Stuck in traffic? Alarm clock didn’t go off? Train delayed? The seconds tick by until you have to face reality…you're going to miss your flight. And once check-in closes, it's all about damage control.

Phone the airline

First things first; if you think you're going to miss your flight, pick up the phone and contact your airline. We recommend you call the staff at the airport and speak to them directly, rather than a customer services number. Calling early increases your chance of getting the flight switched without charge. Remember to stay calm and steer clear of sob stories!

It’s not about fight or flight – stay calm and use the best ways to get your journey back on track

When you get to the airport

If you haven’t been able to contact the airline in advance, you’ll need to speak to the agent at the check-in desk. Again, be polite — eye rolls and foot stomps won't get you anywhere! And if you're a frequent flier with the airline, now’s the time to mention it.

Some airlines have a two-hour rule (especially in the USA), which will allow you to switch to the next flight for little or no fee. If you're more than two hours late to the check-in desk, you're probably going to need to buy a new ticket. The airline's charge for switching your flight may be greater than buying a new ticket, so check online to make comparisons.

If it’s the airline’s fault

If the airline cancels, delays or changes your flight without properly informing you, then it's responsible and should put you on the next flight available.

  • Woman with head in hand sitting on empty row of seats in airport
  • Airplane taking off into a sunset

Getting stuck at the airport for even a minor delay can be boring, especially when you want nothing more than to relax on the beach with a cocktail. If you're twiddling your thumbs in the terminal for a long time, or you have to stay overnight, the airline has to pay reasonable expenses such as accommodation and food. Just keep hold of your receipts and follow your airline’s procedure for reclaiming costs. Your travel insurance may also cover this, so check your policy.

Package holidays

If you’re travelling on a packaged itinerary that includes transfers, your tour operator is responsible for getting you to the airport on time and will have to get you on the next flight at its own expense.

Remember, this isn't about fight or flight. If you miss your flight, it's all about staying calm and knowing the best ways to get your journey back on track.