Misconnection Advice I Gave To Own Brother

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One of the biggest frustrations about taking connecting flights is the uncertainty. Connecting flights raise questions like: What happens if there is a weather delay, a mechanical delay, or some other reason that prevents you from getting to your connecting flight on time?

I recently got an “emergency” call from my non-elite status flying brother who was on a Southwest flight with one connection bound for home. The first flight of the itinerary experienced a weather delay and he only had a 5 minute connection time to make his connecting flight. It didn’t look good so he asked what were his options.

Not asking too many questions I started down the path of searching for a later flight. I explained to him that since the airline wasn’t going to cover his hotel cost, and if another airline had a low fare, he should consider picking up that ticket and saving the money on the hotel. No dice, his flight was the last of the day to his city, on any airline.

My second suggestion was to find an alternative flight to another city near his home town. This looked very promising. There was a cheap fare to a city about 1 hour away from his town. All he had to do was fire up an online booking engine and purchase the ticket, check-in when he arrived at the connecting airport and wheel his carryon bag to the new plane. It was a done deal in my mind until he said “Wheel My Bags!!! How Am I Going To Do That?!!”

Yep, he had checked his bag on a weekend trip to the mountains. This was a FLM. Flight Limiting Move. Since he checked his bags, I quickly summed it up for him. Stay put at the Hyatt Place near the airport for the night and catch the flight the airline booked you on in the morning. The chances of his bags being transferred with a 25 minute connection were too slim for it to make any sense.

Have you ever had to answer a question like this to a friend or family member? What would your advice have been?

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The Weekly Flyer writes about travel from a business traveler perspective. He travels the world every week accumulating points and miles along the way.

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  1. My advice would have been the same. Luckily I have never gotten that call.

    One other thing to note is that there is a decent chance that the connecting flight is late too (story below). I don’t think that would happen to Southwest but can happen.

    During the whole AA pilot crisis in Sept-Oct last year, my BOS-DFW flight kept getting delayed with no firm take off time. I believe the flight ended up taking off two hours late. My connecting flight to SEA was the last flight and i would have about 5 minutes to connect. I was sitting right by the door and no checked in luggage so i had a good chance.

    Once i get there and looked at the board, i saw that the SEA flight was running about 30 minutes late so I had plenty of time. That also turned into about two hours late as well, not getting to SEA until about 1:30am. I was never so relieved to see my flight got delayed.

  2. Hi Skwok – An update with good news.

    My brother landed with 10 minutes before his connecting flight and Southwest held the flight for them. Best part is his bags made the 10 min connection.

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