Help is available if you miss your flight but the options available differ depending on who or what is at fault.
Air travel provides joy to millions of passengers each year for holidays, business travels, and visiting friends and family. Most flights go according to schedule, and passengers reach their destination as expected.
For the unlucky minority, sometimes things go wrong, and passengers miss their flight. We take a look at what happens when you miss your flight.
What if it is my fault?
Missed flights can happen for all sorts of reasons. Traffic congestion getting to the airport, delays at security, illness, late connecting flights, climate, losing track of time duty-free, and endless other reasons. If you have missed your flight due to circumstances within your control, the airline is not obliged to rebook you on a later flight free of cost.
Airlines have different approaches to this. For example, in the USA, the ‘flat tire’ rule may apply. For airlines that apply this policy, if you miss your flight due to circumstances beyond your control and come to the airport within 2 hours of the flight departing, then the airline will book you onto the next available flight for no extra charge.
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If you know you will miss your flight the 1st step is to contact the airline. If you know in advance then it is worth checking to see if you can revoke with zero penalties. If you simply do not turn up, the airline is likely to revoke your whole travel, including connections and return flights. Contacting the airline early could resolve the situation as they may be able to book you on the next available flight.
Some airlines will be able to reschedule the travel at the airport, others might need to contact a call center. Many airlines will accommodate passengers in these circumstances if they can, but it is by no means guaranteed. They could reschedule you on a later flight or could put you on a standby list.
What if it is the fault of the airline?
- Aviation is a complex industry with many organizations involved in getting an aircraft into the sky. If the airline revokes the flight you are often allowed to get your money back. However, this is not always the case, and rules vary between countries.
If you are connecting through an airport and the 1st leg of the flight is revoked or postponed, resulting in missing the next leg, then your rights depend on how you have booked your flights. If you are on a single ticket for the entire trip, the airline will book you on the next available flight and provide accommodation if needed. If you booked 2 separate tickets, then the passenger will be responsible for rearranging new flights. Some airlines may be willing to accommodate passengers at no cost but it is at their discretion.
The rules and the rights of passengers vary in different areas. In Europe, for example, passengers can be protected under European Union Regulation EU261. It details specific rules that passengers are entitled to, including reimbursement and compensation.
What if you are already at the airport?
If you are already airside and your flight has departed without you, you will either wait at the airport for the rescheduled flight, or you will require to leave the airport. Airport staff must escort you back through the terminal and into the comings hall. If your luggage was already loaded onto the aircraft, the flight will not depart without it if your travel has been revoked. It will be offloaded, and you will be reunited with it.
Missing a flight can feel like the end of the world, but even if it is the passenger’s fault, airlines may be able and ready to rebook on alternative flights.
If the airline is at fault, passengers can journey with the knowledge that procedures are in place to reschedule, provide compensation, or both.
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