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You were so excited to go on this trip that you’ve failed at accomplishing one of the most important factors to ensure a stress-free vacation: being on time for your flight. Check out these tips and resources for what to do when you’re late for your flight.
Prior to deciding how exactly to handle such an inconvenience, ask yourself two questions.
If you were coming in from a previously delayed flight due to mechanical difficulties – the ball is in your court, and you have plenty of opportunities to re-route or request changes.
If you’re just stuck in traffic, slept in too late, or can’t seem to find a parking spot, the ball is not in your court, and you’ll need to be wise when it comes to solving the issue. Here are 5 insider tips on what to do if you miss your flight:
1. Alert The Airline
Letting the airline know is something you need to do if you know in advance you will be late for a flight. A simple phone call can put a documentation in your record of the situation. You’ll want that when it comes to re-booking. Plenty of flights end up being delayed due to waiting on passengers.
2. Check-In ASAP
Check in on your phone as soon as you can — as early as 24 hours prior to the flight. Why? Having a mobile boarding pass makes it so that you can head right to security and skip the ticketing line to get a paper copy. The less steps you have to make, the better your odds are for making your flight. Often, mobile check-in shuts off at a certain time prior to departure, so if you’re running really late, you’ll be forced to check-in at a desk if you haven’t already done it on your mobile device.
3. Get Through Each Step As Quickly As You Can
The moves you make throughout an airport are well noted — whether it’s checking in with an agent, or passing through security. Get through each action as quickly as you can. This not only helps you get to the gate faster, but as you move through each stop, you’re tracked and the gate agents at the gate can see how close you are. They may be more likely to hold the flight another minute if you’ve already gone through security.
4. Find a Friendly Agent
There’s not much the airline can do for you without charging you if you miss a flight because of your own fault. However, it’s important to find a friendly agent to work with at the airport if you miss your flight. If you’re kind to them and they’re in a good mood, they’re more likely to waive the change fee, and set you up on a later flight if one is available. A year ago, I missed a DCA-ORD flight, which would have connected me onwards to Phoenix, and ending in Santa Barbara. After missing the first flight, a wonderful agent at DCA put me on the next possible flight to Chicago in First Class, and then proceeded to offer to confirm me on onward legs on United – a completely separate carrier not in the alliance –with no fee. FYI, this was completely my fault. If you’re kind to the agents, they’ll be kind to you in return.
5. Know Your Options
If you’re sure you’re going to miss your flight, it’s a good idea to understand your backup options. Do some research beforehand, and make sure you’re aware what the next flight is on both your carrier as well as alternatives. Research alternative connection options, and know how many spots are available. In order to this, use a paid service such as ExpertFlyer. When you’re aware of your options and you can present them to a phone/airport agent, things will move more with ease, and you just might be able to snatch a spot on another flight, lift off, and breathe.
General Tips To Keep in Mind
Not everyone can take advantage of these general tips, however, if you can pull them off, try these:
The higher the status, the better.
If you have airline elite status, agents are more likely to do what they can and protect you on other flights without a charge. The higher the status, the better.
Having TSA Pre-Check can give you the ability to move faster through security, getting you to your gate as quick as possible. A shorter line means a better chance of making your flight on time.
Don’t check a bag.
There’s an early cutoff time for bags to be checked. If you miss it, not much can be done. Stick with a carry-on.
Jamie Larounis, The Forward Cabin | June 27th, 2016
Jamie Larounis is an avid traveler, blogger and miles/points educator. Traveling well over 100,000 miles a year and staying in hotels for over 100 nights, he leverages miles, points and other deals to fly in first class cabins, and stay in 5-star hotels. His blog, The Forward Cabin, shares his experiences, musings, reviews, tips, tricks, resources and industry news with you, the fellow traveler. Today, in addition to writing The Forward Cabin, Jamie also supports the Frequent Traveler University, a Frequent Traveler Education Foundation project, as a member of their organizing staff where he’s spoken in-depth on the loyalty programs and operations of Amtrak and American Airlines. You’ll also find Jamie as an expert award trip booker with Award Magic, helping clients to redeem frequent flyer miles across a wide variety of reward programs and airlines. Among several media spotlights, he’s spoken at the New York Times Travel Show, written for InsideFlyer, Road Warrior Voices/USA Today, 1000TravelTips.com, the official content platform for the Travel and Adventure Shows, and makes regular guest appearances as a featured expert discussing the travel industry on FOX News.