When it comes to booking holidays and travel there is so much choice it can be mind boggling.
All airlines have different T&C’s but I hope to make some sense of these and what to do if things don’t quite go to plan.
First difference is schedule and charter flights.
A charter is one where an aircraft is chartered for a specific journey, not part of an airline's regular schedule. This is mainly your holiday flights – i.e. Thomas Cook, Thomson etc.There is no flexibility and if you miss a charter flight as there is not usually another flight to transfer on to.
Don’t miss it! Set your alarm, aim to arrive 3 hours head of your departure and allow for any potential issues on the roads etc. If you do miss your flight, then you may be entitled to claim back passenger taxes.
A scheduled flight is planned for a certain time and date, following a regular schedule, so daily, or multiple times either daily or weekly.
Both regular and low cost carriers operate schedules, and here is another big difference.
Low cost airlines offer no-frills air travel - hold luggage, seat selection, food/drink is extra cost. Most LCA’s fares are non-changeable/refundable - some offer flexible tickets, however they tend to be expensive. Unless you need to change plans last minute, it is often cheaper to “lose” the flight and re-book another. LCA’s offer single fare pricing (separate tickets each way), although you can book them together, the tickets are independent of one another. This means if you “miss” the first flight, the second ticket would still be valid and can be used even if you don’t use the first flight (not always the case with regular airlines). If you miss a flight with a LCA, it is unlikely you will receive any compensation or be re-booked for no cost onto another flight, but it is always worth asking.
Regular airlines offer different types and classes of ticket in addition to different classes of travel (economy, premium, business and first) and sell tickets based on certain criteria. Each class may have different T&C’s (told you it was mind boggling) and varies between airlines. Example - O class is usually the cheapest fare on offer (non-changeable/refundable), whereas Y class in economy is flexible and changes may be allowed even on the day of travel. Y class is often more expensive than the cheapest class in Premium (if offered) or even sometimes special discounted business class fares. When booking, make sure you know what the T&C’s are, particularly if you may need to make any changes!
If you miss your flight with a regular airline, contact them as soon as you realise and head to the airport check in regardless. Most airlines have a special rule - if you arrive within two hours of your flight, they can often put you on the next flight, with the same airline (standby) at no charge. If you miss the last flight of the day, you'll be standby on the first flight the next day, although this is not guaranteed.
If you are transferring onto a connecting flight, and have purchased a through ticket (something I STRONGLY recommend) you fulfill your obligation to check in for all the flights at first check in, so if you miss a connection, the airline is at fault and therefore assumes responsibility to get you to your destination.
My advice - As with any missed flight, stay calm, don’t panic, phone ahead to airport, proceed there anyway and be polite to the check in/ground staff. If a travel agent booked you, they will usually help sort everything out for you.
BEWARE - If you purchase a return ticket but fail to turn up for the first flight, you are recorded as a no show and other flights on the booking can be cancelled. Always make them aware.
If your flight is delayed or cancelled, you may be entitle to compensation under EU law, but only if the airline is at fault. Check out the latest advice at www.caa.co.uk/passengers
Travel insurance may cover you for missed flights, but it is important to check this before you travel as not all circumstances are covered.
Kim Robertson is Owner and Founder of Your Way (Travel) Ltd and luxury brand ZESTravel