When flying with a tight layover at a connecting airport, there’s always a dread of the plane landing late and you not making your connection. Sometimes, the connecting gate will hold the flight if there’s a lot of passengers from a delayed connecting flight arriving, but in some cases, it’s too much of a delay, and the connecting flight leaves for its journey with a sizable amount of passengers missing, leaving the stranded passengers wondering what to do next, usually at their first airport.

This is exactly what happened to me in May when I flew back to Japan, as documented in my YouTube Channel:

My flight from CVG to Detroit (DTW) was delayed because the ever-so-reliable CRJ airframe we were supposed to use had pressurization problems. The delay persisted and eventually they told us the flight was going to leave at 12:00 noon.

Only problem was, my connecting flight, on Delta’s new Airbus A350, was leaving at 10:45.

I was stranded at my home airport. I could either go home and be rebooked on the following day’s flight…and miss a day of work back here in Japan…or I could figure out my options and be rebooked on another flight that day.

Delta agents at the gate directed us to a bank of phones in a different part of CVG’s concourse B. I immediately hurried over there because I knew there would be a crowd following. Sure enough, within minutes, there was a huge line. This morning flight from CVG to DTW, in its entirety, consisted of international-connecting travelers.

The lady on the phone was the epitome of cordial and patient. I knew exactly what I needed to do-Told her the problem, told her (in a voice tone to elicit kind sympathy) that I really was looking forward to flying the A350, and that I needed to return to work as soon as possible. She looked up my options, and unfortunately, if I was to fly the A350, I’d have to fly to Detroit, stay in the hotel overnight, and fly the A350 the next day. Delta offered to pay the expenses and for meals.

Not an option. I had to go to work.

The next options for flying Delta that day were taking a flight to Los Angeles or Seattle, and again, staying over night…that wasn’t going to work.

She then saw the morning All Nippon Airways flight from O’Hare to Haneda was pretty empty, so she arranged to book me on that flight, starting with a Delta flight from CVG to ORD. I then asked the lady to assure my bags were removed from the Detroit flight and routed to Chicago and onward to Haneda. She confirmed, told me to confirm with the gate agent, which I did later, and then gave me a number to Haneda’s North American ops, which I called again to put my ANA frequent flier number and confirmed my bags were on the ANA 777.

I had everything settled with my itinerary within 15 minutes. I felt bad for the big line behind me.

I realized later as I was waiting for my Chicago flight, I didn’t need to actually use those banks of phones. Delta has a toll-free number on their website that I could’ve called which would’ve directed me to the same person. Other airlines also have a number you can call. It’s pretty easy to find; on their website just search ‘contact us’ and it will pop up. For reference, Delta’s number in the US is 1-800-323-2323.

The whole ordeal was a massive headache for me but in the end I still got to Japan, got to work the next day, and had an exit row seat on my ANA flight with room to stretch out.

Now you heard my reaccommodation story…now for my advice.

If you’re stranded at an origin airport, miss a connection for some reason, or even if you miss your flight, or the flight you’re going to take is cancelled or delayed….if there’s any travel disruption whatsoever to your itinerary, once again, the thing I cannot ever stress enough, is to not panic. Stay calm, keep your wits to you, and explore your options. Talk to the gate agent, call the toll free numbers, or visit the customer service center. Tell the agents there what the problem was, and what you’d like to do: “I need to go to work tomorrow so I need to fly today,” “I have a bit of flexibility but I don’t want too much of a delay,” “I can stay here overnight and return tomorrow if compensation is offered.” Be cordial and kind, don’t bite at the necks of the agents-it’s not their fault your plane broke down anyway.

Knowing the general schedule of flights out of an airport can help when deciding your rescheduling. Apps like Flightaware and Flighradar24 do wonders for travelers trying to figure out why their inbound flight is a bit late, and can also help the agents when rebooking by telling them the flight you wish to be rebooked on.

Have plenty of snacks and drinks prepared if you’re traveling with kids. They can be a pain to deal with when things go awry but if they’re properly entertained, you’ll avoid that added trouble and stress.

If you’re by yourself and you find yourself waiting for a while, go to the airport bar and grab a pint and some food. The booze will help you get through the headache of rescheduling a lot easier.

Lastly, and most importantly, make sure your bags are rerouted properly, your frequent flier miles are added to your new itinerary if you end up on a different airline, and you make sure you’re at the new gates on time so you don’t miss this flight, either.

Happy flying! Hope this advice helped.

-Zach

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