What happens if I miss my connecting flight through no fault of my own?
As with most issues involving air travel, what happens if you miss your connection depends on your specific situation.
If the missed connection is the airline's fault (a delayed flight or mechanical problems, for example), the airline should re-book you on the next available flight. SmarterTravel.com columnist Ed Perkins says if "the next outbound flight is the following morning, the airline should either book you on any other line or provide accommodations and meals. But these arrangements are voluntary with the airline; they're not mandated by any law or regulation." If inclement weather causes you to miss your connection, the airline will help you re-book but likely won't offer any compensation for meals or accommodations.
However, if something within your control causes you to miss the connection, you're essentially on your own. The airline will probably help you re-book, but it's under no obligation to do so.
Airlines also don't generally assume responsibility for missed connections on two separate tickets. For example, if you book one leg of your trip on JetBlue, and the second ticket on Continental, Continental will not take responsibility if JetBlue's flight doesn't get you to the connecting airport on time.
While bad weather and mechanical problems are obviously beyond your control, you can take steps to ensure you make your connection. Be sure you have plenty of time between flights, particularly if you're flying into a large or notoriously busy airport. If it's cheaper to book two separate flights on different airlines, it's particularly important to leave extra time for the connection.
The way I see it, spending a little more time waiting at the gate sure beats being stranded at the airport or running frantically from one terminal to another trying to make your flight.