A school friend’s dad had the mantra that “if you’ve never missed a flight, you’re spending way too much time in airports”.
Every time it was repeated we laughed, yet in the back of my mind I couldn’t ever imagine missing a flight not causing a great deal of stress and costing a lot of money.
I LOVE spending time in airports so I’ve spent certainly spent more time than I’ve needed to in them. It’s an added benefit that until last year I’d never missed a flight.
I’ve written before about my experience travelling from Barcelona to Luxembourg when security strikes at Barcelona airport meant my best friend Renee and I were unable to get through security in time to board our flight.
But what did I learn when I missed a flight?
Plan how you’re getting to the airport well in advance
Renee and I casually pondered how we’d get to the airport over breakfast and decided it looked easy enough to get there via the Metro, which would also save us the hassle of taking a bus and then a train or the expense of a taxi. We also thought we had ‘heaps of time’.
We knew nothing about the airport or it’s connections to the city as we’d caught a train to Barcelona from Madrid, and when I’d visited the city previously it was on a cruise ship.
In practice, the closest Metro station was harder to find than expected, and we eventually realised what we were looking for was actually a train to the airport and not the Metro, so we were quickly running behind schedule.
By the time we were at the correct station and started struggling through the process of buying the correct tickets on a foreign ticket machine, we realised we wouldn’t make the train we’d intended to and would have to take the next one which was 30 minutes later.
In calmer hindsight – had we got the train half an hour earlier we’d still have missed our flight. But we were stressed from the get go.
The lesson remains: Plan it out at least the night before!
Double check your tickets
When Renee and I left Athens after we did The Yacht Week a few years ago, one of the friends we were with arrived at the airport to find she’d booked her flight for the wrong day and that her flight had left the day before. It cost her a ridiculous amount of money to get on a flight to London that day.
I’ve also heard horror stories where there is more than one airport in a city and people go to the wrong one.
So we checked checked checked and went to the right airport on the right day. But we didn’t know we’d have to change terminals from where we got off the train. After scanning the Departures Board and not seeing our flight we realised our error. As we were already running late it was a stressful exercise to find the bus, join a queue and slowly make our way to the correct terminal.
The lesson: Check ALL your flight details; date, time, airline, airport, terminal… everything!
If you missed a flight, do as the airline tells you to
Sometimes it will only cost you a smaller fee to rebook rather than paying for a whole new flight. Best case scenario (apparently) it may just take a visit the airline desk, smiling nicely, and seeing whether they’ll just pop you on the next available flight to your destination.
This isn’t exactly likely to happen with a low-cost carrier but certainly go where they tell you to go and do what they tell you to do so it’s all nicely recorded and you know you’ve done all you can. It’ll also provide you with the required evidence for any Insurance claims later.
The lesson: you don’t know unless you try.
Trains are an effective way to travel around Europe
Our train sped at around 300kmph through France. It offered beautiful views, free WiFi, a food carriage (although the items were expensive) and we could pace around in a way impossible on a plane.
We’d considered taking the train through France in our initial plans then decided to fly instead.
Pro tip: flying isn’t the only option. Seriously consider alternative transport means.
Do you spend ridiculous amounts of time in airports to avoid missing flights? Have you ever missed a flight? What did you learn from the experience? Let me know in the comments!
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