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Airport departure board

Missing flights

What to do when your plane is up and away but you're not on it.

Notify the flight operator immediately

It doesn't matter whether you're still at home in your jimmy jams, or racing across the marble floor of the departure lounge. If you're just late to the gate you may find there's a chance that the flight will be held until they've got you on board - just be prepared for some dagger-like stares when you flop breathlessly into your seat.

Big up your frequent-flyer status

Flight operators are often more sympathetic to travellers who use the same airline a lot, and you may find they can squeeze you onto the next available flight without much persuasion. You should also be OK if you're holding a full-fare ticket. It's if you've skimped on the price that the real cost becomes apparent.

Be charming

It's worth persisting, even if your ticket is non-refundable, because you may be able to blag your way onto a less-than-full flight. Whatever happens, don't get cross with the ground crew. It's not their fault you missed the call. In fact, they're more likely to find a way forward if you're charming as well as persistent. A great deal is down to the person on the gate, however.

Offer money

But not as a bribe. Just be prepared to pay a service charge for all the hassle you've caused. It may seem like a sting, but if it means missing a connecting flight from your next destination, for example, then consider it money well spent.

Photo by Juliane Brandt

Updated: 28/08/2009


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