Delays or Misconnects

By | September 18, 2006

On Saturday, the Cranky Flier posted some advice on delays, misconnections, and cancellations. We thought we would add our two cents on the subject.

Delays are not anything you can do anything about. Most of the time it is weather causing delay of the inbound aircraft or weather causing a ground delay out to your destination. There is nothing the airline can realistically do. They don’t have another aircraft to spare. Sometimes, they can find a way to swap aircraft, but the time of an airplane is so regulated that this is harder.

Misconnections are an airline’s inability to operate according to schedule the flights listed on your ticket, be it due some form of delay, or a schedule change, thus requiring the reissue of your ticket. The responsibility of the airline as per various regulations is to bring you to your final destination with the least amount of delay or inconvenience at no cost to the passenger. This applies to the flights, not to any incidentals like hotels and productivity loss incurred…thus your time or any secondary loss is not covered by them(if you want to cover that, most travel insurance will cover for delay). Most airlines will offer hotel and/or meal vouchers in the event of mechanical issues, and will sometimes offer them in the event of weather delays.

IATA Rule 735D requires a carrier to accomodate you with the least possible delay, as mentioned. It does not require the carrier to rebook you on another carrier. The alternative, commonly invoked rules…Rule 240 and Rule 120.20 are not defined entities…and technically while still used as terms, hard to pin down. Check your carriers contract of carriage for what they see as their responsibility in the event of misconnection. If you want to be really prepared, try printing the relevant section and bring it along.

In regards to 240 and 120.20, which deal with the endorsement of your ticket over to another carrier, assuming they do exist, feel free to invoke them when you suggest to a airport agent that they move you to another carrier. If your airline is in an alliance with the other airline, they will usually sign an endorsement waiver, meaning you don’t need their permission to go over there.

With an eticket, however, you usually need to have the originating carrier give you authorization. With a paper ticket, you can bring it over to the other carrier and try to get them to accept it.

In the end, know what other options are available and why it is a good idea for you to be transferred. And remember the three stages of complaint escalation: politeness and compassion, rational explanation of your displeasure with the level of service, temper loss. With temper loss, it is important to keep it within limits. Where sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease from the airline in order to get aforementioned wheel to go away, sometimes it will result it a complete lockdown.

Author: Guru

Guru is the Editor of Flight Wisdom and a long time aviation enthusiast.