After months of planning and preparation, you and your family are about to jet off to Europe. You’re flying from your home state to New York City, where you’ll get on a connecting flight to Rome. Being savvy travelers, you give yourself two hours to make sure you have enough time to get to JFK and make your airline connections. You’ve also secured trip insurance policies to help with any travel disruptions that come your way. As you sit in the airport, an airline representative comes over the microphone to announce a slight flight delay. ‘No problem’, you think as you exchange could-be-worse looks with your spouse. After all, you’re not worried, that’s why you added extra time to your connecting flight. An hour later, however, your family is still sitting in the airport. The airline representative returns to the mic to announce your flight will be delayed by another hour. And it dawns on you: For the first time in your travel history, you’re going to miss a connecting flight. What you do in the next hour can get your vacation back on track.
What Happens if You Miss Your Flight?
Unfortunately, the cold hard reality of travel is that if you do it often enough, missed connections are inevitable. So what do you do when they happen? It depends on the circumstances. Let’s explore the if/thens of missed connections.
If you miss your connecting flight, then always do this:
Contact the airline right away. This is crucial to getting your flight back on track. If the airline has caused the missed flight, they should not classify you as a “no-show.” However, if you miss the flight for other reasons, they may classify you as a “no-show”, which means your connecting flights would also be canceled.
The other benefit in calling them as soon as you realize you’re going to miss your flight, is that they can assist you in finding another flight right then and there. And if the next available flight is in the morning, they can help you book hotel accommodations for the night. They can also track your luggage so that it arrives at your final destination when you do.
Be prepared for a re-booking fee. Although airlines should never charge you a rebooking fee if a significant delay (usually 2 hours or more) they caused results in a missed connection, they may charge you an extra fee if the missed connection is your fault. This includes booking your flights too close together.
Be nice. This is rather obvious and intuitive, but in the thick of dealing with all the missed connection stress, you might get a little frustrated. Stay calm and polite when talking to airline agents. Some airlines have strict missed connection policies with little to no wiggle room, but some policies are more lenient.
If the airline causes you to miss your connecting flight, then what do they owe you?
When a flight is delayed due to anything airline-related like mechanical or flight crew issues, it’s the airline’s responsibility to ensure that your trip gets back on track. So, if these airline disruptions cause you to arrive at your connecting airport only to find your flight has already taken off, you need to go to the nearest airline kiosk and inform the agent there. Here’s what they should do:
- Put you on their next available flight, free of charge.
- If the next available flight is not until morning, they should either book you on a flight with another airline, free of charge, or reserve an overnight stay at the airport hotel, free of charge.
- They may also offer you meal vouchers
- Some airlines might give you an overnight bag of basic necessity toiletries, since your missed connection often means you’ll be without your luggage for the night.
If the missed connecting flight is airline-caused but with another airline, then what can you do?
Unfortunately, an airline usually won’t compensate you for another airline’s mistake. So if the first leg of your trip is with, say JetBlue, and the second leg is with United, you can’t expect United to reimburse you for JetBlue’s mistake. Trip insurance can help with costs associated with missed connections in this case.
If the Missed Connection is Your Fault, Then:
Contact the airline as soon as it becomes clear that you’ll miss your flight. As mentioned earlier, call the airline right away. The sooner you alert them, the less damage you’ll do to the rest of your itinerary.
If the missed connection is your fault, own up to it. While there may not be a lot airlines can do for you, some airlines have more flexible policies for missed connections. Some even have what they call a flat-tire rule built into their missed connection policy. This will help you receive compensation for a missed connection that was within your control to prevent. Keep in mind, though, that these flat-tire rules vary from airline to airline. And some airlines won’t offer them.
As a general rule, if you accept responsibility for a missed connection that truly was in your control, they will be more apt to help where they can.
Document the circumstances that made you late. Sometimes, this may be of little help. If, for example, you’ve missed your connecting flight because you got sidetracked reading paperback covers in the airport bookstore, you’re probably out of luck. If, however, you really do experience a flat tire on your way to the airport, or you experience some kind of medical delay in getting to your connecting gate on time, you’ll want to make sure you can provide proof.
How Missed Connections Trip Insurance Can Help You Take off
Coverage and benefits offered by trip insurance varies from plan to plan. Be sure to check your policy documents carefully before making any purchase. You’ll want to be sure your policy of choice offers protections for missed connections. In general, though, whether your basic policy includes missed connection coverage or offers it as an add-on benefit, you’ll be reimbursed for certain costs incurred as a result of missing your flight, missing your cruise ship, or any other travel connection. This could include things like the cost of meals, overnight lodging, hotel-to-airport transportation. However, the missed connection reason must be explicitly listed as covered in the policy documentation. Here are some of the most common covered reasons for missed flight connections:
- An airline-caused delay
- Severe weather conditions
- Traveler needs to quarantine
- A strike, natural disaster or terrorist attack
How Missed Connections Cruise Trip Insurance Can Keep You Afloat
In general, the same coverage rules for flights will also apply to cruise ships. Trip insurance simply allows you to have more control over what happens if you miss your cruise ship. If you literally miss the boat, cruise trip insurance with missed connection coverage may reimburse you for costs related to rejoining your ship at the next port. But again, the reason you’ve missed the cruise ship has to be explicitly listed as a covered reason in your policy documents.
When you’re in the middle of dealing with a missed connection, it can be really frustrating. But once you’ve handled all the rebooking and baggage rerouting logistics and you’re in the airport waiting to board your new flight, exhale and try to remember why you travel. Maybe it’s to land a life-changing business deal; maybe it’s to reconnect with your spouse, or maybe it’s to show your children that there’s an entire world of possibilities and wonders beyond their country’s borders. When you consider all the important reasons why so many of us travel, dealing with a missed connection doesn’t seem to matter as much.
Whether you’re ready to buy trip insurance or just have a few questions our Customer Success Team of licensed Insurance agents is ready to help.