Worst Case Scenario
Whether is it down to incorrect planning, illness, or delays in public transport, when flying frequently, missing a flight is a very real possibility.
But what is the best thing to do in this most stressful of circumstances? Here are a few tips:
As panic-stricken as you will feel, panicking more will do no good. Why not try breathing deeply and/or praying, or even slapping yourself hard across the face if you have become hysterical (or enlist help from a friend/colleague/loved one). Stay calm and tell yourself that you need to make some quick decisions, as there may be some alternate options that could be missed if you don’t look for them immediately.
Can you get on the next flight?
Go to the airline’s help desk and politely explain the situation. They may be able to get you onto the next flight at a reduced rate.
Can you get there over land?
If the flight was a short one (and not across an ocean), you could potentially get to your destination on land. Check out: BlaBlaCar (good for long distance car-pooling); Uber (I believe they are adding a long distance car-pooling service); see if there are any coaches or trains going to your destination; also most airports have ‘hire a car’ services, although this might be very expensive, especially if dropping off in another country!
There may be room on the next flight
This is what I did when I missed my flight. Despite being told in the airport, that the next flight was full, I still managed to book a place on it online – the system said there were two seats left. Many airlines overbook their flights; presumably they know idiots like me will miss their flights, so they cash in on this. Incidentally, there were a lot of empty spaces on the plane, but I didn’t want to risk not booking and waiting to find out if a seat was free.
If you bought travel insurance (and I hope you did) you probably won’t be able to claim for a missed flight unless your situation falls within their specific criteria. Read the terms and conditions of your policy, e.g. you may be able to claim if there was a problem with public transport, but not if you forgot to set your alarm. Check here for some more advice on this, it can be a bit of a minefield.
Go the next day.
The next flight might be tomorrow, so you may have to find a hotel, guest house or use Airbnb (shameless plug: click here for a coupon which gets you and me money off), stay there over night and get a flight (or one of the other options) the next day.
You should probably also check the terms and conditions of your flight if you booked a return journey as well (thankfully mine was one way), as it may automatically be cancelled if you missed your outbound flight. Unfortunately, there is probably no point shouting down the phone at anyone regarding this, because you agreed to it when you bought the tickets (remember all that small print you didn’t read?)
The best advice
Avoid this situation as best as you can. Leave plenty of time to get to the airport, waiting for 4 hours in what can feel like purgatory, is better than paying three figure amounts to book another flight.
Do you have anything which you think could be added to this list? Let me know and I would be happy to add it whilst crediting you with a link to your page, blog, or social media handle!