I Overslept For My International Flight

Filed Under: Other Airlines, Travel

It’s funny how things work out sometimes. Just a couple of days ago I wrote a post about whether or not you should let people skip you in an airport security line when running late.

In that post I mentioned how in my millions of miles of flying I’ve only ever overslept for a flight once.

Fast forward to today. On Saturday I flew Singapore Airlines Suites Class from New York to Frankfurt, and due to turbulence I didn’t get any sleep on the flight. I connected to Toulouse, where I got roughly four hours of sleep on Sunday night, before the Qatar Airways A350 delivery event on Monday.

Then last night I flew British Airways from Toulouse to London, before connecting to Bahrain on Gulf Air this morning.

I went to bed shortly after getting to my hotel (the Hilton London Heathrow Terminal 4), so was asleep by 10PM. I set my alarm for 4AM. Six hours is a good amount of sleep, and I wasn’t sure if my Gulf Air flight would have Wi-Fi or not, so that way I’d be able to get some work done prior to my flight. Besides, I could always nap on the flight.


Well, I distinctly remember my alarm going off at 4AM, but next thing I know I wake up and look at my phone and it’s bright outside.

There’s that moment where you wake up and know you way overslept, but are still oddly calm thinking it must be a dream. After rolling around in bed for a minute I looked at my phone… crap, it was 8:15AM!

My flight was scheduled to depart at 9:30AM, so I had 75 minutes until departure and hadn’t yet checked in.

Once I actually got out of bed, I literally packed in under a minute and ran. Ran. I didn’t look in the mirror or brush my teeth or anything. I just ran.

The good news is that my flight was departing from Terminal 4, and the Hilton Heathrow is connected to Terminal 4 by an outdoor walkway.

I’m not exactly sporty to begin with, and I’m even less sporty when lugging a carry-on and laptop bag with me.

But I sprinted to Terminal 4. There were some other people walking towards the terminal, and I passed them like someone on an autobahn passing someone on a Florida highway.

Amazingly I made it to check-in by 8:22AM. That’s right, seven minutes after I woke up I was at check-in.

I handed the agent my passport and tried to get out the words to indicate that I was checking in.

“Good… morning… going… to… Bahrain.”

As I muttered those words I’m pretty sure I sounded like a beached whale giving birth. The fact that I was a bit lightheaded after not drinking much water the day before didn’t help.

Amazingly enough the security queue was virtually non-existent, which really surprised me on the eve of Christmas Eve.

I even had time to check-out the Gulf Air Lounge.


When I finally boarded my Gulf Air flight I changed, brushed my teeth, did my hairz, etc.


Oh well, I guess that’s what happens when you get complacent with scheduling. I used to set five alarms on my phone and do a wake-up call. Nowadays I just do one alarm on my phone. Guess I need to go back to my old method.

On the plus side, I did sleep really well last night.

Have you ever overslept for a flight, and if so, did you still make it?

  1. Please tell me you were wearing pajamas all the way through check in and to the lounge. That would fit nicely with your MO…

  2. I was flying SJC-DFW-BOS and then BOS-MAD; two separate tickets Overslept and missed SJC-DFW. I was on standby for the next flight. DFW-BOS was late so I missed BOS-MAD. Long story short, those damn tequilas I had the night before cost me $400 (night at BOS and change fee for BOS-MAD).

  3. I have to agree with MC… This sounds like a bit of liberty with semantics in order to grab more eyeballs. But whatever.

  4. He overslept. Before an international flight. What part of that isn’t oversleeping for an international flight?

  5. More like you overslept your alarm, not your flight. You still made your flight with plenty of time to spare. Yawn.

  6. How do you connect onwards from Suites flights to FRA? I have 2 JFK-FRA segments next year. For one to BCN I ended buying a round trip on LH (one way was $800 and r/t was $180) and will throw away the return segment. The second one I’m still debating between Lifemiles/UA or cash. Any better options?

  7. I’m not generally superstitious. But I can’t help but think about all these comments saying you jinxed yourself when you posted earlier this year about having such an uncannily easy time going about such complex travels!

    In all seriousness, here’s where I give you the old man lecture. Sleep debt is a real thing and its negative effects on health and well being have serious long term consequences. So try to give your body a little more rest. It’s all good to push yourself hard when you’re young (trust me, you won’t be able to once you’re 30) but you have to let yourself relax just as much. It’s all about balance. This was a case of your body literally saying “screw the alarm! I need the rest!”

  8. I always set at least five alarms (ten minutes apart) on my phone, especially when jetlagged. It is slightly crazy but I have just gotten too good at shutting off my alarm in my sleep 🙂

  9. I’ve learned that I have to put my phone far enough away that I have to physically get out of bed to turn it off if I really need to wake up at a time I know my body is going to refuse to. Close enough to hear it, but far enough away that I can’t just turn it off and roll back over.

  10. One alarm is more than enough.

    I just turn it up full and put the damn thing in the power socket the other side of the room.

    Even I, a sofa bear, can be awake enough by the time I reach it to not passout again.

  11. I love that you stopped to take a picture of the ‘4 minute to LHR’ sign – and that you still made it in 7 minutes. I did something similar in ATL – it’s good to get the blood flowing when you’re going to be sitting for a long time! 🙂

  12. I’m not sure 5 alarms is really necessary, but I do make sure to have 2 when I need to be up for something important like a flight. I always make sure they’re on independent systems (i.e. phone vs. alarm clock vs. wake-up call etc.) so if one fails there’s a backup. I’ve had my phone charger suddenly cut out in the middle of the night and the battery subsequently die, so no matter how many phone alarms I set I’d have missed them all. Wake-up call saved the day!

    Oh, and as an old man and an MD, I totally agree with pavel about the consequences of chronic sleep debt! Enjoy your 20s, because once you reach 30 the travel’s going to start hitting your a lot harder.

  13. Why I always set multiple alarms. Well, to be honest even that doesn’t work sometime. I slept through two alarms and a possible wake up call while napping in the transit hotel at Singapore. Luckily I woke up 40 minutes before departure and just made my flight.

  14. Yikes, glad you made the flight! I would have totally had a meltdown freak out. I’m one of those that leaves for the airport WAAAY too early, but would rather be sitting around bored on the plane side of security.

    I third pavel and Arcanum’s statements. Your insane travel schedule will get harder in your 30’s, but enjoy it while you can, because that’s what your 20’s are for. 🙂 In the meantime, we’re really loving these posts, thanks!

  15. @ Nemme — Yeah, my issue is that the more alarms I set, the less responsive I become to them. When I set just one I know I have to get up when it goes off, while when I set 10 I just ignore all of them and end up wasting time.

  16. Once overslept and missed a CO MSY-IAH flight.
    Too much Grand Marnier the night before (er, perhaps, earlier the same morning).

    Blame it on New Orleans.

    Was able to shower and shave at a CO Presidents Club in IAH.

  17. LOL Ben that was a funny post. I love how you still had the sense of mind to pause to take a photo of the connecting walkway and of course it’s tres important to get them hairz did.

    One thing I didn’t agree with you was “I’m not exactly sporty to begin with” – come on now Ben, we all know you’re a gym bunny. 😉

  18. This just happened to me on my flight home from Barcelona, although I wasn’t quite as fortunate. I was pick pocketed a few days prior and they got my phone and wallet. I normally use my phone as my alarm so now I had to find something to wake me up. I was staying at a friends’ flat so there was no wakeup call option. My friends had left the day before so I was by myself. I set the alarm on my iPad but since I’d never used the alarm function before I set the timer on the microwave in the kitchen as a backup. I was exhausted but only had enough time for a 2 hour snooze if I wanted to be up, showered, packed, and finish cleaning the flat before heading to the airport with plenty of time to check out the lounge.

    I’m out as soon as my head hits the pillow and the next thing I know I’m waking up on my own…without the assistance of an alarm. I know immediately that I overslept and check the time. It’s 10:59 and my flight is scheduled to leave at 11:05. GAAAAAHHHHH!!!! In a panicked knee jerk reaction I jump out of bed and start frantically throwing my stuff in my bag before the realization hits that I’m never going to make it. Besides, if I walk out that door I’m homeless…best make a few phone calls first. I call Delta, explain the situation, the agent checks for flight availability, finds an itinerary for the following day and explains to me that it will cost the difference in fare plus a $450 change feel. Ouch. I sit down and brace myself for what I’m sure is going to be a 4 figure mistake when he comes back with, “That’ll be $234 and I can keep you in business class all the way. Wow. You’re lucky.” I wouldn’t call having my wallet and phone stolen and missing my flight lucky, but I’ll take it!

  19. lol Ben, I can totally relate! I was stay at the Renaissance La Defense once and had a 830am Thalys train to Brussels out of Gare du Norde…. Well, woke up just before 730am, realized what time it was, changed and RAN to the metro station…. And ran pretty much everywhere else along the way. Made it onto the train with about 5 minutes to spare! I was amazed we made it since it usually takes me a hour to reach Gare du Norde from La Defense

  20. What an oh shit moment for you there. Good thing you made it in time. Still enjoy reading your work! Merry Christmass and happy holidays!

  21. Spend $2 and buy an app like sleepcycle. It works great and helps you wake up at the right time relative to how you’re sleeping.

  22. Am I the only one who actually would not worry at all arriving 75 minutes before an international flight at the airport with only hand luggage, in particular having status/travelling in a premium cabin?

  23. Top Tip: leave your phone with the alarm set ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOM so you’re forced to get up out of bed when it sounds!

  24. Funny story, no matter where we are in life, it seems like we all have days like this at some point, glad it worked out. It’s cool that you recorded your experience for us, to the chagrin of a couple Scrooges/Grinches in the audience, but I enjoyed reading it. It kind of shows you’re not just a travel & points/miles blog-writing robot 🙂

  25. @ abc — I woke 75 minutes before departure — that’s not when I was at the airport. And we’re talking about Heathrow here.

  26. Glad you made it in the nick of time! Luckily, your blog readers who snarked at the idea of not letting people jump the security line, can still continue to snarl.

  27. I’ve overslept many times but missed my flight only once. There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush that comes with the instantaneous understanding that missing a flight is a very real possibility.

  28. Well done, Ben. Funny post. I agree with Sherman about your posts (you were a trooper this week for all the crap you put up with, undeservedly). And I also agree with Acumen, LindaK and Pavel about making sure you take care of your health. This lifestyle will catch up with you in your late 30’s. Stay strong and Merry Christmas.


  29. “Not exactly sporty to begin with”? Given how many reviews of hotel gyms I’ve seen on this blog, I have a hunch you’re just being modest. 😉

  30. Indeed abouth Dylan’s comment: spend US$ 2 on Sleep Cycle app and get this shit done 🙂 You put your cellphone aside your pillow and they analysis your sleep cycles (!) and wakes you when it’s lighter (you set up between an space of 30 min). After a while, you can analyse your cycles and figure out how long your cycles takes and program better 😉 I am using for a year now and have no more dramas with alarms.

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