What Happens if You Miss Your Flight?

Even with the best planning, missed flights happen. Long security lines, rush hour traffic, or a missed alarm can all cause you to miss your flight.

Realizing you're going to miss a flight can be stressful, but knowing what happens next can help you feel more calm and collected. What happens if you miss your flight? Typically, you'll have to pay a fee and any price difference to reschedule for the next available flight.

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  • If you are going to miss your flight, let the airline know as soon as possible.
  • Typically, the airline will charge you a rebooking fee and any difference in the fare prices on your new flight.
  • Travel insurance may cover you in specific circumstances.

What to do if you’re going to miss a flight?

You have a sinking feeling you’re not going to make it in time for your flight. The first thing you should do is contact the airline and let them know. By giving the airline advance notice, you can avoid being labeled a “no-show” and risking your itinerary being canceled. 

This will also give you a head start on getting booked on another flight. You may be able to do this via live chat or over the phone with the representative, or when you arrive, airport staff may direct you to the customer service desk.

How to contact your airline for a missed flight?

Man calling from airport. What happens if you miss your flight?

Here’s how to get in touch with some of the major airlines to notify them you may not make it to your flight in time. Be sure to have your ticket confirmation number or flight number ready to speed up the process.

AirlineCustomer service
American AirlinesLive chat on the AA website Call 1-800-822-8880
Alaska AirlinesLive chat on the Alaska website Text “ALASKA” to 82008 Call 1-800-654-5669
Delta AirlinesLive chat on the Delta website Call 1-800-323-2323
JetBlue AirlinesLive chat on the JetBlue website Call 1-800-538-2583
Southwest AirlinesLive chat through the Southwest app Call 1-800-435-9792
SpiritLive chat on the Spirit website Text “Hello” to 1-855-728-3555 Call 1-855-728-3555
UnitedLive chat on the United website Call 1-800-421-4655

Does travel insurance cover a missed flight?

Travel insurance can help protect you against missed flights, but this is not a guarantee. Check the policy details to determine if missed flight coverage is included or offered as an add-on. We recommend travel insurance like VisitorsCoverage because it offers a range of travel insurance plans tailored to different types of travelers, and plans can be customized so that you're not paying for benefits that are unnecessary for your trip.

When travel insurance may cover a missed flight

Some reasons for missing a flight are clearly beyond your control, and if you can provide documentation to prove it, you’ve got a better chance of insurance covering your missed flight. Travel insurance generally covers a missed flight due to:

  • Extreme weather or natural disasters
  • A transportation accident
  • Public transport delays

When travel insurance won’t cover a missed flight

There are several reasons that will exclude a missed flight from insurance coverage. If it’s a result of poor planning on your part or an issue caused by the airline, your insurance policy won’t apply. Travel insurance likely won’t cover a missed flight due to:

  • Oversleeping or not getting to the airport early enough
  • Getting stuck in airport security
  • Not being at the correct gate
  • Mechanical issues with the plane
  • Airline delays or overbooked flights

Connecting flight delays or cancellations could be eligible for coverage. It's crucial to review policy terms, notify the insurer promptly, and understand coverage limits before you count on it. 

Related: Trip cancellation insurance: How it works

Am I entitled to a refund if I miss my flight?

Airlines are unlikely to offer refunds for missed flights. Getting your money back for a missed flight depends on several factors, including the type of ticket you purchased, the airline's policies, and the reason for the missed flight. If you have a flexible or refundable ticket, you'll have more options to reschedule without hefty fees. For nonrefundable tickets, rebooking fees and fare differences might apply. 

Airlines are not obligated to provide a refund if you miss a flight due to your own circumstances, like arriving late. If the airline cancels or significantly delays your flight, you may qualify for a refund or alternative rebooking choices. Some airlines might offer flexible policies that allow you to rebook or receive credit for future travel in situations beyond your control, like severe weather or mechanical issues.

What happens if you miss an international flight?

Missing an international flight can cause more stress than missing a domestic one. If you miss an international flight, the consequences depend on factors such as the airline's policies, ticket type, and the reason for missing the flight. 

If you missed your international flight due to circumstances beyond your control (like a delayed connecting flight), airlines might help rebook. However, if it's due to personal reasons or lateness, you'll likely need to purchase a new ticket. Either way, communicate with the airline as soon as you can if you’ve missed an international flight or are fairly certain you’re going to miss one.

What are my options if I can’t rebook with my original airline?

If your original airline can't rebook you on any upcoming flights or is going to charge you a large rebooking fee, you can consider these tips for getting your trip back on track.

  • Consider budget airlines: If your original airline can't accommodate you, explore booking a new flight on a low-cost carrier, like Spirit or Frontier. You can often find cheaper last-minute one-way flights on these carriers.
  • Utilize airline miles: To help offset the cost of rebooking, you can use your airline miles to help bring the cost down on last-minute award flights. Many airlines have removed close-in booking fees and some released last-minute award space for empty seats.

How do different airlines handle missed flights?

Your options for rebooking (and how much it’s going to cost you) depend entirely on the airline you originally booked with when you miss a flight. You should always check an airline’s current policies before booking, but we’re going to break down how a few major airlines handle missed flights to give you an idea of what you can expect. 

What happens if you miss your flight on American Airlines?

American Airlines passengers who arrive at the airport within two hours of their scheduled departure time have the option to be rebooked on the next available flight as a standby traveler. The good news is that in this case, you won’t be required to pay any change fees or fare differences.

A $75 change fee is typically imposed if you are beyond the two-hour window.

What happens if you miss your flight on Delta?

If you’re flying Delta and you miss your flight, what happens next varies as Delta doesn’t have a standard policy for missed flights. This airline handles each missed flight on an individual basis. Your best bet to resolve the issue quickly is to speak to a Delta agent at the airport about being rebooked. 

What happens if you miss your flight on JetBlue?

JetBlue’s missed flight policy can leave travelers a bit up in the air. If you know you are going to miss your flight, call them before your flight departs. If you cancel you will receive a credit for future flights in the amount of the ticket price minus any fees.

Missing your flight without canceling designates you as a no-show, resulting in forfeiture of the non-refundable ticket portion.

What happens if you miss your flight on Southwest?

You can rest a bit easier if you booked a flight with Southwest and know you’re not going to make it in time for takeoff. Southwest will help you out if you’re less than two hours late for your scheduled departure by booking you on the next available flight as standby. 

What happens if you miss your flight on Spirit?

Spirit Airlines has a strict “No-Show Policy” for missed flights. While you can rebook your ticket on the next available departure, doing so will come with a $200 missed flight rebooking fee. Plus, you'll have to pay any price difference between your old and new tickets. 

FAQs 

What happens if you miss your flight because of security?

Unfortunately, if you miss your flight due to long security lines or being pulled aside for more thorough passenger screening, you don’t have much recourse. Even if security delays are responsible, you will likely still be held accountable. It’s best to arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes early if you’re taking a domestic flight and two hours early for international ones to leave plenty of time to make your way through security. 

What happens if you miss your connecting flight?

Booking a flight with a short layover may sound convenient, but doing so always comes with a risk. If you miss a connecting flight, typically due to delays with your initial flight, the airline's response will depend on the circumstances. 

In the scenario where the airline books both flights under the same reservation, it might automatically rebook you on the next available connection. If you booked separate tickets, you'll likely be responsible for rebooking and potential costs. 

Approach airline staff or customer service for assistance, especially if the delay was due to airline-related factors. Some airlines have policies to accommodate passengers in such situations, offering alternative flights or accommodations if necessary. Travel insurance could also provide coverage for missed connections.

What happens to your bags if you miss your connecting flight?

In the event of missing a connecting flight, what happens to your bags depends on several factors. If your entire journey is booked under one reservation with the same airline or partner airlines, your bags should be automatically rerouted to your final destination, even if you miss a connection. If they are delayed you may have some recourse. Here's how baggage delay insurance works.

Your bags might not be automatically transferred if you have separate reservations for different airlines or flights. In this case, you may need to collect your bags, clear customs (if applicable), and recheck them for your next flight. This process can be time-consuming and lead to further delays.

Customs and immigration procedures can also impact your bags' handling. Your bags might be held until you can be rebooked on a new flight if you miss a connection due to delays in passing through these checkpoints.

Airlines have varying policies, so it's crucial to communicate with airline staff at the airport.
If necessary, they can guide you through the process of rebooking or retrieving your bags and provide information on the management of your bags.

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I'm an award-winning lawyer and personal finance expert featured in Inc. Magazine, CNBC, the Today Show, Business Insider and more. My mission is to make personal finance accessible for everyone. As the largest financial influencer in the world, I'm connected to a community of over 20 million followers across TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. I'm also the host of the podcast Erika Taught Me. You might recognize me from my viral tagline, "I read the fine print so you don't have to!"

I'm a graduate of Georgetown Law, where I founded the Georgetown Law Entrepreneurship Club, and the University of Notre Dame. I discovered my passion for personal finance after realizing I was drowning in over $200,000 of student debt and needed to take action-ultimately paying off my student loans in under 2 years. I then spent years as a corporate lawyer representing Fortune 500 companies, but I quit because I realized I wanted to have an impact; I wanted to help real people and teach them that you can create a financial future for yourself.

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Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. This in no way affects our recommendations or article content.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. This in no way affects our recommendations or article content.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. This in no way affects our recommendations or article content.