Flights, Connections and what to do if you miss them…..

22 Jun

Air travels, especially long distance flights, are stressful, but they can be even more so if there are incidents such as unforeseen delays, cancellations, interruptions and others. I experienced one such delay during my recent trip and my blog post on it received numerous comments, suggestions, ideas which were not only useful but also something all of us should know and be aware of.

I have compiled all these ideas, suggestions, feedback below to help you all plan for your next trip and be prepared in case you find yourself in a similar situation. Feel free to customize your plans based on your own requirement and comforts.

Based on my own experiences, comments received and feedback, I will keep on updating this post.

Most favored airlines

According to a recent airline travel awards, the world’s top 10 airlines are as follows –

1. Emirates
2. Qatar Airways
3. Singapore Airlines
4. ANA All Nippon Airways
5. Asiana Airlines
6. Cathay Pacific Airways
7. Etihad Airways
8. Garuda Indonesia
9. Turkish Airlines
10. Qantas Airways

(Refer this link http://www.worldairlineawards.com/ for the entire list.)

  • For Indian travelers – Middle Eastern (ME) and Asian airlines are considered better. As far as possible, try to avoid the US and the EU airlines.
  • In ME airlines, a lot of people had good things to say about Emirates, Qatar and Etihad airlines but at the same time some people had also highlighted issues with each of these airlines.
  • In Asian airlines, everyone seems to have had good experiences with Singapore airlines and they seem pretty accommodative too (my personal experience as well!). Readers have also had good experiences with Air Asia, Korean, Cathay Pacific etc. There are mixed reactions to Malaysian, Qantas and Thai Airways.
  • For India, Jet seems to be more favored than Air India. Though a lot of people have written good things about Air India too. For travel within India, I prefer Indigo Airlines.
  • Amongst European Airlines, people seem to have had better experiences with Lufthansa, KLM and Swiss Air.

My take– In my own personal experience, Singapore airlines is the best but often not the most cost-effective and thus Emirates is the next favorite option. I have had a fabulous experience with Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Jet Airways and even low cost airlines such as Air Asia, Indigo etc.

Points to keep in mind before booking a flight – 

  • As far as possible try to book direct flights. If that is not possible, then keep at least a 2 hour difference between connecting flights. No matter what the airlines or travel agents say, never book a flight with less than a 2 hour lay-over. Also keep in mind that in some countries you may have to commute between different domestic and international terminals and airports (such as in India) so please be sure to consult someone before booking in that case.
  • Add another 30 – 45 minutes if you are transiting through ultra-busy airports such as London Heathrow, JFK New York.
  • In case you are traveling with a possibility of bad weather conditions, such as fog, snow, then do plan for a longer transit time (anywhere between 4 – 6 hours).
  • Always check if you have to change terminals and plan accordingly. In many of these airports traveling from one terminal to another can take upto 45 minutes to an hour.
  • If you are booking flights with two separate airlines, then do keep an adequate buffer in between, as in this case both the airlines are not responsible for re-booking you in case of any delays or missing connections.
  • Always check on additional connections to your destinations from an airport, should you miss your connecting flight. If possible choose a transit airport that’s better connected with more flight options for your destination.
  • Depending on the direction of your flight (and as far as possible) transit through India & Asian friendly countries such as Asia and Middle East. The service is better and the added advantage of these airports is that there are more connections (should you miss your flight).
  • If your next flight connection is a couple of hours away then do check on the transit visa regulations for that country. Check in advance if they provide 24 hour transit visa on your country passport and if you can step out and check-in into a hotel.
  • If the transiting country does not provide a transit visa and you there is a possibility of missing a connection, then to be on the safer side, do consider the option of applying for a visa in advance, i.e. before you start your trip.

My take – Always check the difference in pricing for various options available. If the difference isn’t much, take a flight with the least hassles and connections. The headache of missed connections and wasted time is not worth a few dollars.

An airline does not necessarily always need to re-book you on a flight –

Yes, you heard it right. In case you miss a flight, the airline does not re-issue a ticket for everyone and it all depends on your situation (airport and airline).

  • If you miss the connection due to the airline’s error (a delayed incoming flight, mechanical problems), the airline will give you a couple of options – either re-book you on the next available flight (their own or some other airline) or refund your ticket price.
  • Depending on the local jurisdiction and laws – you are entitled to duty to care (i.e. accommodations, meals, phone calls etc). This normally depends on the time difference between the missed flight and the new connection. In many countries you need a visa to be able to step out of the airport and avail accommodation facilities.
  • If you miss the connecting due to inclement weather, the airline will re-book you on the next flight but might not offer any compensation for meals or accommodations.
  • If you miss your flight for reasons within your control, the airline might help you re-book, but it’s under no obligation to do so. And in majority of cases, you might have to book a new flight yourself.
  • In case you have booked connections on two separate airlines then both airlines normally don’t assume responsibility for any delay or missed connections. Hence plan for adequate time difference between two flights.

Things to do if you miss your connecting flight –

  • Before you approach the rerouting counter of the airlines either log into the local wifi and check for the next flight or call your travel agent and check on your travel options. Armed with this information approach the rerouting counter.
  • When you reach the counter, they will offer you a connection via the same airlines. If there is another flight that you have found in between, request for it (even if it is with any other airlines). In case there is no other flight in between or if this connection is ok with you, then book the new connection.
  • In case your travel agent has found another option that works better for you, then book that and cancel your connection with the current airline. Instead of the new flight they will process a refund for you.
  • At the same counter check for your luggage and make sure it has made it to the airport where you are. Before you board the new connection, check with customer care whether your luggage has been loaded onto the same flight as yours, because the last thing you need on finally reaching your destination is missing baggage.
  • Depending on the local jurisdiction and laws – you are entitled to duty to care (i.e. accommodations, meals, phone calls etc). This normally depends on the time difference between the missed flight and the new connection. But in many countries you need a visa to be actually able to step out and avail accommodation facilities.
  • Again depending on the local jurisdiction and laws – you can claim compensation for flight delays and cancellations. The amount of compensation depends on the time difference between the two flights and the distance between the two airports. For EU, you can check this link.
  • In case the delay is more than 6 hours and you can get a transit visa, consider stepping out of the airport and checking in into a local hotel. In case the airlines is not providing the hotel, then book one yourself and claim it under your travel insurance (check your travel insurance first for all terms and conditions).
  • In case you have to stay at the airport and are flying economy, then look for paid lounges. Many airports have paid lounge options and you can access them with a fee or complimentary access with certain credit cards. In case of some airports, these paid lounges may be at a different terminal.
  • If the air carrier doesn’t provide you with meals, phone calls, etc and if you have to spend on these expenses yourself, then you should keep all your receipts. You can then submit copies of these receipts to the airlines for a reimbursement as soon as possible.

My Take – In case of missed connections, keep your cool as the flight is gone and there is no point in getting hassled. Your best option is try to get the earliest possible connection out and in the interim look to be comfortable during the wait.

Always travel with travel insurance –

Travel insurance policies cover missed connections and trip delays, but each policy differs in their definitions and limitations. These policies normally kick in only if the delay extends more than a set period, which can be anywhere from a few hours to as much as 12 hours. For Indian travel insurance policies, the typical coverage is as follows –

MISSED CONNECTIONS
In case of the Insured Person missing a connecting flight or train or ship/cruise (due to cancellation of service or departure, delayed departure, change of route, non-landing / docking, offloading of passengers due to any reason including over booking) the followings shall be reimbursed to the extent of __% only. Expenses relating to transportation of the Insured Person(s) to the intended destination by alternative means of transportation as may be absolutely necessary including other airline, train or surface transportation, including necessary and reasonable cost of up gradation to a superior class of travel, expenses relating to accommodation, food and communication when the Insured is required to be so accommodated including cost of up gradation in case some of the services are provided by concerned supplier, loss of sightseeing or entertainment programmes , events, sports, games, and assignments.

TRIP DELAY
The Insurance Company will indemnify the Insured for the amount mentioned in the Schedule of Policy ( subject to deductible as specified in the Policy ) for any one incident in respect of delay in pre-booked flight for journey ( other than from the place/ country of Insured’s residence) due to following reasons :
1. Adverse weather condition &/or Air Traffic Congestion.
2. Riot, Strike, Industrial Action at airport or that of Airlines,
3. Accidental or Mechanical Failure or Technical problem in the Aircraft, Provided always that
a. The insured has taken every reasonable step to complete the journey to the departure point on time, and
b. The insured shall submit to the Company sufficient proof to substantiate the cause of delay and his bills/receipts etc. in of his claim.

This section of policy is also subject to following Exclusions:
1. Any departure which is delayed as a result of the insured or any other person who have arranged to travel with failing to check in correctly as required by the airlines.
2. Any delayed departure caused by strike or industrial action known to exist or was anticipated at the time the trip was booked
3. If the air craft is taken out of service on the instruction of the Civil Aviation Authority.
4. No claim shall be payable for delay of First ___ hrs. from the schedule time of departure of Flight i.e.___ hrs delay will be reckoned after such 6 hrs. of flight’s departure time only.

My Take – Always travel with travel insurance. These policies don’t cost much (compared to the cost of your trip) and offer a world of benefits in case of unforeseen situations. Before purchasing a cover, do compare features and coverage offered by various companies. Take a cover that has lowest deductibles and takes minimum hours to kick in.

A couple of readers faced this situation – They booked a premier economy / economy plus ticket online (which is more expensive than a normal economy ticket) but on check-in were “DOWNGRADED” to economy. Approaching customer care was of no avail as they told that since the seat was already assigned to somebody else, they could not do anything else.

Assuming your boarding pass shows your ‘downgraded’ status (and your original booking e-ticket shows your ‘economy plus’ status), you can log in to your credit card account online and dispute the charge shown against your ticket purchase. The credit card company will ask for any/all proofs and a short write-up of what happened. You can mention all the conversation and add in the boarding pass and original e-ticket as proofs. The credit card company will then send it to the airline for their response. The airlines will not be able to dispute this with the proofs attached and they will refund the extra charge.

Other recommendations that I have collated and summarized are –

  • In case the airlines do not process your compensation for delayed flights then there are websites available that you can try for assistance with this matter. A few recommended websites are – http://www.airhelp.com , http://www.getairhelp.com, http://www.flight-friend.com/, http://www.airpassengerrights.eu/en/flight-delay.html, http://flyersrights.org/ , http://www.refund.me, etc.
  • In case the airline staff is not speaking with you properly or not providing the required assistance, then just pull out your phone and start recording. You can say that this is for your records and you have proof for further complaints and action.
  • In some cases, when the staff was misbehaving with passengers, some passengers asked to speak with supervisors or a senior ground handling staff member. This itself helped resolve the issue.
  • There is an airline review app coming soon that will capture and share the voice of flying customer. You can sign up for it at http://www.voicitt.com/
  • For UK-based customers, you can try the BBC watchdog. They take up a lot of complaints/problem experiences against consumers/customers, create a lot of awareness and help bring around change. You can post your story at https://ssl.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mg74/contact

To end on a humorous note, in case you are stuck at an airport and have a lot of time, then feel free to unleash your creativity and do something like this guy – Man makes amazing video while stuck alone in an airport. 🙂 Or get a drink and watch World Cup!

Do you have any feedback / suggestions on this post that you would like to share? Then please comment below or tweet at traveler_budget.

 

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74 Responses to “Flights, Connections and what to do if you miss them…..”

  1. Dr. Bernard Dias June 22, 2014 at 23:29 #

    Reblogged this on HMWS Blog.

    Like

  2. corneliaweberphotography June 23, 2014 at 09:45 #

    Thank you for all these information’s, great! I myself travel a lot form the USA to Germany and Lufthansa seemed to be the greatest airline to me.

    Like

  3. darwinontherocks June 23, 2014 at 12:32 #

    Very informative ! I’ve experienced a lot of airlines this past months and I agree, Quatar airline is definitively one of the best. I love KLM and Icelandair as well. For me, the worst I’ve experienced so far are united, ryanair and american airlines.

    Like

  4. susancgreen June 24, 2014 at 05:55 #

    Reblogged this on 50statesofyay and commented:
    Excellent post on managing missed connections. Excellent advice for all travellers.

    Like

  5. kate magee June 26, 2014 at 01:42 #

    Loved this tips. A couple of practical tips to add: if you have a tight connection, try to go carry on (we did this on a three leg trip between Toronto and Bali last year with an hour between flights in Heathrow and then just bought a cheap suitcase to bring back extra stuff with us). And always pack underwear and a toothbrush in your carry-on: I learned this lesson the hard way a few years ago when I was stuck in Addis Ababa overnight because of missing a connecting flight 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • getsetandgo June 29, 2014 at 19:19 #

      Thanks for sharing your tips. They are very useful and I’ll update the same in the post…

      Like

  6. The Sock Mistress November 2, 2014 at 13:26 #

    I have vowed never to fly Qantas again – the Indian vegetarian meal I ordered contained gelatin in the yogurt, this combined with a 24 hour flight delay due to mechanical difficulties was the last straw.

    I really like Singapore and I also find Air New Zealand to be excellent.

    Like

  7. Angelique November 11, 2014 at 23:10 #

    I don’t travel much but I have been anxiously awaiting the result of my scholarship application and as such I have been keenly interested in anything regarding travel to the UK with specific interest to Scotland or Wales. I must say though that this has been a very informative blog, providing me with details and insights that will make my travel experiences a little much easier. I couldn’t believe all the things I didn’t know. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this.. 🙂

    Like

    • getsetandgo November 22, 2014 at 19:29 #

      Thanks and I am glad that my experiences can help you plan your trip better 🙂

      Like

  8. kvjinc December 8, 2014 at 05:42 #

    Great post. Just wanted to add that Air New Zealand is pretty good too and if you’re flying within Canada, Westjet is the way to go.

    Like

  9. lscripsit December 13, 2014 at 00:07 #

    Probably the most comprehensive package of good advice and information I’ve seen in a article. I agree with the choice of Qatar and Singapore as top airlines. Others, of course, make the cut as well.

    And I’m glad you noted the dangers of booking any connecting—especially overseas—flights under two hours apart. I learned the pitfalls of this the hard way. What a mess…!

    Thanks for the work of gathering this info.

    Like

    • getsetandgo December 14, 2014 at 16:01 #

      Thanks and I learnt it the hard way too, hence wanted to help others plan better 🙂

      Like

  10. larktalk December 23, 2014 at 04:50 #

    Thanks for stopping by my blog – yours in fantastically helpful.

    Like

  11. thepoormadonna December 28, 2014 at 01:28 #

    Useful advice!! Bookmarking!

    Like

  12. Santosh Namby January 7, 2015 at 11:47 #

    Very informative and beautifully written. I have taken the liberty of re-blogging it on my site. Hope you do not mind. The link is here http://santoshnc.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/flights-connections-and-what-to-do-if-you-miss-them/
    Looking forward to more posts from you

    Like

  13. citizenjournalistreview January 8, 2015 at 23:11 #

    Good info. We’ve always been very impressed with Quantas though I haven’t flown with them lately.

    Like

  14. jeanv5 January 15, 2015 at 11:24 #

    Thank you for your tips. I have two other tips for the companies helping with gaining the compensation. I have tried EUClaim. Their service was ok, however it cost me a quite high commission. For my second case I contacted FreeClaimThey helped me in my case, because I was not able to get the compensation on my own. The airlines just refused to pay and repeated the same all the time (bad weather conditions). And the commission was reasonably lower…

    Like

    • getsetandgo January 26, 2015 at 20:50 #

      Thanks for your feedback and I am sure extremely helpful to many readers 🙂

      Like

  15. Newmum January 21, 2015 at 14:25 #

    Hi There, I applied quite late for my visa (tickets are booked) what happens if I dont receive my visa in time for me to leave for my destination (I am meant to leave Next week) and our visa’s will only leave by today and flights are for next Wednesday?Please advise

    Like

    • getsetandgo January 23, 2015 at 08:12 #

      I don’t believe the airlines are responsible for any delays in visas… Best is to check with the airlines on twitter….

      Like

  16. Bishakha Sen January 30, 2015 at 08:01 #

    great tips . very well written . i agree with everything you said here .

    Like

  17. vanessa April 8, 2015 at 21:13 #

    ahhh. airline travel. thanks for the tips! and thanks for stopping by thefirst2hours!

    Like

  18. roncogan April 19, 2015 at 21:03 #

    Thanks for this article. I had three such situations. 1) A connection in Berlin on Air Berlin was missed due to weather. Air Berlin did not want to rebook using other airlines flying the same day, so they gave me a new ticket for the next day and paid for a hotel room and a simple dinner. It was a complicated procedure to get the luggage from the airport. 2) A connection in Istanbul was missed because of 2.5 hours of unknown delays. Turkish Airlines rebooked for a flight about 8 hours later the same day. I bought a visa and went into town, leaving my carry-on bags at a 5 star hotel and using the hotel’s phone to change travel arrangements. 3) A flight from Buenos Aires to New York via Miami couldn’t depart because of a major shutdown occurring in Miami. American Airlines rebooked me instead on a direct flight from BA to New York. I thought that was good service on their part.

    Like

    • getsetandgo April 20, 2015 at 10:59 #

      Thanks for sharing your experiences on the various airlines… Seems like a mixed bag 🙂

      Like

  19. MIles Gordon May 21, 2015 at 15:15 #

    I have made 55 minute connections at Munich, Zurich, Singapore and Hong Kong. Those are probably the only four airports I’d try it at. Certainly not LHR, or the JFK monster,

    Like

  20. Joel September 26, 2015 at 09:22 #

    I have a flight to Stockholm next week (via FRA) and upon checking my flight status, I noticed that my flight from Toronto to FRA is delayed 2 hours. My initial layover is just over 2 hours, and I serously doubt I’ll make the connection. Should I try to rebook ahead of time, or just see if I can make it and rebook a later flight with Lufthansa at the counter? I’m not even sure if I can plan that out ahead with them as I’ve never flown with LH. Any advice is much appreciated.

    Like

    • getsetandgo September 27, 2015 at 20:42 #

      Hi Joel, since you are aware in advance about the delay of the initial flight, I suggest you reach out to LH and reschedule your connection. With LH connection in FRA you will need time for immigration, security etc and hence should budget for at least 1.30 hour.

      Like

  21. Frank Campion December 14, 2015 at 05:23 #

    My friend and his partner booked first class return tickets on B.A. to South Africa (Cape Town)By his own error he missed hi out flight on 8/12/15 and has had to pay for 2 new Club Class flights.However B.A. have informed him that as he missed the flight out,he also looses his return fliht from Cape town to London on 7/3/2016 !!!!They are insiting he re-books the return leg at a cost of circa £9000.Is this legal? I can find nothing in their Terms and Conditions about this and it flies in the face of the Unfair Terms Contracts Act.Any advice would be gratefully received.Thanks.Frank Campion

    Like

  22. meleikaa February 24, 2016 at 03:27 #

    Reblogged this on loveyourfunnyface.

    Like

  23. grant March 12, 2016 at 22:39 #

    Great advice and very detailed, thanks

    Like

  24. Asta April 6, 2016 at 15:25 #

    This was so useful. I’m always anxious when I fly and I found myself at times not catching my flight and etc. Will keep all your great advice in mind next time I’m booking flights to go somewhere. 🙂

    Like

  25. Rashminotes July 16, 2016 at 12:01 #

    Very useful info! Thanks for sharing:)

    Like

  26. J LeClair July 19, 2016 at 22:42 #

    Awesome information! I fly all the time (usually to Japan) and I have had great experiences on Singapore Airlines. Wonderful customer service even in coach (where I am always flying as a poor graduate student). The longest layover I ever had was 8 hours. I spent it comfortably in Narita. I rented a tiny hotel room inside the airport that came complete with a bed and a shower. So good!! Definitely worth it. Jessy

    Like

    • getsetandgo July 21, 2016 at 21:23 #

      Hi Jessy, thanks for visiting my blog and for sharing your experiences on Singapore Airlines… I have heard good things about them from quite a few people and I hope to fly with them soon too…

      Liked by 1 person

      • J LeClair July 21, 2016 at 23:40 #

        You should try them!! Even in economy, they gave out a little cloth bag with supplies like socks and ear plugs. jessy

        Like

      • getsetandgo August 6, 2016 at 20:02 #

        Wow… havent seen that in any of the economy flights…

        Liked by 1 person

      • J LeClair August 9, 2016 at 17:24 #

        Right? It is awesome. Also because I was sleeping I missed a few meals. When I got up from my seat to walk around, I saw a note on the back of my chair saying that I had missed a couple meals. I guess so that they would know I might want to eat. So considerate!

        Liked by 1 person

      • getsetandgo August 27, 2016 at 22:58 #

        You have now convinced me on traveling by SQ on my next flight 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • J LeClair September 2, 2016 at 08:00 #

        Go for it! 😀

        Like

  27. Yasmine July 25, 2016 at 18:54 #

    I am currently stranded at Istanbul With my husband and 2 little children. The airport passport control made out exit a problem and stopped us from leaving by the time I sorted the issue out with them my flight had closed for boarding.

    I asked for them to write a report on why they refused our exit as I would need it for insurance purposes but they told me it’s not their job and walked off. They wouldn’t provide me with a badge number or name.

    I had to go to a hotel at my own expense and can’t find any flights out back home to Melbourne. Currently awaiting on a phone call from Turkish airlines head office and it’s been 3 days already. My insurance company told me it wasn’t covered.

    Does any one have any tips that could help me please?

    Like

  28. Moira August 11, 2016 at 09:49 #

    Thanks for the like on my San Miguel de Allende post, and for introducing me to your blog which is clearly a great source of useful information for any traveler. -Moira

    Like

  29. travelfoodandme2016 September 29, 2016 at 09:08 #

    Reblogged this on travelfoodandme and commented:
    Thank you for this very informative article.I had a good read.

    Like

  30. travelfoodandme2016 September 29, 2016 at 09:08 #

    Very good article.. I was very well-informed !

    Like

  31. David-Kevin Bryant November 4, 2016 at 23:10 #

    I wanted to thank you for checking out my StruckByWanderlustBlog.wordpress.com. It’s very much appreciated !

    Like

  32. NIKKI SHAH November 24, 2016 at 21:00 #

    Hi! Thank you for liking my blog post.
    This one of yours is simply awesome! But let me ask you, how do you manage to know so much about flights?

    Like

    • getsetandgo November 27, 2016 at 09:55 #

      Personal experiences and loads of research 🙂

      Like

  33. dreamingofsquirrels January 7, 2017 at 23:12 #

    Hey getsetandgo, thanks for liking my blog!!

    Like

  34. getsetandgo January 26, 2015 at 19:55 #

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Like

  35. getsetandgo February 24, 2016 at 20:55 #

    Thanks for sharing this on your blog 🙂

    Like

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