Missed connection on United, What recourse do I have

  • Hi Guest, welcome to the help forum. You can get fast answers to your customer service questions here. We have a dedicated team of advocates who are ready to help. Just go to the section that matches your question and ask us!
  • If you've posted a question or issue for our advocates to assist with, please be sure to check back frequently for responses and requests for clarification.
  • Did you know you can get email notifications when something new posts to your favorite forum? It's easy. Just click the "watch" link right next to the "post new thread" button at the top of your favorite forum. The rest is easy. Now you'll never miss another conversation.
  • Want to become an expert user? Drop by the How to use this forum section and all will be revealed. We'll show you how to make the most of your experience.
Jan 17, 2018
3
0
1
38
#1
A family member recently flew On United From Montreal to Cleveland with a connection in Newark. The wait time in Newark was 97 minutes per the United schedule. The flight from Montreal was "Delayed due to air traffic control conditions impacting our flight operations". The quote is directly from the flight tracker page on the United website. While the flight landed with 25 minutes to spare before departure time, the arrival gate was switched from one right next to the connecting flight, to one much further away at the airport. As a result, the traveler made it to the connecting flight after the door was already closed, even though it was still before departure time.
Because the missed flight was the last one of the day to Cleveland, the passenger had to spend the night at the airport as the airline offered no compensation other than a bottle of water. They were placed on the first flight to Cleveland the next day.
The question is, does the airline owe the passenger anything for this, and if not, what is reasonable to request for a situation like this should this occur again. It is likely this trip will be taken again in the future.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
11,633
11,985
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#2
We’re all the flights on one ticket? How far away was the other gate- one, five ,
20 gates away? Exactly how long before the flight time did they get to the correct gate? Did they notice right away the gate was changed when they got to original gate and did they run to the new gate? You can’t answer all these questions and haven’t given us enough information for a correct response.

If the flights were on the same ticket the airline should have helped but there might have been extenuating circumstances. If you are not at the gate by the time printed on your boarding pass - you seats are usually given away to stand by.

We typically don’t advise on issues unless they are made by the traveler themselves. You dont know all the details to questions we have and can’t answer.

I would sugggest you have your relative post what happened in detail here so we can ask questions.

In the future- never book a connection with less than 2 hours for domestic or three hours for international flights.
 
Jan 17, 2018
3
0
1
38
#3
Neil,

I appreciate that you don't usually advise unless the traveler posts, however, the traveler is an older person who isn't as computer savvy. I am simply asking for some advice for them. Everything I post is based on conversations with the traveler and the information provided by the airline on their website.

All the flights were on 1 ticket. It is a ticket sold by the airline itself. The first flight landed at gate C85 and the next flight was at C132, at opposing ends of terminal C at Newark airport.

While we all appreciate the 2 hr connection rule, it isn't always possible. We needed a later in the day ticket and that was the only real option that there was. Usually 97 minutes is enough to make a connection.

I'm just looking for some guidance and will answer any questions to the best of my ability. If it gets to the point that I can't answer, then I will just say thank you for the help and move on.
 

johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
790
1,319
93
44
#4
@nathan farkas ATC delays fall into the same realm as weather delays. They are outside the airlines control and their only requirement is to place you on the next available flight.

You might ask for something ($200 voucher ... miles) but understand they are under no requirement to do so and they are doing it out of goodwill.

In the future, plan more connection time and don't plan to take the last flight of the day. If you do, be prepared to stay overnight at your expense.

Another note, these rules really hold true for Newark. Because of the layout of the airport and the airspace around it, weather seems to have a large impact on operations. Even weather that doesn't close the airport can result in ATC ground stops like the one experienced.
 
Sep 19, 2015
1,636
2,866
113
47
#5
Nathan Farkas Neil just asked the passenger because sometimes parents post for their adult children; there is no problem with writing on behalf of the elderly.

When weather is bad Air Traffic Control can limit the arrivals. United boarding ends 15 minutes before departure.

I agree with John Baker perhaps a voucher or some miles. Newark does get some bad delays.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
11,633
11,985
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#6
I agree with my colleagues and thank you for clarifying. It would not be easy for an elderly passenger to make that gate that far away- that was a substantial walk. Where are those shuttle cars when you need them?

I would reiterate what my colleagues advised- ask for some miles or a voucher. Weather delays are out of the control of the airlines as are gate changes when you have flights coming in late because of weather delays where they came from.

I agree that 97 minutes is usually enough - until you have a situation like this when it’s not.
 
Jan 6, 2015
2,002
1,961
113
#7
I will offer a little detail on this scenario ...

Combining two of your statements, The 1st flight arrived at Gate C85 25 minutes prior to the scheduled departure of the connecting flight at Gate 132.

Using Google's "measure distance" feature I determined that distance to be just under 0.6 miles. Allowing 10 minutes to deplane, that leaves 15 minutes (which means the doors to the connecting flight are already closed) to get to Gate C132.

We walk nearly every day and have measured our pace to be right at 4 mph (and I'm told that is a brisk pace). Even at that pace, it would take 15 minutes to get there! And even if the flight was on time, the best a traveler could do would be 25 minutes prior to departure. That's a very tight connection, especially for an older traveler! Add to tall that they switched gates to the other end of the terminal at the last minute. Thus, what began as a valid connection comes very close (IMO) to an invalid one.

Now given that they transported the traveler to his/her destination any refund would be a goodwill gesture. Unfortunately, your traveler spent the night at the airport, so there would be no consideration re compensation for a hotel.

I certainly think they should offer something, and my colleagues have weighed in on that front ...
 
Last edited:
Likes: jsn55
Sep 19, 2015
1,636
2,866
113
47
#8
As someone who has recently traveled through EWR those gates are far apart and difficult for anyone that is mobility challenged or needs a little time.

The ATC delays at Newark can last for hours. I had a delay of 3 hours last year but I was returning to EWR.

Mr. Farkas I would still try to get a voucher or some miles but in the correspondence acknowledge that ATC is out of the airline's control and that you are writing on behalf of an elderly passenger.

Very unpleasant experience
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
11,633
11,985
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#9
With weather delays the obligation of the airline is to get the passenger on the AVAILABLE flight- or provide a refund so the passenger can buy a ticket elsewhere.

The next available flight might not be the next flight if the slight is sold out. We’ve seen it where it’s been several days before there was another flight that had empty seats.

Did the relative have any Travel insurance? Insurance often has covereage for hotel fir delays like this. He could possibly be able to send in his hotel receipt for reimbursement. If he doesn’t, he can also check with the credit card he used to book the tickets to see if they offer any kind of travel insurance.

Sometimes those little pop ups when you are buying tickets offfering insurance for $30 are worth it when something like this happens.
 
Sep 21, 2017
6
5
3
72
#11
Often passengers do not realize that published departure and arrival times have more symbolic than practical authority. Time on the tarmac is not time inside the terminal. Doors on departing planes can close well before the stated time of departure. On international flights, particularly leaving European airports, the doors can be locked a half hour or more before that posted time. Connecting flights on the same line arriving late may be cut some slack, but I wouldn't bet on it. Coming in for a landing does not put all the passengers in the terminal at the at the apparent scheduled time either. I once rode a taxiing jet around the landing paths at Charles de Gaulle for at least 20 minutes before the plane connected to the jetway. I made it on the run to my connecting flight only because it was late anyhow, and my checked luggage stayed behind. It's up to the customer to beware of what are really just estimations.