I’d love to say that I’ve only missed a flight once, but that wouldn’t be fun story to tell. As an avid traveler, I’m the first to confess that a missed flight is all part of the travel experience. Reasons vary from weather, cancellations, mechanical problems, or reading your ticket incorrectly. Yes, that’s happened to me more than once. Don’t judge.
It’s perfectly okay to lose your mind and go into a full-panic mode on the way to or at an airport, but it only lasts for a few minutes. Then, you need to pull yourself together and handle the situation. May my misfortune and plain stupidity of missing more than one flight be your guide to a better experience if or when it ever happens to you.
1. When my two sons were just young boys, I found a deal for a three-day cruise plus four days at Disney World Resort Florida. It was such a good deal that my parents decided to go as well. This was also at a time when you actually received printed tickets along with a printed itinerary from a travel agent. Still, four adults and two excited kids, both of whom could read, all looked at the tickets incorrectly, confusing the time we were to depart with the flight number.
In the end, we arrived at the gate two hours too late, but, of course, not too late to play the blame game. Since I was the person who made the reservation, picked up the tickets, held the tickets for four months, and read the wrong time, it was my fault and I deserved the ride on a bumpy guilt trip. Just as it was starting to turn really ugly, one of the gate agents, who happened to be an acquaintance of mine, intervened (probably because he felt sorry for me) and was able to book us on a flight later that day. We could have spent the day grumbling about missing a day of vacation, instead we asked where the best place in the airport was to watch planes take off and land. All in all, the five of us had an incredible time sitting in front of the large window watching planes for almost three hours. It also turned out to be a really fun bonding time.
My tip for you: Check your tickets closely and verify the dates and times with a friend or family membes. Don’t be afraid to call the airline to double check when you should be at the airport, either. Missing the flight because of misreading my ticket has happened to me twice (again, don’t judge). Apart from that trip to Florida, the second time happened was when my husband and I were confused about the exact date of the flight. The flight was scheduled to leave at 12:15 a.m. on the 30th, but we read it without taking into account that we actually had to be at the airport on the night of the 29th. Pay extra attention to those night flight departure times.
2. Several years later I was going on trip to the East Coast of the USA, part vacation, part history lesson with my two sons. We had researched all the places we were going to visit and the things we wanted to do. I read the tickets correctly that time, and we made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare, only to find out the plane was on mechanical delay for up to eight hours. People screamed and yelled at the poor gate crew, who looked rather unfazed by the situation. My boys and I sat down trying to wrap the situation around our heads. My youngest son, who was about 12 at the time, saw a lone gate agent working behind a desk at an empty gate. He took our tickets and went over to the agent. Before I knew it, he returned with a smile beaming across his face.
He handed me the new tickets, which were much thicker, and I saw that he had us re-booked to our destination just four hours later than our original arrival time. However, it turned out that the agent put us on five different, small planes taking us all over the country. What was supposed to be a five-hour, non-stop flight ended up being five, hour-long flights with four additional hours connecting from one plane to another at various airports. When we finally arrived at our destination, we discovered that our original flight beat us to our destination because it had been fixed faster than anticipated.
My tip for you: It’s sometimes best to just wait out the time when the flight is delayed. I know how tempting it is to jump on another flight in hopes of getting to your destination in a reasonable amount of time, but often the delay fixes itself sooner than expected and you arrive to your destination just a little delayed. Remember, no one, including the airline, wants to see flights delayed for any reason.
3. Many years later, my boyfriend (later to be my husband) and I were on flight to Houston, where we had a tight connection to an international flight to Dubai that leaves only once a day. Our flight to Houston was delayed due to mechanical issues by just 30 minutes, which meant we arrived just in time to watch our flight pull away from the gate. This situation was particularly difficult because both airlines we used had limited flights to and from Houston and further limited ground crew to assist us.
After a few colorful words, we were off in a full sprint to find assistance in our plight. It took almost two hours of begging and pleading with anyone and everyone, both in person and on the phone, with every airline we could find. In the end, we were able to get seats on the next flight and a paid for hotel room that night. One day late for that trip was no big deal, but the lack of help available to us was a little surprising.
My tip for you: If your flight is delayed for any reason, whether it’s due to bad weather or mechanical reasons, don’t be afraid to talk to anyone for help. Even people at other airlines may be able to assist you. When we were delayed in Houston and unable to get through to anyone from the overseas carrier, we spoke to someone at a different airline who was able to contact a supervisor at that airline and helped us.
4. In a confusion one day and night, my now husband and I missed our flight home on our last day of a month-long trip. This was a big deal because our visas were expiring the next day. We were traveling with small children, and we were in a country that has limited international flights. My husband went into overdrive and spent the next three hours calling various numbers hoping for help. In the end, I convinced him to go to the airport and talk to someone in person. Luckily, we ended up making it home safe and sound one day later.
My tip for you: If you aren’t at the airport when you miss your flight, I suggest that you still go to the airport to try and get on another. Call centers rarely help and if they do, they often want to charge you a fee when it’s your fault for missing your flight. Gate agents, however, have the ability to get you on another flight and can also wave the extra fees.
Finally, it’s okay to be upset, rant and rave, or do whatever that gets you through the initial shock of missing a flight. However, it’s never okay to take that stress-filled craziness out on others, including all airline personnel and other passengers. Trust me, being the nice passenger, the understanding passenger, the calm passenger will take you farther. Remember, you catch more bees with sugar than you do with vinegar.