What happens if you miss your flight because of airport delays and your refund rights

What happens if you miss your flight because of airport delays as Brits face Easter holidays chaos with long queues at Manchester and Birmingham airports

A man stands watching from an airport as his flight takes off
Missing a flight is stressful enough – let alone when it’s not your fault

Brits heading on Easter holidays have been facing chaotic queues and cancellations, as airports and airlines face staff shortages because of Covid.

Over 1,100 flights were cancelled in the last week as easyJet and British Airways were hit by disruptions, while passengers arriving at Manchester Airport faced huge queues, some for as long as four hours. Over the weekend, Birmingham and Heathrow also saw longer queues at security checks.

As a result, Brits are being urged to arrive for flights at the earliest time possible, to allow extra time for the delays.

But what happens if you’ve checked in, dropped off your bag and then find yourself missing a flight because of long queues and delays at security checks?

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It’s worth noting that if your flight is cancelled or delayed by the airline, then you are entitled to a refund and compensation – we’ve got a guide explaining your refund rights depending on the situation.

However, if you’ve missed a flight because you’re stuck in an airport security queue, it’s not quite as straightforward and unfortunately it’s unlikely you’ll get a refund – but that doesn’t mean you have to be left out of pocket, or that your holiday is called off.

While stuck in the queue

If you’ve checked in and you’re stuck in a security queue, and can see the clock ticking down within an hour or so before boarding, speak to a member of staff.

Often passengers whose flights are imminent can be moved to the front of the queue – so it could be that you’re rushed through for boarding.

Brits have faced long queues due to staff shortages at airports



In the event that it becomes clear you’re not going to make your flight, get in touch with your airline as soon as possible.

Sometimes airlines will delay flights if a significant number of passengers are stuck in security.

This will stop the airline flagging you as a ‘no-show’ passenger, and getting in touch early means that they may be able to move you onto the next flight. It also means that if you’ve got checked luggage, this can be removed from the flight and returned to you.

Do you get a refund if you miss your flight?

Unfortunately, if you miss your flight due to a fault of your own such as arriving too late at the airport, you will not receive a refund from your airline.

You can however request to be refunded the Air Passenger Duty (APD) tax for the unused fare, which you can ask for in writing.

While airport delays are frustratingly out of your control, it’s still unlikely that the airline will refund you for the rest of the fare, as they’re not legally obligated to do so.

However, if you get in touch quickly they may be able to move you to another flight. Some airlines such as easyJet can charge a small ‘rescue fee’ for this.

It’s also worth checking your travel insurance policy, as some insurers do cover for missed flights.

Is there a fee for missing a flight?

It depends on the airline you are flying with, as each company has its own policy. You won’t be charged extra for being a ‘no show’, but you may be charged a small fee to be moved to an alternative flight.

For example, easyJet offers a ‘rescue fee’ to transfer you to the next available flight, provided you arrived at the airport no later than two hours after your scheduled departure time.

You won’t be charged for missing your flight – but you may need to pay a fee to move to a different one



Jet2 says that it is a non-refundable airline, but says it will refund Air Passenger Duty for unused fares. However, it does charge an admin fee of £25 for each booking requiring an APD refund.

Meanwhile TUI Airways says it won’t offer refunds for missed flights, but can refund “any governmental per passenger taxes and charges for unused flights upon request”.

What happens to your checked bags if you miss a flight?

As soon as it becomes clear that you’re not making your flight, get in touch with the airline.

In most cases, when a passenger doesn’t show at the boarding gate, airline staff track down their checked bags and have these offloaded from the plane so they can be returned to the missing traveller.

Your bags are always tracked so getting them returned to you shouldn’t be too difficult.

Have you been caught in the airport delays or affected by flight cancellations? Email us on

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