I Just Had a Flat Tire. Again. Is There a Flat Tire Rule?
T here it was, flat as a pancake this morning: the rear tire on the driver’s side of the car. I had to get it fixed, as I have appointments later today.
Fortunately, this did not happen in the middle of nowhere in South Africa on my way to Lesotho. Rather, I was less than a mile away from a business which sells and repairs tires; and because I am a regular customer of this place who has purchased tires from there in the past, the repair was performed free of charge…
…but this had me thinking about what would happen if you had experienced a flat tire on the way to the airport in the vehicle in which you were driving or being transported?
Is There a Flat Tire Rule?
You will see many discussions on FlyerTalk pertaining to something known as the flat tire rule — such as this discussion or this discussion as only two of many examples — which is where you are automatically booked on the next flight in case you inexplicably miss the flight on which you were supposed to be a passenger.
Generally, there really is no official policy as a flat tire rule; but airlines do have differing policies as to what to do in the event a customer misses a flight. I am loathe to list those unconfirmed policies; but suffice it to say that on the extremely rare occasion where I actually missed a flight, I was either automatically “protected” on the next flight or accommodated with no problem or hassle — but then again, I may have lucked out, as circumstances are not always ideal for a “flat tire rule” to be implemented. Inclement weather; irregular operations; the time and day of the flight; and the destination are a few of myriad factors which could impede upon you arriving at your destination as soon as possible should you miss your flight.
One experience which comes to mind is when I was driving on an interstate highway on my way to the airport. I would have arrived with plenty of time to spare; but a crash involving two tractor trailer trucks squashed that possibility from happening. Law enforcement officers completely shut down the highway until the accident was cleared; and I arrived at the airport having already missed my flight. When I showed up to check in to the flight before passing through the security checkpoint, I was informed by an agent for the airline that I was already booked on the next flight out. No effort on my part was necessary; and other than arriving on the next flight, everything else occurred as normal.
While there may not be an official “flat tire rule” amongst airlines, their staff or technology will usually accommodate you in the event that you missed your flight — typically if you notify representatives of the airline within two hours of missing your flight; and preferably in person at the airport.
Still, do not take this “policy” for granted, as it is inconsistent not only amongst airlines; but also amongst employees working for the same airline — a version of hang up and call again may be in order here. Also realize that not all airlines have policies lenient enough to unofficially have a “flat tire rule” in the first place…
…and if your flight is the last one of the day, the chances of a “flat tire rule” policy being honored significantly decrease. Try to book a reservation on an earlier flight if you want a chance of taking advantage of the “flat tire rule” should you encounter an unexpected problem which prevents you from arriving on time for your flight.
Depending on the circumstances, missing your flight can be quite stressful and frustrating — especially if circumstances are not in your favor. Manage your expectations and realistically maintain your perspective. Retain your composure and treat the employees of the airline respectfully and nicely. You might be surprised at how far simply being polite and civil will get you.
Meanwhile, the flat tire on my car is now fixed; and I can now safely travel to my appointments and meetings…