(Perhaps, this question might be closed as being off-topic but nevertheless)

If one has a very small transition time between two flights and for some reason if the first flight is delayed due to unforeseen circumstances and one arrives at the Airport in the nick of time is it possible to let the Airport staff known that the passenger is on her/his way to the next connecting flight?

I understand that usually the boarding staff announces the name of the person who is yet to board the plane but can the information be relayed the other way round?

Personal Experience

Busy airports like FRA, MUC, CDG, AMS are extremely big and when one only has close to 1.30 hours of transfer time, one is often at the mercy of the arriving flight (if it has obtained a gate to disembark or is left at the tarmac and waiting for the bus) and one has to dash to the gates more often.

Does a traveller have some rights or services to let the boarding staff known that s/he is on her/his way and perhaps not miss out the flight? I am not aware if there are passenger-rights or compensations available for missing out a flight due to connecting flight time mismatch.

General Assumptions

Common Scenarios include:

  1. Single Reservation (booking) under a common airline company/alliance
  2. Economy class (business class might get more preferences anyways in general)
  3. Frequent Flyer status, basic to level 1 (silver) where there aren't many well-known benefits
  4. Delay of arrival: approximately ~ 20 to 30 minutes

    a. Arrival to terminal additional ~10 to 15 minutes (in case of tarmac parking)

  • 1
    Are both legs on the same booking? Then at the very least staff will be aware of your circumstances, and the better airlines/alliances will actually have someone waiting for you at the gate you disembark to either give you instructions or even whisk you away to the departing gate (in the best cases you may even be driven directly to the next flight).
    – jcaron
    Dec 10, 2018 at 14:03
  • When that actually happens depends on many factors, including the airline(s), the airport, your class of travel, your frequent flyer status, how short the connection is, how delayed the inbound flight was, of course.
    – jcaron
    Dec 10, 2018 at 14:05
  • 2
    Also, always let the staff on board the first flight know of the short connection. They may be able to let you disembark earlier, make special arrangements, inform gate staff...
    – jcaron
    Dec 10, 2018 at 14:06
  • I will update the question with general assumptions like single booking, economy class etc.
    – Shan-Desai
    Dec 10, 2018 at 14:10
  • Generally you're supposed to check in at the gate by about 15-30mn before the flight leaves. Getting there just before the gate closes usually means that late/standby passengers will have boarded, understandably so.
    – user61942
    Dec 10, 2018 at 18:20

2 Answers 2


Depends on the airline, but in my experience letting the airport staff know that you are there and on your way will do nothing useful.

  1. First of all, "airport staff" is too broad. Roles are highly compartmentalized and there isn't a lot of communication. Not only would you have to find a person from the airline (operating carrier, to be precise) but also the right person from that airline (gate agent) and that person won't be where you are
  2. The gate agent typically has the information anyway. They have full access to your itinerary and the flight status of your connection

My main experience is with United gate agents and they seem to be utterly ruthless. Some examples

  1. I had a tight connection but got out fast, ran fast and made it to the connecting gate with still 2 minutes to spare and want to hop on the plane. My boarding pass was rejected: The gate agent says: "Oh, we didn't think you could make it this fast, so we have already given your seat away"
  2. Six of us are in the same delayed plane from Santa Barbara trying to make the last red eye out of LAX to Boston. The gate agent closed the gate about 1 minute before the first of us arrived at the gate. She knew that we were already in the terminal building, she also knew that the delay was United's fault so they would have to put up six people in hotels for the night and re-book all of us, she also knew that it would at max take 5 more minutes to get everyone on board and the flight had plenty of buffer to absorb that, but that didn't stop her.
  3. A passenger in LAX arrives literally 30s late at the gate to a flight Melbourne (a really, really long flight). She pleads with the gate agent, but to no avail. The plane is still there, the jetway is still docked, the aircraft doors are still open, but the gate agent didn't budge. I've seen it done correctly and it only takes a minute or so to re-open a gate.
  • 1
    I conjecture it may be because when these scenarios are modeled, there can be a cascading effect with increased cost for the airline. Holding the gate open for one, and then another appears,and then another then suddenly the plane is late and on time performance etc suffers and the gate agent probably gets some negative employee evaluation metrics. Hence the hard cutoff. Dec 10, 2018 at 15:01
  • Point 3 is gut-wrenching. Have you experienced something similar in Europe. AFAIK you speak mostly of experiences in American Airports
    – Shan-Desai
    Dec 10, 2018 at 15:08
  • 3
    @jcaron U.S. airlines depend much more heavily on the hub-and-spoke structure to operate than airlines in most other countries, and with low-cost competition, everything is run far against the margin. Even a small delay can have ripple effects throughout the system. I'm a nice guy but I don't want my flight held if it means the crew is going to time out or we're going to miss our slot before the thunderstorm hits. As such, on-time departure is a key metric (perhaps the paramount metric) and the internal incentives for on-time departure (and penalties for delays) are structured around that.
    – choster
    Dec 10, 2018 at 16:03
  • 9
    @choster that was not really my point, actually. What I meant is that when you arrive in Hong Kong on CX, you'll see a lot of personnel with signs for each of the connecting flights waiting at the end of the jetway, ready to take all necessary measures to make sure you get to your next flight in time. Definitely nothing like "Oh we wouldn't think you'd make it".
    – jcaron
    Dec 10, 2018 at 16:09
  • 1
    @Shan-Desai Not surprised Point 3 is Australia; that's the main issue. Australia has the strictest noise curfews in the world, have few alternate airports, and involve long-haul flights which have variability in timing. Delays of minutes to Australia-bound flights can result in missing the curfew and cancellation of the whole flight.
    – user71659
    Dec 10, 2018 at 23:48

it possible to let the Airport staff known that the passenger is on her/his way to the next connecting flight>


Does a traveller have some rights or services to let the boarding staff known that s/he is on her/his way and perhaps not miss out the flight?

NO on services, somewhat YES on rights (#4).

Sorry, hate me and downvote all you want, but this is just how it works.

There is no way, unless you have their personal mobile phone #, for YOU to let the gate staff know that you're on your way...BUT!...

Within your specified assumptions:

  1. The Gate Agents can easily presume you're on the way because they can see when your aircraft arrived at the Gate and which Gate. From that, they will have an idea of how long it should take a passenger to get there.

  2. The passenger services contractor, the one's who provide accessibility services and sometimes the carts, will usually have ways of communicating with gate staff like a radio or handset. The Gate Agent should also be able to see if a passenger required assistance and can take that into account. (Note, I said should be able, I don't know how ever airline in world has their gate terminals laid out.)

  3. The number of connecting passengers is considered as they are more likely to wait longer for more passengers. This is heavily dependent on the destination. If there's a slot, crew time or curfew issue, they'll leave anyone behind.

  4. The amount of arrival delay on the incoming flight isn't specifically important, it's the time between the delayed arrival and departure time. Here's where contract obligations and any passenger rights come in. If the arrival is delayed but still falls outside of a Minimum Connection Time (MTC) for that airport/combination, then missing the flight is on you. If the delayed arrival time puts you under the MTC, then the airline should reaccommodate you if you late, even if you could have made it. Meaning, an MTC might be 45 minutes, but practical gate-to-gate time for healthy adults is 15 minutes so you can still make the connection.

  5. Status, yes it can be a factor as well. I have personally experienced several times "Oh, Mr. 305, we've been waiting for you." I believe them because the Agent closes the door right behind me.

  • 5
    "Sorry, hate me and downvote all you want, but this is just how it works." Please. Just stick to answering the question. It feels like very time you post, you include something about how you're a victim and everybody downvotes your posts. This does not make people view you positively. Dec 10, 2018 at 23:19

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