What if you miss your flight?

I hesitate to even say this out loud as I fear it will jinx me but (clutches my wooden desk), in all my 27 years of flying, I have never missed a flight.

That said, I have come close a few times. Interestingly, it’s not the times I have been zooming – or perhaps more accurately crawling – along a freeway worrying about time,­ but when I am already through security, that I find myself sprinting to the gate in a panic. It’s easy to lose track of time in an airport and get caught up shopping or browsing only to realise that your gate closes in 10 minutes and you are nowhere near it. Time really does fly when you’re having fun.

While missing your flight may seem like the end of the world, rest assured it’s not. Here’s how to handle the situation like a pro and get yourself to where you need to be with as little consequence to your time and money as possible.

1. If you’re not at the airport yet and fear you may miss your flight now is the time to act. Don’t wait until you get there as by that stage it may well be too late. Call the airline and let them know your situation, it’s possible they may be able to move you to a later flight over the phone for no additional (or a nominal) cost. Failing this, you will at the very least be able to speak to them about their policies when it comes to missed flights and what steps you should follow at this point.

2. If you’ve made it to the airport but still aren’t in the clear and need to check-in, do not go to the back of the queue and wait for someone to come dig you out. Pull on your manners hat and politely make your way to any check-in or customer service desk. Tell the staff that you need help to make your flight. If there’s still time, they should help race you through the airport in order to avoid holding up the flight.

airport checkin line spain

3. Failing the above, go to the customer service desk or ticketing desk and explain your situation. Before you do this take a deep breath and repeat after me, ‘keep calm and be nice’. I can guarantee you that if  you go in guns blazing you will get nowhere fast or inexpensively. Remember that you missed your flight and, despite what may have gone wrong, this is not the airline’s fault.

Calmly explain your situation and ask to be placed on a standby list for the next available flight. Most airlines have an aptly named ‘flat tyre rule’ allowing customers who missed their flight due to circumstances beyond their control to be accommodated on the next available flight to their destination. If they try to charge you, ask if there is a missed departure fare available. If that fails, also, try to speak to a supervisor or call customer service. If they give you the same answer, it’s unlikely you’ll get another answer regardless of how hard you push.

4. Connecting flights are slightly different. The best option here is to always book on a “through ticket”, which covers you from your port of departure to destination. It also ensures that if you miss your connection, it falls onto the airline to sort this out for you at no additional penalty. Should your flights be booked separately, this safety net no longer applies.

Plan Z is to book a new flight from scratch. Failing all of the above, put the whole thing down to life experience and search on Skyscanner to compare the cheapest flights. While this is clearly a complete waste of money and last resort, learn your lesson and go get yourself a drink to drown your sorrows – but only if you’ve got time before your next flight!

Have you ever missed a flight? What did you do to recover the situation?

Written by SJ


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