The Missed Connection

Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport

Missed Connection and an Overnight at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. Photograph, iStock Photos.

It happens.

If you travel, every now and again, you’re going to miss your connecting flight, and yesterday, my number was up!

I was headed home from an anniversary party in Ohio, and the Delta flight to Atlanta was late arriving to the Akron-Canton airport. We were due to leave at 5:59 p.m., and I was at an itty-bitty concourse bar having a burger and a drink. The bartender knew about the delay first — we were set back to 7:00.

I looked at my watch, then my boarding pass. I was still good — I never fly through Atlanta with less than a two hour layover.

USA-drinking-team-tshirt

If you feel the need to join Team U*S*A, Drinking Division, here is their official t-shirt. I’m warning you though. If your silver-headed team mate from Detroit finds you, you may never get away!

The group at the bar was fine and companionable until an old woman walked up sporting a USA Drinking Team shirt. It was evident this team member had been training hard earlier in the day. Her speech was slurred and she was loud.

I finished my supper, paid my tab, and headed for the gate — the drunk’s voice seeming to go up another few decibels.

I felt sorry for the person who’d soon be shut up on a plane next to her. Thank god Team USA was heading to Detroit, not Atlanta, and her flight was on time.

When I took a seat at Gate 5, the Delta agent announced our flight time was pushed back to 7:42. That was it — we’d hit no-go. I wasn’t going to make the Houston flight.

Here’s where you have a decision point as a passenger. Re-book yourself now and find a hotel, or wait until you miss the connection and stand in line with everyone else to do the same thing — with fewer seat options. I chose now, no line, and an earlier bedtime. The Delta agent at Akron-Canton got me on a 8:00 a.m. Atlanta-to-Houston flight the next morning, and I got on Expedia to find a room near the Atlanta airport — figuring I’d see whether I could get a room credit from Delta the next day. One way or the other, I was not sleeping in the airport.

With this in mind, I looked at the options. There were everything from flea-bag motels, to Hyatt and Westin, to a Renaissance Hotel on the tarmac in Atlanta with mixed reviews and a high price tag. I went cheap/middle — the Red Lion for $104 — they had a restaurant, an airport shuttle, clean but basic rooms, and good reviews.

By the time our flight was finally wheels-up, it was after 8:00 p.m., and I was feeling self-satisfied about my decision.

I make it to my Atlanta Airport Red Lion hotel room — clean, very comfy bed, but thin walls, and my neighbor’s television is blaring. I settle in to do email and a little social media.

Blam, blam, blam — on my neighbor’s door. She is not pleased. “F*@k you, Tyrone! You go back to your room! I don’t wanna see your ugly f*@+**g face again tonight!”

It’s eleven o’clock. I sigh. Tyrone leaves.

I edit a few photographs, do a little writing, and finally turn off the light around midnight. Thirty minutes later, another loud knocking out in the hallway.

“I done tol’ you, I don’t wanna see your face again . . . go AWAY!”

I look at the clock and consider calling the desk. And I’m thinking, “F*@k you, Tyrone. GO to BED!”

Yeah, the $104 hotel was a mistake, but there’s no whining on Team Fisher.

That wake up call to make the 8:00 a.m. flight came mighty early, but I was on it.

Delta flight leaves Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport. Photograph, iStock Photos.

Delta flight leaves Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport. Photograph, iStock Photos.

Do Airlines Have to Pay for a Hotel If I Miss a Connecting Flight?

The answer to that question is NO.

I did get $100 credit for use on a future flight with Delta. When I called the following day, the agent put me on hold, researched the reason for the delay of my flight, and then issued the credit to my Delta Skymiles account.

Be aware that airlines are NOT REQUIRED to cover hotel expenses AT ALL, even when a delayed flight/missed connection is considered their company’s fault. 

D.O.T. (Department of Transportation): 

  • Each airline has its own policies about what it will do for delayed passengers waiting in the airport terminal.
  • There are no Federal requirements regarding these amenities or services.  If you are delayed, ask the airline staff if they will pay for meals or phone calls.  Some airlines may not offer amenities if bad weather or something else beyond the airline’s control causes the delay. — from the D.O.T. web site

You must refer to a specific airline’s contract for carriage (also called conditions of carriage) for accurate information concerning what that company will do in the event of a flight delay. Policies vary widely. Delta’s domestic contract for carriage is over fifty pages long. You might want to read your airline’s contract — so that you understand exactly what their policies are.

Links to Airline Contracts of Carriage
Alaska American
Air France Alitalia
British Airways  Delta
Frontier  JetBlue
Iberia  KLM
Luftansa  Qantas
Southwest  Spirit
United  Virgin Atlantic
Minute Suites in Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

Minute Suites in Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. An option when you want to crash for a couple of hours.

Parting Thoughts

Stuck in the airport, but not long enough to get a hotel?

I did see an interesting option at the Atlanta airport on my way to Ohio called Minute Suites: The Traveler’s Retreat. At Minute Suites, you can rent a room with a daybed, a pillow, and a desk for as little as an hour. I was intrigued, and stopped to chat with the man at the desk. Currently, Minute Suites are only in three airports: Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Dallas-Fort Worth, but they are expanding to others.

This is not an inexpensive option, as you’ll see if you click through to the Minute Suites website (Minute Suites Pricing). The first hour will run you $42, and then another $10.50 for each fifteen minute increment. Eight hours? That’ll be $160, please.

My $104 overnight at the Red Lion, even with soundtrack by Tyrone and Friends, is looking like a bargain. After all, I did get about 5 hours of quiet sleep, once the ruckus was over :-).

But you know, when you’re dead tired, and you only have a couple of hours — a solid nap can be priceless . . .

18 Comments on The Missed Connection

  1. I though the EU had legislation in place to make sure that airlines covered expenses from missed / delayed flights travel through Europe. At the end of the day, you have to take care of yourself and get a good night’s sleep so you don’t ruin an entire trip because you’re exhausted.

    Did you make it to Holmes County if you were coming in to Akron / Canton?

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    • I will look to see if that is the case in Europe, and add that. In the U.S., it definitely isn’t required. I suppose I was surprised. On the other hand, I have had experiences that show airline policy varies widely. In Ohio, I was with friends helping to put on a big birthday-anniversary party, and was completely focused on that — wonderful time.

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  2. I think we once had a delayed flight and was offered some meal credits. Luckily we didn’t have to deal with flight delays too often. The minute suites is something worth looking into for a longer layover!

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  3. “Yeah, the $104 hotel was a mistake, but there’s no whining on Team Fisher” — I love this line! You made an annoying experience still quite enjoyable to read. Fortunately, when I’ve missed connecting flights, I haven’t stayed next to a Tyrone, but I’m usually the dodo in the line to get a new flight at the new airport. I really appreciate the section you added about airlines not having to pay for hotels due to missed connections (something I learned the hard way in Chicago!).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I learned a long time ago, there were going to be quirky, sometimes unpleasant parts of travel. Rather like life in general :-). I don’t know how people who lack a sense of humor make it!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’d always prefer direct flights whenever possible. So far I’m lucky to have been able to catch all my flights!

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  5. What a night. I’ve had horrible hotel neighbors like Tyrone too many times. Ugh. But the mini-suites is interesting. I just booked a sleep capsule for my layover at the Tokyo airport. I hope I don’t get a noisy neighbor in the capsule next to me!

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  6. I wasn’t aware that you could even try to get a hotel credit from the airline. I will definitely keep this in my back pocket for the next time a flight is super delayed or canceled. Thanks for the links to all the airlin policies, that will come in handy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, there is a wide variation in whether an airline does it AT ALL, ever, or only in situations they consider to be their responsibility. Bad weather, airport issues with gate availability are out of their control and typically not covered. However, it is always smart to know what your airline’s policy is.

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  7. Tyrone! What happened? Also isn’t it the worst that airlines don’t pay for hotels anymore. I remember the days!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. jenruizwriter // August 4, 2017 at 4:46 pm // Reply

    What we all wanna know is, what happened to Tyrone?? Sounds like a modern day Stanley Kowalski haha, and I’m glad you got a credit for Delta at least! This sounds like one of my travels haha 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, what happened to Tyrone? My guess is his lady love went in a different direction. — I think she was stronger than Stella :-).

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  9. That Tyrone… keeping everybody up at night in that corridor! I had a horrible experience with Aeromexico last December where they canceled the flight, AFTER everyone’s boarded and sat there for 3 hours without heat or water. Good thing Delta got us out of there. This is why I’m so picky about the airlines we fly with, there aren’t that many we can rely on.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is good to have all this specific information in one place. I typically find that if I ask, I can get things (whether it’s a voucher, miles, etc) for a missed flight, a missed connection, or getting bumped from an overbooked flight. It never hurts to ask, and most agents want you to be happy (or at least for you not to freak out on them). Good to have all these specific regulations to refer to!

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  11. Great post, Ann. Next time, though, go out and get more information from Tyrone about what the problem is. Would have made a fascinating story in the hands of a writer like you. In fact, with your photography skills, a couple emotional pictures and the story would certainly go viral.

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    • Hey, and on top of that, interfering with Tyrone and his lady love might have put me front and center on Atlanta’s evening news broadcast! Hard to put a price on that kind of coverage :).

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