The Best Thing To Do After Missing A Connecting Flight Because Of A Delay

The most budget-friendly flight option for your dream trip might have a really short layover. In some ways, that's great news. As fun an overnight layover that lets you explore a European city can be, wandering around an airport for a few hours or trying to catch some much needed sleep in a lounge is not most people's idea of a fun vacation. Unfortunately, if you have a short layover and your first flight is delayed, you might end up totally missing your connecting flight. The best thing to do is immediately contact your airline. The fastest way to do that is usually to find a gate agent or customer service desk.


Assuming this delay wasn't caused by you showing up late after an annoying packing mistake, missing your connecting flight isn't your fault — but whose fault is it? Depending on where your flight is leaving from and what exactly caused the delay, that answer can change. While your airline is always required to help you get a new flight to your destination, how quickly that happens can vary. In some cases, though, you might be entitled to extra perks like hotel rooms, a car to and from the airport, or money back. The best first step to finding out what the airline can do for you is to contact them.

If your flight originated in the EU

Just like the airline may owe you money if you get denied boarding on an overbooked flight, you might be entitled to compensation if a delay in your first flight causes you to miss your connecting flight. If your flight starts in Italy, Spain, Germany, or any other country in the European Union (or is going to an EU nation on an EU operated airline) you're probably entitled to compensation under regulation EU261. These rules are designed to protect passengers whose flights are delayed, including when those delays cause them to miss a connecting flight.


Under EU261, if your flight is delayed between 2-5 hours, you should get perks like meals and phone calls during your wait and the option of a flight back to the airport you left from, if you want it. If you have to wait more than five hours, you should be fully compensated for the cost of the flight. The only exception to this is if the delay that made you miss your connecting flight was caused by things like poor weather or an airline strike, since these are considered outside the airline's control. Fortunately, airlines running flights out of the EU are well aware of this regulation, so the fastest way to get rescheduled and reimbursed is to contact them.

If your flight originated in the U.S.

If you are flying out of the United States, figuring out what airlines owe you if they lose you luggage, cancel your flight, or make you miss your connection because of a delay can be tricky, because the regulations are looser. The Department of Transportation doesn't require airlines to pay anything to passengers whose flights are delayed, and even if a flight is completely canceled they don't have to compensate passengers at all if the cancellation was caused by things like bad weather. Buying travel insurance or using the right travel card can be a good idea if you're worried about missing your connecting flight, but most major airlines may be willing to offer passengers something if a delay causes them to miss a connecting flight, even if it isn't required by law.


United Airlines has no official policy on this, but if you reach out to them right away they may offer to rebook you or pay your expenses for a new connecting flight. Delta Airlines automatically rebooks you and typically offers compensation for hotels if you have to stay overnight because of a missed connection. If a delay or cancellation from American Airlines causes you to miss your connecting flight, they will rebook you on a new one as soon as there's one with an open seat for you. In certain circumstances, American may also offer you a refund if there's not a good option for another flight.