Alaska Airlines customer service travesty creates nightmare for family with emergencies

By | August 6th, 2016

An involuntary denied boarding. A hostile agent. A missing refund.

It’s not every day that it all comes together in a single case, as it did for Christina Mikolajcik-Edles. Her story involves a dying relative, the challenge of traveling with twin infants and an emergency hospital visit.

Mikolajcik-Edles wants to know if airline rules about check-in times should be waived in emergency cases, such as hers — and whether airlines should reimburse passengers treated rudely by their personnel.

Mikolajcik-Edles and her husband booked a flight for themselves and their twin infant daughters on Alaska Airlines from Charleston, S.C., to Seattle to visit her terminally ill mother-in-law. Unfortunately, on the morning of the day they were scheduled to depart, one of their daughters needed treatment for a localized infection at the local emergency room. But her doctors cleared her for travel to Seattle the same day, so a friend rushed the Edleses with their daughters to the airport to catch their flight.

Here’s Mikolajcik-Edles on what happened next:

When we checked in at the counter, the agent stated that we had arrived too late to be allowed to check bags. I explained the circumstances and showed her documents showing that we had just been at the emergency room. She continued to argue with me about the bags, so I agreed to send the bags back home with the friend who had driven us to the airport and we would travel with our carry-on bags only.

At that point, she informed me that we were now past the time that she could issue our boarding passes. During this entire 20-minute conversation, I was crying and pleading with her and another Alaska Airlines representative who was standing next to her. The second woman was shaking her head and asking the “head agent,” “Could I please call down to the gate for them?” The agent “helping” me offered no option to rebook the flight or any other solution for another flight to get us to our destination.

Because of her mother-in-law’s condition, time was of the essence. Mikolajcik-Edles went to the Delta counter and purchased tickets for a flight the next morning to Seattle via New York, which required an overnight stay in New York. While still in Washington State, Mikolajcik-Edles called Alaska Airlines and requested a credit for the originating flight from Charleston to Seattle. At the same time, she confirmed her family’s return tickets and seat assignments for their return flight from Seattle.

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But during the return flight, the nightmare resumed:

We arrived at the Seattle airport at 6:45 a.m., waited in line to check our bags curbside where we were issued our boarding passes and baggage claim slips. By 7:20 a.m. we were going through the TSA inspection and waiting to have the baby formula scanned, etc. We arrived at the gate at 8:20 a.m. and the airplane was at the gate. [The departure time was 8:25 a.m.]

The male agent at the counter stated that they had paged, called, waited for us but had closed the plane early with our bags still on board — which I believe is a TSA violation. Once again, I was crying and pleading for them to allow us on the plane. I checked my cell phone and had no missed calls. I explained that and communicated that we clearly had checked in and checked our bags. How could they not see that we were in the airport?

The agent offered to put Mikolajcik-Edles and her family on an Alaska Airlines flight to Atlanta for a change fee of $500, connecting with a Delta flight to Charleston. Realizing that he had left her with no other option, Mikolajcik-Edles gave him her credit card and he printed the boarding passes for her family’s flight to Atlanta.

Then Mikolajcik-Edles asked to speak to a supervisor.

“The agent then threatened to cancel my boarding passes, take them back and not help me at all,” says Mikolajcik-Edles. He stated that he was doing her a favor that was costing the airline a lot of money, and that it was somehow her family’s fault that they did not arrive at the gate to board the plane before the door was closed. The people sitting near the check-in counter could easily see and hear what was going on, and three separate women came up to Mikolajcik-Edles offering to help and stating how unfair the situation was.

Mikolajcik-Edles wrote to Alaska Airlines to request help in obtaining $3,000 as full reimbursement from Alaska Airlines for all of the costs she incurred because of its agents’ unwillingness to allow her to check her bags and board her flights. (We provide executive contact information for Alaska Airlines on our website.) When they refused to reimburse her, she wrote to our advocacy team to request assistance.

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Alaska’s contract of carriage contains this provision regarding baggage check-in times:

Minimum Times for Checked Baggage: Alaska may refuse to accept any article of Checked Baggage that has not been presented, checked in, and processed at least forty (40) minutes prior to scheduled departure time. Baggage checked in less than forty (40) minutes prior to a flight’s scheduled departure time may be accepted and Alaska will make reasonable efforts, but cannot guarantee, to transport such Baggage on the Passenger’s flight(s). Alaska will not assume responsibility for delivery charges if such Baggage arrives at the Passenger’s destination on a subsequent flight.

While this provision meant Alaska’s agent could refuse to allow Mikolajcik-Edles and her family to check their baggage when they arrived at the airport in Charleston, it didn’t require that the agent refuse. And she could have shown the Edleses some kindness and compassion in allowing them to check their baggage and board the flight or alternatively to rebook another Alaska Air flight, given that the Edleses were faced with a double emergency and could even show her documentation of the hospital visit that delayed their arrival at the airport.

Alaska’s conduct on the return flight was a travesty of anything resembling “customer service.” It closed the airplane doors early, with the Edleses’ baggage on board, but refused to allow them to board. The gate agent made unsupported claims that the airline had tried to call her, and then became hostile when Mikolajcik-Edles asked to speak to a supervisor.

Unfortunately, Alaska’s contract of carriage disclaims responsibility on the airline’s part for this situation:

Failure to comply with Alaska check-in time limits will result in the cancellation of the Passenger’s reservation and will render him/her ineligible for denied boarding compensation …

Acceptance of the compensation by the Passenger … constitutes full compensation for all actual or anticipatory damages incurred or to be incurred by the Passenger as a result of Alaska’s failure to provide the Passenger with confirmed reserved space and relieves Alaska from any further liability to the Passenger caused by Alaska’s failure to honor the confirmed reservation. If Alaska’s offer of compensation pursuant to the above provisions is not accepted, Alaska’s liability is limited to actual damages proved not to exceed $1,350 USD per ticketed Passenger as a result of Alaska’s failure to provide the Passenger with confirmed reserved space. Passenger will be responsible for providing documentation of all actual damages claimed. Alaska shall not be liable for any punitive, consequential or special damages arising out of or in connection with Alaska’s failure to provide the Passenger with confirmed reserved space. However, the Passenger may decline the payment and seek to recover damages in a court of law or in some other manner.

Alaska Airlines responded to our advocates’ inquiry with:

We’re very sorry for the experience our customer had in February – after looking into this, our records indicate that our customer missed her Feb. 5 flight, after attempting to check in for her first flight 20 minutes prior to departure. We are unable to check in any additional passengers after 40 minutes prior to departure. …

For the second flight on Feb. 10, we would be happy to refund the $500 in change fees for the flight that was missed while the family was delayed in security lines as a one-time customer service gesture. We certainly know that security lines were very challenging earlier this year.

But considering the Edleses’ emergency situation on the day of the earlier flight and its complete lack of acceptable customer service on the return flight, our advocates don’t think Mikolajcik-Edles is asking too much to have her family’s additional expenses fully reimbursed by Alaska Airlines.

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And Alaska needs to retrain its personnel in how to treat customers with compassion. No passenger should ever have to endure callous attitudes from airline agents — especially during emergencies. When gate agents rebook passengers on alternative flights who have been forced to endure long security lines that prevent them from reaching their gates prior to takeoff, that’s their job — not a “favor.”

Should Alaska Airlines reimburse Christina Mikolajcik-Edles for the entirety of her additional expenses?

View Results

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  • JewelEyed

    Even if you’re in the airport, I’m fairly certain that they don’t let you show up at the gate 5 minutes before the plane leaves and get on, do they…?

  • fs2013

    The one and only time I missed a flight, my mother & I arrived very early for our flight, made our way thru security and had time to kill. We went to a coffee shop to wait it out, but lost track of time. We played OJ through the airport and arrived about 3 minutes before scheduled departure. The door were closed and we were out of luck. I believe the rules say you must be at the gate, ready to board, at least 10 minutes prior to departure.

    It stinks when you’re the one who is late, but I always appreciate my flights being on time and that requirement really keeps the planes on schedule.

  • Tanya

    In general, no, gates close between 10 and 20 minutes prior to departure. Sometimes, they will hold the doors open a few minutes if necessary.

    Last year on an AA flight, my DM and I were denied boarding, even though we had asked an agent to call ahead from our arrival gate and missed the gate closure by 2 minutes. The plane was still there. We were there. But the gate agent at our arriving flight had not called. We were told by the agent at the departure gate that had the other agent called, they would have held the gate doors open. Now, she did re-book us immediately and was very polite, but we were rather annoyed because this was a total customer service failure. In reality, the agents at our departure flight should have just re-booked us on a later flight when our original flight was delayed by 2.5 hours, but they told us we would be fine.

  • Regina Litman

    My Yes is a Yes, of course.

    Incidentally, on a poll a day or two ago, I voted No, in favor of the company, not the customer, in a poll in which it was revealed to me after I voted that the Yes votes were in the lead. So I do vote on the “heartless” side a few times, but not very often.

  • There is some crappy airline procedure here, especially on the outgoing flight. Note the classic technique of telling the pax she had the option of flying without her bags, a situation nobody ever takes into account, and then after she frantically arranged with someone to take them back for her, springing the “oops, now you’re too late!” trap. Gate agents with a grudge love it when they can strand someone this way.

    But presenting at the airport early is your best hope of beating the system. We always stay at an airport hotel the previous night so that we can be there right after complimentary breakfast. At the airport, resist the temptation to dine or shop before going through security, even if the airside options are skimpy.

  • Regina Litman

    DM = ?

    I’m going to guess “dear mother”, but 19 years after first seeing DH for “dear husband”, this is the first time I’ve ever heard this one. Let’s put a stop to abbreviating everything under the sun.

  • RichardII

    Based on the report it certainly seems Alaska could have gone more. However, I always wonder just what the letter writer might be leaving out or down playing. Of course, we’ll never know.

    One thing does stand-out here, and that was the hospital visit on the way to the airport. Perhaps she should have called Alaska from the hospital waiting room to tell them if the situation and see what alternative might be available – before it became a problem. Also, perhaps had she not argued about the bags for so long, she might have still made her flight. After all, bag cutoff is usually 45 minutes before departure, so she was already cutting it pretty tight.

    We also don’t really know if the Alaska rep in Charleston was just a real jerk, or just having a bad day, or, if the pax laid into her. Of course, they should still treat the pax well even when they do act like jerks, but humans are just that.

    BTW, I voted Yes, along with @Regina Litman!

  • ctporter

    1. For other flyers, when you check in for any Alaska flight out of Seattle, Anchorage, and other airports with known TSA long lines Alaska has a large yellow highlighted warning to get to the airport very early to avoid missing your flights. Alaska encourages people to check in online up to 24 hours before a flight. That way you do get to see any special warnings and issues that might be at your departure.
    2. Arriving at Seatac at 6:45 and getting inline at 7:20?? Something is not adding up here. SEA has self tagging, which makes checking bags much faster. Print up your bag tags at any of kiosks and drop the bags. There are many AS agents walking the area to help consumers get bags tagged and dropped quickly. I am not sure that the curb side is even AS or a separate contractor, but they waited much too long outside if it took them 35 minutes to check their bags before getting into TSA lines.
    3. The reason baggage cut off times happen is based on personnel at an airport. Smaller stations have smaller crews or crews that have multiple duties and therefore bags need to be dropped before the stated cut off times.
    4. Boarding times are what passengers need to be mindful of, NOT departure times. The boarding door closes prior to departure, being at a gate after the door closes but before departure is the same as being there after the flight has taken off.
    5. in this case, she took 20 minutes to argue about being too late to check her bags, and had arrived at the airport LESS than 40 minutes prior to departure. So what time did she arrive? Calling the airline before missing your flight cut off times goes a LONG way to getting things resolved easily without stress. In this case, she had a medical emergency that made her much too late to make her flight with bags and being able to check in on time.

  • Rebecca

    I have 2 small children. It takes an average of 3 to 4 times longer to do just about anything, even mundane things like going grocery shopping. So how someone would think they could cut it close at the airport is beyond me. While parking, let’s say my son poops or my daughter has a meltdown. We’ve added a good 20 minutes minimum before we even got in the airport. Kids have the amazing ability to do things at exaxtly the wrong time, i always say they both wake up screaming the minute i pick up the phone. While the personal circumstances may suck, I have a hard time finding sympathy here.

  • Rick Cricow

    Yes, thank you for saying this. We shouldn’t have to google someone’s initials to translate a post.

  • Annie M

    After arriving at the airport on day 1 too late to check in, why oh why didn’t they learn a lesson and arrive the second day earlier? The computers automatically cut off check in and boarding at predesignated times. She needed to be at her gate to board at the time printed on her boarding pass and apparently was not. When will people accept that their own actions cause problems? Day 1 I can understand but there is no excuse for being so late the second day.

  • Rebecca

    I get teased all the time because I text in complete sentences and won’t use shorthand. You know, how you’re supposed to write our language!

  • Travelnut

    Again, I think we will need to agree to disagree. Internet “language” has certain conventions, one of which is common abbreviations. If you know DH, DD, DS, etc., it’s not a huge stretch to figure out DM. I say abbreviate if you want to. There is always Google if you see a new abbreviation.

  • Travelnut

    I dunno, it seems like all the OP experienced was obstruction and hostility. It doesn’t seem right that everybody she dealt with was unreasonable and rude, and I’m not sure I believe all of that happened exactly as she says. There’s an old saying, “If you meet three jerks in a day, one of them is probably you.”

  • Jeff W.

    I voted no. Not because I am heartless, only because the OP basically repeated the same mistake twice. They didn’t arrive at the airport in time. End of story.

    Now on the first on the trip to Seattle, yes there were special circumstances. Alaska could have handled it better. But if I was an agent and had to deal with an emotionally unstable customer (“crying” and “pleading” were the words used), I might be less inclined to be helpful and just want to get rid of the people as well. I am sure there were more then just tears in that interaction.

    But there are reasons why airlines require people to check in by a certain time. And luggage. If they had availed themselves of online check in, this would not have been an issue and they would have made their flight. The luggage, probably not, but they did have a backup plan for that.

    However, their return from Seattle — they showed up late AGAIN! The airlines all recommend two hours. And you have a family will luggage and twin infants (which means strollers, formula, diapers, and all that stuff.), you need all of those two hours. I know from traveling with one. Can only imagine two.

  • SierraRose 49

    Airport atmosphere these days is TENSE, from the moment you walk through the doors. Most all ticket agents, gate agents and TSA agents seem to be in combat-ready mode, and in a way, I can understand – many passengers are clueless about the need to be at most every airport a good 2-3 hours before their flight. Or the need to print boarding passes 24 hours before. Or the need to use baggage kiosks (if they’re available). Others arrive late and feel entitled to get through all lines fast. And still others either have a genuine emergency (as the OP did) or make one up (the dog ate my boarding pass). Whatever — airline personnel have heard it all, usually 5 minutes after they start their shift. And for some, the pleading passengers have reduced their compassion level to zero. Plus, they do have regulations (airline, airport, TSA, FAA) they need to follow. In my experience, I try to remember that when dealing with any agent and I try to speak softly and kindly with my request, even if they bark back. Usually, that helps resolving most every problem that may crop up.

  • William Leeper

    Thanks for your input, but can we stay on topic please?

  • William Leeper

    Thanks for your input, but can we stay on topic please.

  • William Leeper

    Stay on topic please.

  • William Leeper

    Thanks, but off topic.

  • Rebecca

    Fair enough. You know how it is when something gets under your skin. You just can’t help yourself! Sorry.

  • Rebecca

    My experience in customer service is that a lot of people take things very personally. It never bothered me. I’ll never see you again and if you have nothing better to do than scream about a policy at the grocery store, I don’t care what you think anyways. But it always amazed me how upset I would see customers make employees. Full on crying meltdowns their feelings would get hurt so badly. Which leads to generally more customers being treated poorly. Although some do deserve it. I’ve dealt with those folks too. The thing is, the ones that deserve it want you to get upset and argue. Nothing gets them angrier than when you stay calm and polite. So it all works out.

  • Rebecca

    I have a 9 month old and a 22 month old. Going anywhere is a crisis, that can be interrupted at a moments notice. And if 1 freaks out, you can bet they’re both freaking out. I can think of about 12 things, off the top of my head, that would make us late before we even got to the checkin counter. One of them has happened, but we left early. Any reason for the delay or complaints about customer service are red herrings. Like you said, they were late. Late is late.

  • Ward Chartier

    Mikolajcik-Edles tried to pull the proverbial elephant through a knothole. Her situation deserves sympathy, but in her haste she created a situation that required every step of the process to execute perfectly. When it wasn’t perfect, she expected Alaska Airlines to inconvenience the rest of the passengers on the plane and the crew for her family’s exclusive benefit. The deadlines imposed by carriers are to help flights leave on time. Carriers are regularly excoriated in this forum for being late, so the behaviors of carrier staff members that support on-time operation are predictable. Perhaps Mikolajcik-Edles deserves a partial refund, but no more.

  • Bill___A

    There seems to be a lot at play here. Although there appears to be several deficiencies in the actions of Alaska Airlines’ employees, the same could be said of the passengers. Although one can’t expect them to hold the plane for people who don’t make it on time, when you see that a customer has had to take their child to the emergency room, it wouldn’t be out of order to book them on another flight at no extra charge. Sadly, it looks like these people somehow had trouble making it to their gate on time, even in situations where it wasn’t attributable to the emergency room. After seeing that there are TSA delay issues, one must make sure to get to the airport very early upon subsequent flights.

  • Travelnut

    Sorry, William. I just get annoyed with the beaten horse. I will try to just not respond next time.

  • Altosk

    Ok, so the outbound flight I was sympathetic to the PAX on and felt that Alaska couldn’t done something better or y’know, at least not gone all power trippy on them.

    The return flight? Sorry, no. You get to the airport like 3 hours ahead these days, especially if you have kids. Build in an extra 2 hours for the little ones if you have to, but that one is on the PAX.

  • Blamona

    The first time I had sympathy, the second time, after the first time, why would they arrive late? Kids had to nap? Sorry, but even in the first case things do happen. If they held the plane for every thing that happened to passengers on the way they’d all be late. I sound heartless, but traveling with small kids? Give yourself extra extra time. (Twice for drama purposes)

  • Mel65

    While I, like everyone else, sympathize with the family, this is so contrary to every experience I’ve ever had with Alaskan Airlines in Seattle that there has to be more to the story that we’re not hearing. Yes, they got there late; but even that sometimes can be overcome if you’re polite and genuinely kind and take your own blame when talking to the agent. You might miss that fight, but they’re more willing to work with you. And also it seems like there’s time unaccounted for, between check-in and reporting to security and then the gate. I suppose that could have been taken up dealing with baby stuff–diapers feeding–whatever, but I have to say that these parents really did not help themselves at all, they just seemed to assume they would be accommodated because they were traveling to visit a sick relative and traveling with infants. I think it’s nice of Alaskan to reimburse them the $500 change fee.

  • cscasi

    Not normally. However, sometimes I have seen exceptions made; depending on the gate agent and if the aircraft door is still open.

  • kittymocha

    The first flight has me wondering why the husband didn’t take the one child that wasn’t sick and head to the airport when he dropped off the wife and sick child? Why are they cutting so close on their time to get to any airport? I travel alone and am at the aiirport 2 hours early each time. I do not check bags and have only a small carry on as I’m going to and from our condo where there are clothes. I see so many people taking everything but the kitchen sink and then wonder why it takes so long and is so expensive to check. Then its off to the TSA area where the lines are long. Only a few times have I been able to go right through TSA with no one in the line. Everyone has to listen to the recommendations about 2 hours early (3 if you even think the kids will act up or you have a ton of luggage, etc.). Print your ticket at home the day before so that is also easier on you. Try to do as much as possible to make your travels easy on you and your family–and especially on the other passengers in the plane when it comes to leaving on time!

  • C Schwartz

    As with many here, I sympathize with the passenger with the sick child on the outbound. I am surprised that Alaska did not try and find an alternate flight for that day, perhaps other flights were booked? The nonstop only flies 4 times per week. I have never been to the Charleston airport, but could one get through security and get to the gate with boarding passes given only 20 minutes before check in? How can one say that the check in times should be waived for emergencies? Could the luggage get through screening and on the plane with so little time? I do note that at no time either outbound or returning did the passengers check in on line. On the return it seems that they waited in a line with the skycap outdoors, rather than go into the terminal — which likely made sense traveling with small twins, but the line must have been long. And I disagree that “It closed the airplane doors early” On the return trip the passengers arrived at the gate at 8:20 for an 8:25 departure; arriving 5 minutes before departure is not the airline closing the door early. The airplane has to be ready to taxi to the runway at departure time. If the door was closed I imagine that the jetway was pulled back and the plane was waiting for air traffic control to clear them to join the line for take off. Unfortunately SEA is a very busy airport and the mornings can bring long TSA lines. When one needs special services, such as bringing liquids, it can take longer. I am surprised that the passengers think that an entire plane should wait for them, even if the delay at the TSA line was not their fault. I have only flown Alaska once, but friends speak very highly of the service.

  • C Schwartz

    I do not know how small the Charleston airport is, but could a passenger with children, carrying liquids, actually get through security and to the gate in time for the flight?

  • ctporter

    Depending on when they arrived, BUT, take a look at the info for Charleston airport: monthly arrivals, there is only one Alaska flight at 5:45pm, so assuming you get to the airport the recommended minimum time of 2 hours prior, at 3:45 consider how many other people are trying to get through the one security check point. There are about 7-10 flights that could have people trying to check in (early for a flight leaving at a similar time to this one) all at the same time. Would I assume I could breeze through with strollers, formula, and babies/toddlers in less than 2 hours? No way, even with PreCheck, babies and travel is a sure fire formula for unexpected delays as other posters have stated. I really think that one thing people do not consider when traveling now is that when you use the internet you should do much more research than just what is the lowest airfare. Look at the airport web site for traveller information, check in times, what types of dining/food services are available, is there PreCheck, parking, rental cars, etc. Look at the airline web site for travel info, what times do they require you to be at a gate, drop off bags, check in, etc. There are so many things that you need to be aware of today, it really pays to do your FULL research.

  • C Schwartz

    I do not think that late arrival to the check in, or to the gate (for whatever reason) is an

    involuntary denied boarding. I have missed several flights, all from late connections, and those were not involuntary denied boarding situations.

  • C Schwartz

    That is what I thought, even if the passengers had been able to check in with the 40 minutes there may have been little chance of getting to the gate. Some airlines put a boarding starts and boarding ends on the boarding pass; I cannot remember if Alaska does that. Alaska has a definite cut of for luggage for the Charleston airport of 40 minutes, as does JetBlue. I think the “may” be checked in language in the contract of carriage likely refers to the some of the smaller airports that Alaska serves, particularly in the state of Alaska, where there may be one or two flights per day. And people should use the internet as you say, even to look at the map, where the gates are, how far they are from the security. I know some in SEA have to take that underground train to the North Satellite and that adds more time.

  • AAGK

    They got to the gate on the way home 5 minutes before departure? Why? Didn’t they learn anything from their first flight. What I find rude is this lady thinking she is the center of the world and a plane of 200 people and crew don’t have sick relatives and children and places to be- only she does so the entire plane needs to wait for her. That is the epitome of rude. I can already tell how that attitude manifested in dealing with other people at the airport.

  • John Grier

    oh I cut my toenail with nail clippers. Can I have a million dollars.
    Who cares. Next case.
    MORAL-don’t turn up late for your flight. I certainly don’t want my flight delayed because of an idiot like you & then miss my connection.

  • ctporter

    Consider that Alaska only has one flight out of Charleston, it departs to Seattle at 5:45pm. They also have only one security checkpoint for 10 gates in the B terminal, and 5 gates in the A terminal. While they do have Precheck, the hours are limited in the afternoon generally to 5:00 pm, since she was NOT at the airport at 40 minutes prior to the 5:45pm departure TSA would have been closed leaving general TSA lines for all 15 gates. You are absolutely right on the “closing boarding doors early” Clearly most flyers think they can board right up to the departure time when the reality is that the boarding door closes around 5-10 minutes prior to departure. Obviously the passenger was under a lot of stress, but that does not alleviate the situation she found herself in sadly.

  • AAGK

    It’s not. Arriving 5 min before departure on the way home- she missed the flight– AGAIN. Luckily for the folks on board it took off without her rather than inconvenienced hundreds bc she can’t get it together. I’ve missed a flight before. I didn’t throw a tantrum and threaten to call the TSA, I booked the next one.

  • AAGK

    This lady missed the flight again on the way home. I was sympathetic until I saw that. The rules are clear. You have to be at the gate at a minimum of 15 min before boarding. They explained this to her like a week before and she did it again. It annoys me bc we all hate when planes are delayed and this woman doesn’t care about anyone else. Then she said she threw a tantrum crying in the airport. That’s just Disordered behavior.

  • C Schwartz

    There is quotation that said to be by Einstein that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result — such as being late and expecting the plane or airline to wait. What is the other saying? Time and tide and airlines wait for no one?

  • C Schwartz

    Now I wonder if crying and pleading is code for throwing a tantrum. Honestly showing up 5 mins before departure time and expecting to get on is asking a little much. I have missed planes because of late connections and come really close to missing others because of late arrivals to the airport — one could say not my fault, as it was traffic because of serious accidents — but still I cut it too close by not leaving early enough to have the extra time. I was taking a taxi so I could call the airline and see what the options were in case I got there too late. I should have thought about asking them to hold the airplane — because hey, it is all about me isn’t it? Who cares about the other passengers and their schedules, That seems to be the message of this post, and I am surprised that so many take out personal responsibility.

  • DChamp56

    There’s way too many things wrong with this, not to mention, after everything on the first leg that happened, why were they late to fly home?

  • Lindabator

    She is being unrealistic – they arrive too late the first flight, then do so again on the 2nd. The flight didn’t “close the doors 5 minutes early” – it was 5:20 and departure is 5:25 — boarding was completed and doors closed because it was time to go. You have to leave yourself enough time to get thru TSA, and although they were cool to refund the $500 in change fees, the Airlines did nothing wrong here — personal responsibility is important, as well.

  • Lindabator

    Not when they have been paged and still not at the gate

  • Lindabator

    Not crappy — the airport does regulate when cargo doors are to close, when flight has been closed, etc. She was too late for the flight, period. Expecting the airline to hold a flight because you are late is ridiculous – she should have just asked what could be done, and then NOT be liable for additional monies she spent

  • Lindabator

    Not unreasonable to expect you to arrive in time for your flight. And not hostile to not break the rules just because someone WAS late, not once, but on BOTH dates. How about some personal responsibility here?

  • James

    A simple thought on letting on a passenger late or not.

    Odds are decent that there is more than one connecting passenger on a flight into an airline’s hub. So, delaying the flight for one family could easily cause multiple families to miss connections. On an inbound spoke I’d never expect that courtesy.

    Outbound spoke, you might get some leeway as connecting passengers from alter flight might be given some extra time — to avoid the hassle of re-booking.

  • AAGK

    Are you being heartless to the 200 people and crew on the plane, also with sick moms and babies and pets and work they need to arrive on time for or they get fired, or weddings to attend, medical treatments, overworked crew who want to get home to their families and a million other things? I like the compassionate choice when it’s compassionate to more people.

  • Lee

    While the first leg is a tragedy on all counts given the sad circumstances; arriving with so little time pre-flight time for the return flight is really all on the customer. Arriving at 6:45 a.m. with a departure at 8:25 a.m. is just irresponsible – heartless as that may sound –

    Reading the requirements when purchasing (as punitive as they seem and often are) any airline ticket is essential – the amount of time that is required to check in is pretty standard with all airlines – this it not the old days when you could race up to the gate and get on a few minutes before the door closes; times have changed. It’s our responsibility to know what is expected of us –

    The airline did more here than was required of them which is nice, for a change.

    The idea of compensation for a rude airline staffer kind of made me laugh; they would all be in the red in a heartbeat if that were ever a requirement.

  • Lee

    I think what might (just, maybe) be missing from this story is just what the “crying” (both times) actually entailed. Was it a full blown hysterical melt-down? Crying while cursing staff? Who knows – I’m sure we never will but the customer’s response(s) to certain situations can certainly impact how it will (or will not) be resolved.

    I’ve missed a flight in a sensitive unfortunate time – (accident on way to JFK) – I did sigh sadly but did not cry, kept cool, let the reps work with the passengers who were more immediately boarding and then worked out as good a resolution as I could with the rep – which was terrific in that they did not charge me for getting me on the next available flight.

    I don’t know if it was because I remained calm and respectful, made no demands, etc – I only know what works well for me in certain circumstances – and maintaining calm and reason (even if emotional about personal situations) has always helped me resolve things over the years.

    I have always imagined what it must be like to have someone freaking out, hysterical, etc with you when they are the ones at fault. The vision of that scene in my head is never a positive one – No one at their job should be subject to that sort of behavior (though I know it happens all the time).

  • C Schwartz

    You are absolutely right, arriving at 6:45 for a 8:25 am flight is not adequate time especially when checking in luggage. SEA is a busy airport and that is a peak time. Should every business have to compensate for rude staff? Does the company get to be compensated for rude customers?

  • Mel65

    Years ago during college, I worked in both retail customer service and at a credit card call center. Holy Yikes. People get MEAN, filthy, profane, threatening, hysterical, dramatic… you really get to the point where your entire body just…clenches when they start. Dealing with a calm rational person who says, “Look I screwed up; I missed my payment date,” or whatever was always such a refreshing change. And whether some people here will think it’s “fair” or not, THOSE are the people you bend over backwards to help, not the “MY crisis is special” ones.

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