Miss Your Flight? American Will Now Rebook You on the Next Flight—for Free

Get ready to synchronize your watches

American Airlines planes finishing up for take-off at gate
Pham Le Huong Son / Getty Images

For many travelers, the fear of missing your flight is real, very real. The anxiety often creeps in the night before a big flight, and, as anyone that’s actually managed to miss at least one flight in their lifetime knows, the nightmare isn’t too far off from reality. Missing a flight is disruptive, disappointing, frustrating—and often expensive.

Well, American Airlines recently quietly updated its missed flight policy, removing another mild stressor from your average traveler's day: the airline will now rebook late passengers on the next flight out, absolutely free. Is there a catch? You bet.

To score the complimentary rebooking, passengers will have to miss their flight, but only just. “Our airport agents can confirm the late-arriving customers on the next flight,” a representative from American Airlines confirmed in a statement to TripSavvy, “if they arrive at the airport after the check-in cutoff time, but prior to 15 minutes before flight departure."

So, in other words, the new policy only covers you if you arrive within 15 minutes of your flight’s departure, not a minute after. You also may not get a seat on the next flight as it’s essentially similar to a standby situation: if there’s room, you’re on; if not, you wait until there is.

Further details are hard to confirm (or find on the airline's website), but View from the Wing reported the new policy’s fine print allows for the replacement flight with a completely different routing, as long as it gets you to your destination city.

This means rebooked passengers who score free replacement flights may end up heading to a different airport in the same destination city, such as LaGuardia Airport instead of JFK, or be routed via a new connecting flight. Connecting flights may also have different connecting cities or airports.

All-in-all, this will be a welcomed change—and much cheaper than forfeiting your previous flight and having to purchase a new one—though the other inconveniences and headaches associated with missing your flight may still be fair game. Better to just set your alarm early.