library.³

I found the listing and had her point the general direction*. I quickly found the book.

Actually, it took me less than 15 minutes to find the book and look up the information I wanted.** I spent another 10-15 minutes looking at the rest of the book and making copies.

Judging that I still had a few hours before I had to be back at SLC, I explored more at FHL. I did not find anything pertinent to my family history, which is the common result of library treasure hunts.

I left FHL to return to SLC probably 3 hours before my flight. On the initial bus ride (between SLC and FHL), I noticed an area with potentially good eating options.

On the return bus ride, I stopped in that area and had a nice meal. With the bus transfer ticket, I was able to hop back on the same bus route and go to the airport.

I have taken public bus rides in other cities—during layovers between flights or just to explore. It is a fun, reliable, and inexpensive (sometimes FREE) way to see a destination and spend time during a layover between flights.

For more fun bus tips, please see my post about Local Buses.

¹ This was a frequent flyer award flight, which was booked as IAD-ATL-SLC-ANC. The two connections were each under two hours. When I arrived at Dulles airport, I cleared security fast (a rarity) and was able to get a standby seat on a nonstop IAD-SLC flight. Good news was that I did not have to fly through Atlanta to get to SLC. Better news was that I had six hours in Salt Lake City.

² In my family history, I hit a brick wall with an ancestor named Barbara SIM.

³ Not a lie! I worked at libraries all 4 years during college and DO know my way around libraries. I have done genealogy research at Library of Congress, DAR, and dozens of smaller libraries.

  • This particular volunteer moved slowly. With my finite layover time, I decided I can find the book faster on my own. In my experience, most volunteers have general knowledge. It is not practical to know everything. They often have to hunt around for materials and I almost always find what I am looking for before they do.

** So, remember Barbara SIM? She was listed as Barbara SIM in a couple of different sources. In the FHL book, however, she was listed as Barbara SIRN. With the kerning, it was difficult at a glance between SIM and SIRN. So, a transcriber logged it as SIM and people just kept repeating the information. I have since found more information about her family, with names such as SIREN and SYREN. That is why I like to do my own research, to correct such errors. It is not the only time I have found such a revelation and corrected previously published family history.

McCool Travel tip: On this particular trip, I was solo and only had a backpack for luggage. If you check luggage and are flying the same airline for both flights, the carrier will handle transfers. If you have to transfer your own bags between flights, that will severely cut the amount of free time you have.

6 Hour Airport Stopover, Salt Lake City published on 3 Oct 2013.

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