Did I just miss my flight?
If you’ve never missed a flight before (lucky you), you’ve probably already had a tight connection or been the last one to jump on the plane because you were stuck in horrendous traffic on the way to the airport? Then you know the feeling of almost missing a flight. If you travel a lot, it’s only a matter of time until it happens to you. Yes, sorry to say that but it can happen to even the best-prepared travellers (hum… yes it happened to us). Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you just don’t make it. Until it happens to you, let us prepare you to get the best possible outcome in such a stressful situation.
What should you do if you know you’ll miss your flight?
The first thing you should do is immediately contact the airline to let them know you won’t make it. Your unfortunate situation can make someone else happy. Most flights have passengers on a waiting list dying for that precious open seat. Cold comfort, we know. But notifying the airline also improves your chances of being rebooked on the next available flight, space permitting. Whether you notify the airline beforehand or when arriving at the airport, always talk to a check-in agent and explain your situation. If you had a return ticket, your inbound flight will most of the time be cancelled if you miss your outbound so ask an agent to keep your inbound journey.
Now you need to get information on later trips with the same airline (which can help you avoid additional fees) so check with the agent what your options are. Depending on the airline, you may be charged a rebooking fee to get on another flight. Some airlines may also charge the difference in airfare. In that case, missing a flight can be very costly.
What happens to your luggage if you miss your flight?
If you have missed a connecting flight or got held up in security, your luggage will most likely continue its journey without you. Yes your suitcase may be en route to Ecuador while you’re stuck in a chilly airport in Paris. First thing first, immediately find an airline representative and ask if he or she can locate your bags. The airline may be able to track your bags and hold them until your arrival. This is one of the reasons (amongst lost luggage and spilt coffee) why you should always pack a change of clothes in your carry-on.
Can you get a refund if you miss your flight?
No but you may still be able to get a refund for the taxes you paid. Don’t get too excited, it’s barely nothing. But we may have a small secret for you. Some airlines (mainly in the US) have a « flat tire rule ». It means they will be waiving fare rules and change fees when travellers need to rebook a flight that they missed, presumably due to factors outside their own control (flat tire, accident or something similar). So don’t be like these people and forget about « my dog ate my train ticket », « I couldn’t find my favourite pair of flip flops » or « my granny drives too slow ». You now have the best explanation to tell.
What happens if you miss your flight on purpose?
We know what you’re thinking right now. Why on earth would someone miss a flight on purpose? While it may seem completely silly and irresponsible to some travellers religiously going to the airport at least three hours prior to their scheduled departure time, some travellers do in fact miss flights on purpose. So why do they do that? Well, sometimes booking a return flight is cheaper than booking a one way ticket. But careful, as we said before, if you had a return ticket, the rest of your itinerary will almost always be canceled.
It’s sometimes also cheaper to book a flight with a connection where you want to go, rather than a flight directly to the desired destination. So travellers will miss their connection on purpose and get out of the airport instead. This practice isn’t illegal but let’s be honest it is hugely irritating for other passengers and airlines. Firstly, you « steal » someone else’s seat on the plane. Secondly, you delay the flight as the plane will be forced to wait to see if you’re running late for the connection. Finally, always check the airline’s fine print as some airlines see that as a breach of contract. It’s also important to note that it only works if you are travelling with a carry on luggage or if you manage to get your luggage checked only until the desired destination.
So here you go, you have the 4 steps to follow in case you missed you flight: notify the airline, locate your luggage (if applicable), check with an agent for later flights and try to get a refund for taxes. As a generic rule, you should always read the airline’s fine print and get a good travel insurance to cover these types of situations. It is also common sense to try to check in online in advance and travel light if possible. That massively improves your chances of catching a flight even when you’re very last minute. But one thing is for sure, be prepared to sprint.
Until next adventure.
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