What Happens if You Miss Your Flight?

If you miss or cancel any portion of your plane ticket, you are considered a no-show by the airline. This creates a domino effect. All subsequent flights, including the return, are canceled by the airline and no refunds are issued.

You will then end up having to pay for your ticket — again — since the original ticket will become void. However, there are preventative measures to help you avoid this dilemma.

The airlines have a fixed deadline as to when you need to check-in for a flight, arrive at the departure gate, and check your baggage. If any of these deadlines are missed, you can lose your reservation and any rights for compensation. Of course, there will always be exceptions, but the risk remains.

Travel photo - airport

What if the Airline Issues a Flight Delay Notification?

Here is another caveat. When you receive a message from the airline about a flight delay, you may readjust your arrival time to the airport. However, this can result in a problem. For example, if you were told your flight would be delayed two hours, and you arrive at the airport according to the new flight time, you could end up being a no-show if the flight ends up leaving earlier than expected.

Flight delays can cause confusion and leave you uncertain as to when you need to arrive at the airport or be at the departure gate.

According to the airlines, even though a new departure time may be issued, it can change at any given time. The repairs or other circumstances causing the delay may be rectified sooner than anticipated, thus allowing the flight to leave earlier. In essence, the airlines expect you to arrive at the airport in advance of your original departure time or risk becoming a no-show.

There are other factors that can cause you to become a no-show. You may get stuck in traffic or in an endless line at the ticket counter or security checkpoint.

So what can you do to protect yourself from becoming a no-show?

Communicate with the airline.

If you know you will be cutting it close, ask the airline for assistance. Hopefully, the airline will be more inclined to help you if it is aware of the problem. As soon as you realize you are going to miss your outbound flight, call the airline and ask to be rebooked on another flight. Ask if it will make the change without charging a rebooking fee. If the circumstances are beyond your control, the airline may be more accommodating.

Request a written confirmation that your remaining connecting or return flights are still valid. Do not take this for granted. As mentioned above, missing any portion of your ticket results in all other connecting flights being automatically canceled.

Book your flights on the same itinerary.

When booking connecting flights on different airlines, make sure they are all on the same itinerary. If your flight on one airline is delayed, causing you to miss your connection on a second airline, you can rebook your flight at no cost or for a nominal fee.

If you book on separate itineraries and miss your connecting flight, you will be considered a no-show. You will end up losing the money paid for the original ticket and will have to purchase another at the walk-up ticket price.


Avoid tight connections.

When booking connecting flights, plan ahead for possible delays, especially if during the winter months. Connecting flights on different airlines are oftentimes in another terminal that could end up being at the opposite end of the airport.

Arrive at the airport at least an hour in advance for domestic flights and two hours or more for international flights. If your travel is around a holiday or spring break, increase your arrival time.

Passengers experience flight problems on a daily basis. By knowing what to expect, you can avoid unnecessary expenses and being stressed out if you miss your flight.

For more travel insight, check out my book,

Know Before You Go: Traveling the U.S. and Abroad


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