What To Do When You Miss Your Flight

Missing your flight is stressful but it doesn’t have to ruin your trip. Here’s what you should do if you miss your flight.
#jadetalkstravel #missedflight #missedconnection

Arriving at a destination to find your bags haven’t made it is stressful, but arriving at the airport only to be told, you’ve missed your flight is traumatic.

The sweats, the panic, the wild thoughts of “have I just f#@ked up my entire trip?” It’s easy to fall into a panic. However, having missed four flights, including frequent flyer tickets and non-refundable, non-changeable discounted tickets; I’m happy to announce, there was a positive outcome for each.

Always Call The Airline
If you know in advance, you’re going to miss your flight (e.g. stuck in traffic), and you’re able to, always call ahead. If you’re on a flight that is delayed, meaning you’re going to miss your connection, notify the flight attendant so the pilot can call ahead.

Especially if your onward flight is interlined or in the same frequent flyer network as the airline you’re stuck on. The plane is unlikely to wait for you, but I have had a situation where the plane did wait, and I was ushered through the airport’s secret passageways to make my connecting flight.

You’ll have more leverage by calling ahead than being a ‘no show‘. If you do not turn up at the airport, and you do not call. You’re classed as a ‘no show‘. If this happens, the airline is likely to cancel any remaining flights, and you won’t get a refund on your ticket. Even if out of curtesy, always call the airline and let them know, if you’re able to.

Claim up to €600 compensation for delayed flights.

If you booked through a travel agent, they are only able to amend your flight a few days prior to departure. Within 24-48 hours of departure, the airline takes control of the booking so airport check-in staff (or computers) can issue boarding passes.

Calling your travel agent to amend your flight ticket, will result in amendment fees being charged by the travel agent (average is $250) in addition to any fees charged by the airline (anywhere from $150 – $450). Though in some cases, a ticket is non-changeable and must be put towards a new ticket with the same airline.

Leave Emotion Out Of It
Chances are, the person you’re dealing with, is an airport employee, who’s heard a million excuses before. It makes no difference to them if you make your flight, they still go home at the end of their shift.

So be nice, be thankful and appreciative even if the result is not perfect. Being angry, threatening or abusive, will not get you anyway.

Also don’t lie, a quick phone call by an airline employee can easily prove if your bus was late, or there was a train delay. Always be honest.

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An airline employee can’t make seats magically appear on a booked out flight. They can’t re-book you on another airline, just because there’s another flight departing soon and you need to get to XYZ for [Insert reason here].

What they can do, within the limitations of the fare you paid, is re-book you onto another flight. This may be later the same day if there is one, or it could be next day. Some airlines have a stand-by option. Always ask, just in case.

If you buy a cheap ticket, and you miss your flight, you can not expect the airline to upgrade you to business class, on the next available flight. It’s just not going to happen, unless you’re prepared to pay for it of course.

However, if you miss your flight, and the airline is offering to re-book you, but will charge you a higher fare – unless it was the airlines fault, expect this to be your worst case scenario.

Best case scenario is you’re polite, the airline employee is having a good day, and they re-book you free of charge. But $100 to catch another flight is better than losing the cost of your ticket entirely.

You can try the ‘Can I please speak to your manager’, but be aware, notes can and are made in a booking. If you try and bypass airport staff by calling an airline reservation centre, chances are they will repeat back to you what you’ve already been told.

Some budget airlines are offering a ‘reschedule fee’ in advance if you turn up to the airport too early or too late. You pay a small fee during the booking process and they will rebook you on the day at no additional charge. Certainly worth looking into for peace of mind.

Check Your Travel Insurance Policy
In some cases, if the delay was not your fault, travel insurance will cover the cost of re-booking your ticket, along with hotels, meals, etc whilst your waiting for your next available flight. Always call your travel insurance company to notify them, as soon as you know you’ll miss your flight. In most cases you’ll need to pay for any expenses, keep your receipts, and make a claim upon your return. Of course, you won’t receive the excess amount back in your claim unless you paid extra for nil-excess.

Enjoy Your Extended Holiday
I once missed a flight from Los Angeles back to Sydney, departing 19th December. My travel companions were freaking out because when we booked the tickets, there was no availability between the 19th Dec and mid January, so we thought we’d be stuck in L.A for weeks.

Claim up to €600 compensation for delayed flights.

Luckily, there had been a cancellation, and we managed to get on another flight two days later, so we went to Disneyland. So it wasn’t all bad.

In this instance, we had booked a bus ticket from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, however the original bus was supposed to stop at L.A airport where we had planned to get off (even though our ticket was back to L.A Bus Terminal). The bus was overbooked, we were put an a different bus requiring multiple transfers, and which ended up arrive several hours later.

We tried to explain we wanted to get off at the airport, but as our ticket said downtown bus terminal, that was all the bus company was concerned about. The amount of money we spent on the hostel, was less than the cost of our insurance excess from memory, so it wasn’t worth making a claim.

Avoid Missing Your Flight In The First Place
The first flight I missed was from Anchorage to Seattle and it was down to my own stupidity. The flight was leaving at 12:10am on the 19th September which of course meant I needed to check-in on the 18th September (I know this now!). Luckily Alaskan Airlines was understanding, “it happens most flights” the airline employee told me. “There’s three other people in your situation tonight”. I ended up on stand-by, (this is where frequent flyer status is important), but missed out. By the time I found out, it was too late to go to a hotel, so I hung at the airport until 6am, then caught a bus to a local shopping centre. I watched two movies (sleeping mostly) then hung out in the library and was re-booked on a flight for the following night. I was travelling on a Star Alliance round the world ticket, so re-bookings were permitted at no charge.

The second flight I missed was technically my fault, but I was catching a domestic flight from Sydney to Cairns and took public transport to the airport instead of a taxi to save money. The train ended up being all-stops, and I arrived too late to check-in.

I was travelling on a Qantas frequent flyer reward ticket, and thankfully was able to rebook on a later flight, for the same fare type, without charge.

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The third flight I missed was JetBlue travelling from Washington D.C to Orlando, Florida. I was with my family and everyone told us it was a 15 minute drive to the airport. It wasn’t. Plus we had to return a rental car, then TSA lines were long. We arrived at the gate just as they closed the doors.

Expecting to buy new tickets, my mum took over and explained how TSA held us up and thankfully, the airport staff changed our flight, without charge, to a later flight the same day, about four hours later.

The last flight I missed was in Wellington, New Zealand and was down to getting stuck behind a slow driver on a narrow windy road, tripling the amount of time it usually took me to get to the airport. In this instance, I was travelling on the cheapest ticket possible, and was forced to purchase a new ticket, but thankfully had enough frequent flyer points to cover it, so was not out of pocket.

No one plans to miss their flight, but having a backup plan just in case, will help ensure a stress-free holiday, in the event of a missed flight.

Have you missed a flight? What was your experience? Get in touch. Good or bad stories, I want to hear them all.

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Thanks for reading!
Happy travels
Jade Jackson – Listen to my podcast Jade Talks Travel
Travel Writer | Podcaster | Photographer

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