Law guide: Complaints & disputes

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Missed connections

Missed connections

Contents

Some air journeys involve changing between flights in order to get to the final destination. Sometimes they involve making a connection using the same airline; sometimes more than one airline is involved.

If disruption to one flight causes you to miss your connection, your rights are different depending on how the connection was booked.

How you booked

Booked with the same airline on the same ticket, and not flying from an EU airport or using an EU airline

If you booked the connection in this way, and a flight disruption causes you to miss a connection, you should be entitled to be booked onto a later flight.

Some airlines will also provide meals or overnight accommodation, if needed, in line with industry guidelines, but they're not legally obliged to do so.

You should check the airline's terms and conditions of carriage or contact the airline directly to find out what they'll do for you.

Booked with the same airline on the same ticket, and flying from an EU airport or using an EU airline

If you booked your flight in this way, you have more rights if a flight disruption causes you to miss a connection.

You'll be entitled to a later flight. If your original flight has been cancelled, your airline must get you to your destination or offer a flight back to the airport where you came from.

If your flight has been either delayed or cancelled, the airlines must provide the following assistance, free of charge, while you wait to be re-routed:

  • Food and drink reasonably related to the waiting time
  • 2 free telephone calls, emails, faxes or telex messages
  • Where necessary, overnight accommodation, such as a hotel
  • Transport between the airport and the place of accommodation (hotel or other)

If the airline fails to do this then you're entitled to claim an amount that is appropriate and reasonable for the costs you've incurred. You should keep all your receipts.

In addition, if flights are cancelled at short notice or you're delayed by 3 or more hours, you'll be entitled to claim a fixed amount of compensation. This won't be the case, however, if the delay or cancellation was outside of the airline's control.

The fact that the original scheduled flight has been delayed by less than 3 hours doesn't mean the airline isn't obliged to compensate you. The European Court of Justice has stated that it doesn't matter how long the original flight was delayed by. What matters is the total delay to the passenger's arrival at their final destination.

Therefore, if a flight disruption means that you miss your connection and it causes you 3 or more hours' delay in reaching your final destination, you'll be entitled to compensation.

For information on delayed and cancelled flights, see Delays: rights under EU regulations, Cancellations: rights under EU regulations and Cancellations and delays outside EU regulations.

Separate reservations

If you put together your own connections using separate reservations, these are separate contracts. You won't have any right to be booked onto another flight unless you pay for it.

Consumer Rights Act

Passengers may also be protected by the Consumer Rights Act, if the service they receive is not provided with reasonable care and skill.

Airline operators who provide a poor service are liable to pay compensation under the Act. The compensation claimable includes the cost of the ticket and other losses that you may have incurred due to the poor service. This could include costs that you have incurred because of a missed connection.