I have been on planes at least one hundred times. I missed my flights four times. Here are the stories of what happened.
I missed my first flight due to the simplest reason: I was late. I left home late, and was late for boarding. When I appeared at the check-in, they could not put me on the plane. What did it cost me? A new ticket. What did I learn? Do your calculations right to be at the airport two hours before the flight. Do not assume that everything will go smoothly, and there will be no traffic, or lines at the registration desk and the security check.
I missed my second flight in Kiev. They had just opened a little section of the airport after some renovation, and the passengers for all outgoing flights were sitting in one hall. I was sitting in front of a clock, and had nothing to do but look at the clock hands. They seemed not to move at all. When a person sat next to me, I was happy to talk. We talked, and talked, and talked. New topics were changing the previous ones. People were moving around all the time. The public announcements stopped bothering me. I kept glancing at the clock, but could not realize what time it was showing. You can guess what happened next. When I forced myself to look at the clock and actually see what time it showed, it was too late: my plane was taking off at that very moment. What did my carelessness cost me? A night in an airport chair, an international call and a new ticket. What did I learn from it? Never let anything distract you from your goal.
I missed my third flight when I was making a connected flight in Vienna. The time between flights was an hour and a half, which is not too much, so the first thing I did when I arrived to the Vienna airport was that I checked the terminal for my next flight, went there and found the gate. There was a cafe next to the gate. The air smelled of coffee so delicious that I could not help having a cup of Viennese coffee in Vienna. It felt like time stopped. The coffee was right for my taste, and the complimentary cookies were heavenly fresh. From time to time I looked at the gate, and every time I was reassured that I could stay another five minutes in the cafe, because they had not made a call for passengers yet. After an hour or so I started worrying because my watch was telling me it was time. I tipped the waiter, collected my suitcase and headed towards the gate. When I asked the person at the gate if my flight to Barcelona had been delayed, he looked into my electronic ticket and said, “No, Madam. Your flight is on time, but the boarding is in another terminal. I am afraid you will not make it. They have already closed the plane door.” That was it. I missed my flight, and with it, the reservation for the hotel that was waiting for my arrival at noon. What did it cost me? A ridiculously expensive ticket, a couple of grey hair when I realized I did not have any place to stay that night; and I wasted a whole day that I was going to spend in a wonderful city, but instead, was caged in the transit area of an airport. What did I learn from it? Always check all the details of your flight on the information screens: not just the airport of destination, but also the time and number of your flight.
The last missing flight happened when I was doing the last leg of my trip to the United Stated. When I was waiting for my suitcase in the baggage reclaim area, I noticed a security person with a dog zigzagging around people and their bags. Then they came up to me. I smiled to the dog and started talking to it as the dog was sniffing my hand luggage. When I was about to pet the dog, its owner asked, “Do you have any food in your bag, Madam?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Please open your bag.” I did. In my bag, there were three apples, a meat sandwich from the previous flight, and a package of dry meat that I took from home as a snack. None of those were allowed to bring into the States. I had read the rules but did not take them seriously: who could care about a couple of apples or a sandwich? The U.S. agricultural security people do. “Madam, please give me your passport,” said the security person. I did. He wrote something in his notepad, gave me a piece of paper and said that I had to go through the agricultural control. I had no choice. I was not the only one who had broken the rules. The line was long, and it seemed not to move at all. Eventually, I went through the control: several people looked through all my luggage several times. All foods that should not have been there were confiscated. When it was over, I realized that I missed the flight. Luckily, they did not make me pay a fine for breaking the law, and, luckily, I was able to get on the next fight for which I did not have to pay, either. What did it cost me? Nothing, really, except for the two hours when I was worrying what would happen to me. What did I learn from it? Know the rules and do not break them. Just to be on the safe side, remember that you cannot bring into the U.S. fresh fruits, seeds, or any kind of meat. If you do, you have to declare them before you leave the arrival area.
I hope these unfortunate experiences of mine can help those who want to avoid unnecessary worries and losses when they travel.