‘I’ve Missed My Flight!’ Here’s what To Do

‘I’ve Missed My Flight!’ Here’s what To Do

By Mirela Necsutu, Sat, Oct 12, 2013

Stuck in traffic? Alarm clock didn’t go off? There’s nothing quite like the complete panic that shocks your system when you realized you’re going to miss your flight. But don’t give up on your trip – we’ve got the inside-scoop on how to get your travel plans back on track.

If you’ve missed – or almost missed – your flight, first take a minute to freak out. Then, when you have that out of your system and your wits about you again, take one of these next steps to correct your course.

Missed Connections

If you’re coming in from another flight, even if it is from another airline, most of the time the airline will take care of booking you through to your final destination. If you have missed your connection, take heart that you will likely be placed on the next available flight on standby.

If you’re in this situation, call ahead to the airline to be sure you can pick up your bags. They will arrive before you, so simply letting the baggage claim agent know will help expedite the process. Also, call your hotel and ground transport if you will be arriving much later than expected.

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.

Before The Gate Closes

If you call before the gate closes on your flight, there is a much higher chance that you will be able to switch to another flight without too much fuss. Be nice and briefly explain your circumstances. But please, no long explanations or tearful stories. Frankly, they don’t care and they’re too busy to listen to all of that.

By contacting them before your plane has left, there’s a decent probability that you’ll be able to change to a different flight that day. Beware, however, that change fees are steep. Politely ask if the fee can be waived or reduced, as many gate agents do have that power. 

Two-Hour Rule

What happens if you’ve already missed your flight? It happens. Luckily for you, there is a little-known rule in the airline industry that is known as the two-hour rule, or the flat-tire rule. This is an actual policy at US Airways and Southwest as well as several other airlines, but it isn’t publicized.

Essentially, if there are circumstances beyond your control, like a huge accident on the highway en route to the airport, you may get a little extra help. The two-hour rule states that if a passenger arrives within two hours of their missed flight, the airline employee can put you on the next flight with the same airline on standby at no charge. If you miss the last flight of the day, you’ll be standby on the first flight the next day.

Pro Tip: If you have membership status with the airline you’re flying, sometimes you can get a little extra help. Do be sure to mention this. 

One-Way Tickets

If you’re more than two hours late, you’re probably out of luck and getting a new ticket is next up on your agenda. If you’re on the first part of your itinerary, you can’t just buy a one-way ticket rather than paying an expensive change fee. This will usually cancel your whole itinerary. Your best bet is to pay the change fee. However, if you’re on your return flight home and your bags are already ahead of you, getting a cheap one-way ticket is a great solution. Go for it!

The most important thing is not to beat yourself up about missing a flight. It happens to even the most punctual, seasoned traveler. Going with the flow, being flexible and being kind even when you’re stressed out is part of travel and part of life. Take a deep breath and ask for help. You’ll get where you want to go.

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