Skip to main content

What happens if you miss a connecting flight? These travel tips will help you save your trip

Follow these tips if you miss your connecting flight

Woman at airport
JESHOOTS-com / Pixabay

Connecting flights is oftentimes a seamless experience, while other times, you may find yourself running full speed through the airport to make it to your plane. Missed connecting flights are an unfortunate aspect of frequent air travel. But what happens if you miss a connecting flight? Navigating the aftermath of a missed connecting flight can be intimidating and challenging, but with the right travel tips, you can make it to your final destination in an efficient manner.

Travel airport boarding pass
JoshuaWoroniecki / Pixabay

Missing a connecting flight: the common causes

Several factors contribute to the common causes of a missed connecting flight. These factors range from airline-related issues to personal oversights. Generally, an airline will not sell you a ticket if they don’t believe you can make your connecting flight, but flight delays of even a few minutes can easily cascade into missed connections. 

Unforeseen weather conditions, air traffic congestion, or mechanical problems can also disrupt travel and lead to tight transfer windows. Long security times and customs procedures can also add to the time constraints, making it challenging to reach your connecting flight on time. 

Personal factors, such as the underestimation of the time needed for transfers or delayed arrivals to the airport, are also common causes of missed flight connections. Overall, missed flights are often a combination of both external and internal factors.

airplane at sunset
dmncwndrlch / Pixabay

Identify the cause of your missed flight

The first step to take in case of a missed connecting flight is to make sure you understand why you have missed your flight. Whether the delay stemmed from a previous flight, long security lines, or other factors, understanding the cause provides clarity when explaining the situation to airline staff. It can also make all of the difference when it comes to receiving compensation for your missed flight. 

Plane window
StuBaileyPhoto / Pixabay / Pixabay

Alert customer service

As soon as you realize you have missed your connecting flight, it is essential to inform the airline staff immediately. Head over to the airline’s customer service desk or talk to a representative at the gate. Time is valuable when dealing with missed flights, so the sooner you seek assistance, the better chance you have of finding suitable solutions. If you missed your flight due to airline issues, then other people are likely to be in the same situation. A prompt visit to the customer service desk can get you on a flight before everyone else. 

Plane flying at sunset
rauschenberger / Pixabay

Check for new flights

Sometimes, the airline will offer you a new flight via their app or website. Utilize these platforms to check for available flights and leverage any self-service options they offer for rebooking. This approach can save time and provide you with more control over the decision-making process.

If you do not have access to these resources, then ask the airline staff to search for the next available flights to your destination. Be open to adjusting your schedule and consider alternative routes if they offer a quicker path to your final destination. 

Woman on laptop booking a plane ticket
goffkein / Shutterstock / Shutterstock

Contact connecting airlines

If your journey involves multiple airlines, you will want to be sure to reach out to the connecting airline as well. Coordination between airlines is vital to ensuring smoother travel to your final destination. The connecting airline may even have additional options or assistance to offer you.

Additionally, if you have more than one connecting flight, you will want to make sure you get your entire trip adjusted. If missing one connecting flight will cause you to miss another connecting flight, you will want to ensure that you get your entire schedule fixed to accommodate your needs.

The view from the ground looking up at the underside of a Southwest Airlines plane in flight
ArtisticOperations / Pixabay

Find alternative routes

At many airports, there is only one direct flight to a destination per day. If you miss this, then airline staff may tell you that you will have to wait an entire day to take another flight. If a direct route is not immediately available, then inquire about connecting flights through different cities or alternative airline alliances. 

Credit card
jarmoluk / Pixabay

Figure out if you are entitled to compensation

While addressing the issue, inquire about compensation or assistance that the airline is required to provide due to the missed connection. Airlines often have policies regarding compensation for inconveniences caused by factors within their control.

Issues that airlines generally have to compensate you for include a 3-hour (or more) delayed flight, a flight cancellation, or denied boarding. Issues such as airline strikes, medical emergencies, air traffic control strikes, and weather conditions are generally not covered. 

man in joggers at the airport
JESHOOTS / Unsplash

Know your rights

Take the time to familiarize yourself with the rules regarding your specific airline. Understanding your rights allows you to advocate for a favorable resolution when it comes to rebooking, compensation, and assistance you are entitled to. This knowledge places you in a good position when engaging with airline representatives. 

Girl walking outside airport rolling her suitcase
Oleksandr P / Pexels

Stay organized and stay calm in the case of a missed connecting flight

A missed connecting flight can be stressful, but it is incredibly important to stay calm and organized when experiencing this common travel issue. Take a deep breath, collect your thoughts, and try to approach the situation with a calm demeanor. Panic or anger will not solve the issue, but instead may interfere with your ability to make rational decisions. Staying composed sets the stage for effective problem-solving.

Throughout the process, maintain organization with all of your travel documents, including boarding passes and reservation details. Having this information easily accessible can streamline the rebooking process and ensure a smooth interaction with airline staff.

Editors' Recommendations

Amanda Teague
Amanda, an accomplished freelance writer with four years of experience, is a dedicated explorer of both the world and the…
Air travel tips: If you have to check luggage, be sure to do these 4 things
Consider these checked bag travel tips
Baggage claim in airport terminal. Suitcases on the airport luggage conveyor belt. 3d illustration

Checking your luggage at the airport can sometimes feel like relinquishing control over your belongings, but by considering a few intelligent travel tips, you can ensure a smooth journey from check-in to baggage claim. 

Checked baggage provides you with the convenience of not needing to carry a large or heavy carry-on bag, and allows you to pack liquids and other restricted items in larger quantities. Additionally, you can enjoy a smoother security screening process if you aren’t traveling with a suitcase full of contents to be scanned. Before you check your luggage, however, make sure you consider these four smart strategies.

Read more
Want to live in a tiny home? Here’s how much it would really cost, land and all
Tumbleweed Tiny House Company Elm House

Tiny homes have been a growing trend for years, offering a minimalist, eco-friendly, and financially savvy lifestyle. But what does it really cost to join this movement? In this deep dive, we’ll explore the pricing of Tumbleweed tiny homes, land costs, and the specifics of settling down in popular tiny home destinations like Oregon, Utah, and Colorado.

The cost of a Tumbleweed Tiny House
Tumbleweed Tiny House Company specializes in crafting tiny houses that are not only environmentally friendly but are stunning inside and out. Recognized for their superior quality, eco-consciousness, and enchanting designs, these homes are an ideal solution for those wishing to downsize without compromising on style or comfort.

Read more
There’s a new easy way to get a Southwest Airlines companion pass
You don't even need to get on a flight
Southwest Airplane

The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is now more attainable than ever. The coveted Southwest Companion Pass is a benefit offered to frequent flyers, allowing the pass holder to designate one person as their “companion,” allowing them to fly with them for free (excluding taxes and fees) on any Southwest flight. The flight can be booked with both points and cash, and the pass is valid for the remainder of the calendar year in which it was earned, as well as the following calendar year.

Previously, the only way to qualify for a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass was to fly either 100 qualifying one-way flights or to earn 125,000 qualifying points within a calendar year. Once the companion pass is earned, it can be used an unlimited number of times during its validity period. Due to a new deal, getting a pass is currently easier than ever. From now until March 11, anyone who signs up for a new Southwest Rapid Rewards Consumer Credit Card from Chase has the opportunity to earn the Companion Pass.

Read more