Here’s What to do if you Miss Your Flight

Whose Fault Was It?

First of all, it must be said that, if you miss a flight and it’s not the airline’s fault…well, you’re on your own when it comes to figuring out how to reach your destination and what your next move ought to be. Usually, the airline in question will assist with rebooking and might be able to get you on a flight you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to book. But don’t expect any perks or too much sympathy.

Now that we’ve gotten the bad news out of the way, here’s some relief in the way of tips about what to do when you miss a connecting and the airline is at fault.


What should you do if your flight is delayed?

If and when a flight is delayed, it is the responsibility of the airline to inform passengers about this delay and provide all the information needed, such as how long the wait will be. Most airlines, depending on how long the delay is, will compensate their passengers. If a flight is delayed by more than a certain number of hours (the amount of time is airline and route dependent), you will be compensated with meals and accommodation near the airport if need be. For shorter delays, you might even be given access to the airline’s luxury lounges, keeping you as comfortable as possible! Be aware that some airlines might only give you a percentage of your air ticket back – another reason why travel insurance is a good idea.

Missed flights abroad

International travel has become infinitely more complicated, time-consuming, and stressful during the pandemic—perhaps even more so as many countries start to welcome overseas visitors. To avoid missing a flight, passengers need to make sure they have all required entry documents, COVID test certifications, and other necessary paperwork squared away well in advance.

“We can’t stress this enough: Do your research and prepare your documentation ahead of time,” Orlando says. “In Europe, the reports are coming out fast and furious about confusion and 8-hour wait times, because people are trying to put together multiple forms of documentation and rules are changing every day.”

Air passengers traveling in Europe have the benefit of EC 261, one of the world’s most comprehensive passenger-rights regulations. Anyone traveling out of a European airport is covered, and EC 261 enables passengers to receive compensation between 250 and 600 euros (approximately $300-700) for many types of flight disruptions.

The situation becomes more complex if your missed flight isn’t the airline’s fault, underscoring the importance of arriving early at the airport. (Pro tip: Remember that European airlines mark time with the 24-hour clock, so for a U.S.-based traveler, a departure time of 17:15 is easily—and incorrectly—misread as 7:15 instead of the correct equivalent of 5:15 p.m.)

4. Check out other flights on offer to your destination

Don’t panic! Check out Skyscanner and the airport departure boards and see if there are any other flights heading to your destination. See if you can get the best deals. From Changi there are numerous daily connections to major Asian capitals and if you whip out your phone, you may be able to book yourself on to a flight departing a little later in the day (though you’ll need to pay for it). Maybe you’ll even end up with a better flight!

What Fare Did You Purchase?

When you buy an economy ticket, your terms tend to be very limited. It wouldn’t be a surprise if your terms read something like the following: “If you fail to check in on time or fail to board the aircraft by the time the aircraft departs, the fare you paid will not be refunded to you for any reason whatsoever.” That might cause a mild panic attack, but it’s not as bad as it sounds.

Most airlines have a “flat tire” rule where if you show up for your confirmed flight within 2-hours of departure, you’ll be put on standby for the next available flight. This only works if you have a legit reason for missing your flight.

Note that this is an unofficial rule, but major airlines including American, Delta, Southwest, and United are known to extend this favor to customers. That being said, if you know you’re going to miss your flight, call the airline to let them know as it shows them that you’re essentially giving up your seat.

Advice on what to do if you miss your flight

  1. Find a representative of your booked airline and ask about the airline’s policy on missed flights – some airlines may only charge a re-booking fee while others may ask you to pay in the difference between the new and old flight, which can work out expensive. It is NOT standard practice for an airline to waiver excess charges, so don’t expect a free pass. To avoid the hassle and expense of booking a new flight, make sure you don’t miss your flight!
  2. Check for the next available flight and ask to be put on the standby list – often during peak travel season, there are many flights to the same destinations and with your name on the list, it may just be an hour or two before you’re on your way again. If the airline cannot offer you an alternative flight at an equal or cheaper price, do a quick search and compare flights on Travelstart!
  3. We know this situation can be incredibly stressful, but always try to remain calm and communicate politely with airline staff. Clearly explain your situation and they will do their best to assist you.
  4. Stay at the airport – it’s always a good idea to stick around at the airport as you await your next flight. If the waiting time is less than 5 hours, it is recommended to stay in the vicinity to avoid any further delays on your behalf.

Sometimes, one action can lead to the next and that is especially the case in terms of connecting flights! Have a look at these tips on what to do when you miss your initial flight.

Can you get a refund if you miss your flight?

No. But you can, on rare and serendipitous occasions, avoid penalties for your tardiness.

“There’s something called a ‘flat tire rule,’” Kincaid explained to T+L, noting that 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 tire, accident, or something similar.”

In just the same way that airlines avoiding compensating passengers for weather-related cancellations, travelers also have some recourse when they are late for reasons beyond their control. Such as, well, a flat tire.

While this policy is rarely publicized on airline websites, The Points Guy noted that most domestic carriers, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines, will accommodate travelers who arrive within two hours of their original time departure, without paying a fee or swallowing fare increases.

2. What to do: Missed flight connection

It can be very stressful to figure out what to do if you’ve missed a flight connection. If you’ve missed a connecting flight due to circumstances beyond your control, such as heavy air traffic or bad weather, and you’re flying with a major carrier like Singapore Airlines or Qatar Airways, you can expect to be issued a brand new boarding pass and booked on the next available flight for no fee.

Budget airlines, such as Air Asia, will also protect you, provided that your booking is done under one booking number (Fly Through service) rather than two separate bookings.

4. Check your travel insurance

What to do if you miss your flight really depends on if you have travel insurance. Trip cancellation insurance has very specific rules, so you need to check your policy to find out the details. However, if you missed your flight due to weather or an airline delay, then you’ll likely qualify for insurance after a delay of four hours. What that means is that your insurance will pay for the costs to get you to your intended destination. You can even claim the cost of your hotels if you need to stay overnight before departing in the morning.

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6. If needed, find the cheapest flight with Skyscanner

If you have to book yourself a new flight, you can do so via our website and app. Don’t forget to check alternative transport options too. If you are funding the new flight yourself, you might want to investigate rail routes, or the cost of renting a car. 

Download the Skyscanner App and Save!

Youre Going to Get There Soon!

Okay, we know this is easier said than done, but you’re trying to figure out what happens if you miss your flight, try to be positive. You’ve either missed your flight at your own fault or due to a force of nature it happened and there is a solution. Staying positive (instead of a grump), you’ll likely get staff who are much more willing to help you. Remember, that flat tire rule is up to the discretion of staff, if you’re rude to them, they may not extend it to you. You’ll get your final destination eventually, you might as well make the best of it for now.


If you're already airside, before trying to buy another flight, the first thing you should do when you've missed your flight is tell a member staff at the airport. When a person has missed a flight, the terminal manager and security must be notified and that person must be escorted back through passport control and to the arrivals hall. The name for this process is 'decontrolled'. Any passenger that misses a flight and is airside at the airport must be decontrolled before doing anything else.

How do different causes of missing your flight affect your rights?

Now that you know what to do if you missed your flight, here’s a quick breakdown of what your rights are depending on what caused your missed flight. The reason for missing your flight matters, as it can affect how the airline handles your situation.

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Also known as Tiernan, Rachel and Wendy! It’s lovely to see you here. At Celt & Kiwi we’re blogging about slow, family travel and sharing our relocation experiences. Read More

What happens if you miss your flight on purpose?

While it may come as a surprise to incredibly conscientious travelers who typically arrive at the airport three hours prior to their scheduled departure time, some travelers do in fact miss flights on purpose.

Though not common, this can be done as a way to score cheap flights. Deal hunters, for example, may find that it’s cheaper to book a flight with a connection where they want to go, rather than a flight directly to the desired destination.

The traveler will then hop off at the layover city and skip the remaining leg of the itinerary.

When travelers miss flights and do not notify the airline, the rest of the itinerary is almost always canceled. That means that if you are trying to get a flight deal by gaming the system, you might find yourself stranded, or without a return trip home.

Frequent fliers will not receive miles for trips booked and skipped, and certain offenders may even find themselves banned from that airline.

Be Prepared Before You Take Off

Taking a couple steps so you’re ready to handle missing a connecting flight doesn’t require a lot of forethought. The first, and most obvious, is getting travel insurance the moment you book those cheap multi city flights you had your eye on. Not all policies and plans are the same, so you’ll need to make sure you get one that covers missing a connection. It can lessen the painful financial pinch. Another good idea? Bring essentials, like toiletries and a change of clothes, in your carry-on.

Have you ever missed a connecting flight? How did your airline work to get you headed in the direction of your final destination?