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I am considering booking a flight through Google's booking mechanism. The flight that I want is two-stage, both stages operated by the same airline (KLM). There's a 45 minute gap between the first flight arriving and the second leaving. Ideal!

There may be a problem however. Google says in small print [Often delayed by 30+ min] for the first flight.

Is this genuinely likely to be a problem? I notice that it gives the same warning for the last leg of the return flight (obviously that's not an issue). If the first flight is delayed by let's say an hour, what might happen?

  • If you’re booking both legs with the same airline, they won’t make the reservation if it doesn’t meet their connection criteria. So if your inbound is late, they’ll put you on another flight. What might matter more to you in this scenario is a) how many flights there are on a given day to your final destination; and b) does it matter to you if you arrive late eg might it jeopardise a hotel booking. – Traveller Apr 24 at 13:38
  • It's probably easier if you can provide details of the two flights (the city pairs and the schedules, ideally the date as flights are not the same on all dates). To complement @Traveller's comment, more than how many flights there are, the big question is: is there another flight the same day to your final destination? The airline has a duty of assistance (hotel, meals, etc.) if you are delayed overnight (provided this is a single booking), but this is still a pain, so it's definitely better if you can catch a flight 2 hours later rather than the next day... – jcaron Apr 24 at 13:50
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    Another point to be aware of: when the connection is tight, you might make it to the connecting flight, but you luggage may not. Be prepared for that.... – jcaron Apr 24 at 13:55
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Do you feel lucky?

If your inbound flight is late, and you arrive with not enough time to make the connecting flight, it is likely to leave without you. In rare cases, if a lot of people from your flight (or multiple inbound flights) are transferring to that flight, the airline might hold the plane, but again this is pretty rare. Don't count on it, especially in tightly scheduled airspace such as Europe.

If you miss the connection because your flight was late, the airline will rebook you on the next available flight to your destination at no cost. This may or may not be a nonstop flight; you may end up transferring in another connecting city.

The biggest problem with missing an international flight connection, though, is that the next flight to your destination might be nearly 24 hours later. In some corner cases the next flight may be two or more days later. While the airline will rebook you at no cost and pay for a hotel and meals if your layover exceeds a certain amount of time, you still spend a day or more in a city where you expected to be in and out in minutes, and have less time for whatever the purpose of your trip was. And as Traveller noted in a comment, this may also affect bookings you have made in your destination city, so you will need to take care of those as well.

If you intend to book this flight, you can check the airline's scheduled departures from the connecting city to see how long you might be delayed there if you miss the initial connection.

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    The chances they will delay the second flight are higher on long-haul flights, so the chances are better of a short-haul then long-haul combination rather than the opposite. On the other hand, short-haul flights are usually more frequent than long-haul flights.... – jcaron Apr 24 at 13:52
  • @jcaron Yeah, they're not waiting around if it's a short haul that flies six times a day. But in that case you won't be stuck in the connecting city long either. – Michael Hampton Apr 24 at 13:53
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    There's also the problem of visas if the passenger had intended to avail from transit without visa in the connecting airport and ends up delayed overnight. Unless there is a transit hotel airside, this can become quite complicated. – jcaron Apr 24 at 13:54
  • @MichaelHampton they seem to have an identical flight 2 hours' later. On that basis that seems like a good backup if the first one takes off without me. – Stumbler Apr 24 at 14:22

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