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American Airlines Connecting Flights


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This is an American Airlines connecting flights guide.

It covers everything from how to book connecting flights with American Airlines to baggage rules and air passengers rights. At one point, we also talk about American Airlines cancelled flights refund policy on European flights. American Airlines is the world’s largest airline by fleet size. It’s based in the US, and operates flights to around 80 international destinations.

Did you miss a connecting flight? File a compensation claim online.

American Airlines airplane
American Airlines airplane


Is It Protected?

Yes, it’s a protected connection.

Traditional airlines sell airline-protected connecting flights. It’s more convenient and more safe than self-transfer flights. You don’t need a visa for connecting flights like this.

Unless you book flights separately.

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Baggage Rules

Airline takes care of your baggage.

Mostly, you will check in baggage only once — you won’t have to recheck baggage for every flight. This is how it works with full-service airlines and airline-protected connecting flights.

Baggage allowance depends on the ticket, destination and occasionally some other factors. 


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1. American Airlines Connecting Flights

American Airlines is a full-service traditional airline.

Accordingly, they offer airline-protected connecting flights.

Airline-protected connecting flights are:

  • More safe. Your airline takes care of flight problems.
  • More convenient. Baggage transfer is automatic.
  • Easier to book. You book several flights as a single journey.

That’s one of the best thing about traditional airlines.

1.1 Connecting Flights, One Airline

In some situations you will fly only with AA.

You will have two or more flights, and all will be operated by American Airlines. However, what you should know is that it’s not the same with every single flight. Not all American Airlines connecting flights are the same, some include flights operated by another airline or airlines.

1.2 American Airlines Codeshare Partners

Sometimes airlines share their flights.

You may think it’s an American Airlines flight. You booked it directly from their website. But, it may be operated by another airline. Connecting flights with different airlines is a common thing in aviation. It’s nothing unusual. Such flights are called codeshare flights, and airlines collaborating — codeshare partners.

What you should know is that:

  • If you miss a connecting flight, it’s American Airlines’s responsibility. You should contact them, not the other airline (if there is another airline involved). Assuming that you made a booking from AA, not the other airline. Because then they are the marketing airline — they are responsible for finding solutions.
  • If your flight is heavily delayed, cancelled or overbooked, compensation is paid by airline operating this particular flight. So, it’s quite the opposite. If it’s operated by some other airline, not American Airlines, then they are called the operating airline — they have to pay compensation when it’s due.

American Airlines partner airlines include such names as British Airways, Iberia and Qantas. See a list of American Airlines codeshare partners here.

New York Skyscrapers
Manhattan, New York

2. What If American Airlines Cancels a Flight?

Why do airlines cancel flights? Why American Airlines does it?

Just like other airlines, American Airlines cancels flights for a number of reasons. It can be anything from staff shortage and technical problems to security issues. The important thing is that whenever it happens due to airline’s fault, not something unavoidable, you may be entitled to cancellation compensation. More on this further below.

For example, technical problems are considered airline’s fault.

2.1 One of Your Flights Is Cancelled

American Airlines is not a European airline.

Still, according to the EU Regulation 261/2004, they must:

  • Offer you a choice between a new flight and full refund.
  • Offer you assistance at the airport (you have a right to care).

This applies to all their flights departing from Europe.

If because of that you’re going to miss a connection, it’s their responsibility to offer you an alternative flight to your final destination. If a flight departs from Europe, you may also opt for a refund instead. And in some situations, you may have a right to compensation (more on this below).

Did you miss a connecting flight? File a compensation claim online.

2.2 All Your Flights Are Cancelled

Overall, for you as a passenger, the options are the same.

According to the EU Regulation 261/2004, AA must:

  • Offer you a choice between a new flight and full refund.
  • Offer you assistance at the airport if it’s a last-minute cancellation and you are already at the airport (you have a right to care).

This applies to all their flights departing from Europe.

Refund must be paid within seven days.

You may have a right to EU flight cancellation compensation.

2.3 American Airlines Refund for Cancellation

Yes, you have a right to ask for a refund.

If the flight was from the EU, EEA or UK, European flight regulations give you such a right. And American Airlines has to follow these laws. On flights from the US, it depends from American Airlines policy on cancelled flights. For flights departing from the US, you will get American Airlines cancelled flights refund only if that’s what their policy say.

With European airlines you have the same rights also on flights from the US. Take that into account, when thinking of booking with American Airlines for international flights. On European flights and with European airlines, you have more rights.

Hong Kong airport layover
Hong Kong airport

3. American Airlines Missed Connecting Flight

You have a connecting flight.

And you miss connection. It happens.

3.1 What Happens If You Miss American Airlines Connection?

If it’s your fault that it happened — it’s your responsibility.

If it’s not your fault, then your airline has to take care of that. If you booked a flight from American Airlines, it doesn’t even matter if the flight is operated by American Airlines or not, you should contact them. They sold you the flight, so this is their responsibility. You missed connecting flight, American Airlines have to offer you a solution and assistance.

According to the EU Regulation 261/2004, they must:

  • Take you to your final destination as soon as possible.
  • Offer you assistance at the airport (you have a right to care).

Again, it applies only to flights from Europe.

Read more: Missed Connecting Flight Due to Delay 

3.2 Right to Compensation from American Airlines

Sometimes you have a right to compensation.

This too applies only to flights departing from Europe. If you arrive late, your flight is cancelled less than 14 days before the departure or you’re denied boarding due to overbooking — you may have a right to flight compensation. It’s European flight compensation, and in this case American Airlines has to follow European laws.

Flight cancelled less than 2 weeks before the trip?

You might be entitled to flight cancellation compensation.


File a Claim Online

3.3 Right to Care from American Airlines

On all American Airlines flights from Europe you have a right to care.

According to the EU Regulation 261/2004 airline should provide:

  • Free food and drinks in a reasonable relation to the waiting time.
  • Free hotel accommodation if a stay of one or more nights is necessary;
  • Free airport transfer to hotel and back.
  • Plus, two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or e-mails. In Europe, it’s airline’s responsibility to offer its passengers means of communication. So you can get in touch with your family or friends, and let them know about these changes.

It applies to all flights departing from airports in Europe (EU, EEA, UK). With European airlines it applies to all their flights to and from European airports.

When it comes to air passenger rights, unless otherwise stated, we talk about air passenger rights in the EU, EEA and UK. When we say Europe or European, we mean EU, EEA or UK. This is done for the simplicity, since the according laws in these countries are about the same.

Istanbul Airport
Istanbul Airport

4. How to Book Connecting Flights with American Airlines?

You can do it directly from their website or via a third-party.

Overall, these are two of the best options that you have. To either go to the website of American Airlines, or to use a flight booking website or app that you trust.

How to Book?

Airline website (directly).

This is the easiest way to book a connecting flight. It’s also the safest way to book a connection. You make a single booking, have a single reservation code and the booking includes several flights. Sometimes they are all with one airline, other times – two or more. Anyway, in this case, you can be 100% sure that you have a proper connecting flight.

Other Option

Flight booking websites.

Few examples:,,

Pay attention to the details. Because some of these sites are only search engines, and sellers are other websites. Apart from that, they often sell both airline-protected connecting flights and self-transfer flights. If it’s a self-transfer, know that it comes with its own risks, and there are things you should take into account. Self-transfer is not the same thing as airline-protected transfer. 

For extra protection, buy also a travel insurance covering flight disruptions, or book with sites like, who offer extra protection.

With you are more protected than normally.

Read more: How to Book Connecting Flights?

Two backpacks

5. American Airlines Connecting Flights: Baggage

Since AA is a traditional airline, everything’s very easy.

American Airlines connecting flight baggage rules are simple.

In short, American Airlines takes care of your baggage. You check in your bags once, and they take care of the rest. They transfer baggage between flights. This is how it works in most countries and with most full-service airlines. But let’s not forget that there are exceptions. One such exception is the US. Flying into the US, you may have to recheck your bag.

You can see your bags destination on the baggage tag.

Alternatively, ask airport staff to explain you these things.

5.1 Baggage Transfer: Different Airlines

What happens if there are several airlines?

What if one of your flights is operated by different airline, not American Airlines? As we already talked, you may experience this, because American Airlines does share some of its flights with its codeshare partners. In this situation the rules are the same — your baggage is being taken care of by an airline. In most situations you won’t have to worry about it.

If one of your flights is, for example, with British Airways, Iberia or Qantas, they will take care of your bags. They will take bags from one plane to another.

Read more:

5.2 American Airlines Free Baggage Allowance

Baggage allowance varies — it’s not the same on all flights.

You can’t bring the same amount of baggage on all flights. Free baggage allowance varies depending on your class of travel, destination, and occasionally some other factors. See your American Airlines flights booking to see the allowance you have on this particular journey.

5.3 Economy Light

This is the cheapest option for long-haul flights.

Economy Light comes without free baggage allowance.

We see this all across the industry. Full-service traditional airlines are offering also tickets without free checked baggage allowance. The wording is also often the same — Economy Light. So, if you see this, most likely it’s without checked baggage (carry on baggage only). If it’s not enough for you, if you need checked baggage, make sure to pay attention to this.

Most of cheapest American Airlines flights to Europe are Basic Economy. This is how they call Economy Light. This fare comes without free baggage allowance.

Indoor waterfall at Singapore Changi Airport
Indoor waterfall at Singapore Changi Airport

6. Connecting Flight Examples

Here are two connecting flight examples with AA.

6.1 Protected Connecting Flights with American Airlines (Most Common)

For this example I’ll be using the website of American Airlines.

For example, I want to fly from Bucharest, Romania, to New York.

I search for flights for November 1, and these are two of my options:

Connecting flight from Bucharest to New York with American Airlines
Connecting flight from Bucharest to New York with American Airlines

Both have 1 stop, 1 layover. Both cost about the same.

But there are also differences. One is very important. The first option is basically a self-transfer flight. You have to change airports in London. You can see that when you click on Details. This is why there is that red warning. Changing airports take time, sometimes half a day.

First is fully operated by British Airways.

Second — British Airways and American Airlines.

6.2 Self-Transfer Flights with American Airlines

See the first option in the example above.

This too is basically a self transfer (you have to even change airports). But I’ll give you one more example. For example, you want to fly from Bucharest to New York, and from New York onwards to Los Angeles. But before that you want to spend a day or two in New York — to explore Manhattan and visit the Statue of Liberty. A stay like this is called a stopover.

  1. You book a connecting flight to New York, like in the example above. You take the second option. It’s more safe and convenient.
  2. And then you go to, or some other flight booking website, and book a flight from New York to Los Angeles. Leaving yourself, let’s say, 2 days in New York. You can book this flight also directly from an airline too; it’s usually a safer option.

Until New York you have an airline-protected connecting flight. If the first flight is delayed or cancelled, your airline will take care of that. They will put you on another flight for free. However, the last leg, New York – Los Angeles, is a separate flight. You check in for it separately, get boarding passes separately, you collect baggage yourself, etc. 

Remember this! Even if you’ll be only transiting through the US, and won’t leave the airport in New York, you still need an ESTA or visa for this connection. This applies also to airline-protected connections. With most other countries you don’t need a visa for connecting flights.

What is your experience with American Airlines? Have you ever missed a connecting flight with American Airlines? How did the airline solve this? Did you receive compensation from American Airlines?

Featured photo by Nikita Grishin

About the author:

Co-founder and Chief Editor at Connecting Flights Guide

Kaspars is a digital nomad and travel blogger who’s been traveling the world extensively since 2013. Since 2017, Kaspars has been writing about the less-known aspects of air travel, things like air passenger rights laws and regulations. He’s really good at simplifying complex concepts and making them easily understandable. Kaspars favorite airlines are Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines.


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Connecting Flights Guide

Your go-to guide to air travel rules and regulations. Connecting flights, self transfer, onward tickets and more – we want you to understand air travel better

This article may contain compensated links. Learn more in our disclaimer.

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