Airline Alliances Proactively Help Passengers With Tight Connections

by Sam Roecker
Star Alliance Connection Service

Banner advertising Star Alliance’s “Connection Service”. Photo by Star Alliance.

Forget sprinting through the airport, airline alliances are increasingly offering services to help hurried connecting passengers speed through big airports. Oneworld, SkyTeam, and Star Alliance – the three major airline alliances – now offer connection services at their key hubs. This post will serve as a guide to help navigate and make the most of these services.

Toronto Pearson (YYZ) is the latest airport to receive Star Alliance’s ‘Connection Service’ – which assists passengers and bags with tight connections on delayed flights.

How does the Star Alliance Connection Service work?

Star Alliance launched a new service last year to assist connecting customers arriving on delayed partner-operated flights. The service launched at one of the biggest Star Alliance hubs – Chicago O’Hare (ORD) – to help arriving international passengers make tight connections. Toronto Pearson (YYZ) is the latest airport to receive Connection Service.
The Connection Service software monitors delayed flights and flags customers with tight connections. Checked baggage is also actively monitored and rushed to the customer’s onward flight. Here’s how it works: 
  • Sheila’s Lufthansa flight from Munich (MUC) to Chicago (ORD) is delayed two hours due to storms. She built in a three-hour connection – knowing summer travel can be hectic – but given the delay, now has less than an hour to make her connecting flight to New Orleans (MSY).
  • Meanwhile, behind the scenes, a monitoring center receives a notification of Sheila’s tight connection (and checked bag) and alerts ground personnel to meet Sheila at the gate.
  • An ‘expeditor’ meets Sheila at the arriving gate and her bag is whisked away to the next flight. She is given a fast-track pass through customs and immigration and avoids lengthy queues.
  • Sheila makes her connecting flight and so does her bag. Crisis averted!
Star Alliance Connection Service

Star Alliance Connection Service ensures bags make onward flights. Photo by Star Alliance.

Where is the Star Alliance Connection Service available?

Five major Star Alliance hubs in North America and Europe offer both passenger and baggage expediting service for travelers (and their bags) with tight connections arriving on delayed flights:

  • Chicago (ORD)
  • Frankfurt (FRA)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • Munich (MUC)
  • Toronto (YYZ)

Baggage-only expediting service is currently available in Denver (DEN), London (LHR), Los Angeles (LAX), Newark (EWR), San Francisco (SFO), and Washington Dulles (IAD).

Star Alliance Connection Service

Star Alliance Connection Service. Image by Star Alliance.

SkyTeam Livery Air France Boeing 777-300ER

Air France 777-300ER painted in SkyTeam livery. Photo by SkyTeam.

SkyTeam offers ‘SkyTransfer’ service at 11 hubs

While not as widely publicized as Star Alliance’s Connection Service, SkyTeam offers a similar ‘SkyTransfer’ program at 11 of its top hubs. SkyTeam’s largest hubs have Connection Control Units that monitor flights and actively manage rebooking customers on connecting itineraries.

The service is available at 11 SkyTeam hubs, including:

  • Atlanta Hartsfield (ATL)
  • New York Kennedy (JFK)
  • Mexico City Benito Juarez (MEX)
  • Amsterdam Schipol (AMS)
  • Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
  • Seoul Incheon (ICN)
  • Madrid Barajas (MAD)
  • Guangzhou Baiyun (CAN)
  • Beijing Capital (PEK)
  • Shanghai Pudong (PVG)
SkyTeam SkyTransfer service

SkyTransfer connection service available at 11 SkyTeam hubs. Image by Great Circle Mapper.


Oneworld Global Support Connections Transfers

Oneworld offers Global Support in key hubs. Image by British Airways.

Oneworld Global Support offers connection assistance in nine hubs

Oneworld partner airlines created the Global Support team to manage tight connections and passengers with checked bags. The team actively monitors flights and assists with rebookings, overnight accommodations, and fast track services, where available.

Oneworld Global Support is currently available in nine key Oneworld hubs:

  • London Heathrow (LHR)
  • Madrid Barajas (MAD)
  • New York Kennedy (JFK)
  • Miami International (MIA)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)
  • Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Tokyo Narita (NRT)
  • Hong Kong (HKG)
Oneworld Global Support

Oneworld Global Support offered in nine key hubs. Image by Oneworld.


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DaninMCI July 27, 2018 - 3:34 pm

I’m sorry but this is all laughable. I’ve had tight connections on Oneworld at several of these airports and got no help at all. In fact the last time through DFW I managed to get to the connecting gate with about 15 minutes to spare and they already had cut off boarding and had given my seat away as well as 2 other passengers from Australia that came up just behind me. I know my experience is limited but I find it hard to believe that it’s not getting worse. AA won’t even through check bags on many flights for heaven’s sake.

Linn Hammergren August 1, 2018 - 9:49 am

Actually, I had good luck with a delayed Lufthansa flight to Munich to connect with another to IAD, Would have been nice if someone had told us a van would be waiting, but I don’t think the cabin crew knew. This makes it much less stressful to connect in Munich as flights from places like Belgrade and Zagreb inevitably are delayed. However, all those likely to miss connections did not get the same treatment — don’t know whether that was because their onward flight was another airline, or because there was only one passenger affected.

Terry Needham August 1, 2018 - 12:30 pm

Had the same experience at Dallas, arrived at gate 20 min before departure and the had given my f/c seats away because we were to be latter arrival than it turned out , then my floor got took an hour delay, I had to stay overnight!


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