Woman checking flight departures (Shutterstock)
Advice Words : Ellie Kinsella | 23 December

Keep calm and travel on: What to do when you've missed your flight

Travel doesn't always go according to plan. Whether your flight's been delayed by the weather or an accident en route to the airport, read our top tips on how to get back on track to your destination

1: Don't panic

There is an overwhelming feeling that comes with the realisation of a missed flight, especially if there are pre-booked hotels and flights paid for in advance. Most airlines close boarding gates 20–30 minutes before departure time and these circumstances apply to all for safety and security reasons.

Seek a member of staff and they will redirect you to the check-in area of the airport where you will be able to find out the next available flights. Remember, you're not the first or last person to miss a flight and focusing on resolving the issue will get you to where you want to be. Try to stay open minded and see it as part of the journey.

2: Speak to the airline and check flights online

Upon returning to the check-in area that feels all too familiar, head to the appropriate airline desk to find out the next available flight and explain your circumstances. You may find yourself in luck and be offered a ‘rescue flight’, specifically for people that have missed their boarding time and are given the choice of upcoming flights at a reduced fee.

If the airline can't offer a reasonable solution, search online and consider other local airports that have scheduled flights to your destination. This can often lower the price of flights, but do bear in mind the cost of transportation while commuting to or from different airports.

Top tip: Those without a fixed arrival time should make use of flexible search tools on flight websites, such as the date and location. Big cities, like London and New York, have numerous airports that are within reasonable distance of getting to the city centre.

Seek help at the airline check-in desk (Dreamstime)

Seek help at the airline check-in desk (Dreamstime)

3: Check your travel insurance

While we live in hope that we're immune from travel disruptions, having good travel insurance pays off, even if it can only be appreciated when factors out of your control sway travel plans off track. It is well-worth checking what your travel insurance covers and what it doesn't.

Most insurance policies accept claims for delays caused by adverse weather conditions and vehicle breakdowns at the least, but insurance details vary with each policy. Some insurance companies will cover connecting flights, however it all depends on the fine print of the terms and conditions – that are well worth reading!

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4: Organise returning hold luggage and sort a room for the night

Whilst at the airline desk, don't forget to mention any hold luggage that may be making its way to another continent without you. They will be able to find out whether your bags made it on the flight and arrange for them to be temporarily stored at the airport overseas until you arrive.

If you've managed to reschedule a flight for the next day, then it's worth getting as much rest as you can after dealing with the headache of a missed flight. Major airports are almost guaranteed to have a selection of hotels located on the premises. Just seek out the information desk at the airport and they'll be able to provide you with a list of telephone numbers to find out availability. You may even find that some non-commercial hotels offer a discount in a bid to sell last-minute rooms.

With the rise of Airbnb you might even find a cheap place to stay in the local area, but consider transport options available both there and on your return.

It pays to have good travel insurance (Shutterstock)

It pays to have good travel insurance (Shutterstock)

5: Focus on solutions that will get you to your destination

Avoid wasting pre-booked hotels, flights or events by contacting the organisation that you made arrangements with. They may be able to organise new dates or a refund, but it's always worth getting in touch to see what can be offered. Most hotels will hold your reservation for the pre-booked dates if they are made aware that you still plan on arriving.

It's a situation that no one wants to be caught in, but sometimes paying a little extra to get to the destination sooner will lend you more time for travelling and getting your money's worth.