Here’s What to do if you Miss Your Flight

So why do we panic? Because flights are EXPENSIVE

Often, the further you fly, the more you’re investing to get there. And I don’t know anyone who actually enjoys wasting money (and I hope I never do).

Most likely you’re really kicking yourself. Not only have you missed a flight you’ve paid for, but now you have to go and buy some last-minute tickets! We all know that last-minute flights are about ten million times more expensive. Your head has started spinning and you begin to feel a little sick in your gut.

So what do you do when you find that you’ve missed your flight?

#1

Forgive yourself as soon as possible.

You’re allowed to dwell for a moment and be sad. But do lose yourself. This is an entirely solvable problem. You’re not the first person to miss your flight and will not be the last. Whether you read the times wrong or your taxi broke down, life happens. And today, it happened to you.

Let’s move on.

#2

Now that we’re all calm, head over to the airline’s ticket desk. Talking to your airline should always be your first port of call. Your airline is not obliged to put you on the next plane if you have missed your flight because of circumstances outside of their control (like traffic delays on the M1). You may have to pay a penalty to get onto the next or a subsequent flight.

#3

Depending on why you have missed your flight, insurance may cover it. Strikes, a car accident, transport delays: things like this may be covered. Get on the phone and call your insurance provider to find out what your options are.

Ideally, you will have read the small print when choosing your policy. Your policy document will outline what is covered and any circumstances that are not (like travelling to the airport in your own car, traffic jams unrelated to an accident, or oversleeping).

If you booked your trip as part of a package through a travel agent or tour operator you should call them. Depending on why you missed your flight they might be able to offer assistance. At the very least, they should be able to give you advice.

We recommend having your travel documents backed up and handy in case of emergency. Read our post on ‘5 ways to Back-Up Your Travel Documents’.

#4

The amount you will have to lay down to fix the problem will depend on the complexity of the trip. Are you just starting your trip or are you heading home? Is it just one flight or will this affect another connecting flight later on?

If you have missed the outward flight on your trip, you most likely will have to re-book the return flight as well. Bummer, I know. But, do not assume that you will still be able to show up for the original return flight!

Before you pay your penalties with the same airline, it is worth considering if any other airlines fly to your destination? If you have the time, price match before you purchase. You could do a quick search on Skyscanner (affiliate) to check times, airlines and costs.

Once you’ve decided what option to go for – just pay it and get it done. For some travellers, this will be a real kick in the pants. Especially if you have to call Mum & Dad for the money… Maybe ready #1 again.

#5

Has missing one flight sent you into a spiral of missed connections?

If your trip was all booked on one ticket, you will be able to sort that all at once. Multiple bookings with multiple airlines will mean you have to dedicate some time to getting those flights changed. More money will undoubtedly apply.

Did you check-in and still miss your flight? Too much time in duty-free, eh…

In this case, your bags may get to your destination before you do. You should try to contact the baggage claim at your destination to let them know what’s happened.

#6

Let them know you’ve missed your flight. Think of poor Jeeves waiting for you at the end with the limo. He needs to get home to his family tonight, too.

#7

You’ve missed one flight, so you won’t be keen to do it again. If you have to wait overnight for another flight, find local accommodation so you can get back nice and early for your new flight.

Did you know that airlines are not liable if you miss your check-in deadline because the queue is too long? That’s why they say 3 hours international, mateys.

#8

After you’ve cleared security, have a coffee or a pint before your gate is announced. Off you go!

#9

Here are some tips to prevent you from missing your flight in the future:

  • Leave a generous amount of time to get to the airport. Allow extra time during the holidays or peak times for the airport.
  • Use an app to manage your travel docs
  • Use your phone calendar to set alerts for when you need to leave
  • Google the airport layout. How long does it take to get from one end to the other?
  • Check-in online
  • Get decent travel insurance with a missed flight option
  • Carry emergency funds
  • Even the most prepared person in the world can get hit with the missed flight misfortune. Don’t beat yourself up too much!

Have you ever missed a flight? Tell us how much it sucked in the comments.

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3. Notify everyone else

When you miss your flight, there can be a chain reaction with your travel plans. You’ll want to contact your hotel right away to let them know you’ll be arriving late. If you’re lucky, they’ll even waive the cancellation fee if you’re arriving a day later. If you’ve booked a car rental or any tours that were set to happen the day you arrive, you’ll also want to reschedule with them. Missed flights happen more often than you realize, by letting people know, they’ll be much more accommodating. People just don’t want to be waiting around when you won’t show.

If the Connection is with Another Airline

If your connection is with a different airline tha

If your connection is with a different airline than that of your first flight, remember what we said earlier…again, you’re on your own, pal. Airlines aren’t obliged to assist you with making it on time to another carrier’s flight, and generally don’t do much in the way of helping. Maybe if the two airlines are in the same alliance there might be a way to ease the hassle of rebooking. But if you booked and paid for the flights separately, don’t get your hopes up for much assistance from either carrier. The best advice we can give to anyone hopping off one airline’s flight and catching another’s is to make sure to give yourself plenty of time between each leg of your journey and to have a sense of the airport’s layout and how to get from point A to point B quickly.

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.)

What happens to your luggage if you miss your flight?

In the event that you missed a connection, or got held up in security and your checked luggage has gone ahead without you, immediately find an airline representative.

The airline may be able to track your bags and hold them for you until your arrival.

Compensation for a missed connecting flight, when am I entitled?

These are the conditions that will grant passengers the right to be compensated when they’ve missed a connecting flight:

  • You checked in on time at your original airport of departure
  • Your original flight (or another flight in your schedule) was delayed for more than 15 minutes and this made you miss a connecting flight.
  • Due to your missed connecting flight, you arrived at your final destination with a delay greater than 3 hours when compared to the time of arrival stipulated in your original booking (all flights must be included in the same booking).
  • The cause for the delay can’t be considered an extraordinary circumstance

Missed your flight but not entitled to compensation? Ask for therefund ofpassenger bound taxes

If you have missed your flight but you are not entitled to compensation, you may still be able to get a refund for the taxes you paid. If you do not take a flight, the airline doesn’t have to pay any passenger-bound taxes to the airport. You've already paid these taxes, which can comprise 25% of your ticket price, to the airline nonetheless. Most passengers don’t know that they can ask the airline for a refund of these passenger-bound taxes in most cases.

Sometimes airlines do mention this right in their terms and conditions. So please make sure to check those. There are airlines that will ask for an administration fee if you ask them to refund the taxes, such as Ryanair. This is an odd thing for them to do, especially considering the fact that if you weren't able to take the flight, they will have been able to sell your chair to someone else. In other words: they can get twice as much for one seat.

Keep these things in mind:

  • You didn’t make use of the flight in question
  • The reason the flight was missed is generally irrelevant
  • The airline calculated the airport taxes and the passenger-bound taxes of the local governments
  • The request for a refund was submitted no later than three months after the date of travel
  • In some cases, you will be required to have booked the flight directly with the airline to be able to get the refund

Be Prepared Before You Take Off

Taking a couple steps so you’re ready to handle missing a connecting flight doesn’t require a lot of forethought. The first, and most obvious, is getting travel insurance the moment you book those cheap multi city flights you had your eye on. Not all policies and plans are the same, so you’ll need to make sure you get one that covers missing a connection. It can lessen the painful financial pinch. Another good idea? Bring essentials, like toiletries and a change of clothes, in your carry-on.

Have you ever missed a connecting flight? How did your airline work to get you headed in the direction of your final destination?

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