I Have Missed My Flight. Now What?!
Feeling great about finding cheap airfares often loses its allure if you end up missing your flight. However, all is not lost if you act quickly. Some airlines allow fliers who miss their flights for reasons beyond their control to get on the next flight that has available seats without charging any penalties. At many airlines their rules are not hard and firm but rather discretionary procedures.
Travelers that miss their flights due to situations beyond their control (i.e. car broke down) may be able to avoid paying more for a future flight as long as they contact their airline within two hours of the scheduled departure time.
The following are a few guidelines to follow when you know you are going to miss a flight:
1) Call the airline as soon as you know you are going to miss your flight. Clearly you should do everything possible to get to the airport early, allowing plenty of time to get to the airport and go through the lines (both to check baggage and go through security).
2) When calling the airline ask what the airlines policy is regarding a missed flight. If the representative does not mention the two hour rule (sometimes referred to as the flat tire rule), you should ask about it.
3) Airline agents are usually allowed discretion in how they handle people who miss flights. Being polite and offering a good reason for being late often helps. Also if you speak to an agent who does not seem to care and is not flexible, ask to speak to a supervisor.
4) You need to realize that once you have missed a flight that a best case scenario will be for the airline to put you on a standby list for the next available flight. This can be a risky proposition, especially if you are traveling with a family during peak travel times. Ask how many open seats are available for future flights and how many people are ahead of you on the standby list. Only then can you calculate the odds of making a future flight.
Dont forget, even if you found a great price at one of many budget hotels, in many cases you need to call the hotel as soon as you know you are not going to get there as scheduled to avoid being charged for the room.