As the chaos of the holiday travel season kicks into full gear, here’s an important reminder of a rule that actually allows some leniency if you miss your flight…so don’t panic! It’s commonly referred to as the “flat tire” rule and basically permits you to standby fee-free on the next available flight (regardless of status). Generally, you’ll need to miss your flight due to circumstances beyond your control and present yourself at the airport within 2 hours of your missed flight. The rule won’t work if you are on the final flight of the day or if it’s an international flight.
Each carrier has their own specific rules and The Cheat Sheet shares those:
Delta – “We do have a flat tire rule. A customer who in good faith arrives at the airport due to unforeseen delay should speak to an agent. We handle each on a case-by-case basis as every customer’s situation can differ. But many times we can get them on the next available flight.”
American – “We make every effort to accommodate people on the same day they travel,” said a rep from American Airlines. Their “late arrival standby policy” covers tardiness as long as you arrive within two hours of the missed flight.”
United – United Airlines admitted that they also have a flat tire rule that extends beyond just auto troubles. Anyone who misses their flight for reasons beyond their control will be put on standby on the next flight for no extra fee, but you’ll need to arrive within two hours for the rule to apply.
Southwest – Southwest Airlines also has a flat tire rule, but you’ll need to call at least 10 minutes prior to your scheduled departure to let personnel know you’re going to miss the flight.
Full article from The Cheat Sheet here.
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