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I have missed my connecting flight from Frankfurt to New York. The time gap between incoming flight and connecting flight was about 2 hours. The incoming flight was delayed for about 90 minutes. Both flights were operated by same airlines but both tickets were separate (no single ticket). Now who is responsible for the missed flight?

marked as duplicate by Rory Alsop, Aleks G, David Richerby, bytebuster, Michael Hampton May 1 at 16:24

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    The day you have to be at check-in by the deadline (if you do manual check-in or have any checked bags) and at the gate by the deadline. If you are not, they don’t care why, exactly the same they wouldn’t care if you were late because you didn’t wake up, your train was delayed, your taxi had an accident, you got lost on the way... – jcaron Apr 30 at 7:39
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    I'd say that 2 hours connecting time to an intercontinental flight is very risky ... Flights are delayed or cancelled fairly often. If you risk it, you absolutely need to have a backup plan (e.g. think about whether the cost of emergency re-booking would be acceptable to you). – Szabolcs Apr 30 at 9:59
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    This is why you don't construct an itinerary by buying multiple point-to-point tickets (e.g. through a reseller/(s)). For reference how much extra would it have cost you to buy single ticket? It would have been money well spent, esp. if you have to stay overnight in hotel, baggage gets lost etc. – smci Apr 30 at 10:25
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    Did you ask the airline yet? They have no legal obligation, but they might still help you avoid having to pay in full for a new ticket. – krubo Apr 30 at 11:20
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    I assume it would have cost more to book the trip as a single ticket. The extra cost is "insurance" for situations just like this – you opted out of the insurance so you have to bear the risk. – Moyli Apr 30 at 14:19
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Now who is responsible for the missed flight?

Unfortunately, you are.

When flights are bought as separate tickets, the airlines responsibility does not flow from one to the other - their obligation to you ends when you reach your destination on the ticket, and in this case you had two tickets with two destinations. That basically defines every thing here.

The second aircraft left on time and you were not denied boarding, so within the eyes of the airline and, most crucially here, the EU regulations on compensation, you simply failed to turn up for it.

The first aircraft got you to it's destination, your connecting airport, 90 minutes late, but according to your itinerary on that ticket the connecting airport was in fact your "final" destination for that ticket, and as a result you fall outside the EU261 rules for compensation there - you have to have a delay of more than 3 hours at your final destination.

The EU261 FAQ has this to say about missed flights due to delayed inbound connecting flights:

Do I have any rights if I am not allowed to board my connecting flight because I arrived late at the gates due to a delay with the first flight?

YES - if the flights are part of a single reservation, the carrier has to offer you the option between the reimbursement of your ticket and a return flight to the airport of departure at the earliest opportunity or re-routing to your final destination at the earliest opportunity or re-routing at a later date at your convenience under comparable transport conditions, subject to the availability of seats. In case you are re-routed and you reach your final destination with a delay of 3 hours or more you are entitled to compensation.

Note the very specific mention of a single reservation. Your tickets constitute multiple, separate reservations.

You can talk to the airline to see if they can rebook you at a lower or no cost, but they have no obligation in this case.

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    This is why low-cost airlines like Ryanair refuse to do through-ticketing. They don't want the cost of having to compensate customers in the OP's situation. – Martin Bonner Apr 30 at 9:26
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    It is not totally true. For some destinations you can also buy through tickets even on low cost airlines including ryanair. – N Randhawa Apr 30 at 10:56
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    Every US discount airline I have ever seen not only supports thru ticketing, but will cheerfully include in their listings fares that involve 3-4 plane changes. – Harper Apr 30 at 21:52
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    @Harper US discount airlines are a different beast than EU low cost airlines. For one, they don't have to deal with EU passengers regulations – Denis Nardin Apr 30 at 21:54
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As explained in the other answer and in comments to the question, the responsibility lies with you. You had two separate contracts for travel from A to B and from B to C. You were delayed on A to B, but not enough to trigger any compensation, and you were not on time for check-in or boarding for B to C, so you were considered a no show.

In addition, you definitely had way too little margin, especially if you had checked luggage or for any other reason could not use online/mobile check-in. Unless you travel first of business class, the check-in/baggage drop deadline for LH at FRA is 60 minutes. This means you had one hour to:

  • deplane
  • go through immigration (passport control) if you arrived from outside the Schengen Area
  • wait for and reclaim your bags
  • go through customs
  • find and get to the check-in counter (which involves changing floors and possibly several hundred meters walk)
  • wait in line
  • check-in before the deadline

(after that you still have to go through exit passport control, security, and get to the gate before the boarding deadline, but if you made the check-in deadline it shouldn't be an issue).

Even if the plane was on time, not at a remote stand, you were among the first to deplane, you didn't have to go through passport control, and bags were delivered timely this would be quite tight, especially if you are not familiar with the airport.

If the plane was at a remote stand, you were among the last to deplane, you had to go through passport control, bags took a bit too long to arrive, or, as in you case, the incoming flight was late, then it's just not doable at all.

Note that this is very different from what would happen if you had bought both flights as a single ticket/booking. In that case, your luggage would have been checked through to the final destination, the only deadline is getting to the gate in time, so minimum connection times are much much shorter. And in that case, it would be the airline's responsibility to take care of you and get you to your final destination (and possibly compensate you).

So in your case, the airline has absolutely no obligation to help you. However:

  • You may ask the airline. Even though they have no obligation, they may want to help you by allowing you to rebook to another flight, either for free or for a fee (still better than having to buy a new ticket altogether). Don't count on assistance (hotel room, meals, etc.) or compensation, however.

  • If you bought the ticket through a site which specialises in selling separate flights for a single trip such as kiwi.com, they may have an insurance for you to cover precisely this case. Contact them for assistance.

  • If you have travel insurance (which you may have bought separately, or as an add-on when you booked, or may be part of the services of your credit card if you used one, or may be part of some other insurance or banking contract), check with them. The chances they will cover this are slim (as you had very little margin), but it's worth a try.

Also remember that if your FRA-NYC flight was not the last on your ticket (e.g. the outbound leg on a return ticket), then the airline may have cancelled the rest of the flights as well. Take that into account when considering your options.

Good luck!

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    +1 for mentioning that the OP may now have trouble on the return as well. – user3067860 Apr 30 at 13:18
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    Note that checking luggage through to a final destination isn't necessarily related to single reservation - often airlines are able to check luggage through even to partner airlines in the same alliance , even when flights are on different reservations (it may take some persistence to get them to do so). This can cut down on the transfer time if you have checked luggage. – Erwin Bolwidt May 1 at 3:01
  • More importantly, to @Erwin’s point, booking a single ticket is no guarantee that your luggage can be checked through to the final destination either. For a pair like FRA/NYC, it seems highly unlikely that it wouldn’t work, but there are many stretches where checking through to final destination is not possible even with a single ticket, particularly when switching between domestic and international flights. In such cases, you can sometimes get stuck with no compensation available even though you have a single ticket. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 1 at 15:03
  • Also, depending on where you’re from, the chances of a travel insurance covering this may not be so slim. Standard policies issued by nearly all the major Nordic travel insurance companies would cover this exact scenario, for instance, since the standard requirement for transit delays is just that the itinerary must be within the MCT (45 minutes for FRA), which this one definitely does. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 1 at 15:09
  • @JanusBahsJacquet MCT is for connecting passengers on a single booking or at the very least with luggage checked through as described in previous comments. You could not physically catch another flight with luggage not checked through in 45 minutes. – jcaron May 1 at 16:08
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It seems like as far rules go, the airline is under absolutely no obligation to help you.

If I were in your shoes, I would argue not that you were delayed by something beyond your control, and try to invoke the "flat tire" rule. Keep trying, calling back. Per @ZachLipton in the comments:

The "flat tire rule" to the extent it exists, is generally a customer service accommodation by the airline and is not an actual "rule" in the contract of carriage. Many major US airlines will help you out by allowing you to be listed without charge as a standby passenger on their next flight if you're late (usually with a limit to how late you can be and other restrictions, such as it not applying to codeshare flights). They have no legal obligation to do so and aren't responsible for your connection, but the airline's staff may have some discretion under their policy. At other airlines, no.

Just to summarize, it is worthwhile to attempt to fly standby, but the airline is under no obligation to help you.

  • @DavidRicherby You know travel better than me. Is it that the "flat tire rule" doesn't apply in Europe, or the "flat tire rule" doesn't count in this case? Or is their no "flat tire rule" anywhere? – axsvl77 Apr 30 at 21:13
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    The "flat tire rule" to the extent it exists, is generally a customer service accommodation by the airline and is not an actual "rule" in the contract of carriage. Many major US airlines will help you out by allowing you to be listed without charge as a standby passenger on their next flight if you're late (usually with a limit to how late you can be and other restrictions, such as it not applying to codeshare flights). They have no legal obligation to do so and aren't responsible for your connection, but the airline's staff may have some discretion under their policy. At other airlines, no. – Zach Lipton Apr 30 at 21:26
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    @axsvl77 I'm not aware of this rule existing anywhere -- quite apart from anything else, how would you prove that you qualified? The airline can, of course, help you more than it's legally obliged to, and that's probably more likely if you seem to have been the victim of something outside your reasonable control. Airline staff (automated checkin counters aside) are humans, after all. – David Richerby Apr 30 at 21:46

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