In all of the 90+ flights I have caught in my lifetime, I have never missed a flight. I have never ever been even close to missing my flight but the reality is that sometimes it happens. In the same way that people who regularly drive can run out of fuel, commuters can miss trains and frequent flyers can miss flights.
Here are a few lessons I have learnt from missing my flight.
But first what went wrong?
Honestly, the day prior to my flight was not the best. I found myself stuck in the lab doing experiments till 11 pm and before I had my dinner and packed for my trip it was heading to 1 am. I thought that maybe I should just stay awake since I had to wake up for 2.30am to leave the house for 3:20 am but since I was driving down to the airport I thought it was best for me to have a quick power nap. So you could imagine my shock when I work up at 4.02am. I literally jumped out to bed! I was then speeding down the M25 and then I dropped the car off and rushed towards departure. Breathlessly, I scanned the departure board but could not find my flight details; they are usually removed 30 minutes to departure. I rushed to the help desk and asked if they could please tell me which departure gate my flight would leave from. I was told that it could not found on the board then the departure gate was closed and I had missed my flight. Those words rang loudly in my ear: ‘sorry ma’am! You missed your flight’.
And at that moment I went quickly into disaster recovery mode and here are a few lessons I’ve learnt from missing my flight and ways to prevent this from happening :
1. DO NOT BOOK AN EARLY MORNING FLIGHT!
This is the first time whilst travelling solo I have booked an early flight and I only did it because it was the only flight that day going from London Gatwick to Sofia, Bulgaria. It was at 6:05 am.
2. An alarm is NOT enough
Clearly, an alarm is not enough especially when it was such a short sleep. I actually remember pressing snooze on the alarm I set to fall back asleep. In total, I had set 5 alarms within the within minutes of each other. I would advise to space it out by 15min and a final alarm to tell you to get up. At least if that’s the one you wake up to you are only delayed by a few minutes.
3. Get someone to wake you up
A wake-up call is way more efficient than any alarm. Since the person ensures you get out of bed and are fully awake.
4. Consider staying close to the airport for the night.
I was about an hour plus from the airport imagine if I had stayed over with a friend who lived close to the airport I could have possibly still caught the flight. Alternatively, you can get a hotel room e.g a premier inn hotel 5 min walk from the Gatwick airport and probably costs less than getting a whole new ticket.
5. Mobile apps that provide flight information
As of yet, there are no apps that tell you the exact gate of your flight because they change so much but I think the development of this would be very beneficial. But it the mean time you can make use of apps that provides you with detailed information like if there is a delay in your flight or the time it will take you to go through security. My top 3 are flightAware, FlightStats and TripIt.
6. Pack smart.
When packing ensure everything is packed correctly. Don’t take along any prohibited items through security because it will only result in more delays. I mistakenly packed scissors. It only delayed me by 2 minutes but those 2 minutes could have been just what I needed to make my flight.
7. Seek help
If you do discover that you have missed your flight don’t need to get angry as it happens. Just find the nearest customer service booth and there is usually someone there to help you out. Usually, you will need to be taken through the staff route to go back out through immigration. It can be frustrating because so many things come to mind. Do you have to buy a new ticket? Will you still be able to fly the same day? Don’t worry too much about that you will receive all the information you need.
8. Choose your reaction
I choose not to let a bad moment set the tone for my day. It’s not worth it. What I have recited in the midst of the most unpleasant times is this: even your bad days offer something to be grateful for. From this, my energy is shifted to a much more optimistic reality. Life is life. Things happen. But perspectively is in your control – always choose to see the bright side of things.
9. Call a friend
I found this very heartwarming as a receive empathy from my friend who I was meet up with in Bulgaria, it made me voice out any lingering or residual anger I may have had toward myself. She constantly reassured me that I was only human and I was probably just too tired.
10. Find your way to a warm bed / eat some soul food
Find your guilty pleasure food. You have just spend money on buying another ticket so your natural instinct is to try and be a bit selfish towards yourself, but I think it is in moments like this you have to demonstrate the true meaning of self-love and buy yourself a nice meal. Preferably take out and head back home to relax. Get proper rest and get ready for the next time you are travelling.
If you are lucky you will be able to fly the same day. But for me, the flight to Sofia only left once a day. I had two choices, get a refund which really would only be the airport tax which will be £20 or pay a fee which meant I could catch the next available flight. I took the latter choice as I was not ready to lose all of my money and I really still wanted to see Bulgaria even though it was only going to for 24 hours. This was going to be an exciting adventure!
Next week I will be telling you how I maximized my 24 hours in Bulgaria, stay tuned.
Till then remember to Breath! Relax ! Breath again!