Failed intubations occur in approximately 1:2000 elective intubations, 1:300 obstetric rapid sequence intubations and 1:50–100 intubations in the ICU or emergency department. Patients do not die from lack of intubation but from lack of ventilation and oxygenation, and all too often the anaesthetist becomes fixated on trying to intubate at the expense of resuscitating the hypoxic patient. The Difficult Airway Society (DAS) has published guidelines on how to manage ‘the failed intubation’ scenario. You will be expected to know these as examiners are likely to take a very harsh view of faltering knowledge in this crucial area.