Missed connecting flights - are we entitled to compensation?

Within European Union, a very straightforward regulation exists regarding passenger rights for denied boarding, flight delays or cancellations. The basic rule states that if your flight has a delay of over 3 hours, you are entitled to monetary compensation by the airline. However, very often, shorter delays can cause you to miss your connecting flights, which in turn may put you in a spiral of problems. The good news is that policies and regulations governing missed connecting flights in Europe now exist and you are entitled to compensation if you arrive at least 3 hours later at your final destination. 

Our missed connecting flight rights & entitlement to compensation are based on the EU Passenger Rights regulation 261/2004. The most important rule is that a passenger is entitled to compensation only in the case when both flights are on the same ticket. This is still valid if two or more airlines serve your journey, as long as they are indicated on the ticket, but that also means that you may not be entitled to comensation if you bought two separate tickets for your journey and you missed your connection. In such a case, the law regards your journey as two separate (non-connected) trips. You are entitled to compensation only if you arrive 3 hours or later at your final destination. If you missed your connecting flight, but the airline managed to quickly rebook and board you on another flight and as a result you arrive only 2h 45m later than the arrival time indicated on your original ticket, compansation claims will most probably be denied. What you need to know in such a case however, that you have the right to snack and refreshments. In case the airline does not offer you such at your transfer airport, you can rightfully claim a voucher. The requirement for free food is a delay of 2 hours or more. 

Connecting flights are a more complicated matter compared to point-to-point flights, where rules can be applied in a straightforward way. The EU regulation 261/2004 states that in case of extraordinary circumstances, airlines are released from responsibility. Defining extraordinary circumstances can often be tricky and you should be certain that airlines will apply various strategies to minimize their claims payout. For this reason we recommend you to submit your claim via a professional company specialized in passenger claims handling. This will ensure you have a strong partner for the uneven battle with the airlines. 

The last thing remaining to define in this article is the actual compensaton cap. For flights with distance of up to 1500 km, the cap is EUR 250, between 1500 km and 3500 km, the amount rises to EUR 400 and if the distance is longer than 3500 km, you are entitled to EUR 600. The actual length of delay is also taken into consideration, when determining the right compensation amount. You should know that for a delay of more than 2 hours, you need to be provided with meals, drinks, access to telehphone. For overnight delay, a free hotel accommodation needs to be arranged for you as well. 

We need to keep in mind that above described set of rules apply in the territory of the European Union and are generally valid for carriers registered in any of the EU member states. The regulation also applies to non-EU airlines, operating to destinations in the union, but the set of rules are different and compensation eligibility needs to be examined case by case. 

We hope you never run into delays and missed connections, but if you ever do, make sure you collect evidence. Keep all receipts, original tickets, rerouting documents, take pictures, exchange contacts with fellow passengers in similar situation, ask the airline for written confirmations for rerouting, statements, etc. This evidence can help you build your case against the airline more effectively. 

Finally, it is good to mention that in case you are covered by a travel insurance, you are still eligible for compensation by the airline. Therefore it always make sense to protect yourself against missed connecting flights with travel insurances, such as World Nomads

Written by editorial team of