Get Rebooked for Free if You Miss Your Flight

Last Updated Dec 11, 2008 9:49 AM EST

airplane2.jpgCouldn't get a cab? Got stuck in traffic? Flat tire? Trapped by locusts? Whatever the reason, you missed your flight -- and it's gonna cost you. Or maybe not, if you learn to leverage the "flat-tire rule." The Airfarewatchdog Blog says that airlines might just rebook you on a later flight, free of charge, as long as you meet a few conditions. Here's the scoop:
The so-called "flat tire rule" is just an informal understanding within some of the major airlines that if you should arrive late for your flight -- but not more than two hours late -- due to some event you really couldn't avoid (like, say, a flat tire), they'll consider putting you on the next flight to your destination on standby without paying a rebooking fee or the difference in the fares. Most [airlines] were careful to say that this is a discretionary practice.
As someone who likes to "play chicken" at the airport, getting to the gate just as they're starting to board, this is good information to have -- because one of these days I'm going to miss a flight. Obviously this isn't something to rely on (or take advantage of), but it could help reduce your stress level if you're legitimately stuck in traffic or otherwise delayed.

Have you ever leveraged the flat-tire rule? Share your stories of rebooking success -- or failure -- in the Comments. [via The Consumerist]

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.