The event in which passengers missed their connecting flight not due to a fault of their own is not expressly covered by Regulation 261/2004. However, if some specific elements are met, passengers who missed their connecting flight are entitled to assistance and compensation that can go from € 250 to € 600.
Missing a connecting flight: air passengers’ rights
The event in which passengers missed their connecting flight not due to a fault of their own (e.g. a delay of a previous flight) is not expressly covered by EC Regulation 261/2004. However, general rules concerning the right to compensation for this specific case can be obtained by interpreting the provisions concerning overbooking, cancellation and delay of flights.
In order to verify if passengers have a right to assistance and compensation (in the same ways and amounts established for the case of delay >> € 250/300/400/600), or to reimbursement and return flight to the point of departure, the following elements must be taken into account:
the arrival time at the final destination*. Missing a connecting flight should be considered in the same way as a delay to the final destination, and thus what is relevant is the time of departure and final destination indicated in the tickets. If there is a delay in arrival time of three hours or more at the final destination caused by overbooking, cancellation, or delay of one or more flights, passengers may be entitled to compensation;
all flights have the same booking number. All flights must be considered as part of the same journey, sharing the same booking number (e.g. Rome >> Norfolk even if there is a scheduled stop in Philadelphia). If the travelers have booked their flights separately (e.g. Rome >> Philadelphia – Philadelphia >> Norfolk), they will be considered as single flights also with regard to cancellation, delay, or overbooking;
passengers missed their connecting flight within the EU. If, for example, passengers were subject to a delay in Rome and missed their flight in Philadelphia, reaching Norfolk with a delay of three hours or more they should be entitled to compensation. On the contrary, if the first flight departing from Rome is on time and the one in Philadelphia has a delay so that passengers reach Norfolk with a three hour delay, they do not have the right to compensation under EC Regulation 261/2004. However, in this specific case, they may be eligible at least to assistance under US law.
If all the previous elements are met, passengers who missed their connecting flight should be entitled to assistance and compensation in the same ways and amounts established for the case of delay.**