What Happens When You Miss Your Flight?

If you miss your flight*, are you just SOL, or will the airline try to work with you to put you on a later flight, maybe charging you a service fee or something?

*Assume that the airline itself isn’t responsible for your being late, such as your connecting flight being delayed or whatever.

They’ll try to get you on a later flight, but you will probably pay for it. If you find an especially nice agent and a lot of empty flights, they might rebook you at no cost. More likely, you’ll pay a change fee at a minimum. And you could get really stuck if flights are relatively full and you get charged the day-of fare instead of the advance fare you paid for the original ticket.

I’ve never missed a flight, but I have heard of people getting put standby on later flights when they do. No mention of any extra fees, at least in that case.

The one time I missed a flight (@#$% taxi company), the airline changed me to a flight at the same time on the next day for no charge (though I did have to give up a day of my vacation). I might have just had a very nice airline clerk, though, and I might have been lucky that there was a seat available.

I’ve always been put on the next available flight with no additional charge. One time I missed the baggage deadline by 7 minutes, and they made me wait four hours to get on the next flight. As long as you’re flying the same airline and there are flights/seats available, it’s not a problem.

As we get to the ticket counter to check in we find out our flight has been cancelled. They want us to wait 8 hours for another flight, the wife says that’s not acceptable. Ticket guy gets on computer, finds another flight on another airline if we can make it to a far away terminal in 20 minutes. When we get there we find we’ve been authorized some kind of quickie clearance with minimal wanding thru security and just make the flight but we have to land at JFK instead of Newark, NJ. The only bad part was the van ride of about 45 mins. to get where we needed to be. But none of that cost us anything extra in dollars or too much in time.

Phu Cat

I missed a flight exactly once (I was at the wrong airport. I live near Midway Airport in Chicago and, for whatever reason, the company’s travel agent put me on an outgoing flight from O’Hare and an incoming one into Midway. I just saw MDW on the ticket when I glanced at it and assumed both legs would be MDW, as they always have been in the past. Damn near gave me a heart attack when I learned I was at the wrong airport and going to miss my flight.) The airline just put me on the next flight, no extra charge or anything.

Generally, you won’t be charged to be reseated. That’s the upside of overbooking. In other words, it rewards the late at the expense of the timely.

There are no set rules-it depends on what the airline you fly on decides to do at that time.

I paid a change fee to get booked on new flights through a different hub. (I got almost to the Buffalo bridge before realizing I left my passport behind!)

I could have-might have-flown standby without paying extra, (maybe,) but I wanted to be able to tell the guy picking me up in Albuquerque what plane I would be on, for sure.

Each airline will have different policies. The ticket you purchase and where you purchase it from may impact how it’s handled. You status with the airline will impact it as well.
I’ve missed a few flights. The standard is if I was willing to risk stand by on the next flight there would be no charge. If I want a gaurrenteed seat on the next flight or to be rerouted there was a charge in the neighborhood of a 100 bucks.

If you bought your ticket on spirit airline though Expedia they might tell you you’re SOL.

If you have platinum status with American they will probably put you on the next best flight to make your schedule at no charge.

As noted, not all passengers are equal even in economy (coach) class. Airline ticket pricing is extremely complicated and non-standard. Many companies pay a premium so that even their economy class employees can change tickets on a whim for no extra fee but those tickets have a premium price built into them to begin with. Then there are the frequent fliers at different levels most commonly termed Silver, Gold, and Platinum in that order but there are lots of variations. If you are a Platinum member, you will get on a flight of your choice and usually be granted a first class seat even if they have to offer real money to kick someone else off the flight. Frequent fliers also commonly get to use dedicated lounges with free or discounted drinks and food in a quiet bar like setting rather than suffering with the masses.

In short, it is all pay for play and it depends heavily on whether you are willing to use a particular airline enough for them to accommodate your wishes for the year or if you are willing to pay more than the average so that they give you preference when things go wrong. It is capitalism at its best.

However, it doesn’t always cost money to get treated well. I took a nightmare trip to try to get to see my parents years ago for Christmas. Weather was about to cause the whole idea to be canceled by forces of nature but I was young and attractive so the agents found a way to make it work by flying me all over the place to avoid the storm. It took 2 days, 3 airlines, comped hotel stays and a lot of free food but I did get there by Christmas morning. Agents have a lot of discretionary power to make things happen and it really helps if you treat them well and dress nicely.

I was in the restroom when they boarded and I missed my flight, they found another carrier who took me right away at a very small charge. I think about $29.00

If you just make a simple screw-up on a discount ticket however, then yes, you are generally fucked unless you are unusually charming. Those are non-refundable in most cases. I had that happen when I really needed to get to Costa Rica a couple of years ago and the airport shuttle broke down that caused me to miss my flight. There was no recourse except to beg for a one-way ticket from another airline. Spirit of all airlines saved me for a reasonable fee and I am eternally grateful to them for that. Hint: Never tell the airlines that you are desperate to buy a one-way ticket to Central America leaving in a few hours. It doesn’t work out that well no matter how legit your reason is. You have to explain your reasons in detail to several uniformed people before you can go at all.

A few years ago my wife missed a flight. They put her on another for $100 even.
Last year she missed another one and they basically said “screw you, buy another ticket”.

Both times was with Delta.

One time I learned I had to fly out first thing in the morning Milwaukee to Minneapolis. I went online and booked a ticket. When I checked in I learned I stupidly clicked on the 9pm flight instead of the 9am flight.:smack:
They found me a seat on the 9am flight with no added charge. That was Southwest.

I’ve always been rebooked or put on standby for a later flight at no charge.

Oh yeah, it varies all over the place. I neglected to mention that my multi-day trip to visit my parents for Christmas worked out eventually but had an additional complication for the return trip. We had paper vouchers because we had to switch airlines twice and had already traveled to 6 different cities. I didn’t think the paper vouchers were important for the return trip but they were. We tried to take our original return flight back with the intended carrier (Delta) and that was a no-go because that ticket had already been long canceled with no warning and I didn’t bring the paper backup. Luckily, my mother has extreme amounts of American airlines points and could use them to send us back for a total cost of about 100,000 miles for a 4 hour one-way.

I can’t get mad at the airlines though. I scam them these days and haven’t paid for a plane ticket personally in six years and over 50 seats ranging from Costa Rica to Las Vegas, Hawaii, Dallas and Florida. It is all about taking advantage of their complicated schemes and none of it is fair. I only pay minimal conversion fees of less than $15 and do the same with hotels. The system sucks unless you really know how to do it and then it becomes the best deal in the world.

How about this scenario. Next week I’m flying to Colombo, and the cheapest way there was one ANA flight from Tokyo to Bangkok, and then on a completely separate Thai Airways ticket bought from a different broker, from Bangkok to Colombo. Now, what if my flight from Tokyo is delayed, and I miss my onward flight? Am I more likely to get sympathy and a favorable resolution from the airline I missed, or from the airline that was late and caused me to miss it? I always worry about things like that, because there is no single agent involved in ticketing both flights.

By the way, some credit cards (mine does, free) insure the traveler against missed flights, but there usually needs to be a good reason, like medical or transport accident on the ground. The credit card insurance will pay any rebooking fee or nonrefundable cancellation ticket charge.


Add in it may also depend if you are a member of the airline’s frequent flyer program, if you have the airline’s credit card, how good your excuse you tell the agent, hoe polite you are to the agent, the day of the week, etc.

That’s a particularly risky arrangement. I would strongly avoid doing that if possible.

The problem you have is the airline that caused the problem doesn’t have the ability to fix it, though they are (somewhat) motivated. And the one who has all the ability has no motivation. And there in the gap you sit.

For sure the least bad solution is that as soon as the first flight looks shaky, start pleading your case with both. So while you’re still in Tokyo and the Bangkok-Columbo flight is still 12 hours in the future is the time to get proactive. Rebooking the second leg early, even if you pay an upcharge, is probably better than arriving in Bangkok to a misconnect and just 2 hours to the next departure for Columbo.