Missed A Flight? Here's What To Say — & Do — To Get Help ASAP

Missing a flight is a traveler's worst nightmare. No matter how organized or punctual you are, you're bound to land in this situation at some point. It could be a last-minute road closure, a severe train delay, or some other scenario out of your control. But they all leave you with this all-important question: What do I do now?
Reassuringly, this misfortune befalls even the best of us, and there are a number of things you can do to position yourself for a quick exit strategy. We've tapped two travel industry pros to share their tips on getting out of the circumstances unscathed — and ideally with as little of a dent on your wallet as possible.
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Before Getting To The Airport

"If you're on your way to the airport and already know you will miss your flight, don't wait," says Benjamin Glaser, features editor at DealNews. "Call the airline even before your flight departs, and they might be able to rebook you for free over the phone." If anything, you can also consult the representative on the company's policy for missed flights — and your best solution — while you're on the call.
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Be Nice & Succinct To The Gate Agents

Good manners and friendliness go a long way — especially if you failed to show up on time for your flight. "You don't want to try to manipulate: Being genuine and sincere is probably going to get you further than anything else," says Lizzie Post, an etiquette expert and host of the Awesome Etiquette Podcast. "Gate agents get approached tons of times throughout the say by people who 'just had to get home for their parents/kids/S.O.', they've heard every story in the book. The best to do is to be courteous, grateful for the help they are able to provide, and most of all, don't waste time. The more you can not let your emotions not waste time at the counter, the more they will remember you as the person who's very easy to deal with."
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Talk About The Flat Tire Rule

"Go straight to the airlines ticket desk and speak as nicely as possible to the terminal agent," says Sarah Slattery, founder of The Travel Expert. "Try to get them to put you on standby for the next available flight. If they look for payment, ask if the airline has a missed departure fare — some newer staff may not be aware of such fare." Both Ryanair and Easyjet offers this kind of fare.

Glaser recommends a similar approach. "Many airlines have what's called a 'flat tire rule,' where customers who miss their flight due to circumstances beyond their control can be placed on the next available flight to their destination," he says. Unfortunately, this is mostly an unwritten policy, so you'll never find them on the airline's website. The best bet, according to Glaser, is to present yourself to the gate agent as soon as possible. "Within 30 minutes after your scheduled departure would be ideal, but you're out of luck if it's two hours."

Keep in mind that the agent might ask you to pay differences in fares or fees. "It's within reason to ask about the 'flat tire rule,' or politely ask to speak to a supervisor, or at this point to call customer service," says Glaser. "If you do this and are still asked to pay fees, you probably won't get a different result by pushing any further."
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Consider Booking A New Flight

Booking a completely new fare should be a last resort. "Travelocity sometimes have deals on last-minute fares, although chances are slim that they will have a deal for your specific destination," says Glaser. For Slattery, her go-to tool to comparison shop is Skyscanner.
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If You Missed A Connecting Flight

According to Slattery, if you are booked on one "through ticket" — one ticket from origin to destination via a transit point — and you miss your connection, the airline is obliged to put you on the next available flight without penalty. However, the airline is not obligated to put you aboard the next flight if the trips are booked separately.

"If your missed flight was the first leg of a round trip fare, please note that the airline will automatically cancel your return flight," says Glaser. "On the plus side, this frees you up to explore other options, like one way fares; you might find two one-way fares that are cheaper than a round trip."

Another option to consider is to fly into smaller airports near your destination, like flying into Westchester or Long Island instead of New York's main airports.