Beads of perspiration are cascading down your forehead as you dash toward the gate. Within a few seconds, you find out the gate is closed…and the flight is gone. Anger, anguish, and extreme disappointment may be just a few emotions that run through your body (along with the desperation to start looking at last minute flights). Yep – if there was an image to define the phrase “up a river without a paddle,” it’d probably be a picture of your sweaty, disheveled, and heartbroken self.
Airline passengers miss their flights for a variety of reasons. To lessen the chance of the worst-case scenario, follow these steps to prevent or cope with the situation.
Don’t wait until the last minute to double-check the flight information. It’s easy to mix up dates and times, especially when you’re leaving in the middle of the night. Or for example, if you’re on an international flight that leaves on Jan 1 at 2:00 a.m. you’ll need to be at the airport the evening of December 31. If a city has more than one airport, make sure you’re going to the correct one (you don’t want to end up waiting at London Heathrow when your flight’s actually from London Gatwick!). And of course, make sure your passport doesn’t expire within the next three to six months.
It’s probably an addendum to Murphy’s Law that unexpected things will most likely happen on your travel day. Avoid waiting until the last minute to pack. The delay could be the difference between catching the flight with ease and standing breathless at an empty gate.
Arrive With Sufficient Time
Plan on coming to the airport earlier during peak travel times and holidays. If bad weather or a long drive is a concern, consider staying at an airport hotel the night before the flight. At airports with limited parking, don’t waste time – just arrange for a ride to the airport.
Before purchasing your airline ticket, make sure that there’s sufficient time between connecting flights and transferring from international to domestic flights.
Purchase TSA Approval
To decrease the time at US security checkpoints, consider purchasing a 5-year TSA Pre-pass for $85.
Contact the Airline
If you realize you’re going to miss a flight, take the initiative and start thinking about plan B. Be aware of your options by checking alternative flights online. Call the airline and let them know about your potential delay. Be brief. State your intent to arrive as soon as possible despite your unanticipated delay. If you’re lucky, the agent may be able to rebook or place you on standby. Numerous airlines have a 2-hour grace period for delays.
In situations where the hold time for an airlines agent is excessive or you’re unable to use a phone on a connecting flight, it might be necessary to wait to speak with the gate or customer service agent.
Missed Flight Coping Skills
Sometimes travel strategies backfire or travelers simply have bad luck. It’s easy to lose control. Don’t! The airport agents will probably avoid you or reciprocate your foul mood. Take a deep breath and count to 5, squeeze the life out of your stress ball, or chew gum profusely – whatever it takes to remain calm and collected.
Check Travel Insurance
If you have travel insurance, check the coverage to see if your delay is covered. You might be reimbursed for some or all of the extra costs associated with your prolonged delay.
So before you start desperately looking for last minute flights to bail you out of your situation, take a deep breath and follow this list so that you can either avoid, or in the worst case, deal with, a missed flight in a calm and practical manner.
Have you ever had the misfortune of missing a flight? How did you cope with the situation? Tell us about it in the comments.