Getting to the airport on time is always nerve-racking, and anyone who has missed a flight knows well what a nightmare it can be. But if you can stay calm and follow these steps, it can end up being A-OK after all.
Are You Cutting It Close?
First thing, contact the airline. The sooner you let them know you aren’t going to make it, the better your chances of getting on the next available flight. Next, don’t give up. Checking in online in advance and traveling light can still help you if your gate stays open a bit longer. So can having expedited security-line clearance such as TSA PreCheck or Clear. If you arrive late and your gate has closed, check the flight schedule board immediately for later flights on the same airline. The more information you know, the easier it is for airline employees to accommodate you.
No Refund, No Problem: Avoid Expensive Fees
Check the terms of your ticket, as there may be a “flat tire rule.” Meaning, if you are going to miss your flight due to an unforeseen delay beyond your control, such as a flat tire, you may be put on standby for the next flight. Some airlines have an unwritten rule that you can pay a cheaper standby fee rather than an expensive change fee. However, whether you get this break is usually at the discretion of the airport agent. Not every airline does this, but politely ask about it. Here’s a list of some major airlines’ policies.
Avoid Getting Stranded
Don’t rush to book a new one-way ticket. It may seem an easier and sometimes cheaper, option to just start from scratch again. But, when you cancel one leg of your itinerary, the whole thing might cancel, leaving you stuck. So, check to see if that is the case, and if returning flights are cheap, before jumping ship. Be careful though— missing your flight without alerting the airline might result in loosing reward points and being charged a hefty fine.
Communicate with the Hotel and Baggage Company
A simple heads-up to the front desk explaining the situation can go a long way. If you let them know early enough about your new arrival time, you can often save on cancellation fees and prevent the hotel from giving your room away. If you are using a baggage delivery service outside your airline, check the cancellation or change fee and policies before you book and your bags are picked up. For example BAGS VIP needs 24-hour’s notice for a full refund, Luggage Forward needs at least a three-business-day notice for a full refund, while Luggage Free just needs to be notified before the bags are picked.
Reach out to Your Insurance Agent
Lastly, check your travel insurance policy, if you have arranged this coverage. In some cases, policies can give you a partial or even a full refund depending on the details of your missed flight and if you have cancellation coverage. Normally, insurance companies accept only certain reasons. A few of these are injury or illness, a natural disaster, theft of passport and mandatory evacuation at destination.