Over on the Flyer Talk forums, one user explained why they missed a connecting flight because of an issue with the boarding pass on their phone. According to their account, the United app glitched just as the passenger lined up at security—and failed to show proof of any actual boarding pass. “I fumble and mumble to the TSA guy how this can’t be,” uval44 wrote. “I’m in the middle of my journey and my flight boards in 10 minutes.”
As it turns out, the reason why this happened is a little more complicated than a simple glitch; the user said United had “protected” them by placing them on a later flight, without, apparently, contacting them first to make them aware of the change. In turn, the airline revoked their boarding pass, leaving them stranded behind security and forced to miss their original flight.
What exactly went wrong here? Well, we can’t say who’s at fault without knowing the entire story, but many major airlines (like United) automatically rebook passengers who are at risk of missing their connection if their first flight is delayed. In the case of the traveller in question, it’s possible that United’s algorithm failed to make the correct judgment. (Or the traveller was wrong all along and the airline did, in fact, accurately assess the situation.)
In any case, here’s why it’s always good to contact your airline during an especially tight connection: If an airline does decide to reschedule your flight, contacting them directly is the single easiest way to confirm any changes. You can also confirm both the gate number and terminal for your connection, which may or may not be immediately updated on the electronic version of your boarding pass. If you’re running late and already anticipating missing your flight, you can easily reschedule your flight by contacting the airline directly, too.
Otherwise, you should always get in the habit of screenshotting your boarding pass which will, at least, prevent situations where you’re stranded behind security and make it easier for you to board without fumbling through an internet browser. (If you’re on an iOS device, adding it to your wallet works, too.)
If you’re willing to go analogue, it also helps to have a paper boarding pass in the event your phone dies or you’re unable to find a stable Wi-Fi connection. Some international airports even require that you have paper boarding passes to board your flight. (In case you were wondering, the debate over paper boarding passes versus electronic ones is alive and well.) And if you’re running late and in a panic, here’s our guide with other tips to help you make your connecting flight.