Missing a flight is one of the biggest and most common fear of any traveller. While it appears easy to avoid, many of us have experienced the anxiety that comes with cutting it too close for comfort.
In the off chance that you are in a situation where missing your flight is inevitable, the flat-tire rule may just come in handy to save the day.
The flat-tire rule is an unspoken airline policy that caters to travellers who have missed their flights due to unforeseen circumstances; so long as you arrive within two hours of your missed flight, you may be allowed to fly out on the next available flight to your destination at no extra cost.
The policy and its pre-qualifying requirements varies across airlines, airports and countries. Below are a few general guidelines that demonstrates a traveller’s proactiveness in the situation and would therefore determine if the traveller is eligible:
- Arriving at the airport within two hours of the missed flight
- Calling the airline beforehand to inform them about your delay
- A valid and legitimate reason for the delay
The flat-tire rule is mainly utilised in the United States. Prominent American airlines such as United Airlines, Delta Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and US Airways, are widely reported to have regularly practised this policy.
For countries and airlines in Asia, PowerData2Go has compiled a list of airlines that do and do not practise this policy.
Does not practise flat-tire rule:
1 - Korean Air
The answer was an emphatic “No” when queried about the existence of the flat tire policy with their customer service representative.
Thank you for contacting Korean Air.
We must regretfully inform you that there's no such rule like "Flat Tire Rule" in Korean Air.
We hope that above provides some explanation to your letter,
and look forward to serve you in the future.
Airport Service Team"
2 - Thai Airways
An unnamed Thai Airways customer service agent responded with the following when queried about the policy:
“Dear Mr ______,
THAI are sorry to inform you that our airline do not have the Flat Tire Policy.
Sorry for your inconvenience.”
3 - Garuda Indonesia
Safe to assume that Garuda Indonesia does not practise the flat-tire rule?
“Dear Mr. _____,
Salam Garuda Indonesia.
Thank you for contacting us.
Responding to your email, if you want bring of Flat Tire is allowed. But we suggest your for confirmation again at the airport.
May this confirmation give enough information. Thank you for your kind attention and cooperation.”
Neither confirm nor deny
1- Asiana Airlines
Asiana Airlines appears to practise a policy similar to the flat-tire rule. However, travellers are still required to show up at least an hour prior to the flight. A no-show fee will be applied if travellers fail to do so. Asiana Airlines’ customer service team responded with this when addressing the matter:
Thank you for contacting Asiana Airlines US headquarters.
We have received your inquiry and would be happy to assist you.
Unfortunately, if the passenger does not show up to the check in counter by 1 hour prior to the departure, no show fee is applied on Asiana Airlines ticket. Therefore, we recommend you to come to our check in counter on time for departure.
If you have further inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us again.
Thank you for your patronage of Asiana Airlines.”
While it is widely regarded as a non-existence practice in Asia, there have been exceptional cases where travellers flying within Asia or on airlines operating within Asia, have experienced the flat-tire rule, at the sole discretion of the airline or travel agent. So the next time you are late for your flight, fingers crossed as you make that important call to the airline and show up at the airport anyways - hope for the best and prepare for the worst.