Missing a connecting flight is the nightmare of every traveller. We understand how it feels to be stuck in the middle of your journey, away from your planned destination. Was your flight to or from Europe? You might be entitled to compensation based on EC 261/2004 for your missed connection. What does this mean? If you miss a connecting flight due to a flight delay, cancellation, or being denied boarding in your flight flight, you could be entitled to up to €600 compensation.
What is a missed connection compensation?
With flights that consist of multiple stops or legs, we use the term ‘connecting flight’. Though these flights are bought as one booking, they involve ‘connections’ via other airports on the way. So if something disrupts one of your flights, you can miss your connection. In this case, your airline should arrange a new flight for you. In addition, if you are flying in or out of Europe, you may be entitled to compensation based on EU regulation, EC 261/2004.
When you can claim compensation for a missed flight connection?
- If you missed your connection due to a flight delay, cancellation or overbooked flight;
- Your missed connection caused you to be over three hours late arriving your destination;
- The flight took off or landed in the EU;
- The reason for missing your connection isn’t something under your control (for example, not having the correct documentation or you showed up too late), but was within the airline’s control (for example, technical difficulties or airline staff strike)
- It doesn’t count if the airline has already provided you with a replacement flight.
When do passengers receive compensation for a missed connecting flight?
There have been a number of court decisions that have strengthened air passenger rights in favour of the consumer. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg and the German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) have both issued consumer-friendly rulings, stating:
- Passengers can also receive compensation for major delays affecting flights consisting of several legs.
- The flight plan needs to be all in one booking for this to apply.
- All flights that come after the cancellation or delay, no matter whether they are operated by the same airline or another one, are included in the calculation
- All previous flights before the cancellation or delay, but only if they were operated by the same airline responsible for the flight disruption
Passengers who miss a connecting flight due the shortcoming of an airline and are delayed for over 3 hours will be able to claim between €250 and €600 compensation. The amount of compensation available is dictated by the distance of the entire journey, from the starting airport to the final destination. Here’s a table that explains how the compensation totals are calculated:
- Short distances – up to 1500 km – Passengers are due €250 compensation
- Medium distances – Between 1500 km and 3500 km – Passengers are due €400 compensation
- Long distances- over 3500 km – Passengers are due €600 compensation
But, missed connections are only entitled when both flights were part of the same reservation. This means that you booked a single journey from your departure to your destination, and the airline issued you with a ticket for connecting flights. Most often the connecting flights are with the same airline.
Anyway, this is different if you made two or more bookings for flights and plan to catch one following another. In that case, you would not be covered for missed flight connection.
You can check if your journey is a single reservation with looking at your booking reference number. If this is same for all flights they are considered part of the same reservation.
How is distance calculated for missed flight connection?
The distance that your flight covered, or was supposed to, will determine the amount of compensation that you’ll be able to claim. The total amount of time you were delayed won’t change the amount, it will only be dependent on your route.
It is the total length of the journey that is important, not the leg of the journey that you missed. That means, when you are claiming compensation, any legs of the journey that came before the disruption might be included as well, if they were no intervening flights operated by a different carrier.
To put in other words, if an airline causes a missed connection, they have the responsibility for all of their own flights, even if they came before the disruption. They are also responsible for any later flights that are affected, even if they are with a different airline.
But, If the previous flight is operated by a different airline, then the previous flight is not calculated in the distance. They are also responsible for any later flights that are affected, even if they are with a different airline.
The eligible distance includes the cancelled flight as well as:
- The flights that come after, no matter whether they were operated by the same airline or not
- The previous flights if they were operated by the same airline responsible for the cancellation
What are Extraordinary Circumstances
A flight compensation only applies when the airline can be held accountable. Based on the EC 261/2004, the operating airline is not liable for missed connections caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’. These are circumstances that could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken. To put it simply, the missed connection is out of their control. The airline is not responsible and the air passenger has no right to compensation. Think of:
- Adverse Weather Conditions
- Air Traffic Control Restrictions
- Strikes (unrelated to airline)
- Bird Strikes
- Safety and/or Security Risks
- Medical Emergency
- Hidden manufacturing defects
However, it is good to know that airlines have been guilty of using extraordinary circumstances as an excuse to justify a missed connection. Keep in mind that the airline has to provide proof (“burden of proof”) when they use extraordinary circumstances as a reason to discharge themselves from all responsibility. For example, a strike by airline staff is not considered extraordinary circumstance nor do ‘bad weather conditions’ always justify a missed connection. In addition, technical problems that are not related to manufacturing defects are not considered extraordinary circumstances.
Claim for your missed flight connection with Claim24
Claim24 is here to protect the rights of air passengers and claim a flight compensation from the airline. We file the claim on behalf of the passenger, get in touch with the airline, and take care of everything using inhouse legal and aviation expertise. No payments upfront, no payment if we lose, and no financial risk – we work on a ‘no win, no fee basis’. When we win, we take a 24% commission fee from the total compensation amount (incl. VAT).
Interested? Use our free claim calculator to find out if you are entitled to a flight compensation for your missed connection!