Have you ever missed check-in by a few minutes and been told to go pound sand?
Check out this excerpt from the Miami Herald :
A Few Minutes Proves Costly
I bought a round-trip ticket for $115…for travel from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa…on Spirit Airlines.
I arrived in line for boarding pass at 6:20 a.m. and it took till 6:30 a.m. to get to check in at the kiosk, where I was informed it was too late to get a boarding pass for the flight.
I spoke with an agent who said sorry, but you are about…five minutes too late and that the next plane leaves at 9 p.m. tonight and it will cost $156 to get on it…Surely, being that late was not justification to cut off checking in a passenger for a flight that takes place about 42 minutes later.
— Robert A. Giacin, via e-mail
A.We contacted Spirit Airlines spokeswoman Misty Pinson, who said the airline will not refund your money.
“Spirit has been in communication with Mr. Giacin and has fully explained the reason he will not be receiving a refund,” she said, via e-mail. “Unfortunately, he was not checked in for his flight within the required 45 minutes before his flight so he is not due any compensation.
“We encourage passengers to take advantage of the online check-in option where they can check-in for their flight 24 hours prior to arriving to the airport.”
I do have some sympathy for Mr. Giacin because on more than one occasion I’ve had to ask United agents to override the check-in time restrictions to get me on my scheduled flight. I try to check in online, as Mr. Giacin should have, but it is not always possible–especially on international itineraries. I’d be interested to know if Giacin was trying to check any bags on the flight.
Earlier this year I missed check-in by five minutes for my Swiss Air flight from Los Angeles to Zürich and lost my seat–the station manager said the flight was oversold and my seat had immediately be given away at the check-in cutoff. Thankfully, I got on the next flight (the following evening), but I put myself through needless stress by not better planning (and by trusting the Los Angeles public transportation system in this case…).
Last fall, I checked in late for an Air New Zealand flight from Hong Kong to London and also had to fly the following day–for an extra $250.
So do your best to check-in online, arrive at the airport early, and avoid airlines which require you to upgrade to a "full fare" for standbys like Southwest and Spirit if you have time management issues.
p.s. For more about my Swiss Air mishap, you can check out my trip report on flyertalk.com: www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-reports/910790-lx-lax-del-lax-via-zrh-c-india-swiss-air.html