Missing your connecting flight is not an “involuntary bump”


When Bill Andrews and his wife tried to make their connecting flight to the U.S. in Madrid, they were prevented from boarding. But our advocates can’t help them get reimbursed for the expenses they incurred in changing their flights — for an excellent reason.

Although Andrews claims that an Iberia supervisor told him that his flight was “overbooked,” this wasn’t the actual reason why he and his wife couldn’t fly. The true reason was because they didn’t have enough time between flights to make their connection. Their story is a warning to air passengers with connecting flights to schedule sufficient time between the flights to make their connections.

Andrews and his wife were flying from Vigo, Spain, to Madrid, where they planned to connect to an American Airlines flight to Charlotte, N.C.

According to Andrews, he and his wife were told in Vigo that Iberia could issue boarding passes only to Madrid “because of computer problems.” They would have to request boarding passes in Madrid for their connecting flights.

But when they arrived in Madrid, they were denied boarding passes. An Iberia supervisor told the Andrewses — after keeping them waiting them waiting 30 minutes — that their connecting flight to the U.S. was “overbooked.”

Iberia offered to rebook the Andrewses on a flight leaving the following day, but this proposed solution didn’t work for them. Because Iberia did not offer to help them find alternative flights departing the same day from Madrid, they rebooked their flight to the U.S. on an American Airlines plane that was scheduled to depart that day.

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Andrews asked Iberia to reimburse him for his airfares for the rebooked flights, but when Iberia denied his request for compensation under the European air passenger rights law EU 261, he asked our advocates for assistance.

Iberia’s version of events differs significantly from Andrews’. According to Iberia, his flight was neither overbooked nor delayed. Thus, claims Iberia, the Andrewses were not entitled to compensation.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), an “overbooking” that causes a passenger to be “involuntarily bumped” from a flight must comply with the following:


Each airline has a check-in deadline, which is the amount of time before scheduled departure that you must present yourself to the airline at the airport. For domestic flights most carriers require you to be at the departure gate between 10 minutes and 30 minutes before scheduled departure, but some deadlines can be an hour or longer. Check-in deadlines on international flights can be as much as three hours before scheduled departure time. Some airlines may simply require you to be at the ticket/baggage counter by this time; most, however, require that you get all the way to the boarding area. Some may have deadlines at both locations. If you miss the check-in deadline, you may have lost your reservation and your right to compensation if the flight is oversold.

But the Andrewses weren’t “involuntarily bumped” from their connecting flight because it wasn’t oversold. The true reason for the Andrewses’ inability to board their connecting flight was that their connection time was too tight, leaving them insufficient time to pass through the security points between gates at the Madrid airport.

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Iberia Airlines has a minimum connection time of 45 to 55 minutes at the Madrid airport, requiring passengers to move from their arrival gates through security checkpoints to their departure gates and be checked in for their connecting flights within this amount of time.

Iberia claims that there were additional security procedures in place at the Madrid airport on the day of the Andrewses’ flight. Their connection time of 115 minutes did not allow sufficient time for them to pass through the additional security and arrive at the departure gate for their connecting flight:

However, although we offered you boarding cards for the whole of your journey, special security measures or the need to identify or check luggage in transit required by some airports prevented us from offering this facility.

This is a significant difference from Andrews’ version of events.

Our advocates told Andrews that he might escalate his complaint to Iberia executives using the contact information for Iberia on our website, but we were not going to be able to offer him further assistance.

Andrews asked how he might avoid such a situation in the future, and our advocate responded:

In the future, you should be very careful about connection times from domestic flights to international flights — especially if you aren’t using the same airline for both flights. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to make the connection. Posted minimum connection times are often not sufficient and we receive many complaints quite similar to yours.

We advise all air travelers to follow our advocate’s suggestion and book their flights with sufficient time to make connections.

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Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Elliott.org.

  • Ben

    I’m not buying it. The airline’s policy is 55 minutes, the passengers had more than twice that, and there wasn’t a published deviation at this particular airport.

    The airline also claims they offered to print boarding documents anyway, but that clearly wasn’t the case.

    Sounds to me like the airline is changing their story after the fact.

  • Kevin Nash

    I don’t think the airline is changing the story at all. Their MAD-CLT American Airlines flight was on a different airline so they likely had to check in separately for that flight if it wasn’t on the same PNR.

    If the AA flight wasn’t on the same PNR, they likely would had to retrieve their baggage and recheck it with AA.

  • Bill___A

    So you’re in an airport and your flight is departed. You’re offered a flight the next day, and at the most probably have to pay the costs of staying in Madrid, which is, say $200- $500. Instead, one opts to purchase two tickets for the same day which costs thousands and puts a lot of money at risk, for the benefit of arriving less than 24 hours sooner. One must wonder what was so important that they had to get back that very day – because when planning, one should always anticipate delays and not be rushing at the last minute. This is in addition to making sure there is lots of connecting time, particularly on flights to the USA.

  • Lindabator

    you clearly did NOT read the entire article – they offered to print boarding passes all the way thru, but their computer told them there was an issue at the connecting airport, and so were unable to. And a MINIMUM connection time does not take into consideration a special circumstance that day, which forced a longer connect time, which happens often. Frankly, that time is NOT going to work when transiting a long time in immigration, changing terminals, or transiting to another air carrier.

  • Kristiana Lee

    2 hours for an international connection is tight. Since check in for international flights often closes 1 hour before departure, that gave him less than an hour to get off the plane, gets his bags, clear customs/passport control, and check in for his next flight. I don’t know about Madrid but at some airports it takes 20 minutes just to get to another terminal. It’s hard to tell what happened here but certainly the scheduling was optimistic to say the least.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Wait just a cotton pickin minute here. How on earth is it the PASSENGER’S fault that the AIRLINE didn’t give them enough connection time?

    They were booked all the way through to their final destination. It appears both flights were on the same record, even though they were on different airlines – was this a code-share? So why are THEY responsible for the fact that their flights were booked too close together to make that connection? Especially given that their flight schedule did more than cover the amount of time Iberia requires for a connection – 115 minutes, when the stated requirement is 45-55 minutes.

    Apparently Iberia says there were “additional security procedures in place at the Madrid airport” on that day. So can they just say sorry, usually we say 45-55 minutes but today it’s more so too-bad-so-sad, you missed it? Given that flights are usually booked well in advance, how can they just up and change the connection requirement like that, and abdicate all responsibility for the missed flights that will inevitably happen?

    I must be missing something in this story. Help me out here.

  • LeeAnneClark

    But how is that the passenger’s fault? Did they choose that connection time? It sounds like it was on the same record – wouldn’t it have to be on the same record in order for there to even be a possibility of printing out boarding passes at the first airport? If the connection time was insufficient, why would they have been booked on that flight itinerary?

    Or were these two completely separate flights that the passengers booked on separate records? Is that why they are being held responsible for the too-short connection time?

    Can you help me understand this? I’m finding this one alarming – I’d sure hate to find myself stuck in a connecting airport and told I’m responsible for paying to get myself to my final destination because my connection time was too short. I trust that when I buy a plane ticket with a connection, that I won’t be sold a connection that is impossible to make, leaving me stranded.

  • Dr. David Dao had to get to Louisville…United compensated him around $10 million.

    Here’s the deal: You never know what the need to be home is. Maybe it’s work related. I have had times that I absolutely HAVE to be home on a certain day. Period.

  • Michael__K

    If you believe the airline’s own final written response (“we offered you boarding cards for the whole of your journey“), then you can’t also believe that the flights were not on the same PNR.
    And that final written response contradicts the OP’s account that they could not get onward boarding passes, and the explanations for why they couldn’t get them first “because of computer problems”, and then because the flight was “overbooked.”

  • RichardII

    Iberia and AA are both part of the One World alliance (Iberia is owned by BA). Also, regardless if the number of records they should have had access to each other’s flight info. But, in any case, the fact Iberia said they would normally offer through checkin indicates there was only 1 record.

  • Michael__K

    There were 3 separate different explanations:
    1) “computer problems”
    2) flight was “overbooked”
    3) special security measures

    And EC 261 replies regardless of which explanation Iberia wants to stick with, unless they can prove that it was #3 AND they can prove that this was outside their control and could not have been avoided with any reasonable measures (e.g. by fixing their connection in advance, as soon as they were aware of the special security measures).

  • RichardII

    Seems like there are really two issues here… was eu261 compensation due, and did Iberia do enough. Since the missed flight was due to the passenger arriving late (for whatever reason) eu261 does not apply. And, since Iberia rebooked the pax, they did their part.

    The only real question is, why couldn’t Iberia rebook the pax on the flight they ended up purchasing? Perhaps it was a cabin issue, pax were in economy but ended up buying economy+

  • FQTVLR

    All airports have a standard minimum connecting time. However there are exceptions to that connecting time . In Madrid for instance, the connecting time increases when you are changing from domestic to international. According to the post the OP was going from Iberian to AA which increases the connecting time to 1.5 hours according to what I found. (I found it on the internet so it much be true….) That connecting time makes the time they had a bit tight but not impossible. But it does not take into consideration problems they encountered—namely no boarding pass. I do not know if having the boarding pass would have eliminated their connecting problem. Earlier this year I had a full two hours between flights in Madrid and it was a close call. My domestic flight had to wait for a gate and then it took nearly an hour to get to my international flight as I had to go through passport control and security to enter the area where US bound international flights departed from. I had allowed 2 hours and by the time I got to the gate the flight was already boarding. Anything shorter and I would have missed that flight.

  • Michael__K

    The connection was in the EU, so EC 261 takes precedence over DOT regulations.

    Unless Iberia can prove that the extra security measures constitute an “extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken” — such as by re-booking the passengers’ connection in advance as soon as Iberia was aware of the extra security measures — then the passengers here are owed 600 EUR of EC 261 compensation under the law.

    The passengers should submit the Air Passenger Rights EU Complaint Form for Spain’s National Enforcement Body:
    http://www.seguridadaerea.gob.es/media/4411670/aesa_formulario_reclamacion_cia3.pdf and send it to sau.aesa@seguridadaerea.es

    If an NEB complaint doesn’t resolve the matter, then the passengers generally have nothing to lose pursuing compensation through third-party companies which litigate EC 261 claims in exchange for a commission taken out of their compensation. Some of the companies out there include:
    RefundMe (http://www.refund.me)
    AirHelp (http://www.getairhelp.com)
    EUclaim (http://www.euclaim.co.uk/)
    GreenClaim (http://www.greenclaim.com)
    Claimair (http://claimair.com/)
    WeClaim (http://www.weclaim.com/)
    Bott&Co (http://www.bottonline.co.uk/)

  • LeeAnneClark

    Oh, thanks for pointing that out – I didn’t realize at first that the 45-55 minute requirement is for domestic flights, and international connections require 120 minutes. So that means their connection time didn’t actually meet the requirements.

    So now my question is – who’s fault is that? Was this a code share situation, in which the airline booked both legs of the flight and would therefore be responsible for the too-short connection time? Or did the passengers book them on two separate records, so they are responsible for not giving themselves enough time?

    If it’s the latter, that explains this situation and then I would agree the passengers are fully responsible. But if it’s the former, I don’t understand why Iberia isn’t assuming responsibility for this.

  • Michael__K

    If Iberia knew in advance that the passengers’ connection time was not viable because of special circumstances, then they are probably on the hook for EC 261 compensation — because they did not take all reasonable measures to address the extraordinary circumstance (e.g. by re-booking the connection in advance to a viable one).

  • Dan

    There is absolutely no way United paid Dr. Dao $10M. They paid out a couple million at most.

    The final verdict in the famous McDonald’s hot coffee incident was under a million and McDonald’s was actually responsible in that case. As reprehensible as United was in this case, it was the police that bashed up Dr. Dao. This was a case study in terrible PR, a disgrace of a company, and a deplorable CEO, but civil litigation would never have reached a verdict anywhere near $10 million.

  • FQTVLR

    I am not really sure here. Too much information is actually missing. Was the domestic flight on time? Were the bags checked all the way home? Could they get a boarding pass at a transfer desk rather than go to check in? Were they on separate tickets? For the advocate to suggest that the passengers hold the most responsibility here, I would think some important details are missing. My initial thought was Iberian is responsible under EU law but began to wonder when the advocate did not seem to think so. To me the only thing that would excuse Iberian is if they were booked on separate tickets.

  • Lindabator

    not always — and even if they did attempt it, when their computer told them there was an issue, they could not force an AA boarding pass on their system

  • Lindabator

    unfortunately – this is a legal connection for domestic to domestic flights in Madrid – so when you choose to book your own flights, it behooves you to look at the other alternatives, and no necessarily the cheapest flights. I agree, the airlines should probably not be allowed to sell these options, but thy oftentimes do — look at those connections in NYC that are different airports. Frankly, a quick call to the airlines or a travel agent might hav bn in order here – I would NEVER have booked this connection for them.

  • Lindabator

    Every country has a full record of any special security measures taken, ATC conditions, weather conditions, etc. end of the day – this was FAR too tight a connection, and they did not make their flight.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Exactly. That’s the major piece of this picture that’s missing. If they were separate tickets that the passengers booked themselves, then all bets are off – they screwed up. But if they were on the same ticket, none of this was their responsibility and the airline that held their ticket (I’m assuming Iberia) should have been responsible for getting them to their destination without any additional cost to them.

  • Michael__K

    a) Why are AA/Iberia selling “far too tight” connections (and promoting even tighter connections on Iberia’s website)?
    b) When did they know about the special security measures, and why didn’t they change the connections for impacted passengers at that point in time?

  • RichardII

    and who would they file against? Iberia who got them there as scheduled, or American who had nothing to do with the incoming flight?

  • RichardII

    note, they could also be on one record, but not have codeshare tickets. 1 record, 2 carriers and 2 ticket stocks.

  • RichardII

    but, they did rebook them.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Someone else commented above that the required connection time is 45-55 min for domestic flights, but 120 min for international flights. Since this was actually an international connection (they were flying on to the US), it seems the ticket WAS booked with too short of a connection time.

    So my question now is – who is responsible? Seems to me there’s a big piece of this story missing – was this all one ticket record? Or did the passengers book two separate tickets, not connected?

    If the airline sold them this ticket, which from the few details included in this story seems to be the case, then the passengers should not have had to pay a penny more to get to their final destination, and they should get a refund of what they spent.

    I agree airlines should not be able to sell tickets for flight connections that can’t actually be made. It happened to me once, years ago – I booked a flight from LA to Portugal, connecting in Paris. My flight arrived at CDG, but my connecting flight departed out of Orly…and I was only given a 75 minute connection time! And no transport to Orly! That was weird. I didn’t catch the difference in airports at first, but I noticed it a few days later and immediately called the airline. I had to fight for it, but they did eventually change me to a later flight. I still had to get myself to Orly, though.

  • RichardII

    The article stated it was #3 and, since Iberia does not control airport security, they are off the hook. EC261 does not require an airline to take extra measures to address a problem they did not cause or control.

  • RichardII

    We do not know who sold this ticket. It could have been self booked or through a TA/OTA.

  • Michael__K

    Why does Iberia issue a ticket through a TA/OTA if the connection is “far too tight”?

  • RichardII

    Of course. I was only making the case that this had to have been on one record.

  • Michael__K

    The last written response asserted #3 (which doesn’t contradict that #1 and #2 may also have been true).
    And EC 261 absolutely does require an airline to take reasonable extra measures to address extraordinary circumstances, regardless of cause or control…..

    An operating air carrier shall not be obliged to pay compensation in accordance with Article 7, if it can prove that the cancellation is caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.
    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:32004R0261&from=EN

    [Note that EU courts have ruled that “cancellation” compensation also applies to Delays beyond the Article 6 thresholds]

  • Michael__K

    The carrier which owned the reservation and didn’t fix the admittedly problematic connection (appears to be Iberia).

  • LeeAnneClark

    Yeah I get confused about all of that. I don’t work in the travel industry, I’m just a frequent traveler. Honestly, this one is confusing the heck out of me.

  • RichardII

    you misunderstand this requirement. there is no action that could have been taken to change the arrival time of the flight. and, in any case, the paragraph you note applies to cancelations, not missed connections,

  • RichardII

    oh for heavens sake… the ticket is issued through a gds and not manually nor is it reviewed. that is the job of the ta/ota.

  • Michael__K

    You disregard the EU Court precedents (e.g. Sturgeon, Folkerts) which treat Article 6 Delays and missed connections exactly the same as cancellations.

  • Michael__K

    Not beforehand, and not at the earliest opportunity either, despite the requirements of Article 8(a).

  • Michael__K

    If that’s really the case and that was really the problem, then why wouldn’t the airline point their finger accordingly, rather than point the finger at “special security measures” (after first providing other explanations)?

  • RichardII

    those cases applied to an incoming flight that arrived after the departing flight had left. this case involves a flight that arrived ontime. (there is no mention of a late arrival) the delays were caused after arrival by security issues.

  • Michael__K

    Why would you think that matters? The court’s conclusion in Folkerts for example is purely about the net effect of the cumulative delay to the final destination, regardless of whether the delay was on the ground or in the air.

    Article 7 of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 295/91 must be interpreted as meaning that compensation is payable, on the basis of that article, to a passenger on directly connecting flights who has been delayed at departure for a period below the limits specified in Article 6 of that regulation, but has arrived at the final destination at least three hours later than the scheduled arrival time, given that the compensation in question is not conditional upon there having been a delay at departure and, thus, upon the conditions set out in Article 6 having been met.
    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:62011CJ0011:EN:HTML

  • Lindabator

    Actually – the minimum connect time is 45-60 minutes provided they went in and out of terminal 1 – but the recommended connection for international flights is 165 minutes – and now they know why

  • James

    I am able to visit aa.com and request a flight from VGO to CLT. It offers AA8708 from VGO to MAD, and AA 749 from MAD to CLT … with a connection time of 1:51.

  • James

    So, even though the airlines offered the ticket for sale with a 111 minute connection time, the passenger is responsible for not knowing the airline was offering a connection it could not meet.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Yeah, I’ll say! Clearly the connection time was too short. What I still don’t understand is who is responsible for that.

  • Mel65

    When I absolutely HAVE to be home for a certain event/day/time, I plan to arrive a day earlier for just reasons like this. I was delayed overnight at DFW in August. If I hadn’t given myself a buffer, I’d have had some serious work issues. I can’t imagine planning an INTERNATIONAL flight to get me home just in time for something… that’s risky!

  • Kevin Nash

    You have no idea if Iberia was responsible for the connection. For all we know, OP could have simply booked the intra-Spain flights on Iberia and the AA flight on aa.com.

  • Michael__K

    We know from the airline’s own quoted response:

    “However, although we offered you boarding cards for the whole of your journey, special security measures or the need to identify or check luggage in transit required by some airports prevented us from offering this facility.”

    They wouldn’t offer boarding cards for the whole of the journey, regardless of special security measures, if these were standalone tickets.

  • C Schwartz

    How do you come to the legal conclusion that EU 261 is applicable when there is a delay from security? One German passenger was able to sue the Munich airport as the flight was missed because of a slow security line. New tickets had to be purchased. The court found that EU 261 did not apply but that the Munich airport was liable but did assign some fault to the passenger.

    Are there any cases where EU 261 covers a delay in security?

  • C Schwartz

    Curious are you a lawyer practicing in any EU countries? One passenger sued the Munich airport as the flight was missed because of slow security. — not the airline but the airport. The passenger had to buy new tickets. The court found that EU 261 did not apply. — The Munich airport was assigned blame.

    Source — German law firm newsletter

  • Michael__K

    The airline is responsible for their connection time. According to the airline’s own written response, the problem was not a “slow security line” but rather extra security measures which made the connection time non-viable. The burden of proof is on the air carrier to demonstrate they took all reasonable measures to avoid delays, even under extraordinary circumstances outside their control. So the question is when, did the airline know the connection time was non-viable, and what reasonable measures did they take to adjust for this?

  • Michael__K

    The problem here (according to Iberia’s last response) was not slow security, but rather special security measures involving in-transit luggage which made the connection time non-viable.
    According to the text of EC 261, to be exempt from Article 7 compensation, the carrier would have to prove it took all reasonable measures to avoid delays, even for extraordinary circumstances outside their control.

  • BubbaJoe123

    Sure they would, if both flights were on oneworld carriers.

    That said, I certainly agree that it appears these flights were on a single PNR.

  • FacsRfriendly

    If one purchases the tickets directly from the airline, then the airline should know about the time needed for the connection. Another airline cop-out.

  • Lindabator

    could be on two, but if you inform them, they can check you thru on a partner

  • Lindabator

    YIKES – that stinks. I would like more info on how this was booked as well

  • Lindabator

    special security measures can come up at any time – and for Spanish travellers connecting in their own country, the connection is sufficient, as they are not required to transit immigration

  • Lindabator

    but it IS a legal connection for Europeans – as they do not need to transit immigration

  • Lindabator

    I oftentimes have multiple carriers who have no agreements issued in the same record, but ALWAYS have long layovers in those cases. I think the main issue here is lack of knowledge by the traveller — this IS a legal connection for Europeans not requiring an immigration check, but more stringent for other travellers – and if they had looked at making a connection even in a large airport, or across terminals domestically, this could have been tight. A quick call to the airlines was in order here.

  • Lindabator

    for whom? this is an intra-European flight, so domestic flights for them, in which case this is a legal connection. It is a passenger’s responsibility to leave enough time between connections, and 45 minutes internationally is just not enough

  • Bill

    It was horrible PR. It was also Republic operating the flight ON BEHALF OF United. Republic Gate Agents, Republic Flight Attendants, Republic Flight Crew, Republic Management, and then O’Hare Police. Even the flight crew being moved to SDF were Republic. There was no United employee ever involved in that incident until AFTER it was all over. I frankly disagree with how Munez handled the situation, but I give him credit for stepping up to the plate to address a situation happening to a United customer on a codeshare operator. Not pretending he didn’t owe the passenger something, but he might just as well thrown (or dragged) Republic under the bus.

  • Bill

    Actually, (I believe; from my experience) they would have two PNRs (Passenger Name Record), one for each airline. If they had purchased the tickets together (say on AA), they might have a PNR for IB on the first leg, then a second PNR for AA on the second leg. The AA PNR would probably show the two flights, but the IB PNR might not. So, checking in on the IB leg under the AA PNR might have been problematic. Had they purchased the ticket on IB, they might have had an IB PNR that showed both legs, but IB still can’t (necessarily) print a boarding pass on AA. Rules vary.
    My wife and I have, on numerous occasions, had connecting flights on codeshares, where one airline did or did not print the ticket for the other airline.

  • Kevin Nash

    Do you know if oneWorld partners can issue boarding passes on flights for other member airlines even if the ticket has not been booked on one itinerary?

  • Michael__K

    So when did it come up precisely? According to Iberia’s last written response, they already knew at the origin airport. Yet they gave different the passengers explanations at the time.
    The passengers were connecting domestic to international, which have different minimum connection times than domestic to domestic, and they were within Iberia’s domestic-to-international threshold for their route and terminals.

  • cscasi

    I wonder if the “special circumstances” were in effect at the Madrid airport when they booked their tickets? If not, then the connection time they had would have been sufficient. If not, there was nothing they could have done, albeit have the airline (Iberia) change their flight to Madrid to allow for the increased time required. Then, they might have to pay for a change and probably would have to have flown in the day before.
    Question is, did they know about the “special circumstances” and if so, how far in advance did they know.
    Iberia and American are code share partners and in the same alliance, so normally one would think Iberia should have been able to issue them boarding passes for both its flight and the American Airlines connection flight.
    It’s tough if this snuck up on them and no one let the know about it. Ultimately , it is the passenger’s responsibility to allow enough connection time (no matter what the airline says it legal). I see too many “legal” connections that are too short. Why? Because if your flight is late landing and getting to the gate (which happens a lot) the time may be insufficient; i.e., a 50 minute connection time at Frankfurt Airport where one is coming from Zurich and departing to Dallas/Fort Worth. No way I would chance that one.

  • cscasi

    Good points. However, we only have the passenger’s comments as to what he was told about #1 and #2. We do not have anything from the airline.
    So, they would have to prove #1 and/or #2 to get compensation under EU 261 and I don’t know how hard that would be for them to get that.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Unfortunately, I think that may be expecting too much from infrequent travelers. Certainly if they were booking separate tickets and choosing the layover time, this would be entirely on them and I would lay the responsibility at their feet to make sure they are giving themselves an appropriate amount of time.

    But if they were assigned this layover by whomever they bought the ticket from, then I fear most travelers would assume that they could not be sold a ticket that is unusable. And this ticket was clearly unusable – they are not Europeans, so the layover time was insufficient.

    I think the vast majority of travelers trust that they will not be sold unusable tickets. Obviously they *shouldn’t* trust that – I learned that when I was sold a ticket that connected in two different airports in Paris! But not all travelers are as educated a bunch as we are in here. :)

  • cscasi

    We have no proof here that #1 or #2 were or were not true; just the passenger’s word. We also know that sometimes passengers embellish things along the way to favor their side of the story. So, unless the airline gives the passenger something in writing to use to prove #1 or #2 (which I doubt it would), how would they prevail under EU 261?

  • Michael__K

    Read my other comments. The burden of proof is on the airline to show that they took “all reasonable measures” to avoid the delay, even if there were extraordinary circumstances outside their control.

  • Michael__K

    No the passenger has nothing to prove. The burden of proof is on the air carrier.

  • The Original Joe S

    Kinda like the time Can’t-a-Lentle changed my flight to EWR, w/o telling / calling / e-mailing me even tho those scumbags had my contact info. The new flight was cutting it tight. i called and asked for an earlier flight, and the lady of the evening who was on their phone tried to scroo me for a $100 change fee to fix THEIR scroo-up. I never flew on darchbag airlines again…..

  • The Original Joe S

    Ibearyouah pulled a similar stunt on me. I’ll never fly with them again. It was 1970. I have a long memory………………………

  • The Original Joe S

    (Iberia is owned by BA) I didn’t realize that, but thanks for that info. BA has exhibited myriad problems highlighted here…..

  • The Original Joe S

    Can’t-a-lentle pulled this very stunt on me………..

  • The Original Joe S

    Next time the Chermans come in from the North, we’ll cheer them on!

  • The Original Joe S

    Did the OP book the flight, or was it a combined booking courtesy of Iberia?

  • The Original Joe S

    Iberia and American are code share partners and in the same alliance, so
    normally one would think Iberia should have been able to issue them
    boarding passes for both its flight and the American Airlines connection
    flight.

    You’d think so, but not always. Can’t wouldn’t cooperate with their partner, the good airline I used. That’s why I stopped using Can’t…..

  • The Original Joe S

    How do YOU know FOR CERTAIN what the dollar figure was? Inquiring minds want to know……..

  • The Original Joe S

    Buffers! Yeah, lots of buffers! – Willie ChiChi

  • The Original Joe S

    You are the prescient one on this blog………….

  • The Original Joe S

    And how does that affect the price of tea in China? They were US Citizens, so your statement is irrelevant……

  • The Original Joe S

    PAX information includes passports. Foreign passports [ not eurpoean ] should have signaled an alarm.

  • C Schwartz

    Iberia said “special security measures or the need to identify or check luggage in transit required by some airports prevented us from offering this facility”. But again, security is out of the control of the airport, and at least one court in Germany held that EU 261 does apply for security delays. The passenger in Munich was marked as a no show and had to buy new tickets. The airline was not held responsible for rebooking the passenger.

    (14) As under the Montreal Convention, obligations on operating air carriers should be limited or excluded in cases where an event has been caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken. Such circumstances may, in particular, occur in cases of political instability, meteorological conditions incompatible with the operation of the flight concerned, security risks, unexpected flight safety shortcomings and strikes that affect the operation of an operating air carrier.

    Some of the companies listed such as Bott & Co specifically mention security issues as an extraordinary circumstance.

    Again, what evidence is there that the eu 261 would apply and that the airline would have to proactively rebook a passenger?

  • Michael__K

    Again, read the regulation. It’s not enough for Iberia to claim an extraordinary circumstance outside their control. They must also prove they took “all reasonable measures” to avoid the delay. So when did they know the connection couldn’t work and what reasonable measures did they take?

  • TravelGuy

    When and how did the Andrews’ book their ticket? If their ticket was a single ticket with a connection and the ticket was issued by the airline or a travel agency and neither entity played with the ticket then the Andrews’ should not have had a problem. If there were actually 2 tickets one to Madrid and the other to Charlotte then the Andrews’ have no leg to stand on.

    When we book tickets for our clients and the connection looks tight we always check with the minimum connect times to make sure the connection is legal. If it is a legal connect time and the airline itself presented the connection as an option then the client is protected.

  • C Schwartz

    You are interpreting the regulation in a way that contradicts what courts and the EU refund companies say. How can a company take all reasonable measures to avoid a delay that they cannot control?

    As are making the legal interpretations that contradict the companies you listed, court cases, and the Elliott advocate, it is up to you to provide evidence, such as case law, to support your legal conclusions.

  • Michael__K

    I’m reading the plain text of the regulation. If the air carrier knew that their minimum connection time was too short, the obvious reasonable measure would be to change the connection when they became aware of this.
    Did you find a court case where an air carrier was aware beforehand of such an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ affecting their connection times and absolved from their responsibility under the regulation to take all reasonable measures to avoid delays?

  • C Schwartz

    115 minutes is not an illegal connection and while not advisable it is doable — it is almost 2 hours which I have done at FRA which is larger than Madrid.

    You misunderstand what “reasonable measures” entails with respect to the airlines — again there has been nothing that has revised the language of section 14 I have cited above.

    Even more on point is the important Sturgeon and others opinion of 2009 — direct quote from the opinion:

    “that air carriers are not obliged to pay compensation if they can prove that the cancellation or long delay is caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken, namely circumstances which are beyond the air carrier’s actual control.”

    Security issues are beyond the air carrier’s actual control. You are completely misrepresenting Wallentin-Hermann which concerns a cancellation because of a mechanical problem of an Alitalia flight and the conclusion was that “The fact that an air carrier has complied with the minimum rules on maintenance of an aircraft cannot in itself suffice to establish that that carrier has taken ‘all reasonable measures’ within the meaning of Article 5(3) of Regulation No 261/2004″

    Another legal scholar on Wallentin-Hermann: “extraordinary circumstance” should only be applied to an event which “is not inherent in the normal activity of the air carrier concerned and is beyond the actual control of that carrier” (quotation from an article written by Arpad Szakal, LL.M., Leiden).

    Aircraft maintenance — under the control of the airline

    Security at the airport — not under the control of the airline

    Wallentin-Hermann and Sturgeon do not contradict each other. Sturgeon clarifies that the EU 261 compensation is not payable when the issues are caused by circumstances which are beyond the air carrier’s actual control.”

    I respectfully disagree with your assertion that what I have posted contradicts Wallentin-Hermann. I have included the relevant passages from the cases and from a Dutch educated lawyer.

  • Michael__K

    A “legal” connection which the air carrier admits they knew was untenable that day.
    You didn’t answer my question — because you can only cite irrelevant cases where the airline couldn’t take “reasonable measures” because they didn’t know in advance about the extraordinary circumstance.

    An airport strike isn’t in an airline’s control either, and Finnair lost that case for its passengers who were on flights where it had 2 days notice (Lassooy).

    The overnight delay in this case would have been so easy to avoid. Not just with reasonable measures, but by merely following the mandatory obligations under Article 8(a) to re-book the passenger at the earliest opportunity, which they declined to do, even though this applies regardless of extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided with all reasonable measures….

    I’m curious why you are so adamantly opposed to this customer pursuing their claim? When the EU courts have affirmed new categories of passenger claims, as with the recent Buckley case, they have sometimes closed the door to retroactive claims from passengers who were not already pursuing them prior to the ruling. So if there is no perfect precedent, that is all the more reason for the customer to promptly initiate a claim through the governing NEB and then through litigators who work on commission.

  • Annie M

    This sounds like both tickets are on separate PNRs. If that’s the case, then they have to wait for their luggage from the first flight and check in and go through security and get the boarding pass for the second flight.

    It would help if we knew if the entire booking was on one PNR.

  • Annie M

    A good travel agent would not sell an itinerary with a short connection time.

    I don’t care what an airline says a legal connecting time is- I won’t book a connection if less than 2 – 3 hours for a client depending on the airport.

    Just because you can book your own airline tickets doesn’t mean you actually know how to book them to avoid issues like this.

  • Annie M

    All airlines do this. What is legal and what is practical are two different things. And if you don’t have a lot of experience selling tickets and knowing the difference, you can get stuck in a position like this.

    If airlines were fined for unrealistic connecting times you can believe there wouldn’t be so many issues like this.

    Everyone thinks they can act as their own travel agent with the advent of online booking but too many really DON’T know what a professional does.

  • Michael__K

    We’ve seen this happen even when a full service travel agency does the booking. http://www.elliott.org/blog/oh-no-i-missed-my-connection-and-had-to-pay-extra/
    In the EU, the airline at least has some legal obligations to customers who miss connections.

  • Travelnut

    This happened to me too, last year. I flew from Bordeaux to Gatwick, and my flight back to the USA left from Heathrow. There was five hours inbetween, and I got myself to Heathrow pretty easily on National Express. Are they supposed to arrange your transport? I just assumed it was on me.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I don’t think there is any expectation that they would arrange your transport. I wasn’t expecting them to, although I have to say that seems odd…shouldn’t there at least be some information provided about how you’re supposed to get yourself across a city in order to use this ticket?

    I just felt that they didn’t adequately disclose the fact that it arrived and departed at different airports when I bought the ticket. And the initial connection time was completely unworkable – no way I would have made it across Paris in that short a time, especially since it was during rush hour!

    This was some years back, and since then I’ve noticed that whenever I look at a ticket that has a connection involving two different airports, it seems to make that very clear. So I believe disclosure has improved.

  • C Schwartz

    In some ways you are not deserving of an answer. But I will do it anyway. You are the one that cited irrelevant cases. Lassooy is not relevant. There was a strike in Barcelona on the 28th of July. Finnair rescheduled flights not only on that day but on subsequent days. Lassooy had a flight on the 30th of July a day that was not part of the strike. That passenger was not rescheduled from the strike day. That passenger was denied boarding through not fault of their own and had a ticket for that day. Finnair played games and deserved to lose.

    That is completely different.

    A security issue the day of travel is beyond the control of the airline. A rescheduling of flights 2 days after a strike (as with Lassooy) and denying a confirmed passenger who had booked for that day is not relevant.

    What is my stake? I live in the US and am not employed in the travel or legal industry. I only fly EU carriers on my multiple trips to Europe each year as I value EU 261/2004. What I do not value is intellectual and legal dishonesty. Disingenuous claims encourage bad faith litigation — look at some of the class action lawsuits. And all consumers end up paying as the cost is passed on.

    I can ask the same question– what is your stake? Is it ego and always having to be right? Are you a class action attorney who will make millions while the customer get .25 cent refund? The cases I cited were on point and I even quoted a European attorney. Yet you contradict someone with a LLM from Leiden University? Are your credentials better?

  • C Schwartz

    And read the conclusion of Lassooy. The extraordinary circumstance was over 2 days before the passenger was denied boarding and the court ruled that the airline cannot claim extraordinary circumstances after the issue ended.

    There was not 2 days notice of an extraordinary circumstance — it was done and over.

    Either you are misreading or intentionally misrepresenting the court case.

  • Annie M

    You can see this with any kind of agency if the agent isn’t careful. There should be some type of laws here that forbids the airlines from allowing these short connections.

  • Michael__K

    I already acknowledged that there is no perfect precedent including Lassooy. But that opinion still contradicts your premise that air carriers can ignore the “all reasonable measures” provision, in spite of the plain text language of the regulation, if the airline cites an extraordinary circumstance outside their control.

    What’s disingenuous is citing a German case — which even I agree with the outcome of — where there was no missed connection, no advance knowledge of the extraordinary circumstance, and no proposed reasonable measure by the air carrier which could have avoided it (nevermind that a German case is non-binding in Spain). And yet you pretend that case is the determinant here.

    What’s doubly disingenuous is to ignore the plain text mandates in the regulation which air carriers are never exempt from — including Article 8(b) and including the mandate to take “all reasonable measures.”

    If you don’t think it’s disingenuous to cite non-EU-wide cases, including German cases, Amtsgericht is another example of extraordinary circumstances outside the air carrier’s control (a snow storm) where the air carrier lost because they didn’t take the reasonable measure of having timely de-icing available.

    I’ve been previously attacked by others like yourself in this very space for suggesting that passengers in circumstances like the Buckley’s and the Folkerts’ should claim compensation. Are those examples too of what you would call dishonest, disingenuous, bad faith lawsuits? Would you prefer that customers like the Buckley’s and Folkert’s receive nothing if in your high minded legal opinion those cases were wrongly decided? So that the “costs” aren’t passed on to you? (Funny how EU fares generally cost LESS than US fares though…)

    I don’t make a dime from anyone following my advice, but I hate to see passengers who are out lots of money and inconvenience through no fault of their own, especially at the hands of an air carrier which was unhelpful and flouted some of its obligations under the law.

  • Michael__K

    I also find it very interesting that you don’t even consider the possibility that the OP is correctly reporting what airline agents correctly told him at the airport and that the Iberia’s grammatically incorrect written response is not the full and accurate story.
    And of course the OP would have no way of verifying the various explanations without submitting at least an NEB complaint and putting pressure on Iberia to actually meet its legal burden of proof.

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