Introducing The Star Alliance “Connection Service” At Chicago O’Hare

Star Alliance Competition

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Suddenly everyone is announcing connection services! Last week we had British Airways telling us that they are introducing “Premium Drive Transfer” at London Heathrow and now we have Star Alliance announcing that it has launched its own “Connection Service” at Chicago O’Hare.

What Exactly Will “Connection Service” Do?

Connection Service is a service aimed at making sure that passengers connecting between Star Alliance airlines at Chicago O’Hare actually make their connection when things look tight or, if that’s not possible, to ensure that the passenger gets rebooked smoothly.

Per Star Alliance:

The Connection Service springs into action if an incoming flight is delayed. Software monitors the transfer window for customers with an onward flight and flags any cases where a customer and any checked bags appear in danger of missing a connection.

Connection Service staff are alerted as soon as a connection is at risk. They meet the customer on arrival and take the necessary steps to ensure that the customer and the bags are expedited and reach their onward flight. If a connection cannot be reached, the customer is assisted with re-booking.

That seems straightforward enough but, just in case it isn’t clear, there’s an infographic giving an example of how the Star Alliance Connection Service works:

I was wondering exactly how the Connection Service would be able to expedite customs and immigration (let’s face it, without Global Entry immigration can be a LONG wait at US airports) but Star Alliance has an answer for that too:

Those customers benefiting from the Connection Service are eligible to use the Express Connection lane, to enable them to get through customs and immigration quicker. Checked bags that need to be rechecked are specially tagged so they are handled faster.

Star Alliance has been operating a Connection Service in eleven other airports for years….but in those locations the staff were only dealing with checked baggage and not passengers. Right now there’s a baggage + passenger Connection service available at Frankfurt, Houston and Munich but only now is it being rolled out in Chicago.

Thinking about it……it’s a little strange that its taken this long for Chicago O’Hare to get this service – the weather up there is less than predictable, there are often days with big flight delays and we’re told that Star Alliance has 14 alliance members flying almost 17,500 flights per week in and out of the airport.

It’s about time! 🙂

Bottom Line

Ignoring the fact that in the example provided the passenger appears to have given himself a 90 minute connection in Chicago knowing full well he has to clear immigration and customs when he lands (so he’s not really the smartest flyer) this sounds like a nice idea….but I’m not sure how well it can work in practice (although presumably it works in practice elsewhere or they wouldn’t be rolling it out in Chicago).

My issue is this:

There is no mention of this service being limited to a particular class (or classes) of service and there’s no mention of any status requirements either….so apparently this is open to everyone who’s delayed and connecting between Star Alliance carriers.

Chicago is a destination in its own right but it’s also a MASSIVE connecting hub with tens of thousands of people connecting there every day. With Chicago being a United Airlines hub you can be sure that a large percentage of those flyers are connecting from Star Alliance carrier to Star Alliance carrier….so can this service help that many passengers when things are going wrong?

I say that it’s doubtful but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

 

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