What To Do If You Miss Your Connecting Flight Due To A Delay

It's one of the most nerve-wracking experiences when flying (next to your luggage being lost in transit): missing your connecting flight due to a delay. We've all been there. Rushing off our first flight, beads of sweat trickling down our brows as we run aimlessly from one end of the airport to the other to catch the flight that will get us to our final destination — an echoing voice over the speakers announces the closing of the gate before you're even close enough to say, "Wait!" But what can we do to ease the stress levels that ensue thanks to this issue that occurs quite frequently with airlines, particularly when traveling during the mad summer rush? And, will the airline at fault help you to get back in the air, so you can arrive on time to your final destination?

It's important to note that if you're flying from the United States to any destination within the European Union, you're protected under the flight compensation regulation known as EC261/2004, and you should file your claim immediately. However, if you miss your connecting flight while flying from one state to the next, the U.S. Department of Transportation has yet to implement a similar compensation regulation but did impose an obligatory refund be provided by the airline carriers for substantial changes in schedules and delays caused on their part.

When an airline carrier is the responsible party for the delay (within the United States)

If you are one of those unfortunate passengers who learns that the airline you're flying with announces your first flight is delayed (meaning you won't arrive on time for your connecting flight), then the airline companies are not obligated to pay passengers any compensation, and that decision is at their discretion. However, they are obligated to ensure that you are scheduled on the next available flight(s) as long as both flights are run by the same company or an affiliate airline.

In addition, when delays are caused by the airline carrier, and the next flight out is not available within the same day, airlines may offer to pay for your overnight stay at a hotel. This again is dependent on, and at the discretion of the airline. That being said, as soon as you realize your flight is not going to arrive on time for your connecting flight, it's important that you get on the phone with your airline company, or if you're already at the airport, head to their counter to discuss your options in person. Depending on your credit card provider and account, you may also have some travel protection through them to help if necessary. Also, check with your travel insurance provider if you purchased coverage before your trip.

Weather delays and negligence on your part

It's safe to say that if you miss your connecting flight due to delays caused by inclement weather, the airlines may be able to assist you with getting onto another flight once it's passed, but again they are not obligated to do so. And, while it is a frustrating dilemma, keep calm and collected while discussing your options with your airline carrier, as there will be hundreds, if not thousands of additional passengers waiting in line for the same reason.

Should you miss your connecting flight due to your own human error, reach out to your airline as soon as possible to plead your case to see if they will allow you to board another flight. If you fail to do so, the airline is obligated to deem you as a "no-show," which could result in penalty fees on your end, and shelling out additional monies for a new airline ticket to make your connection.