Inspired by this question: Minimum Layover Time for International Arrivals at Fort Lauderdale Intl. Airport
Lets say you have a single ticket itinerary with a connection at the first port of entry in the US. When arriving in the US, you need to clear immigration, collect bags, clear customs, go to your departure terminal, clear security and then mosey on to your departure gate.
Let's say you make it through passport control just fine, head down to the baggage claim and then you wait, and wait, and wait, and nothing happens. Meanwhile the clock is ticking and the gate closing time time of your connection comes closer and closer.
- Is there any obligation for you to wait for the bags to come out or can just decide to abandon them and head for your departure gate ?
- Do airlines give any guidelines for this situation? I assume in most cases they prefer you making your connection especially if the miss would trigger an overnight stay. On the other hand, if there is another (empty) flight two hours later, they probably would want you to wait. How do you decide ?
- How do you determine when to bugger out? What is a reasonable (and perhaps defensible) method to determine the "sorry, we got to go" point in time.
- Would you need to notify the airline?
- Can the airline refuse to send the bags after you or charge you for that service ?
- The inverse case: can the airline refuse or charge you for rebooking since you waited for your bags when otherwise you would have made your connection easily?
Just to constrain the answer space a bit: let's assume there is no airline representative in the baggage claim (closed, 3rd party contractor, typical "not my job/responsibility" attitude) and you can't contact them (phone wait times often exceed multiple hours and technically using your phone in the baggage claim is illegal).