Whether your corporate limo got stuck in traffic or your group shuttle driver took a right turn toward the wrong airport, your entire group can end up missing its flight. Then what? The first rule is not to panic. Although it may seem like it at the moment, missing a flight – even for entire group of businessmen or leisure travelers – is not the end of the world.
The second rule is to know there is no set industry regulation on what’s going to happen next. The solution is up to each particular airline, although most have an unwritten, unofficial “flat-tire rule” that may help you all get to your destination without needing to buy new plane tickets.
What’s the ‘Flat-tire rule?’
The flat-tire rule is an unofficial policy many airlines follow if you miss your flight due to a flat tire, car accidents, traffic jams or other factors beyond your group’s control. The rule allows you to catch a subsequent flight, often without change fees, provided you generally contact the airline immediately and/or show up within two hours or less of missing your scheduled flight.
Although many airlines may honor it, you won’t find the flat-tire rule advertised on websites or otherwise openly offered or promoted.
Steps to Take When Your Group Misses Your Flight
A number of steps can help ensure your group gets to its destination in the quickest and easiest way.
Inform the airline immediately. Showing up at the airport within two hours of your missed flight is a must for most airlines to even consider your request for a standby on the next available flight. Your group or company HR rep can also call the airline as soon as you realize you won’t be making the flight; that way your seats can be offered to others, freeing up space on subsequent flights.
Know you’re receiving a courtesy, not a mandated action. Airlines typically don’t outline missed flight protocols in their contracts of carriage, nor will you find them in any airline requirements from the Department of Transportation. As upset as your group members may be, it’s not wise to take out your anger on the airline employees. The more courteous you are to them, the higher your chances of receiving a positive outcome in your favor.
Show up and talk to the gate agents, who have greater discretion than reservation agents have over the phone.
Don’t bemoan the fees. Paying a fee for changing your flight, receiving a standby option, or rebooking may be part of the deal. Don’t sweat it too bad, as the other option is for the airline to require you purchase a whole new set of tickets altogether.
If you’re on a business trip, make sure to record this expense.
Expect to break up the group if necessary. Depending on the size of your group and your ultimate destination, you may need to break up the group to fly in smaller numbers on subsequent flights. Determine passenger priority, or group members that need to take the first flights out.
Even if your group travel goes haywire at flight time, you can ensure you’re your pre-flight prep goes smoothly with corporate passport and visa services from Swift. Feel free to contact us with any questions; we’re always happy to help.
Laurie Lee is co-founder and CEO of Swift Passport and Visa Services. A Chicago native, Laurie loves adventure travel, especially to the Caribbean. She enjoys writing for the Swift Post, as well as for her personal blog, Spare Parts- www.sparebodyparts.com.