Life Happens! Maybe you forgot to set your alarm, or misread your flight time, you got a flat tire, or traffic was INSANE. Regardless of the reason, you missed your flight and now you are not sure what to do.
If it is the airline’s mistake or weather or some other reason that you are not held responsible for (whew!) then each airline has their own policies for handling these situations. Chances are you are already at the airport if this happens, and will be given instructions and options upon check-in.
If it is your responsibility, first, take a deep breath and realize that all is not lost! Read our tips on what to do when you miss your flight. Don’t worry, you’ll get there, eventually, and hopefully it won’t cost you a lot in re-booking fees.
1. The Flat Tire Rule
Many airlines have an unwritten policy that is referred to as the “flat tire rule.” Basically this means that if you arrived late to the airport (but still two-hours before your flight) under no fault of your own you can try to throw yourself at the mercy of the airlines employees by invoking (or nicely inquiring about) the flat tire rule. It’s worth a try. They might re-book you for no fee, a small fee, or at least try their hardest to get you to your destination as quickly and cheaply as possible.
If you are flying Southwest, they may be the only airline that currently does not charge ANY fees if you let them know at least 10 minutes prior to your departure time that you will miss your flight. Thank you, Southwest!
As soon as you realize that you are going to be late and are in danger of missing your flight (or already have) call the airline immediately.
TIP: Have their number already programed into your phone to save time.
Explain that you are making every effort to arrive on time but circumstances beyond your control are making it difficult. Ingratiate yourself to the person on the other end of the phone–make them want to help you. Avoid long, teary explanations though–they don’t have time and they don’t care.
They may be able to book another flight for you over the phone, put you on standby, inform you that your flight has been delayed anyway and you might make it (wouldn’t that be awesome!), or help hustle you though check in, baggage check, etc. to get you on the flight. Don’t be under any illusion that they will hold the plane for you–because they won’t.
3. Continue on to the Airport
Despite your setback you should still get to the airport (unless you have taken care of the situation on the phone and have a later flight booked). Get in line right away and talk to a ticket agent.
TIP: Ask if there are any First Class or Business seats available on the next flight. Sometimes this can be less expensive than last-minute coach seats.
It never hurts to ask if they will waive the fees. Maybe they will and maybe they won’t (or can’t), but it’s worth a try.
- Enroll in the TSA PreCheck Program. This will save you lots of time and avoid standing in line.
- Triple check flight times and set two alarms.
- Have a friend call you to make sure you are going to be on time.
- Take carry on bags only and avoid the checked bag line.
- Don’t park. Have someone drop you off or take a taxi or Uber.
- Arrive at least 2 hours early.
- Program the airline’s phone number in your phone.
If you have ever missed a flight due to a late arrival at the airport, what was your experience?
One more thing to ensure a smooth trip…
Traditional travel insurance can help you in situations where flights are missed, cancelled or rescheduled. But what it doesn’t help with is medical emergencies. Are you covered while you are traveling? Did you know that being transported from a hospital to home (from a long distance) can cost many thousands of dollars? Make sure you are covered for all possibilities, not just missed flights.