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Do Airlines Hold Flights for Connecting Passengers?


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Do airlines hold flights for connecting passengers?

One of the most common questions travelers ask us is, will airlines wait for connecting passengers if they are running late due to delays or other issues? As a general rule, an airline won’t wait for a connecting passenger. However, there might be exceptions. In this article, we’ll explore this issue in detail so that you know what to expect when making a connection.

We also will give some tips on how to minimize the chances of missing your flight. Read on to learn more!

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

Air Baltic plane up close
Air Baltic plane with Estonian flag livery

1. Do Airlines Hold Flights for Connecting Passengers?

Do airlines hold flights for connecting passengers?

It depends on the airline’s policy when it comes to waiting for passengers.

Whether a connecting flight will wait for passengers depends on a variety of factors, including the airline’s policies, the reason for the delay, and how close to the departure time the passengers arrive. Generally speaking, most airlines will make some kind of efforts to wait for delayed passengers on a connecting flight, though this is not necessarily guaranteed.

In some cases, airlines may be able to hold a connecting flight for a period of time, but it is not something that is typically guaranteed by any airline. Ultimately, it is important for passengers to always plan ahead and try to make their connections on time.

If you are late for your connecting flight, and you are the only one who needs to make this connection, the plane will not wait for you.

However, you will be entitled to a new flight to your destination. Because you missed your connection through no fault of yours – your previous flight was delayed or cancelled.

2. Why Don’t Airlines Wait for Delayed Passengers?

Connecting flights may not wait for passengers for several reasons, including:

  • Cost. Holding a connecting flight for a few passengers can be expensive for the airline, especially if it means delaying the flight and disrupting the schedules of other passengers. In some cases, it may be more cost-effective for the airline to rebook the affected passengers on a later flight or offer them compensation.
  • Legal requirements. Airlines are required to close the boarding gate a certain amount of time before departure to ensure that all passengers are on board and accounted for before takeoff. If a passenger arrives after the gate has closed, the airline may not be able to let them on the flight for safety and security reasons.
  • Connectivity. Some airports may have a large number of connecting flights, and if one flight is delayed, it may impact the ability of other passengers to make their connecting flights. In some cases, airlines may choose not to wait for a few passengers to arrive to ensure that the flight can depart on time and minimize disruption to other passengers.

3. In Which Situations Do Airlines Hold Connecting Flights?

While, generally, the airline won’t wait for connecting passengers, there might be some exceptions.

If a flight is delayed, and there are many passengers who are connecting from this delayed flight onto the same connecting flight, the airline will hold the connecting flight for these passengers.

Contact the airline prior to their flight to make sure they know what the policy is and what you can do if you are running late.

4. Missed Connecting Flight Due to Delay or Cancellation

What happens if you miss your connecting flight?

Generally speaking, if it’s an airline-protected connecting flight, you don’t have to worry about missing your connection. When an airline plans connecting flights, it takes into account the minimum connection times. However, unexpected delays and cancellations happen, and you might miss your connection, if your layover is short. That’s why it’s better to choose a connecting flight with a longer layover, if there’s such an option.

What if there were no other options, and you end up missing your flight?

If you miss your connecting flight due to delay or cancellation of the previous flight, the airline has to book you on a new flight free of charge. Even if your previous flight was disrupted due to bad weather or other extraordinary circumstances. You have an airline-protected connecting flight, and your connection is protected no matter what.

If you have to wait for your new flight for 3 or more hours, you also are entitled to receive care from the airline (free food and, if necessary, accommodation).

What if you have a self-transfer flight? Well, unfortunately, it’s not as easy and stress-free. You aren’t entitled to the above-mentioned things. With self transfer, most of it is your responsibility. And mostly you have to find a solution yourself.

Learn more about self transfer flights.

5. How to Never Miss a Connecting Flight?

By being proactive and ensuring that you make your connecting flight on time, you can maintain control over your travel plans. This can help you feel more confident and in charge of your journey, which can be a significant psychological benefit.

  • Book connecting flights with long/longish layovers. Long layovers can reduce the risk of missing your connecting flight. Delays can happen, and if you have a tight connection, you may miss your next flight. With a long layover, you have extra time to catch your next flight, even if your first flight is delayed.
  • Don’t book the final flight of the day. A better approach is to book early morning flights as this allows you backup flight options in case of emergency or if your original connection is missed. Many airlines offer numerous scheduled trips between various cities per day and are capable of accommodating passengers on later flights should they miss their initial one.
  • Book your seat on front of the plane. If you are running late, you can be among the first ones who exits the plane.
  • Know the airport layout. Familiarize yourself with the airport layout and your connecting gate’s location before you arrive. This can help you navigate the airport quickly and efficiently.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for help. If you’re running late or lost, don’t hesitate to ask for help from airport staff or airline personnel. They can help you navigate the airport and make sure you get to your connecting flight on time.

What to do if you miss your connecting flight?

To sum it up: Do airlines hold flights for connecting passengers? Will connecting flights wait for you? As a general rule – no, an airline won’t wait for your if you are late for your connecting flight. Yes, there might be exceptions, but most often than not the airline won’t wait. What you can do is to try to avoid missing your connection. But if you do miss your connection, don’t worry, the airline will book you on a new flight for free (if it’s an airline-protected connecting flight).

Do you have questions about connecting flights? Ask in the comments.

About the author:

Co-founder and Editor at Connecting Flights Guide

Una is an organized globetrotter and foodie who’s been living a digital nomad lifestyle since 2013. She always starts her day early with a good book before diving into work. Apart from traveling and aviation, her other passions include gym, hiking and cycling. Una is also a strong proponent of AI technology. She firmly believes in its potential to simplify life and has often advocated for its wider adoption in our day-to-day activities. Her favorite airlines are Qatar Airways, Emirates, and KLM.


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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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