What Happens if I Miss My Flight? 4 Practical Tips for Everyone

By Alice Ross | TRAVEL TIPS

Jan 06
We all know what it feels like to be late, but when you are late for a flight, that sinking feeling is doubled. Any number of factors could be the cause: traffic, missing a transfer, getting lost, poor planning, missing your alarm… Sometimes these circumstances are beyond your control, while in other instances the blame falls squarely on your shoulders.

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Whatever the reason, if you are wondering " What happens if I miss my flight?", I am here to tell you that it isn't as bad as you think. Having been in this situation a few times myself, I know that it can easily be remedied. So, if you know you are going to miss your flight, don't panic, take a deep breath. … and read on and use the following tips to help you get to your final destination.

Missing Connecting Flights

This is perhaps the most common reason for missing a flight. Not only are airports busy and confusing places, they can also be quite large in many cities. If you are new to traveling or haven't been to the airport in a while, read our guide on What To Do When You Get to the Airport.
If you've ever tried to get across Heathrow Airport in London or Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, you know what I'm talking about. In some cases you have to take a bus or train to reach the other terminals! If you only have a short window of time to make your connection, this can be a nightmare.
Luckily, airlines will usually accommodate you if you miss your connecting flight. In most cases, you will be placed on the next available flight, free of charge. If you end up in this situation, make sure you communicate with your airline as soon as possible. 9 times out of 10, you will not have any issues getting a new connection and the airline will take care of the details. If traveling with checked bags, remember to ask that your baggage be held for you, as it will reach your destination earlier than you.
Personally, I try to travel as light as possible rarely check my bags. For more on traveling light, check out our article on the 5 Best Small Backpacks. Not about to give up your suitcase, but worried about baggage fees? Have no fear! We've researched some of the Best Lightweight Luggage for your next trip.

Contact the Airline

If you know that you will probably miss your flight and you aren't at the airport, go directly to the airport's website. Here you can find the local number of the airline, and speak directly to the people at the check-in desk. This will save you time and the hassle of being routed through the airline's call system. Calmly explain that you may miss your flight and ask to be put on the next available flight.
If possible, try to do this before your gate closes. This will greatly improve your chances of getting on the next available flight without further hassle. It also means you will be less likely to pay extra fees. Remember to be polite, as these gate agents have the power to waive extra charges and can help you to turn an unfortunate situation into a more positive one.

The Flat Tire Rule and Missed Departure Fees

Although you would be hard pressed to find this rule on the company website, many airlines (a least in the USA) have what is called "The Flat Tire Rule". Also known as the "Two Hour Rule", this can benefit anyone asking themselves "What happens if I miss my flight?". Essentially, this gives the gate agents/ticket reps the discretion to book you onto a flight free of charge in case of "events beyond the passenger's control" if you arrive within two hours of your original flight's departure.
A few years ago, I missed a flight from Los Angeles to Austin, where I was scheduled to perform at a music festival. Luckily, I arrived early enough, went to the ticket counter, invoked "The Flat Tire Rule" and was on the next flight within an hour and I made it to my gig that evening.
I should say, however, that if you are traveling with a budget airline, you may not be so lucky. While these companies offer rock-bottom prices, they make a killing by charging extra fees for things like missed departures, extra baggage and basically anything other than a place to sit on the flight.
If you are booked on a flight with one of these companies, it certainly doesn't hurt to ask at the ticket counter, but you will probably have to pay. In some cases, it might be cheaper to rebook your trip completely!

A Word on Traveler's Insurance

Purchasing traveler's insurance is another way to cover the cost of missed flights. Most insurance policies will offer some kind of compensation for missed flights if you can prove that it was something beyond your control. If you have traveler's insurance, read your contract or call your insurance company to find out what options are available to you. Also, make sure you have documentation to show that you missed the flight for a legitimate reason (receipts from an auto shop etc.)

Problem Solved

While missing a flight is certainly not ideal, it is a problem that can be easily solved. In today's world where air travel is becoming cheaper and more common, it is bound to happen to you at some point, if it hasn't already. In this article, we discussed the following topics:
  • What to do if you miss your connection
  • Contacting the airline using the local airport phone number
  • ​"The Flat Tire Rule" and how to deal with missed departure fees
  • Traveler's insurance
I hope that this information helps you if you find yourself wondering "What happens if I miss my flight?". I know how stressful this can be, but as you have read, it can easily be fixed. Following these tips won't get you on your original flight, but they can save you money and time as you travel. Have you missed a flight before? Do you have some advice for fellow travels? Leave your comments below and join the discussion.
For more air travel tips, be sure to read our article on things to remember when flying. Be safe and happy travels!
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About the Author

Hi, I’m Alice Ross, a long-term traveler who left the corporate world to travel the world. I chose to live life on my own phase and live day by day while immersing myself in new experiences, new knowledge, and new people in a different walk of life I met along the way.

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