there may be two reasons for you to miss your flight. the first reason is because your are connecting flights. the one before is delayed and so you missed your connection. if this is the case, don’t worry. go right up to the transit counter and they will sort you onto the next flight. remember, missing your connection due to a previous delay is not your fault. however, if you already know you’re going to be missing your next flight, or might not make it in time to get to the gate of your next flight, inform the check-in assistant as early as you can. they can get someone to wait for you at your connecting destination to help you get through immigration and security lines faster.
just this year, my flight from mexico to houstan was delayed because of weather. because of that, i missed my connection from houstan to los angeles. here’s a tip: don’t argue with the airport people. they airline have your records and know you got a connection. walk up to the airline counter and identify yourself. the continental airlines people had my new connection ticket ready for me and the best part is that your luggage does not have to be re-tagged. this was one of my major concerns also, but you know, luggage technology has come a long way over the years. my bags arrived in los angeles and back to kuala lumpur with me.
now, if you missed your flight because you partied too hard last night / did not wake up this morning / dog ate your ticket / alien abduction / whatever other reason yang sewaktu dengan nya, then it is your fault. yes, panic. get that adrenaline pumping. its important to look as tragic as possible when you speak to the check-in assistant at the airport.
so what to do? run. and i do mean, rush. rush right up to the counter and explain the situation.
if your ticket was bought on a promo, or you’re airline is a budget carrier, your quest ends here. there is almost no way you’re going to get a refund, or be put on the next flight unless you buy a whole new ticket. or if there is some kind of delay. or if the whole flight is canceled anyway.
a coupla years ago, some friends missed their flight to kuching because they arrived at the airport early, but check-in late. there i was, waiting in kuching by myself with a huge hotel room, while they pounded at the airline office back in KL. but nak buat apa, they bought budget airline tickets and the policy was, no refund if you missed your flight. they paid premium for a new ticket. which left the next morning. my friends slept in the airport that night because they were afraid to miss a flight again.
if you bought a regular ticket on a regular legacy carrier, it is very possible for you to get a new ticket with a penalty. whatever this penalty is differs from airline to airline, but it is heaps better than buying a whole new ticket.
if you must know, i missed my flight out of quito because i overslept. i blame jet lag and time zone differences and all the funk they do to one’s biology. but ya, well, it is my fault. i rushed to the airport BIG TIME but still missed the flight to miami. now it is possible to incurred a penalty to get onto another flight. so it is possible. but you pay for your mistakes. it is also possible however, for the airline to waive that penalty. but that right is completely up to the airlines people. that is why, you have to play nice.
some important things i learnt that day: don’t dilly dally – go straight to the airport. if you take your flight seriously, the airline people will take your flight seriously. ask nicely. don’t scream. try not to cry. don’t walk away. be patient. you want something from them so you have to be nice.
for god’s sake don’t start screaming at the airport and airline staff. it is not their fault.
now what if you have checked-in already and you’ve put your bags through, you got distracted by something wonderful at the airport and missed your flight. well, you’d better pray that your bags have not flown off without you. can this happen? yes. but if you are on one of the bigger airlines, it is also possible that after calling for you to come to the gate a few times, they might have off loaded your bag. lucky you. go pick it up from the airlines baggage office.
the bottom line is this: go to the airport early. these days, so many people say that checking-in one hour before the flight is enough, but if you ask me, that is still shaving things a bit too close. the reason they advise you to go there two hours before is so that if there is a queue at the check-in or immigration or security lines, you will not miss your flight.
and really, in the first place, don’t miss your flight.