Here are a few ways to deal with or completely avoid missed flight connections:

  • Book the connection with the same airline or with a partner airline ON THE SAME TICKET - this ensures that the airline will have to compensate you and/or put you up on another flight.  If you book on separate airlines they ARE NOT required to compensate you (I often book separate airlines going to Europe to take advantage of the cheap European flights upon arrival - see my last tip) 

  • If you know you're going to miss the connecting flight before you leave (like my scenario where fog caused the delay) then you can try to rebook yourself either online or by calling the airline.  

  • If you're not going to make the connection and there's a bunch of other people on the plane with the same connecting flight, try to be the first one to get to the airline booth upon arrival (or call the airline from your cell as soon as you land).  This ensures that if there's only a small number of seats on the next flight out, you should be able to get one of them.

 

  • G**gle an airport map for your arrival so that you know exactly where you need to be.

 

  • If the airline is the cause of the delay and it's going to be a long one, try to get them to let you into their lounge.  It doesn't always work but if you're nice to them and they feel sorry for you they might let you in.  I spent a few hours in the KLM lounge in Amsterdam when I was bumped off a flight.  There was some pretty decent food and it was a good place to rest and relax.

 

  • Ensure that you have enough time to make your connection - tight connections are doable but can result in a missed flight - be aware that you *might* need to take a later flight out.  If it's a domestic flight I don't like to give myself less than an hour, and if it's international I lean towards a 3 hour window for a connection - because many international airports force you to go through customs even if it just for a connecting flight, and I once spent over 2 hours in the customs line alone in Mexico City.

 

  • You can book flexible or refundable tickets - this increases your initial ticket price but decreases the cost if you wind up having to change your flights.

 

  • Take it in stride, sh** happens, don't let it ruin your trip.  Talk to the airline, get your flight rebooked, and make the most of your new-found free time in a different city! 

 

  • Get the travel insurance!  Depending on your coverage they can help with compensation for rebooking.

 

  • Keep everything you would need for at least a couple of days in your carryon bag - just in case your bags don't make the new connection - or if they make the connection and you don't.

 

  • I often will book an overnight layover for three reasons: first because it gives me a chance to experience a new city for a day, second because you can often find cheap seat sales from one place to another that you wouldn't find otherwise, and third because it ensures that a delayed flight shouldn't affect your travel plans, because it is very rare that a flight gets delayed by more than a day.

Missed Flight Connections

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