Content of the material
- What should you do if you think you’ll miss your flight?
- Missed your flight but not entitled to compensation? Ask for therefund ofpassenger bound taxes
- Compensation for a missed connecting flight, when am I entitled?
- Advice on what to do if you miss your flight
- Can you get a refund if you miss your flight?
- What happens to your baggage when you miss your connecting flight?
- We are Celt Kiwi
- Trying to get rebooked
- Missed flights abroad
- How do different causes of missing your flight affect your rights?
- More from SmarterTravel:
What should you do if you think you’ll miss your flight?
Travelers who are concerned they’re not going to make their flight should immediately alert the airline.
“If someone knows they will be missing the flight prior to departure,” flight attendant Kelly Kincaid told Travel + Leisure, “it’s good policy (and manners) for that passenger to notify the airline. Most flights nowadays have standby passengers awaiting that precious open seat.”
Giving the airline notice also improves your chances of being rebooked on the next available flight, space permitting.
And just because you’re late doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel. Checking in online in advance, and traveling light (carry-on only) can improve your chances of catching a flight even when you’re under the wire. After all, gates for certain flights may stay open 10 to 15 minutes before departure. In other words, be prepared to sprint.
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
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
Advice on what to do if you miss your flight
- Find a representative of your booked airline and ask about the airline’s policy on missed flights – some airlines may only charge a re-booking fee while others may ask you to pay in the difference between the new and old flight, which can work out expensive. It is NOT standard practice for an airline to waiver excess charges, so don’t expect a free pass. To avoid the hassle and expense of booking a new flight, make sure you don’t miss your flight!
- Check for the next available flight and ask to be put on the standby list – often during peak travel season, there are many flights to the same destinations and with your name on the list, it may just be an hour or two before you’re on your way again. If the airline cannot offer you an alternative flight at an equal or cheaper price, do a quick search and compare flights on Travelstart!
- We know this situation can be incredibly stressful, but always try to remain calm and communicate politely with airline staff. Clearly explain your situation and they will do their best to assist you.
- Stay at the airport – it’s always a good idea to stick around at the airport as you await your next flight. If the waiting time is less than 5 hours, it is recommended to stay in the vicinity to avoid any further delays on your behalf.
Sometimes, one action can lead to the next and that is especially the case in terms of connecting flights! Have a look at these tips on what to do when you miss your initial flight.
Can you get a refund if you miss your flight?
No. But you can, on rare and serendipitous occasions, avoid penalties for your tardiness.
“There’s something called a ‘flat tire rule,’” Kincaid explained to T+L, noting that not all airlines have this.
“Basically, the rule can be used to only charge the same day confirmed [or] standby fee, instead of a change fee and change of fare fee, if the passenger states they were late due to a flat tire, accident, or something similar.”
In just the same way that airlines avoiding compensating passengers for weather-related cancellations, travelers also have some recourse when they are late for reasons beyond their control. Such as, well, a flat tire.
While this policy is rarely publicized on airline websites, The Points Guy noted that most domestic carriers, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines, will accommodate travelers who arrive within two hours of their original time departure, without paying a fee or swallowing fare increases.
What happens to your baggage when you miss your connecting flight?
If you missed your connecting flight and your luggage was on that flight, you would again need to find a representative from the airline that you booked with as soon as possible. The representative would then track your luggage and hold onto it until you get there, instead of leaving it for security to collect at the end of the luggage conveyor belt on the other side! Always be on the safe side and take out baggage insurance for lost or delayed baggage, especially for long trips.
We are Celt Kiwi
Also known as Tiernan, Rachel and Wendy! It’s lovely to see you here. At Celt & Kiwi we’re blogging about slow, family travel and sharing our relocation experiences. Read More
Trying to get rebooked
I cleared immigration and looked at ExpertFlyer, and noticed that there was a single seat left for sale on a flight several hours later from Houston to Los Angeles. Fortunately it was in the same fare class I had originally booked in.
I sprinted to the terminal from which my United flight was scheduled to depart (which was pretty far away — rather than taking the train I ran, and arrived out of breath). I got to the Premier Access check-in counter, and explained the situation.
“Hi, I was hoping you could help rebook me. I screwed up. My inbound international flight was late, and I booked it on a separate ticket, so I missed my flight to Los Angeles.”
She huffed and puffed, and inched over to the counter ever so slowly. “I don’t know if I can do anything, this is going to be expensive.”
I just don’t understand the attitude of these agents, and how they have a job in a customer service industry, let alone in the area supposedly designed for “premium” customers.
Would an “I”m sorry to hear that, sir, let’s see what we can do” have killed her?
“I need to call my support desk. I don’t know how to do this.” She spent several minutes trying to dial up a number but it didn’t work, so she called over her colleague and explained the situation to her. You’d think a check-in agent rebooking passengers who missed their flight wouldn’t be an unusual circumstance?
At this point I said “I don’t want to be a pain, but there’s literally one seat left on a flight tonight. Do you mind just putting that segment in the record and then you can let me know what the fare difference is, because I don’t want it to disappear?”
“You’re gonna have to be patient,” she responded. Sheesh.
She spent quite a while waiting for someone to pick up, explained “we don’t need to help this passenger because it’s his fault,” and then she got disconnected and had to call again.
“There’s gonna be a big fare difference sir, I’m just telling you.”
I just stepped back and let her do her thing, because watching how she was doing things was driving me mad.
After about 15 minutes she waved me over and issued me a new boarding pass on the later flight, without charging me anything. The funny thing is that she wasn’t trying to be nice, but rather seemingly couldn’t figure out how to reissue the ticket and charge me more.
That flight ended up being oversold and needing volunteers, and they were offering a $500 voucher. However, the next flight out was 26 hours later, so as much as it killed me to do so, I passed on the opportunity.
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.)
How do different causes of missing your flight affect your rights?
Now that you know what to do if you missed your flight, here’s a quick breakdown of what your rights are depending on what caused your missed flight. The reason for missing your flight matters, as it can affect how the airline handles your situation.
More from SmarterTravel:
- 10 Things Not to Do at Airport Security
- 7 Ways to Score Airport Lounge Access
- The Worst Cities for an Airport Connection, If You Want to Make Your Flight
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2015. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.
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