If you miss your flight due to circumstances that could have been prevented, the airline may allow you to fly standby on a later flight. Be forewarned: some airlines have implemented “same day stand-by” fees. These fees can vary depending on the airline.
Also, beware that the airline can suspend your ticket if you do not show up for your scheduled flight. This usually happens within 24 hours of the missed flight. If you miss your flight, you are considered a “no show” and the ticket purchased loses all value.
If you find out that you missed your flight, you can also call the airline and plead your case with them. Depending on the representative, they may open the ticket up for you to use for a future flight. (It’s always worth a shot!)
Flat Tire Rule
So, what happens if you do get there 15 minutes before your flight? Are you just out of luck? No, not entirely. Many airlines still have something casually called the “Flat Tire Rule.” The idea is that if you’re late due to problems (like a flat tire), then the airline takes pity on you. You have to show up at the airport, usually within a couple hours of scheduled departure, and they will usually put you on standby for the next flight without charge. If the flights are full, then you might be there for a long time.
I would doubt that Spirit even has a flat tire rule, so in this case, it sounds like the agent did more than anyone would expect of Spirit by confirming the passenger on the flight later that day.
Delta – “We do have a flat tire rule. A customer who in good faith arrives at the airport due to unforeseen delay should speak to an agent. We handle each on a case-by-case basis as every customer’s situation can differ. But many times, we can get them on the next available flight.”
American – “We make every effort to accommodate people on the same day they travel,” said a rep from American Airlines. Their “late arrival standby policy” covers tardiness as long as you arrive within two hours of the missed flight.”
United – United Airlines admitted that they also have a flat tire rule that extends beyond just auto troubles. Anyone who misses their flight for reasons beyond their control will be put on standby on the next flight for no extra fee, but you’ll need to arrive within two hours for the rule to apply.
Southwest – Southwest Airlines also has a flat tire rule, but you’ll need to call at least 10 minutes prior to your scheduled departure to let personnel know you’re going to miss the flight.
Let’s say you do find yourself on a flight much later in the day, and you don’t want to deal with it. Instead, you find another way to go to your destination and plan on just taking the return back. Not so fast. If you don’t show up for any flight on which you’re booked, all other flights in that reservation will automatically be canceled. Why is that? Well, first off, someone might be trying to game the system. Airline pricing is an insanely complex thing, and people try to find ways around it in order to save money. This is a way that airlines can help combat that fraud.
It’s also a way to free up seats to be sold again. If someone doesn’t show up for the beginning of their trip, then the airline doesn’t expect that person to show for any part of the trip.
How can you get around this? If you’re severely delayed or canceled for one reason or another, just tell the airline that you aren’t going to take the flight out. If they manually cancel those segments, then the return will still be there for you when you try to fly home. Keep in mind, they won’t just do this because you want them to for any reason. They’ll do it if there’s been a major disruption of some sort.
“Here What happens if you miss a flight?”
- the airline in question
- the local representatives of the airline in question
- your status with the airline in question — do you hold their Frequent Flier card?
- the reason for your missing the flight
- the class of your ticket
- what other flights are on the same ticket?
- your ultimate destination
- the availability of flights to your ultimate destination
- the way you handle matters
To avoid getting into the mess in the first place:
- Get to the airport on time — and that means if it’s a journey of any importance, at least two hours ahead of time and preferably two hours ahead of check-in time. If you’re more than an hour from the airport, spend the night before near the airport. Don’t rely on a single alarm to wake you, if it’s a morning flight, either. And make that at least three hours if it’s an international flight. If you’re late checking in, it’s YOUR fault as far as the airline is concerned.
- Get all the legs of your journey on one ticket — sometimes a travel agent can do that when you can’t manage it by direct booking. It can pay to do your homework and then check with a good travel agent whether they could get all those flights on one ticket at a comparable price. If your flights are all on one ticket, then if you miss a connection En route, your journey will be rearranged without any argument.
- Speak nicely to the local representatives of the airline, at the local airport — don’t phone the central offices of the airline, even if it’s you who’s bungled things. More often than not the local staff at the airport can work things without making any additional charge, especially if it’s just one passenger. If it’s your fault then you may have to wait until there’s a space on one of that airline’s own flights.
- Get a Frequent Flier card for the airlines you’re flying with — it at least means you’re in their system and it doesn’t cost you anything.
- Get the phone app for the airline you’re flying with — The better airline apps for your phone will update you with your flight details, departure gates, etc. Turn on your phone as soon as you’re in the terminal.
- Don’t waste time between flights — don’t accept bookings which allow just an hour between flights — that’s not enough, nowadays. Of course, you may make such a connection, but two hours is much more realistic and in big international airports with increased security searches between flights it is sensible to allow three hours. Get off the incoming plane quickly. Get to your departure gate quickly and then relax to wait for your next flight. But keep your eyes and ears open for gate changes. Remember that flights are not always announced and even when they are announced, you may not understand the announcement. Remember too that it’s not at all rare for passengers to be directed towards wrong gate numbers or to wrong doors within the one gate area.