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Connecting flight left early and I missed it

Pittsburgh...
posts: 3
reviews: 3
Connecting flight left early and I missed it

My flight was delayed leaving Las Vegas, causing me to miss my connecting flight in Minneapolis-St Paul. However, I was at the gate in Minneapolis 5 minutes before the flight was scheduled to leave, but it left early. I was told that it is against FAA regulations for a plane to leave early if connecting passengers aren't there yet due to a flight delay on the same airline on another flight. Is this true?

Brooklyn, NY
Destination Expert
for New York City
posts: 20,490
1. Re: Connecting flight left early and I missed it

Gates usually close more then five minutes before takeoff: I would guess that's what they meant by "left early."

Brooklyn, NY
Destination Expert
for New York City
posts: 20,490
2. Re: Connecting flight left early and I missed it

And no, I'm pretty sure there's no such rule.

Bangkok
Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
posts: 14,201
reviews: 73
3. Re: Connecting flight left early and I missed it

Hi,.

There is NO such rule that applies to wholly domestic travel on a US-registered carrier..

The FAA (a sub-agency of the larger DoT) speaks largely to safety rules- principally how the airlines maintain their fleet and other associated matters like on-board safety practices.. the DOT does have a consumer-oriented arm, but there too, there is no explicit rule that requires a carrier to "wait for" or otherwise bans them from leaving early.

That said, there can be contractual language in the carriers Contract of Carriage that cover these cases, but given the timeline you mention, without knowing the exact carrier(s) in play, I *suspect* that as noted in #1, that you're going to be out of luck as most airlines do have language in their CoC's that require a passenger to be onboard the aircraft at X minutes before stated departure time.

While your connecting flight was late and that in most likelihood was the largest part of why you missed the second leg of your trip, unless your airlines CoC says otherwise, they are not obligated to 'wait" for you. They DO still have an obligation to get you to your final destination, but that doesn't include any waiting on their part.

Travel Safe,

Pittsburgh...
posts: 3
reviews: 3
4. Re: Connecting flight left early and I missed it

The plane had already pushed away from the gate at least 5 minutes prior to scheduled time.

Edited: 9:00 pm, May 25, 2013
Pittsburgh...
posts: 3
reviews: 3
5. Re: Connecting flight left early and I missed it

Thank you for your reply and explanation.

Bangkok
Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
posts: 14,201
reviews: 73
6. Re: Connecting flight left early and I missed it

Hi,

I suspect that your only real chance for recovery here is IF you can show that the carrier didn't give you the contractually specified amount of time to board.

Again, most airlines do have language that says all ticketed and confirmed passengers must be onboard the aircraft at X minutes before departure.. That "X" is around :05 to :10 for a domestic sector- internationally it can be higher..

Therefore, IF you can show that they essentially closed the boarding door BEFORE the stipulated time, THEN I think you've got some ground to make a case.. BUT that time is NOT departure time.. It's something before..

You need to see EXACTLY what your airline says that time is.. Again, it's going to be around :05 to :10

Therefore, IF (as illustrative example) they did in fact "push back" at :05 before departure time, so long as their stated cut-off time for boarding is at least :06 or more, then you're out of luck as they can mathematically show that at :06 to departure the doors closed and one minute later it pushed back.

In these kinds of cases knowing the carriers exact rules and having a credible accounting of the timeline will be essential to having any real chance of recovery with the carrier.

Travel Safe,

London, United...
posts: 18,912
reviews: 23
7. Re: Connecting flight left early and I missed it

Jeff. I suspect you did not miss the flight because it left early, I suspect you missed the flight because you were not at the gate when boarding closed, whenever this was ie ten mins beforehand.

If you think they closed boarding early, which I don't think you know, then you could have a case, but it does read that it was simply you missed it.

Were you on two seperate tickets? Is this the issue? If so, it's also best to buy connecting lights on one ticket,mas although more expensive, you pass liability to get you on another flight if you are delayed to the airline. If you do two tickets, then you need to build in a major buffer ie several hours min to be safe.

Houston, Texas
Destination Expert
for Air Travel, Business Travel
posts: 7,180
reviews: 81
8. Re: Connecting flight left early and I missed it

Depending on the airline, the flight "leaves" 10 minutes before push-back time, which is the time commonly known as "departure". You are required to be at the gate ready to board 15 minutes prior to the departure time. After everyone present at that time has boarded, the flight is closed and leaves. It might look as if it is still sitting there, but as far as you are concerned, it has left. As others have said, there is no rule about planes having to sit anyplace waiting for connecting passengers... early or late.

UK
posts: 44,841
reviews: 89
9. Re: Connecting flight left early and I missed it

Agree with the others, you have mixed up departure time with gate closing time. The gate may close up to 20 minutes before the flight is scheduled to leave, so to use that as an example if you were at the gate only 5 minutes before the plane was scheduled to leave, you were 15 minutes late.

UK
posts: 2,586
reviews: 26
10. Re: Connecting flight left early and I missed it

There are usually two times printed on boarding passes - actual departure time, and the time they want you at the gate (which is usually something like half an hour before for short-haul flights). The actual gate closing time will be somewhere in between those, and will be printed in the airline's terms and conditions (I've also seen it on boarding passes, stated in general terms - like "You must be at the gate no later than 15 minutes before departure")

It's not uncommon for flights to push back a few minutes early. As others have said, if you weren't at the gate at gate closing time you haven't got a case.