This blog post was updated on December 13, 2021.
It’s among the worst feelings in the world. You’re running across the terminal when you hear that announcement that your “gate is now closing” and you know you won’t make it there in time. Or, just as bad, you’re stuck in the air circling the airport as the plane of your connecting flight takes off without you. We´ve all been there, and it’s far from pretty. Yeah, missing a flight can add layers of trouble and delays to your schedule. But if you can keep a level head, in most cases you should be able to board a suitable alternative flight and start heading in the right direction ASAP.
Whose Fault Was It?
First of all, it must be said that, if you miss a flight and it’s not the airline’s fault…well, you’re on your own when it comes to figuring out how to reach your destination and what your next move ought to be. Usually, the airline in question will assist with rebooking and might be able to get you on a flight you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to book. But don’t expect any perks or too much sympathy.
Now that we’ve gotten the bad news out of the way, here’s some relief in the way of tips about what to do when you miss a connecting and the airline is at fault.
Missing a Connection with the Same Airline
If you miss your connection booked with the same airline of your first flight and the issue is due to a delayed take off or anything else that’s in the hands of your airline, it’s the airline’s responsibility to rebook you on the next available flight. If that’s not until the next day, the airline should book you with another airline or offer you overnight accommodation and vouchers for meals. If your connection was missed due to weather, the airline should do the same – just minus the room and food. But be aware: although this is standard practice in both and other similar situations, airlines aren’t required by law or industry regulation to ensure you get back flying in a timely manner!
If the Connection is with Another Airline
If your connection is with a different airline than that of your first flight, remember what we said earlier…again, you’re on your own, pal. Airlines aren’t obliged to assist you with making it on time to another carrier’s flight, and generally don’t do much in the way of helping. Maybe if the two airlines are in the same alliance there might be a way to ease the hassle of rebooking. But if you booked and paid for the flights separately, don’t get your hopes up for much assistance from either carrier. The best advice we can give to anyone hopping off one airline’s flight and catching another’s is to make sure to give yourself plenty of time between each leg of your journey and to have a sense of the airport’s layout and how to get from point A to point B quickly.
Remember the Three P’s
With respect to dealing with airline reps in pretty much any tricky situation — and as good advice in almost any other circumstance when you find yourself dealing with customer service agents in any industry — it’s always wise to remember the three P’s: be Patient, Polite and Persistent. Keep in mind that whoever is addressing your concerns probably is coping with a load of other passengers’ problems and may have only limited information to go on to help you. Interspersing little words like “yes,” “please,” and “thank you” can work wonders to getting you on your way as swiftly without tempers flaring. If you know you’re in your rights and the rep isn’t doing enough to fix things, hold your ground and ask to speak to their manager.
You may also like: What Happens if Your Flight is Cancelled Due to Bad Weather?
Be Prepared Before You Take Off
Taking a couple steps so you’re ready to handle missing a connecting flight doesn’t require a lot of forethought. The first, and most obvious, is getting travel insurance the moment you book those cheap multi city flights you had your eye on. Not all policies and plans are the same, so you’ll need to make sure you get one that covers missing a connection. It can lessen the painful financial pinch. Another good idea? Bring essentials, like toiletries and a change of clothes, in your carry-on.
Have you ever missed a connecting flight? How did your airline work to get you headed in the direction of your final destination?