Why you can’t check-in late for a flight

Missing a flight is incredibly frustrating. Not only are people’s travel plans inconvenienced, but it can also be expensive. Most people tend to miss their flights when they miss the check-in at the airport, which can lead to another frustration: “Why can’t you just let me onto the aircraft? I can see it’s standing right there and it’s still 40 minute before it departs!”

Hopefully this article can help explain the reasons why we cannot rush people aboard at the last minute.


“While we focus a lot on the technical aspects of aircraft safety, people often overlook that we also have a responsibility to ensure that nobody’s safety is compromised in terms of who, or what, we allow on board our aircraft,” says FlySafair Flight Safety Manager, Johan Schoeman.

Individuals who seek to compromise the safety of passengers aboard an aircraft will often take the approach of rushing on board at the last minute, hoping that their haste not to miss the flight will mean a lighter application of security screening protocols to both people and luggage. It’s a risk not worth taking, and FlySafair has chosen not to open passengers up to.

Flight Planning:

Flight planning is no small task. There are a great number of factors to consider when planning a flight. Pilots and flight engineers have to factor the weather, the distances they will travel, what alternate airports they will plan to land at should they need to divert and a great number of other factors. What goes on behind the scenes is a complicated preparation and two very important things need to be known before this planning can be done: How many passengers and bags we will have aboard (for the weight calculation) and how that weight will be spread across the aircraft.

Once these factors are known, the engineers and the flight deck have 40 minutes to make all of these important calculations, which have to be officially filed in the flight report, a legal document, so that we can be assured that the flight was planned and operated safely and responsibly. Not only is 40 minutes not a long time to make these calculations, but certain aspects of the aircraft preparation also depend on these inputs, like for example, where the luggage will be packed to evenly distribute the weight in the aircraft.

Adding in late passengers will mean that these calculations and processes will have to be started again from scratch, which will almost certainly result in a delay. Not updating these calculations and just “squeezing someone in” is not an option either, as this is illegal and irresponsible.


At FlySafair we pride ourselves on our on-time performance record. As it stands we hold the best on-time performance record in South Africa and we are proud of this, because we value and respect the time of our customers.

Having a flight delayed by a late passenger will not only inconvenience the 189 passengers on the aircraft who boarded in time, it could also ultimately inconvenience all other passengers on flights operated by that particular aircraft for the rest of the day.

On an average day up to 50 aircraft depart from OR Tambo every hour. Take off slots are very carefully planned – if we miss one, we have to join the queue, which means that a 5min delay can become much longer very quickly. If this knocks on through-out the schedule for the rest of the day, the full schedule will be disrupted.

What to do:

If, however, you do miss your flight, please report to our ticket sales counter immediately. Our friendly staff will gladly attempt to place you on the next possible flight and instead of asking you to buy a whole new full priced ticket we will only ask you for a change fee of R300 per ticket and any difference in fare that might apply between what you paid at first, and what the new ticket will cost.

We understand, of course, that things do happen in life and flights do get missed. We’ve all been late for something, whether it’s a movie, a flight or a party, due to circumstances beyond our control and it can feel very unfair. For this reason we urge our customers to arrive at the airport early, rather than waiting until just before the check-in closes.

Check-in for a flight opens 2 hours before the flight departs, so we highly recommend that customers get there early, check-in at leisure and relax in the terminal while waiting for their flight.

Alternatively, customers can check-in online by clicking here. Online check-in opens 24 hours prior to departure and closes 4 hours prior to departure.

Have more questions? Submit a request