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Missed connecting flight .. confused

Berlin, Germany
posts: 19
Missed connecting flight .. confused

Hello all,

I had an international flight to Orlando via Chicago.

My layover at Chicago was 2 hours 45 mins, and i was told this was plenty of time. However, the ques on arrival were horrendous.

There were loads of check in ques available for 'American passport holders', so alot of staff remained idle. There appeared to be no delegation or care if people missed their flights. A few flights had arrived at the same time, hence why the ques were longer than usual.

Anyways we had quite clearly missed our flight, when we approached an American Airline desk. We were told we'd be put on a free flight the next morning. But would have to make our own provisions for the night ?!

Is this fair and a standard practice ? They gave me the option of booking some some expensive hotels that i would have to pay for, but i left it, and found another hotel at another desk ... and even that was very expensive. I even had to pay for a taxi to take me to the hotel.

I did nothing wrong. I arrived for my flight on time. The airport could not cope at that hour. 3 hours for immigration is excessive. It's not like i left 1 hour. I met the legal connection time.

Just bemused by the experience. I've travelled in Asia and Europe a few times, where i've been delayed and they put you up in hotels, meal vouchers, etc when you are clearly not at fault.

Is the system different in America?

Will probably look for a direct flight in future, as my experience in transitting in America has been woefull. Miami and Chicago in particular don't seem to be able to cope.

Edited: 5:14 am, March 18, 2013
uk
posts: 1,655
reviews: 147
1. Re: Missed connecting flight .. confused

I sympathise when it comes to (at least some) US airports because depending on time/security/immigration it can take a long time to get through.

I always advise people to get off the plane ASAP because being at/near the head of the immigration queue can make a big difference to whether you'll make a flight or not. Even at JFK last April when we were first off the place, and only had 4 people in front of us at immigration, it took 40 minutes.

Madrid
posts: 2,593
reviews: 7
2. Re: Missed connecting flight .. confused

The advice here has been to allow 3 hours minimum between connecting flights.I am starting to think that may not be enough.American Airlines is advising passengers that 3 to 4 hours is required at MIA due to budget cuts.Maybe this is spreading to other airports.

None of the airlines will provide overnight assistance if you miss your connection due to immigration or customs delays.

Houston, Texas
Destination Expert
for Air Travel, Business Travel
posts: 6,921
reviews: 77
3. Re: Missed connecting flight .. confused

Right now, to me, it seems to be a political thing. Coming in through SFO on the weekend, Customs and Immigration had me stand in three different lines that I normally don't have to stand in. I have Global Entry and there should be no line after being kiosk cleared. There hasn't been in the past, yet going through this time, all the while blaming staffing issues, they created three lines that didn't exist before.

As for missing your flight, 2:45 should have been plenty of time. That said, there have been many 4 hour queues at LHR as their Immigration people worked to rule over the past year.

Edited: 6:59 am, March 18, 2013
Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 7,945
reviews: 40
4. Re: Missed connecting flight .. confused

I'm seeing a trend here. There have been several posts on this forum over the past few days suggesting immigration and other lines at major US airports are longer than usual, that fast track facilities aren't operating, etc. Is TSA or some other body trying to make a point to get more money or something?

Sorry this doesn't help the OP with their dilemma after having to fork out for hotel and other costs, unexpectedly.

SWT

Melbourne, Australia
posts: 811
reviews: 53
5. Re: Missed connecting flight .. confused

Leo do you have travel insurance? Could you claim back the hotel and taxi expenses through this?

Geneva, Switzerland
Destination Expert
for Geneva, Liechtenstein, Air Travel
posts: 3,148
reviews: 264
6. Re: Missed connecting flight .. confused

I guess this is a result of the budget cuts a few weeks ago. So, yes, it is somehow political. The OP's issue probably falls in a grey area since the airline made no mistake... Yes, a travel insurance would be helpful here. And, yes, transiting in the US coming from abroad is often a nightmare...

NYC/Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
posts: 24,133
reviews: 17
7. Re: Missed connecting flight .. confused

Were you booked on one ticket or was it two independent tickets. That should make a difference. In the latter situation the airline owes you nothing and you should be grateful they gave you a flight the following day at no charge.

Berlin, Germany
posts: 19
8. Re: Missed connecting flight .. confused

It was booked on one ticket.

Why is the situation different in Asia and Europe? I've used Biritsh Airways once, and the ques were a nightmare at Heathrow once, and we were given accomodation and food vouchers. Same with KLM in Amsterdam, and Emirates over in Dubai.

Strange ... is it just a customer service issue, and is there an actual law ?

Fortaleza, CE
posts: 6,549
reviews: 335
9. Re: Missed connecting flight .. confused

Friends ran into the same situation about 3 years ago, flying from Sao Paulo to Florida via Atlanta. The one non-citizen had problems with Immigration, and they missed their flight. Delta agreed to put them on the next available flight to their destination, but that was the next day, and since their first flight arrived on time, the airline said the missed connection wasn't the airline's fault, so the passengers were on their own for a hotel. So, yes, it sounds like what you experienced was s.o.p.

It's not necessasrily a matter of whether someone did anything wrong. The ariline also did nothing wrong. Good luck on getting the TSA to pay for your hotel. You "were told" 2 hours was enough time. If that was the airline, they would tell you what the minimum "legal" connection time. There are no guarantees. Caveat emptor. Lesson learned for the future. At least you weren't left high and dry in Chicago with no transportation, or faced with buying a new ticket or paying a large rebooking fee.

Edited: 9:26 am, March 18, 2013
Fortaleza, CE
posts: 6,549
reviews: 335
10. Re: Missed connecting flight .. confused

p.s. by no guarantees, I meant no gurantees you'd make the connection. I assume both flights were purchased together, hence AA agreed to get you to your destination at no extra charge. As the delay wasn't their responsibility, they were not obligated to pay for a hotel. Fair or not, I think that's the way it ususally is. You have nothing to lose by contact AA's customer service department, but I wouldn't get my hopes up.

Edited: 9:29 am, March 18, 2013