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Suppose there is an international flight from HEL to JFK with Finnair followed by a domestic flight in the same itinerary from LGA (with American Airlines) 4 hours after the arrival of the Finnair flight. What happens if 4 hours will not be enough for going through immigration/security or transferring? Will AA replace my ticket free of charge and let me take the next plane? I'm confused because there is no way for them to know whether I actually didn't have enough time e.g. due to long lines in immigration, or just missed their flight purposely for whatever reason.

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    Did you book both flights on the same booking? Or are they separate bookings? – Peter M Aug 25 '18 at 14:22
  • @PeterM I haven't booked anything yet, but if I will, it will be the same booking. – user77409 Aug 25 '18 at 16:50
  • I'll make this a comment as I can't find the link on here, but I believe it has been ruled that you would be eligible for compensation as per the EU regulations. Hopefully someone else can point to it. – Peter M Aug 25 '18 at 17:03
  • are you aware of the distance between those two airports, and the traffic at the particular time of day you're travelling? – Kate Gregory Aug 26 '18 at 1:29
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The airlines have minimum connection times that are typically based on actual statistics so if they sell you a single ticket you have a good chance of making it.

However, it's never guaranteed and there are a lot of thing that can go wrong. Immigration, traffic, delays, etc. so there is a non-trivial chance so you will miss it.

Since it's a single ticket, AA will put you on the next available flight. They may comp you for food or hotel, but I don't think there is a clear policy for this specific case. If AA is at fault (delayed flight), they typically will provide. If you are at fault, they won't. If it's in between (weather, traffic, immigration), it's more murky and often at the discretion of the gate agent. You'll have to ask (nicely) and see. Sometimes it helps to talk to a different agent, if you don't get anywhere with the first one.

If things go well, you should be able to make it. Maybe one hour to get your bags and get through immigration https://awt.cbp.gov/, half an hour to wait for the bus plus 60 minutes or so for driving
https://www.nycairporter.com/ourservices/laguardiatojfkshuttle/ gets you to La Guardia 90 minutes before departure. Check in closes 45 minutes before departure (not sure about bag drop). If there is no bus coming soon, you can opt for a ride share (Uber, Lyft), which may be $40 or so. New York traffic can be messy and unpredictable.

I still would recommend against booking this: it's quite a bit of extra hassle (and also some extra money) to get from one airport to the other and you need to drag your bags along. The transfer of your luggage and yourself between airports is entirely your responsibility.

  • I created an itinerary for myself that follows what you suggested in the "If things go well..." paragraph. I flew ORD to LGA and then took that private shuttle (about $20) to JFK. I flew JFK to FRA because I wanted to fly on the A380 (Lufthansa). I believe I had a single booking, purchased through United. I budgeted four hours to transfer between airports. The shuttle ride was about 45 minutes (I guess traffic wasn't too bad). Four hours was plenty of time. I had only carryon luggage and I was traveling alone. – stevevance Aug 25 '18 at 17:51
  • It’s a trip originating in the EU, so if booked as a single ticket, EU261 applies, with all regulations for assistance and compensation if it’s the airline direct fault or most of the “market” cases (especially weather). If OP gets lost en route between JFK and LGA that’s probably open for discussion... – jcaron Aug 25 '18 at 22:12
  • @jcaron Whether a gate agent at LGA is well versed in EC 261/2004 is a different matter. There have been a few occasions travelling something like AMS-JFK-BUF on DL where I was basically told after a weather delay "we rebook you tomorrow, but the rest is not my problem, go away". I booked a hotel at walk up rates and let my travel insurer deal with it. – Calchas Aug 25 '18 at 23:58
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If you book it on one ticket, then yes, they will accommodate you, and move you for free on another flight.

Note that this 'other flight' could be much later, or the next day, or with a detour, depending on where seats are available; so it is typically inconvenient.

Unless your delay is absurdly long, they will probably believe you - the assumption is that if you want a longer break in the city you would book accordingly, so you had control over the duration and connecting flight.

  • If the "other flight" will be in 24 hours for example, should I expect that they will provide me a room or something? Or am I responsible for that? – user77409 Aug 25 '18 at 16:53
  • EU261 applies, so yes, they have to provide a room, meals, 2 telex messages, and unless extraordinary circumstances come into play (and the EU has a very restrictive view of those), monetary compensation. Won’t work the other way around though. – jcaron Aug 25 '18 at 22:14

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