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United Airlines Connecting Flights


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This is a United Airlines connecting flights guide.

In this guide, you’ll find information about United Airlines connecting flights. The guide also covers passenger rights, baggage rules and flight compensation regulation. United Airlines, mostly referred to as simply United, is a major full-service airline from the USA. It has a large domestic and international route network. United Airlines is a founding member of the Star Alliance. 

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

United Airlines Plane
United Airlines Plane


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. United Airlines Connecting Flights

United Airlines is a full-service traditional airline.

Just like any other full-service airline, United offers airline-protected connecting flights. This means that the airline has to take care of its passengers in the event of delay or cancellation. This is why airline-protected connecting flights are better than self transfers.

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.

Yes, United sells airline-protected connecting flights.

1.1 Connecting Flights, One Airline

In many cases, your connecting flight will be operated only by United.

You will have two or more flights and all of them will be operated by United Airlines. These will be United airplanes and United staff. But it’s not the case with all United flights and every single time.

1.2 United Airlines Codeshare Partners

Sometimes airlines share their flights.

This is done to widen the flight network. So that the airline can offer flights to more destinations. Even flights to destinations it does not serve. All thanks to flight sharing. Connecting flights with different airlines is a common practice in aviation industry. It’s nothing unusual.

These kind of flights are called codeshare flights, and airlines collaborating (sharing flights) — codeshare partners.

What you should know is that:

  • If you miss a connecting flight (through no fault of your own), contact United Airlines and ask for assistance. They have to find you an alternative flight. As long as it’s a United connection booked from United, they are called 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. If it’s operated by some other airline, not United, then they are called operating airline — they have to pay compensation when it’s due.

See a list of United codeshare partners here.

People at an airport terminal
People at an airport terminal

2. What If United Airlines Cancels a Flight?

Why United Airlines is cancelling its flights?

The reasons are the following: bad weather, staff shortage, airport congestion, security issues and various technical problems. These are just some of the most popular reasons why airlines cancel flights.

2.1 One of Your Flights Is Cancelled

United is an American airline.

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 their flights departing from Europe.

If you miss your flight due to delay or cancellation of the previous flight, United Airlines should offer you a new flight (for free). If your United Airlines flight departs from Europe, you may ask for a full refund if you don’t wish to travel anymore. 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, United 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 United Airlines Refund for Cancellation

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

If your cancelled United Airlines flight was departing from Europe, you may ask for a refund. This refund has to be paid by bank transfer within 7 days. On European flights, you don’t have to accept any coupons, vouchers or miles.

Hong Kong airport layover
Hong Kong airport

3. United Airlines Missed Connecting Flight

Why travelers miss their connecting flights?

There are a number of reasons. It could be a silly mistake like falling asleep while waiting for the flight or confusing am with pm. Or it could be something more serious like airport congestion, long queues or late or cancelled previous flight.

3.1 What Happens If You Miss United 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 United, it doesn’t even matter if the flight is operated by United or not, you should contact United. It’s their responsibility to find a solution.

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).

With United, some of this apply only to flights from Europe.

Read more: Missed Connecting Flight Due to Delay 

3.2 Right to Compensation from United

Sometimes you have a right to compensation.

If your United Airlines flight:

  1. Departs from the EU, EEA or UK,
  2. Arrives to destination 3 or more hours late,
  3. Is delayed or cancelled due to the fault of the airline

Then you might be entitled to flight compensation from United Airlines.

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 United Airlines

On all United flights departing 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 United Airlines case, these regulations only apply to flights departing from Europe (EEZ, to be more precise). With European airlines, like KLMLOT Polish AirlinesWizz Air and British Airways, it applies to all their flights.

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 United Airlines?

You can do it directly from United Airlines or via a third-party.

The best option is to book directly from the airline. It’s the safest, but not always the cheapest, option. Alternatively, you can book your connecting flight from a third party flight booking website such as

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. United Airlines Connecting Flights: Baggage

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

Baggage rules on connecting flights with United Airlines are simple.

In short, United Airlines takes care of your baggage. Check in your bag once, upon arrival at your origin airport. The airline will take care of your bag throughout the journey. You don’t have to collect and recheck baggage between flights. Unless you have a self-transfer, or you’re traveling through a country that requires everyone to collect and recheck their baggage (e.g., USA).

Ask staff at the check-in counter or baggage drop if you aren’t sure.

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 United Airlines? As we already talked, you may experience this, because United 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.

Read more:

5.2 United Airlines Free Baggage Allowance

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

It depends on the airline, travel class, ticket type and destination.

Check your booking confirmation to see what is your baggage allowance. When you are booking a flight, you can see baggage allowance when choosing your ticket type and travel class.

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).

When you see cheap United Airlines flights, pay attention to this. Because United Airlines also offers Economy Light tickets. They are called “Basic Economy”. If you travel with more than a carry on, this option is not for you. This option is not available on every flight, though. 

Traffic in London
London City Centre

6. Connecting Flight Examples

Here are two connecting flight examples with United Airlines.

6.1 Protected Connecting Flights with United Airlines (Most Common)

For this example I’ll use the website of United Airlines.

Let’s assume, you want to fly from Los Angeles to London.

You’ve found flights for September 27, and these are the options:

Los Angeles to London Connecting Flight with United Airlines
Los Angeles – London connecting flight with United

On their website United Airlines sells direct flights and airline-protected connecting flights.

As you can see in the example, you can choose between a direct flight and connecting flight. Often direct flights are more expensive than connecting flights, but this is not the case in this example.

As you might already know, some connecting flights might be operated by another airline (codeshare partner). However, in case of airline-protected connecting flights, you don’t have to worry if your connecting flight is operated by another airline. The airlines have an agreement, and such flights are still protected.

If this matters to you, and if you want to fly on a United Airlines plane only, you must pay attention to details like these.

Notice that total flight duration, number of stops and price also vary.

6.2 Self-Transfer Flights with United Airlines

Now, let’s assume that London is not your final destination.

You want to fly from Los Angeles to London, and from London onwards to Manchester. But before that you want to spend a day or two in London, to visit all the popular landmarks.

  1. You can book a flight to London, like in the example above. For example, you’re taking one of the cheapest options, the first one, which arrives in London (Heathrow Airport, LHR) at 11:45 am. 
  2. And then you go to, or some other flight search engine, and book a flight from London to Manchester. Leaving yourself, let’s say, 30 hours in London. It’s enough for a longer “layover in London”.

The Los Angeles — London is an airline-protected connecting flight. If your first flight is delayed or cancelled, United Airlines will take care of that. Most likely they will put you on another flight for free. However, the last flight, London – Manchester, is a separately booked flight which is not a part of a protected connection. You will have a self-transfer layover in London (a stopover; because it’s more than 24 hours). You will need to check in for this flight separately. 

When booking flights like this, leave yourself enough time for a layover.

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

Featured photo by Pascal Renet

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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