When I buy a connecting ticket A->B->C, the airline usually bears responsibility on transferring me to C no matter what happens on the first leg: for example, would A->B flight be delayed, I should be provided with another option to travel B->C for no extra fee. Or, if the delay is short, the B->C aircraft may even wait a little for the connecting passengers.

Do similar regulations apply if I buy a return ticket (that is, a pair of direct flights A->B and B->A), where the time spent in B is very short (1-2 hours)? E.g. if flight A->B is delayed and I arrive at B later than my return flight departs, am I entitled for some compensation and should I be provided with replacement flight, as if in case of the connection?

P.S. I'm not specifying any exact jurisdiction or airline, I'm mostly interested in general practice in any jurisdictions rather than in some specific case.

  • 3
    In EC261 return flights are considered completely independent.
    – jcaron
    Commented Dec 17, 2023 at 22:03
  • @jcaron I don't think your statement is true. If the airline cancels the outbound flight you are not forced to pay for the return flight. You would if they were bought separately, thus being completely independent.
    – André
    Commented Dec 18, 2023 at 0:01
  • @André: it is a grey area (because it may be seen as a single journey), but it is possible (and done) such short connections, e.g. if you need to send a tender (so local post) or give important documents to an other person. Commented Dec 18, 2023 at 9:00
  • A related situation: what if you arrive before the B->A flight departs, but without enough time in between to do the business that you came for? For instance, maybe you came for a two-hour meeting with somebody at or near Airport B, but the A->B flight is delayed and you arrive with only one hour to spare. Commented Dec 19, 2023 at 17:31

3 Answers 3


From my experience, if you have a return ticket with a short layover, the airline usually takes responsibility for ensuring you make your connecting flight. If the delay of your A->B flight causes you to miss your B->A flight, they should provide you with an alternative option at no extra cost. It's always a good idea to reach out to the airline and let them know about the situation as soon as possible.


It's highly likely that in your A-B-A situation with a 1-hour turnaround, that the exact same aircraft will be use for the A-B flight and the B-A flight. Therefore, if the A-B leg is delayed, the B-A leg will automatically be delayed. This is, however, NOT guaranteed. A search of the flight's history on a site such as FlightRadar24 (one example, no affiliation) will give you the past week's worth of history for these pairs (for free, subscriptions will get you much more history), so you'll be able to see what the airline generally does, as well as on-time history for the flight pairs.

My son made these arrangements earlier this year, despite our protests that he was insane to book such a short turnaround. He flew from Alaska to Indiana (USA) with his kids, who he dropped off in IN, then, 40 minutes later, got on a plane back to AK.

IIRC, the flight went through Seattle, so he actually flew SEA->IND, then returned IND->SEA. These two flights arrived/departed the same gate at IND and were conducted by the same aircraft. Had there been any sort of delays in arrival, that would have created an automatic delay in the return flights.

  • 4
    +1 But note that the turnaround time between the two flights may be squeezed if delays occur - sometimes they'll even issue the last call for the B->A flight before the A->B passengers have finished deplaning.
    – avid
    Commented Dec 18, 2023 at 19:32

If you buy a return ticket (that is, a pair of direct flights A->B and B->A), where the time spent in B is very short, you may not be entitled to any compensation or assistance from the airline. This is because return tickets are usually considered as single tickets for each leg of the journey. Therefore, if your flight A->B is delayed and you arrive at B later than your return flight departs, you may not be able to claim any compensation or replacement flight from the airline. This is the general scenario. But in most cases if Flight A-> B is delayed for some reason, B-> A is also delayed. It is best to check with your airline before booking your tickets and to read their terms and conditions carefully.

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