Experts tell all on missed flights

While we all try to factor in plenty of time to make a flight, unforeseen events such as traffic, breakdowns, health issues and just plain bad luck can mean you miss it.

It’s every traveller’s worst nightmare. But all is not necessarily lost.

So, what do you do if you miss your flight?

If you’re on your way and you’re worried you’re not going to make it, contact your airline immediately and let them know. This will allow an airline to offer the seat to a stand-by passenger and it’s just good form which will improve your chance of being rebooked on the next available flight, flight attendant Kelly Kincaid told Travel+Leisure.

Also, checking in online and travelling only with carry-on bags improves your chances of still making your flight. So, as soon as you arrive, tell the check-in attendants who will rush you through and give you every chance of catching your plane before it leaves.

Even informing an airline in advance may not preclude you from having to pay a rebooking fee, because, unless your missed flight is the airline’s fault, it’s your responsibility to make it on time.

Some airlines will charge you only a rebooking fee, while others will charge you for a full flight, or maybe just the difference between your airfare and the one you rebook.

Some airlines will rebook you free of charge, depending on the type of airfare you originally booked or your frequent flyer status.

You will, however, most likely never receive a full refund.

If you do arrive late, try to get a flight with the same airline so you can avoid additional fees. Also, make sure your new flight will connect with any others, or ask your airline to make the necessary adjustments to your itinerary.

Ms Kincaid also has a tip for latecomers to avoid penalties on rebooked flights.

“There’s something called a ‘flat tyre rule,’” she said. “although not all airlines have this.

“Basically, the rule can be used to only charge the same day confirmed [or] standby fee, instead of a change fee and change of fare fee, if the passenger states they were late due to a flat tyre, accident or something similar.”

If it so happens that you miss a connecting flight, but your bags have gone on before you, immediately find your airline’s customer service desk and notify a representative, so the airline can track and hold your bags until it can get them back to you.

Have you ever missed a flight? How did you handle the situation? Was the airline ‘nice’ to you about it?

Related articles:
What are your rights on a plane?
The benefits of being bumped
Things you don’t want to hear on holiday

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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