Back in the good ‘ol days when airlines used to give a damn about passengers, it used to be that there was a fair amount of wiggle room in your itinerary. If a disaster (say, a flat tire) occurred on the way to the airport, you could show up late, reason with the ticket agent and if there was room, they would just stick you on another flight.
These days, many airlines are so overregulated that ticket agents either can’t or don’t want to rebook you without a significant fiscal or time investment. “The Flat Tire rule” that formally outlined this ability, however, is still sort of around.
Our friend George Hobica over at AirfareWatchdog just took a good look at the rule with respect to airline. They offer some good advice for when you get into a bind, but their prevailing theme is pretty simple: you’re largely at the mercy of the ticket agent. Irrespective of whether the airline has a rule in place or not, many employees don’t know about it (or will deny they know about it,) so you have to be patient, polite, flexible and reasonable to help find a solution. After all, they have no legal obligation to rebook you.
You can read more about each airlines’ rules on rebooking over at the AirfareWatchBlog.