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The Price I Paid for Missing a Connecting Flight

Keri Stooksbury's image
Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

35 Published Articles 3230 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 47U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...
Edited by: Jessica Merritt
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Jessica Merritt

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A long-time points and miles student, Jessica is the former Personal Finance Managing Editor at U.S. News and World Report and is passionate about helping consumers fund their travels for as little ca...
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Stella Shon

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With a degree in media and journalism, Stella has been in the points and miles game for more than 6 years. She most recently worked as a Corporate Communications Analyst for JetBlue. Find her work in ...

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Even though I live and breathe points and miles, I’m certainly not immune to making mistakes. Unfortunately, my most recent error affected the award travel I booked for my husband, causing him an overnight delay and taking a hit on my points balances.

Let me walk you through how a delay on one flight caused big problems when it came to rebooking the connecting flight on a separate airline and itinerary.

The Planned Itinerary Falls Apart

I’ve just wrapped a long summer trip from my home in Doha, Qatar, to Thailand and Vietnam. I primarily booked the travel with British Airways Executive Club Avios on Qatar Airways from Doha (DOH) to Phuket (HKT) with a return from Ho Chi Minh (SGN) to Doha (DOH).

I was eager to visit Da Nang and Hoi An, but there were no Oneworld partners that operated to/from Da Nang (DAD), so I booked cash flights from Phuket (HKT) to Da Nang (DAD) on Thai AirAsia and from Da Nang (DAD) to Ho Chi Minh (SGN) on Vietjet.

Hot Tip:

Learn how I earned the Avios for my trip in our guide: Where Are We Going? The UP Team’s Summer 2023 Plans.

My husband was able to join me in Vietnam for a few weeks of this vacation, so I booked him from Doha (DOH) to Ho Chi Minh (SGN) to Da Nang (DAD) (and the same routing on the return) with BA Avios on Qatar Airways and cash on Vietjet. Other than a rescheduled Vietjet flight on the first leg of the travel, everything went off without a hitch — he even got a random upgrade to Qatar business class!

However, his Vietjet flight from Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh was delayed and arrived 1 hour and 42 minutes late, eating heavily into a planned 2.5-hour connection. He told me that when he saw the buses pull up to the aircraft (meaning no gate transfer), he knew his chances of making the next flight were slim to nil. With his arrival essentially 20 minutes ahead of his next flight in a different terminal, I was called into action to help figure out the next steps.

Immediate Needs

I was in the fortunate position to be able to help rearrange travel as the first flight became more and more delayed. Hoping to help my husband avoid the additional headache and stress, I quickly secured him a hotel for the night and figured out how to get him on the next flight out.

Booking an Overnight Hotel Near the Airport

Knowing my husband would likely not make his onward flight, I immediately started looking for hotels near the Ho Chi Minh airport. With few Western chains in the area, I landed at the Holiday Inn & Suites Saigon Airport, just a $3 taxi ride from the airport.

Nightly rates were as low as $80, but I was able to score a 1 King Bed Standard City View room for 12,000 IHG One Rewards points (a cost per point of 0.67 — just slightly higher than our valuation of IHG One Rewards points at 0.5 cents each).

Holiday Inn Suites Saigon Airport bedroom
Image Credit: K. Stooksbury

Softening the blows of the day, he was upgraded to a 1 King Bed 1 Bedroom Suite, without prompting, due to his IHG One Rewards Platinum Elite status.

Holiday Inn Suites Saigon Airport living room
Image Credit: K. Stooksbury

He enjoyed the unique art, and the room even had a large kitchen!

Holiday Inn Suites Saigon Airport kitchen
Image Credit: K. Stooksbury

Hands down, booking this hotel online with points was the easiest issue to resolve. With a place for my husband to relax and regroup for the night, I then had to figure out how to get him out of Ho Chi Minh City and back to Doha.

Rebooking the Flight

This is the first time I’ve had to deal with rebooking a missed flight outside of the airline being at fault. Sure, we didn’t cause the Vietjet flight delay, but since the Qatar Airways flight was booked on a separate itinerary, neither airline was required to accommodate us on the next flight. At all.

My husband had arrived at the domestic terminal 20 minutes ahead of his next flight and needed to hoof it to the international terminal. By then, his gate was past the final call, the Qatar Airways check-in desk in the departures area was no longer staffed, and immigration would not let him enter due to the flight timing. He was on a single-entry visa, so this was for the best.

Before his Vietjet flight landing, I contacted Qatar Airways Privilege Club via chat and was advised to contact British Airways for resolution since BA ticketed the award. I sent a DM via Twitter to @British_Airways but didn’t get a reply until 100+ minutes after his flight had departed. I had also started calling British Airways’ U.S. call center around the time of takeoff.

Long story short, 2 BA phone agents very bluntly told me that as a no-show, BA was under no obligation to rebook the itinerary, but that they could book an entirely new reservation for 25,000 Avios and $59.05 in taxes and fees (which I accepted). With cash costs for the new flight at $933, sure, I’m getting great value for these Avios, but I had earmarked them for a winter trip and wasn’t expecting to redeem them so soon.

Next Steps

If anything, I’m a great letter-writer. As I didn’t get far with the phone agents (who both refused to transfer me to a supervisor), I registered my complaint online with British Airways and described my issue.

While Vietjet is technically responsible for the delay, its own policies dictate that it is not responsible for missed connections on other carriers or itineraries. I also know that British Airways’ policies ensure that no-shows are not rebooked at the airline’s obligation.

However, as someone who chooses British Airways Executive Club as their loyalty program, I was extremely frustrated and upset with the outcome of having to book a new reservation. While BA was certainly not responsible for Vietjet’s delayed flight, the circumstances were out of my husband’s control, and there was no malicious intent or abuse of policy (such as skiplagging) by requesting a rebooking.

As an Executive Club member, I had hoped for at least some flexible accommodation or consideration, but the outcome was simply that my husband was a “no-show” and that if he wanted to replace the flight, there would be a cost. The circumstances of the issue were not individually reviewed, nor was I allowed to plead my case to a supervisor.

Since publishing this article, I have had success with British Airways refunding the $59.05 in taxes and fees from the additional flight purchased, acheived via communication via @British_Airways on Twitter/X. I am still pursuing a refund of the additional 25,000 Avios spent.

Separately, since I was scheduled to fly the same return itinerary of DAD-SGN on Vietjet and SGN-DOH on Qatar Airways a few weeks after my husband, I begrudgingly paid a change fee to adjust my Vietjet DAD-SGN flight to an earlier time with a longer connection of over 4.5 hours. While the original 2.5-hour connection may have sounded great on paper, it could clearly all go downhill quickly with a delay — and my original flight ended up being delayed over an hour, which would have put my connection in jeopardy. I was not keen to find myself in the same situation as my husband and be forced to do the whole BA rebooking shebang again for myself and 3 kids.

Would Travel Insurance Have Helped?

Might travel insurance have covered any incurred costs related to the hotel, taxi, meals, and new flight? I don’t think so.

When traveling, I generally lean on the travel insurance benefits on my Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. However, its trip delay reimbursement would have only been applicable if the Vietjet flight had been delayed 6 hours or overnight (which it wasn’t) and my husband had been stranded in Da Nang. Further, trip cancellation and interruption would have only covered the change in plans if there was a death or illness of a family member or financial insolvency of the common carrier. These restrictions are similar across more standard travel insurance policies as well.

Would Booking Through an OTA Have Helped?

I would not have been able to book most of my flight expenses (the round-trip award travel from Doha to Southeast Asia) through an online travel agency (OTA). However, had I booked cash flights through an OTA, I suspect each carrier’s flight would still have been booked under its own passenger name record (PNR). If each flight was ticketed separately, there would still be no obligation from the OTA to protect or rebook the flights.

5 Tips for Making a Tight Connection

While delayed flights can’t always be avoided, you can follow these 5 tips to improve your chances of making a tight connection.

1. Check In Online

When checking in online, select a seat closest to the front exit on your first flight to quickly dash off the plane, if possible. Be ready to zip through security and immigration with your boarding pass and documents in hand.

2. Pack Light

Ho Chi Minh Qatar Airways checked bags
Traveling with only a carry-on keeps you out of long lines to check luggage. Image Credit: K. Stooksbury

Even with what we considered an adequate layover, my husband carried just a single 7-kilogram carry-on bag (meeting luggage restrictions for both his first and second flights). This meant that should he have made his connection, he wouldn’t have been burdened with collecting and re-checking luggage. Travel light to move quickly to your next flight.

3. Research the Lay of the Land

Visit the website of your connecting airport to look for maps that indicate how to get from one terminal to another, which may involve walking or taking a train.

4. Avoid the Last Flight of the Day

Missing the last flight means you could be responsible for additional overnight expenses, including lodging and meals. Taking any earlier flight gives you the last flight as a backup should you miss your connection.

5. Understand Your Airline’s Policies

Most airlines clearly state their change, cancellation, and rebooking policies online. Don’t wait until your potentially missed flight has departed to review these details and seek help.

Final Thoughts

Son Tra Beach
The beautiful beaches of Da Nang came at a higher cost than expected. Image Credit: K. Stooksbury

I was fortunate to have enough IHG One Rewards points and British Airways Executive Club Avios in my accounts to cover this travel mistake, which would have easily cost more than $1,000 otherwise. My husband had a comfortable night’s sleep, he was able to arrive early at the airport and enjoy the lounge (thanks to his Priority Pass access), and he made the next available flight without issue.

The ideal outcome from my complaint to British Airways would be a refund of the 25,000 Avios paid for the rebooked flight as a courtesy gesture of goodwill. I may not see that resolution, but I’ve learned a big lesson about booking multiple carriers on separate itineraries.

In the future, I’ll attempt to build longer layovers into my flight plans if separate carriers are involved. I might also consider overnighting intentionally in my layover city to avoid a tight connection. I never thought 2.5 hours would be “cutting it close” for an international connection, but this lesson was learned in one fell swoop.


For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply.

The information regarding the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you miss a flight?

Depending on both the reason you missed your flight and the airline’s policies, you may be rebooked on the next flight as a courtesy by the airline, or you may be charged a rebooking/change fee. You may also have to book a new flight at your own expense.

Is it OK to miss my flight?

If you were determined by the airline to be a “no-show” for your flight, the airline is generally under no obligation to rebook you, and any remaining flights on your itinerary will likely be canceled.

What happens if you miss your first flight?

If you miss your first flight, the rest of your itinerary booked on the same ticket will likely be canceled.
 

How do I rebook a missed flight?

The best way to rebook your missed flight is to contact the airline directly at the airport via a gate agent or a customer service agent. You can also call the airline or contact them online (via chat, social media, or mobile app).  

What happens if you miss a flight because of a delay?

Depending on the delay type, if you are ticketed with multiple flights on 1 itinerary, the airline is generally responsible for rebooking you on the next available flight. If you are ticketed with flights across multiple itineraries, the airlines involved are likely not under obligation to rebook you.

Keri Stooksbury's image

About Keri Stooksbury

With years of experience in corporate marketing and with a nonprofit, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and reviewing thousands of UP articles in the process.

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