What Happens If You Miss Your Flight?

What to do if you missed your flight

So what to do if you missed your flight? The first thing you should do is to call the airline, otherwise, they will declare you a “no show” and cancel your entire itinerary, including any connections or return flights that you may have. If you are running late and can already tell that you’re not going to make it to the airport on time, it’s worth it to go ahead and let the airline know beforehand so that you can start thinking about a solution. 

Martin Seeley, CEO of MattressNextDay and an avid traveler, says “Airlines are most likely to assist you with another flight if you call them as early as possible. There is a high chance that they will book you on the next flight when you call them when you’re on your way because of external factors that caused you to be late.”

If you are already at the airport, you can also ask the airline desk at the gate for information. Tawnya Redding, a blogger at Money Saved is Money Earned advises “I've missed several flights, both due to things within and out of my control. In both instances, the first thing I did was go to the airline desk at the gate — and that should be the first thing you do as well. The people at the gate can give you immediate information about the next available flights and your options. In one instance, I was able to reschedule right there and take a flight an hour later without any fuss. Another time, I was directed to a larger help center for the airline to get help rescheduling and finding accommodations for the night.”

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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3. If youre already checked-in but miss your flight, can you rebook a missed flight?

Contact ground staff and get “decontrolled”; they’ll take you back through immigration so you can find your lonely luggage waiting for you. Then you’ll be led back into the glaring light of the arrivals hall to the check-in desk where you can pay the no-show fee to rebook your missed flight. In this scenario, be as polite as possible, flash your frequent flyer cards and you might save on the fees.

What happens if you miss your flight?

What happens if you miss a flight? Check at the co
What happens if you miss a flight? Check at the counter for options available to you when you miss your flight

If you discover that the gate is already closed or the plane already took off when you arrive at the airport, study the flight schedule board. Look specifically for a flight to your destination at a later time with the same airline. This may help avoid extra fees.

Next, speak to your airline counter and explain your situation politely. Politeness and respect can take you far, especially with a representative who probably deals with stressed-out flyers all day.

Sometimes airlines will reject a poor excuse, but in some urgent situations, airlines may follow a “flat tire rule”. The “flat tire rule” just means that if you have a legitimate reason for your missed flight, such as a medical emergency or a car accident, you can get rebooked to a later flight and just pay a rebooking fee.

An excuse such as sleeping through your alarm will likely not convince anyone to help you out.

READ MORE: Should you check in online for your 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.

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.

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.

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.)

Call the Local Phone Number

What happens if it isn’t the airline’s fault you’ve missed your flight? What if you’re on the ground? Many times, the airline’s general phone number is on your e-ticket or receipt. However, that will take you to a main line and getting through to your direct airport will take some time. When you’re about to or have just missed a flight, those minutes will feel like hours. Instead, if you can get online, go to the website for the airport you’re flying from. All airports have some sort of airline contact information page, with local numbers for each airline that services that location. Call the reservations desk straight away to speak with a gate agent or ticketing rep.

Passenger and Cabin Tips

Infant Travel

Infant tickets for children not reaching 24 months on the return flight typically cost up to 10% of adult fare when the infant stays in your lap or in an airline provided bassinet. On most long haul flights you can get a free bassinet for infants weighing up to 22 lbs (10kg). Bassinets may be requested on Fareboom.com at the time of booking the infant passenger using the Assistance request form. Some US carriers do not provide bassinets (Delta, American Airlines – except on Boeing 777). Better foreign carriers are typically more child friendly. On long haul flights you might consider booking infants older than 6 months as children and pay for their own seat, typically costing 70% of adult fare. You should bring your own approved car seat onboard when purchasing a child seat.

Cabin Selection

We prefer booking Premium Economy on long haul international flights when it costs up to 50% more than the lowest available coach class fare. Foreign carriers, such as British Airways, Virgin, Air New Zealand, Air France, Qantas, Eva Air, ANA and Japan Airlines are our favorites. Premium Economy has wider seats, a foot rest and slightly better service to help you get to the destination refreshed and relaxed.For deeper pockets Business class on long haul flights is king. Ensure that you pick the right airline with lie-flat seats. Paying the Business class premium for partially reclinable seats does not make much sense so you might pick Premium Economy instead (when available).

How Did This Happen?

As weird as it sounds, the reason you missed your flight has a lot to do with how the airline will respond to your case.

Let’s say you missed your flight because you have an expired id or passport.  This is a personal mistake you should have caught before you departed. Most airlines will allow you to reschedule. A fee of $200 or more plus the difference in fare applies on most airlines.

If  you missed your connecting flight due to bad weather, most often you’ll be put on the next available flight so there’s no need to panic.

Now, if you just slept in, read your ticket wrong, or showed up a day late, you might have to be pretty humble to get the solution you need. Check with the airline to see what options are available to you. In my experience,  going directly to the airport with everything in order and pleading your case has been the best option. I’ve been able to hop on flights at no extra charge and other times paid a small change fee.

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