Missed Connecting Flight Due to Delay (Compensation, Right to Care, Rules)


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You have missed flight connection.

You have missed connecting flight due to delay of the previous flight, or due to cancellation of the previous flight. In this case it doesn’t matter if it was a delay or cancellation. In both situations, the rules are about the same. What matters, however, is — what kind of connecting flight was it, how it was booked and from where to where you were flying.

This will determine — what are your rights now.


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


KLM Airplane in Sao Paulo Airport
KLM Airplane in Sao Paulo Airport

1. Missed Connecting Flight Due to Delay of Another Flight

There are two types of connecting flights. 

First are airline-protected connecting flights, second — so-called self-transfer flights. Since both options are very popular, we’ll talk about both. But you should know that only first are airline made connecting flights, the other are separately booked flights, DIY connecting flights.

1.1 Airline-Protected Connecting Flights (Most Popular)

Most likely this is what applies to you.

Missing a connecting flight is not fun. But it’s also not as scary as it sounds. Especially, if you are protected by airline. If you have booked a connecting flight, not several separate flights, then you are protected by airline. These may also be connecting flights with different airlines (codeshare partners).

Here’s what happens if you miss connection:

  1. You have to contact the airline. If you booked a connection from one airline, but flight is operated by another airline, contact the airline you booked your flights from. They are responsible for this.
  2. They must give you another flight. As long as everything’s in order with your travel documents, and it isn’t due to your fault, they will put you on another flight completely for free. This is how it works with most airlines globally. This is how connecting flights work.
  3. The airline takes care of checked baggage. They still have the obligation to take your baggage to destination. Together with you. Wherever you are flying to. You may have to collect it and recheck it. Ask about this.
  4. You may have a right to care. In some cases, the airline has to offer you assistance at the airport. This is called right to care. If the flight departed from the EU, UK or EEA, this applies to all airlines. If the flight departed from some other country and is going to the EU, UK or EEA, this applies to European airlines. Read about my experience getting a free 5-star hotel room in London.
  5. You may have a right to compensation. In some cases, the airline has to pay you flight compensation for the inconvenience. This applies both to European airlines like KLM and Lufthansa, and to non-European airlines like Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways.

This is how protected connecting flights work.


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.


1.2 Self-Transfer Connecting Flights (It’s Common)

With self transfer, it’s not as easy and stress-free.

With self transfer, most of this is your responsibility.

Here’s what happens if you miss connection:

  1. You have to buy a new flight. You may have two flights from the same airline, for example, Ryanair. These may be flights from different airlines. In both situations, these are separately booked flights, and no airline is responsible for the connection — if you make it on time or not.
  2. You take care of baggage. This is the same with all self-transfer flights and always. You take care of your baggage yourself. You collect and recheck it at every airport. If the other airline has different baggage rules, you have to comply with them.
  3. You may have a right to care. Let’s assume, your first flight is delayed. If it’s delayed for more than 3 hours, in some cases, the airline has to offer you assistance at the airport. This is called right to care. With European airlines, it applies to all flights to and from the EU, UK, and EEA, with other airlines — flights departing from the EU, UK, and EEA.
  4. You may have a right to compensation. Not because you missed connecting flight, but because your flight was delayed or cancelled.

True, you are less protected with self transfers.

At the same time, you still have some rights.

It’s good to know about them.

1.3 Protected Self-Transfer Connecting Flights

It’s not a different type of self-transfer flights.

It’s just that nowadays, you have an option to book protected self-transfer connections too. For example, flight booking website kiwi.com sells protected self-transfer flights. The main difference (and reason to buy protected self transfers) — you are more protected.

Look for flights with Kiwi Guarantee.

Missed connection flight due to delay?

You may be given a new flight for free.

Hong Kong airport layover
Hong Kong airport

2. Missed Flight Connection: Compensation

A flight delay causes missed connection.

You can’t make it in time to your next flight.

You may have a right to compensation. See our separate UK / EU flight compensation guide to learn more about flight compensation rules. It’s an in-depth guide to air passenger rights. Here we’ll talk only about the basics.

2.1 What Situations Apply?

You can get compensation from the airline, if:

  • Your flight is delayed. There are exceptions, but mostly delay should be at least 3+ hours long. You must have arrived to your destination 3+ hours later than planned according to your booking.
  • Your flight is cancelled. It must have happened up to 14 days before the day of departure. Then it’s considered a last-minute flight cancellation, and you have a right to compensation.
  • You are denied boarding. It applies to situations when you are denied boarding due to overbooking. It’s when airline has sold too many tickets, and there isn’t a seat for you anymore.

Conditions:

It must be due to fault of the airline. Airplane technical problems and also airline strikes often are considered fault of the airline, not something unavoidable.

2.2 Airline-Protected Connecting Flights vs Self Transfer

Again, you are more protected with protected connections.

You see, with connecting flights your destination is your final destination. For example, you are flying from London to Singapore via Istanbul, where you change planes. Your destination is Singapore. If you arrive to Singapore 3+ hours late, often you will be entitled to compensation.

Let’s say, that happened due to London – Istanbul delay.

It was only a 1-hour delay, but you still missed connection.

Turkish Airlines gave you a new flight to Singapore. For free.

You arrived late, and you are also entitled to compensation.

With self transfer you wouldn’t get any of that.

First, you missing a connection it’s your fault.

Second, with self transfer connections every flight is a separate flight. You arrived to Istanbul 1 hour late. You can’t get compensation for 1-hour delay. Even if you miss connection flight due to delay like this. There’s no such rules.

2.3 Which Airlines are Covered?

These rules apply to all airlines.

It includes charter airlines and lowcosters.

EU/UK to EU/UKEU/UK to Other countriesOther countries to EU/UK
EU airlines+++
UK airlines+++
Other airlines++

If it’s a EU/EEA/UK airline, the Regulation applies to:

  • flights operating within Europe;
  • flights departing from Europe to third countries;
  • flights departing from third countries to Europe.

If it’s an airline registered elsewhere, the Regulation applies to:

  • flights operating within Europe;
  • flights departing from Europe to a third country.

2.4 How Much Can You Claim for Delay or Cancellation?

Mostly it’s 250, 400 or 600 euro per person.

The amounts are regulated by flight compensation regulations.

The longer the flight, the more you can get.

  • 250 EUR – if the flight distance is less than 1500 km;
  • 400 EUR – if the flight distance is between 1500 and 3500 km;
  • 600 EUR – if the flight distance is more than 3500 km.
New York Skyscrapers
Manhattan, New York

3. Missed Connection: NYC

Flight transfers in the US happen differently.

While most countries don’t require a visa for connecting flights (for layover), in the US you need either an ESTA or visa for transit. Also if you’re only transiting to another country, and even if you don’t plan to leave the airport during a layover. That means passport control, lines and sometimes missed connections.

For that matter, missing a connecting flight due to delay or long immigration lines, aren’t any different. Because even if now you will want to leave the airport for a few hours or few days, until you sort out a new flight, you will be allowed to do that — because you’ll have either ESTA or US transit visa.

What should you do if you miss a flight?

See the guidelines above (1.1 and 1.2).

While most countries don’t require a visa for connecting flights (for layover), in the US you need either an ESTA or visa for transit.

At the same time in other countries, where you don’t need a transit visa, and if something like this happen, you may have to apply for a tourist visa — just to leave the airport. Because you missed a connection. And because now you are here, in this country, longer than you were planning to be (you were meant to have a layover only).

Have you ever missed connecting flight due to delay of the previous flight? What was your experience? Did you get a new flight? Did airline pay compensation for missed connection?


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