On-the-Go: What to Do if You Miss Your Flight

By Jody Yetti

missed-flightYou’re rushing down the terminal, your heart beating fast as you run to the other gate at the end of the airport to make your connecting flight. There’s nothing more nerve-racking than having absolutely no control, especially when you absolutely have to get somewhere. You arrive at the gate, panting from exhaustion only to get the bad news: you missed your flight. Now what?

Get your wits about you because there’s good news: your next course of action is entirely within your control.

When It’s Not Your Fault

If you missed your flight because your previous flight caused your delay, you have some recourse when it comes to getting on another flight expeditiously. As long as it was with the same airline, you also should not be charged a change fee.

Financial compensation is another issue that will take some finessing. At this point, some people are thankful just to be put on another flight within two hours, but others want blood (and money). Some delayed travelers treat airline counter officials with appalling behavior – who hasn’t witnessed an angry tirade from some disgruntled ticket holder as he or she berates an airline employee because the plane that just landed was too late for their connection? The unhappy traveler insists on restitution, a hot meal and the next flight out in less than 30 minutes. It’s comical, unless you’re the one behind the counter.

We all have our breaking point, but being nice can actually encourage someone to go out of their way for you. The airline employee appreciates this much more than being told they are a “useless representation of what an airline should be.” (Actual quote from delayed flier.)

When It Is Your Fault

“Oh my God, what time is it, finish your drink and let’s go!”

If you’re a single socialista, you’ve had a near miss with this one. But remember, if you do arrive at the gate with the umbrella from your drink lodged in your hair and there are four people at the counter and the clock is ticking, you may have a problem.

A few things to remember: An airline will not board an intoxicated passenger. It largely depends on the airline staff, but they are well within their rights to deny boarding to anyone not acting appropriately.

What to do if you find yourself in this situation? Beg for mercy and get on the plane, but don’t blame it on the bartender. If you are humble, and if you are nice, the airline staff will usually go out of their way to accommodate you and help secure you on the next flight. Whether or not you pay for a change fee depends on your attitude.

Airline personnel are well within their right to charge you for the change fee plus any difference in fare when you are at fault, but keep in mind it is within their control to waive it.

Moral of this story: Watch the clock, not your cocktail.

Other Circumstances

Overbooking is a common reason for getting bumped from a flight. If an airline turns you away because they are overbooked, consider it your opportunity to cash in where you can. This usually happens during peak travel times and holidays. If you’re bumped, you are entitled to what’s called “denied boarding compensation.” You can actually negotiate what compensation the airline will give you in the form of free travel vouchers or checks. You read correctly: they will pay you.

Flexible travelers: This can work in your favor! Airlines with overbooked flights always seek volunteers first, and offer free travel and an overnight stay (if necessary) in order to open up seats for other travelers. Most airlines will always try and accommodate families traveling together with small children first so, being a single girl, it never hurts to tell your story if you must get onboard — but make sure it is short and sweet.

When all else fails and you are stuck, wait it out, make the best of it (don’t growl at the counterperson) and remember to check with your airline or travel professional next time you fly to ensure you have plenty of time in between flights.

Remember we can’t control the uncontrollable. However, if you better, you can exercise your options. If you feel disadvantaged or if you feel you were treated poorly, contact your travel professional or airline immediately upon returning home.

Hopefully, if you followed these tips, you’ll be greeted by an airline employee who tells you she can get you on the next flight in 30 minutes, free of charge. When that happens, walk away relieved, certain you made the right choice. The only thing left to do is remove that little umbrella from behind your ear.

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Jody Yetti, a single woman business owner and seasoned traveler, has been in the travel industry for more than 20 years. She owns Jody’s Travel Inc., a full-service travel agency for single women and other savvy travelers, located in Moriches, NY. Jody can be reached at 631-281-3636 or www.jodystravelagency.com.

 

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