Anyone who has ever been stuck in horrendous traffic on the way to the airport knows that fear-of-missing-a-flight feeling. Travelers who are concerned they’re not going to make their flight should immediately alert the airline.
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.
What if you still can’t catch your flight?
Depending on the airline, travelers may be charged a rebooking fee to get on another flight. Some airlines may also charge the difference in airfare — meaning a missed flight can be a costly inconvenience.
If you arrive at the airport after your flight has closed or departed, take a minute to assess the flight schedule board. Look for later trips with the same airline, which can help you avoid having to pay additional fees or forfeit your entire remaining itinerary, then present these options to a gate or check-in agent, which will help expedite the process.
Can you get a refund if you miss your flight?
No. But you can, on rare and serendipitous occasions, avoid penalties for your tardiness.
In the same way that airlines avoid compensating passengers for weather-related cancellations, travelers also have some recourse when they are late for reasons beyond their control — such as, well, having a flat tire.
While this policy is rarely publicized on airline websites, The Points Guy noted that some domestic carriers, including American Airlines, JetBlue, and Southwest (and sometimes Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, depending on the case), will accommodate travelers who arrive within two hours of their original departure time, without making them pay a fee or swallow fare increases.
What happens to your luggage if you miss your flight?
In the event that you missed a connection or got held up in security and your checked luggage has gone ahead without you, immediately track down an airline representative. The carrier may be able to track your bags and hold them for you until your arrival.
What happens if you miss your flight on purpose?
While it may come as a surprise to incredibly conscientious travelers who typically arrive at the airport three hours prior to their scheduled departure time, some travelers do in fact miss flights on purpose.
Though not common, this can be done as a way to score cheap flights. Deal hunters, for example, may find that it’s more affordable to book a flight with a connection through the place they want to go, rather than a flight directly to their desired destination. The traveler will then hop off at the layover city and skip the remaining leg of their itinerary.
When travelers miss flights and do not notify the airline, the rest of the itinerary is almost always canceled. That means if you are trying to get a flight deal by gaming the system, you might find yourself stranded or without a return trip home. Frequent flyers will not receive airline miles for trips booked and skipped, and certain offenders may even find themselves banned from flying with that carrier as a result.