2 Remedies for Flight Connection Anxiety

Author: Curt Wagner       

Travelers might have an easier time making flight connections — or being compensated when they don’t — thanks to United Airlines and its new ConnectionSaver tool and, separately, a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice.

European Union Compensation Changes

On July 11, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled that air passengers had a right to compensation under Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004 even if the delay in a connecting flight occurs outside the European Union (EU) and the flight was operated by a non-EU airline.

The court stated that when “two (or more) flights are booked as a single unit, those flights constitute a whole for the purposes of the right to compensation for passengers.” Passengers will be able to seek compensation from the airline with which they booked the flight package, even if the delay was caused by a second airline on a different flight within the same booking. They can claim compensation up to $710 (€600) in most cases.

The ruling, which will inform a regional court’s final decision, boosts passengers’ rights regarding flight delays that previously applied only to flights within the European Union itself. It also covers U.S. travelers on EC 261-eligible flights, meaning flights out of the European Union or flights to the EU on an EU airline, according to a statement from Christian Nielsen, chief legal officer at AirHelp, an air passenger rights organization.

United Airlines Holds Flights

Unrelated to the European Union situation, United announced in June that it plans to expand the ConnectionSaver technology to other airports that United services after launching the tool successfully at Denver International Airport and then Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

According to United, ConnectionSaver uses new technology that automatically identifies departing flights that the airline can hold for customers who are making tight connections. The flights, United says, can be held without inconveniencing other customers who already have boarded the waiting aircraft.

With the tool, connecting customers receive personalized text messages from ConnectionSaver offering directions to the gate for their connecting flight, information about expected travel time between the two gates, and nearby amenities.

In a press release dated June 10, United said that during the previous four months, ConnectionSaver helped more than 14,400 customers, who would have otherwise missed their connections, make their flights.