Norweigan Airlines - Refused check-in & just re-sold our tickets...

  • Hi Guest, welcome to the help forum. You can get fast answers to your customer service questions here. We have a dedicated team of advocates who are ready to help. Just go to the section that matches your question and ask us!
  • If you've posted a question or issue for our advocates to assist with, please be sure to check back frequently for responses and requests for clarification.
  • Did you know you can get email notifications when something new posts to your favorite forum? It's easy. Just click the "watch" link right next to the "post new thread" button at the top of your favorite forum. The rest is easy. Now you'll never miss another conversation.
  • Want to become an expert user? Drop by the How to use this forum section and all will be revealed. We'll show you how to make the most of your experience.
Jan 30, 2018
I was flying from London to Seattle on Fri, 12/8/17. Trains all over London were cancelled at about 7am that morning, due to a signal issue so we took an Uber to Gatwick Airport (1hr 45mins away) and arrived 1 hour prior to our flight - to the minute. They refused to check us in and forced us to purchase new tickets (along with 30+ other people). No direct flights to Seattle until Sunday night, only option was to change our flight to LAX $450 and then purchase flights from LAX to SEA $200. We waited 3 hours for our new flight and when walking to the gate we hear an announcement for a passenger on the SEA flight? I connected to Wifi and saw notifications that our original flight was delayed 2 hrs 45 mins!! So everyone who was refused check-in was now waiting at the gate to go to LAX when our original flight to SEA hadn't even left yet and wasn't scheduled to depart until AFTER our new flight already left... Many people asked to be moved back to the direct SEA flight and they refused (EVEN THOUGH THERE WERE 20+ OPEN SEATS)

I filed a claim with London Victoria station and was reimbursed the entire $20 train ticket + $30 more in vouchers as an apology because trains were cancelled more than 3 hours.

I filed a claim with Norweigan and they took over a month to respond that they will NOT reimburse any costs and "...advise all passengers to check in well before departure. If you arrive after the specified deadline, you may not have the ability to check in and may miss your flight" and "Norwegian considers punctuality a high priority, and therefore strives to maintain on time performance and flight schedules. For this reason you were not able to check in" and lastly... "We would kindly like to inform you that the tickets you purchased are Low Fare. These tickets have terms and conditions attached to them. These terms and conditions are agreed to at the time of booking. In light of this information, unfortunately we are not able to honour your request. as the fees charged are correct."

Ironic that they are saying punctuality is their high priority when they failed to notify anyone that the SEA direct flight was delayed, until after everyone already purchased new tickets. Unbelievable.


Jan 6, 2015
One item of note that pertains to your flight and others like it. Check in times are lways based upon the original scheduled departure time, not the actual departure time. Thus your 1 hour (to the minute) likely made you a "no show" (technically speaking). Airlines have to create a manifest for each flight and submit prior to doors closing. It's then finalized at the gate by the gate agent.

Here are two (2) articles that speaks to this process...
Scheduled Departure Times: How Important Are They?
Flight Manifests: How They Work
Last edited:

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Dec 27, 2014
New York
You arrived at the airport too late. The computers lock down one hour before the flight is scheduled to leave and the agents cannot override them. You should arrive for an international flight at least 3 hours before scheduled departure.
Likes: VoR61
Sep 19, 2015
What a painful experience. First -- why is there the heading: Norweigan Airlines - Refused check-in & just re-sold our tickets... how does the OP know that the tickets were resold? How many people buy a walk up fare from London to Seattle? Yet later it is written "EVEN THOUGH THERE WERE 20+ OPEN SEATS"... so that is just likely not accurate.

And now for the important information -- as Neil mentioned the computers shut and lock 60 minutes before departure. This is also what Norwegian lists on their website.

Check-in closes (including bag drop):
  • Nordic domestic: 30 minutes before departure
  • Argentina, Dubai, Thailand, Israel, Singapore, Caribbean and U.S.: 1 hour before departure
  • All other flights: 45 minutes before departure
By the time the OP arrived -- at one hour on the dot -- the computer locked down. Why do computers lock down? So there is a passenger manifest. US immigration reviews the passenger manifests of all incoming international passengers and those are closed out one hour before scheduled departure at Gatwick. This is why no one could be transferred to that flight -- the info could not be changed. Norwegian does not fly Gatwick to Seattle daily, so Los Angeles was the only option for leaving that day.

I see that the original flight was scheduled for 9:45 am. After a 1 hour and 45 minute taxi ride, it does sound as if departure from London by taxi was at 7 am. Now I know that the Gatwick express takes 30 minutes normally from Victoria --and it would be great if one could depend on that. And morning traffic can be awful in London.

But the worst thing about this was that the signal failure was caused by a power issue on the National Grid power supply which started around 6:40 am. There had been signal issues the night before that were around East Croydon but then there was the massive failure the morning of the departure -- or at least that was what the train lines reported.

This was a terrible situation for many travelers as the Gatwick Express just stopped. I wish we had better news, but Norwegian is not responsible. I realize that the OP and many others suffered from extra costs because of the failing of the National Grid. I have no desire to fly Norwegian, but I cannot blame Norwegian for the refusal to check in. The rules are very strict for international flights, particularly US bound aircrafts.

For the low fare tickets Norwegian charges $130 change fee and the fare difference. This was not a repurchase, as Norwegian allows such changes up to 30 monutes before departure.
Did you have travel insurance, either a separate policy or coverage through your credit card? There's a slim chance that this situation would be covered.

To our advocates: Is it possible that Norweigan has a "Flat Tire Rule" similar to Delta's and United's? Would asking for this indulgence have helped our OP?
Jan 6, 2015
When I searched for the "flat tire rule" I found several sites that lay claim to its existence, but nothing on the Delta or United sites.

One such article is Point Me to the Plane by BoardingArea where they publish quotes from airlines.

Using those "quotes" I searched again on the airlines' web sites and found nothing, so I suspect this is a myth ...
When I searched for the "flat tire rule" I found several sites that lay claim to its existence, but nothing on the Delta or United sites.

One such article is Point Me to the Plane by BoardingArea where they publish quotes from airlines.

Using those "quotes" I searched again on the airlines' web sites and found nothing, so I suspect this is a myth ...
Here's something from "The Points Guy" published in November of 2017. Apparently these policies are "quasi-official" and do not appear on their websites, but the do exist to varying degrees.

Here's a copy of part of the article, for those who don't like to follow links. Note that Chris Elliott is even mentioned in the article:

Have you ever missed a flight because you showed up at the airport too late? If you travel enough, it’s only a matter of time until it happens to you. And when it does, you need to know the rules — both the official and the unofficial ones. Today, I want to look at how the airlines treat you when you miss your flight, and offer some recommendations for getting the best possible outcome.

What Is the Flat Tire Rule?
As we know, airlines experience delays and cancellations all the time, but they often try to absolve themselves by pointing out that it was due to factors “out of their control,” such as air traffic control delays (when they’ve scheduled 100 flights to depart within 20 minutes), or when it’s raining somewhere in North America. When this happens, passengers receive nothing, and may not even get compensation for an overnight hotel stay.
But mercifully, most airlines have long had quasi-official policies of waiving fare rules and change fees when passengers need to rebook a flight that they missed, presumably due to factors outside their own control. And it’s a good thing; if you can’t use this rule, you could be forced to pay hundreds, or perhaps even thousands, of dollars to take the next flight.
This policy is known as the “flat tire rule,” though you won’t find it on most airlines’ websites. Ironically, a flat tire is a mechanical failure, which is considered to be outside the control of customers (when driving their own car), even though aircraft maintenance delays are considered within the control of airlines.
Southwest asks that you call them within 10 minutes of the flight you’re going to miss to let them know.How This Works in Practice
Since the rule isn’t publicly documented, it can be hard for passengers to invoke it. Nevertheless, we do know a bit about how different airlines handle missed flights.

American: American has a Late Arrival Standby Policy that says that passengers who present themselves at the airport within two hours of departure can be accommodated as a standby flyer on the next flight without paying change fees or fare increases, so long as the scheduled flight was not the last of the day. Sadly, the Late Arrival Standby Policy doesn’t exist on American’s website, so this seems to be an internally documented rule.

Delta: According to this article at Hilton’s Club Traveler website, Delta has a flat tire rule that applies when “a customer who in good faith arrives [late] at the airport due to [an] unforeseen delay.” In these cases, customers rely on the discretion of the agents at the airport.

Southwest: Southwest’s internal flat tire rule requires passengers to call the airline within 10 minutes of departure if they won’t make the flight to retain the flight’s cost as credit. If you’re just running behind, be sure to arrive at the airport within two hours of the flight’s departure. Even if it’s the last flight of the day, Southwest will try to accommodate the passenger as standby on the next flight — even if it’s the first flight out in the morning.

United: Chris Elliott’s 2012 interview with United’s senior vice president of customer experience, Martin Hand, is still the only reference I could find on the existence of a delayed passenger rule with United. It seems to actually be called the “flat tire rule” in United’s internal systems, and requires passengers to present themselves at the airport within two hours of departure.
That's correct. It has no official status but apparently the "rule" may be invoked on a case-by-case basis. If I were in charge of an airline I wouldn't make it written policy, either. My takeaway is that ticket agents have some leeway in granting this sort of exception. Being courteous, friendly and polite to them is paramount.