Each day thousands of passengers miss their flight. I had never thought about what to do should I miss my flight until I was thrown into the deep end on Friday. Following that awful experience, I’ve decided to sum up what happened, so you’re prepared should you miss your flight.
On Friday I spent the day with British Airways learning what goes into training the airline’s wonderful cabin crew. As I was spending the whole day at Heathrow Airport, I decided to check my suitcase in the morning. One less thing to do later, I thought. However, Lufthansa has a rule that passengers must have scanned their boarding pass at security 30 minutes before their flight. Should this step be missed, the passenger is deemed to have missed the flight.
1. Don’t panic
The first tip is don’t panic. These things happen all the time. I headed over to the Lufthansa sales desk where a rather unfriendly employee told me that the only option I had was to pay £250 to change onto a later flight. While I could’ve easily paid this in order to get home, I’m glad I didn’t.
It turned out that while Lufthansa was demanding £250 to move onto a later flight, other airlines were still selling tickets between London and Frankfurt for almost £100 less. Before accepting any change fees demanded by the airline, it is always prudent to have a quick check of Google Flights or your preferred flight search tool. Also, don’t neglect to check nearby airports too.
2. Retrieve your luggage
If you have opted to travel with a different carrier, as was the case for me, you will need to retrieve any checked luggage. This proved to be the most interesting part of missing my flight. I was told to head downstairs to the arrivals level and phone the relevant counter.
The first person I spoke to told me to call back in 30 minutes from another phone. So I called in half an hour from the other phone and was told to phone back in ten minutes. Sure enough, 10 minutes later, I phoned back and my bag had been located.
A gentleman from the baggage company escorted me through a staff security channel to the arrivals hall where I was given my bag. No proof of who I was or that this was my bag was needed, despite me offering it. I then had to proceed out of the arrivals hall as if I was a regular passenger.
3. Can you get a refund?
You may be thinking that there is no chance you can possibly claim a refund on your non-refundable booking. After all, it is your own fault that you missed the flight. However, this is not always the case.
Airport taxes and fees are charged per traveling passenger. If you don’t fly, the airline doesn’t need to pay them. With this in mind, I called up Lufthansa to request a refund expecting a long uphill battle. Instead, a friendly gentleman quickly took my details and said I should receive around £30 back within 7-10 working days.
Now, this was initiated on a Friday evening, however, on Wednesday morning I received an alert saying that I had been refunded £33.44. While I paid £91.24 for the trip, with total taxes and fees being £41.24, getting just over a third back of what I had paid was much better than losing the full £90!
While it may not be the case with your flight, it is certainly worth checking whether you are eligible. Thisismoney.co.uk estimates that airlines can make around £50 million a year from not refunding these fees, and they won’t offer it unless asked for it.