Will American Airlines Hold Connecting Flights?

Sometimes your travel schedule may require that you take at least two flights to arrive at your final destination. If you plan to travel via American Airlines, you may wonder if they hold connecting flights. We inquired about this topic, and this is what we learned.

Generally, American Airlines will not hold connecting flights. The airline desires to always leave on time. However, if you miss your connecting flight, they can rebook you on the next flight with available seats.

Traveling by air can be thrilling or filled with anxiety, especially when connecting subsequent flights to your destination. But not to worry. Tag along as we discuss the intricate details around connecting flights.

American Airlines prepares to land at McCarran International airport - Will American Airlines Hold Connecting Flights

Will American Airlines Hold Connecting Flights?

Your travel itinerary may lack enough wiggle room for connecting time, thus requiring that you arrive on time to make it to your next flight.

But we know that plans don't always materialize the way we'd want them to. Sometimes inevitable delays on your first flight expose you to the risk of missing your connecting flight.

Maybe the boarding gate of your next flight is on the farthest end of the airport, and you didn't allocate enough time to maneuver through the airport to make it on time for the connecting flight.

At other times, heavy human traffic at the airport, especially during holidays, can cause you to take a longer time to get to your connecting flight's boarding gate.

Considering these factors, you may want to create a buffer whereby you will not need to purchase a new ticket because you missed your flight. So, if you intend to fly via American Airlines, you may be curious whether they will hold connecting flights.

Typically, American Airlines will not hold the connecting flight. The airline aims to stick to the schedule by being punctual with departures. So, there are regulations, such as closing the gate in good time to allow passengers to settle in before the plane takes off.


Typically, passengers embark on an American Airlines flight 30 - 50 minutes before the expected departure time. But this will vary depending on the destination and the specific plane.

The gate remains open until 15 minutes before departure when the gate agent closes it. However, the gate can remain open for passengers in direct line of sight up to 10 minutes before departure.

Also, any update on the scheduled departure time automatically moves the gate closing time to 10 minutes until departure. If you are boarding the last flight for the day, you are allowed up until 5 minutes to departure to board the flight.

American Airlines Delay Policy

American Airlines plane on the airport. The company is based on Dallas, TX.

You do not necessarily need to purchase new tickets for your trip if you miss your connection. American Airlines has a delay policy to cater to passengers who get delayed and miss their connection.

The delay can be due to an American Airlines disruption or factors beyond their control, like the weather.

The airline reserves a seat for you on the next flight with available seats either on an American Airlines plane or one of their partner airlines.

However, you don't have to use the flight they choose for you - you can select a new flight. But what happens if you don't like any of the alternative arrangements or the airline doesn't offer options? In that case, they will refund the remaining ticket value plus other optional fees included in the refund policy.

If you miss your connection because of an American Airlines delay and fail to board an alternative plane before 11:59 p.m local time, the airline will make plans for an overnight stay or cover the costs of an approved hotel.

The airline does not cover expenses incurred because of delays beyond their control. However, their agents can help you find a hotel. That said, the airline makes a reasonable effort to keep you as comfortable as possible.

Please do not make any accommodation arrangements without written authorization from American Airlines, as they may fail to refund the expenses incurred.

You can view and update your travel details on the airline's website, app, or at an airport kiosk. Please note that you'll need to check in online to get a new boarding pass - you'll need it for your next flight.

Also, the airline transfers your bags automatically when you check in for your new flight.

Why Airlines Do Not Hold Connecting Flights

Holding connecting flights can have unwanted outcomes. We discuss the ripple effects in this section.

 Dusseldorf front of planes standing in the run way in the airport in Dusseldorf

In busy airports, the plane may miss its departure slot if it fails to depart on it. Most airports face capacity constraints, forcing them to schedule subsequent planes with little flexibility at each gate. So, if an airplane misses its departure slot, it may need to wait for the passageway to clear before departing.

Delays at the boarding gate can cause further delays for other people who need to board other flights through that gate. Consequently, these people may miss their flights, thus requiring alternative travel arrangements.

Furthermore, people on the delayed flight may need to connect to other flights at the next airport. By holding the plane, they may miss their connections, thus requiring other travel arrangements.

It is easier for an airline to make new arrangements for one person who got delayed than many already on board.

Airlines are also conscious of the time their crew will be on duty. Strict rules regulate how long an airplane crew can be on duty to enhance safety and minimize fatigue.

The flight may be canceled if the set time limits are exceeded, and the airline lacks a reserve crew to relieve the staff on duty. Furthermore, airlines also consider that staff must get the required minimum rest between flights.

Airlines also want good on-time performance ratings to increase their chances of attracting more business.

The US department of transportation stipulates that all major airlines post this information on their websites. The airlines should also include special notes for flights that experiences that were canceled or experienced significant delays.

So, bad ratings can cause airlines to lose business to their competitors.

When Do Airlines Hold Connecting Flights?

Passengers check their baggages at the American Airlines check-in desk in Portland International Airport.

We've seen that airlines have many reasons why they may have reservations about holding a connecting flight. But the decision to hold or not to hold is not cast in stone. Sometimes the airline may hold a flight in these instances.

Generally, airlines will consider the ease with which they can make alternative arrangements for the passengers who miss their connecting flights.

The airline may hold the flight if many passengers on a delayed flight connect to the same onward flight. This decision is rationalized by it being more challenging to get seats for many delayed passengers.

An airline can also hold flights on low-frequency routes such as those where they make one trip only daily or if it's the last trip of the day to that route. Overnight delays may cost airlines because they may need to arrange accommodation for the passengers.

Do You Have To Check In Again For Connecting Flights?

Generally, the boarding pass you get when you check in for your first flight includes your connecting flight. So you do not have to check in again for your connecting flight.

But if you miss a connecting flight and need to board a different flight, you will need to check in again to update your travel details.

Also, note that you will generally not need to collect luggage and check it in again. The airport baggage handlers ensure that it gets to your final destination.

However, if the local regulations differ from one location to the next, you may need to pick up your baggage and check it in again. Typically, airlines will notify you of this requirement when you check in your bags.

You may also need to check in your luggage again if you use low-cost airlines or book connecting flights independently.

Travelers enter immigration control at Changi International Airport in Singapore.

If your connecting flights are international, you'll need to go through customs and immigration at the connecting airport, even if that is not your final destination. Therefore, ensure that you have the necessary documents to get through that layover.

For connecting flights to local destinations, you do not need to worry about going through customs or security since the domestic terminals in most airports are interconnected. But in the rare event that the terminals are not connected, you will need to reenter security.

Final Thoughts

American Airlines prepares to land at McCarran International airport

That was a lot of information! We now know that although American Airlines rarely holds flights, they will make alternative travel arrangements if you miss your connecting flight.

It is best to leave plenty of spare time when booking connecting flights to avoid the inconvenience of missing your connection. So, it is prudent to allocate more time for international flights where you must go through customs or check in luggage again.

Before you go, please check out our other posts for a smooth travel experience:

How To Use VPN When Traveling

Can My Luggage Travel Without Me?