Travel SOS: What happens if you miss your connecting flight?

Harvey wants to know what will happen if he misses his connecting flight.

What if you miss a connection?

Harvey has just booked tickets to the USA but is worried that he hasn’t enough time between flights when he transfers at LAX. So, he’s asked Leon what would happen if he missed his connecting flight.


Q. Harvey
I’m heading off to Las Vegas for a week and have booked flights that included a transfer at LA airport. There’s two hours between flights, which I’ve been told might be enough but a friend of mine reckons I may be cutting it fine. What happens if I miss that connecting flight? Will the airline sort that out for me or will I have to fork out extra?

A. If you bought your airfare through the one airline and in one ‘single trip’, then the airline is obliged to make sure you get to your destination. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) publishes minimum connection times and airlines must sell airfares that take these times into consideration.

If it’s not your fault that you miss your connection, then the airline must ensure that you and your luggage get to where you’re going at no extra cost to you.

If there is a delay, cancellation or any airport issues, such as lagging security, congested airways or immigration hold ups, the airline will put you on the next available flight and should cover any extra costs incurred, such as food and accommodation.

Also, if you have higher flight status, such as being a member of the airline’s frequent flyer or priority program, or if you have booked a premium economy, business or first-class seat, you will have priority over standard economy passengers.

However, if you’ve booked your tickets with different airlines, and you miss your connecting flight, you will most likely have to pay extra to get on the next flight, as the airline has no contractual obligation to protect you. If this is the case for you, then I suggest you call your connecting airline and try to extend the time between your connection, as LAX is super busy and can be ‘mercurial’ when it comes to the time required between flights.

And I’d recommend purchasing travel insurance, as then you’ll be covered in case the worst should happen.

Hope that helps!

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    To make a comment, please register or login
    24th Mar 2018
    Regardless of whether a passenger has booked connecting flights between two airlines, those two airlines have a moral duty to ensure said passenger reaches their destination, should a verifiable delay, for any reason, occur beyond the control of the passenger. It's called " good customer service, brilliant P.R. etc ". Purely because positive "Word Of Mouth " is the cheapest form of advertising any business can utilize, it costs them nothing.

    Quite honestly, what does it cost any relevant airline to " bump " a missed connection passenger to the next available flight? A few minutes on a keyboard, a couple of phone calls maybe, that's all !! A kindness is worth far more than a ton of gold, sapphires & diamonds.
    24th Mar 2018
    Last years' trip to San Francisco via LA: 4 hrs between fights was not enough! Flight arrived on time but the bottleneck was immigration, even with the automated screens. We had to ask to be moved to a shorter line to make our flights and even then we were rushing to the next terminal!
    24th Mar 2018
    Yep, a 4 hour connection at any major airport is not enough. Allow at least double that, even if it means a stopover. It's better to stay overnight at an airport motel than hanging around for 24 hours in the public terminal on top of the extra fee for rebooking.

    Even years ago before all the terrorist stuff, I booked clients with connecting flights 12 hours between and had them come back in to thank me for doing so. If they had time to kill then the airport eatery is always open and it made their trip more relaxed. Sadly some folks just want to get from A to B asap and it usually ends in tears if you travel by commercial air. It's travel planning 101 and any agent who books you into tight connections shouldn't be in the industry. Usually group bookings are ok but those operators always allow plenty of wriggle room and these guys are doing it all the time, so anyone thinking about travelling solo should follow their lead.

    Unless you are a frequent flyer travelling on business, then time is money, which is why you are a member and pay a few hundred annually for the privilege. You can always sleep in the guest lounge if closely connected flights go south anyway.
    24th Mar 2018
    Another thing to consider when transiting through a USA airport is that the first landing will mean you must collect your luggage and then recheck it in for the onward flights. This can also add to the time you have to catch the next flight. Not to mention the challenges of USA immigration processes.

    If your onward flight is with one of the cheaper airlines, it is highly likely you will be up for more money since it is your responsibility to ensure you make your next flight. You may do better if the onward flights are with the same airline and it delay is not your 'fault' e.g. if the first flight was delayed for some technical problem with the plane.
    24th Mar 2018
    Last year we had a 2hr changeover in LA, booked by the travel agent. I was worried as I usually do my own bookings leaving plenty of time for transfers. I questioned it at the time and was told it would be ok so long as we were able to check in all the way through from our initial departure. We still had to collect our bags and go through immigration though. We made it but it was a hell of a rush. Not my idea of relaxing travel!!!
    25th Mar 2018
    Back in 2010, we booked flights to Seattle. We arrived at LA, and after going through airport security check in, handprints thumb prints, eye scans, we then had to retrieve our two suitcases. We arrived at the 'carousel' and found a lot of unhappy people, some of whom we recognised on our flight. We had to wait 45 minutes for our bags to appear, as a consequence, we missed our Alaska airlines flight, check in terminal down the road about 200 metres. When I explained what had happened, the very nice lady found us two seats on the next flight to Seattle. I don't recall the gap time, but I think 4 hours plus would be a good idea, especially at LA, the place is a madhouse, being directed by police which line you can get in and cannot!!, All tis since 9/11.
    13th Oct 2018
    Travelled with Emirates with connection in Dubai. One hour was scheduled to catch the next leg. I found it a physical disaster, going through customs finding the information board to locate gate departure. Consequently I missed the flight out and was charged $500 to seat me a another aircraft which had seats available. Not happy but despite talking to Emirates, they would not budge. $ 500 handed over. There argument was the first leg of trip was on time so I had to pay or be stranded in Dubai. Maybe I should have realised the time frame was insufficient.

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