Should my airline compensate me for a lost cruise?

Andrew Gentry/Shutterstock
Andrew Gentry/Shutterstock

It started with a simple misunderstanding.

Christine Lagasse and her companions had checked in for their early morning US Airways flight from Manchester, NH, to Philadelphia, enroute to a Caribbean cruise. They walked to the gate indicated on the boarding passes they’d printed at the airline counter.

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Or so they thought.

“Our boarding passes showed that our gate was number 9,” she says. “We were all sitting there wondering why there weren’t many people around and when it got to be 4:50 a.m., we didn’t see anyone at the podium.”

That’s because their gate had been moved, minus any announcements. By the time they discovered the change, it was too late.

“I ran over to the gate, only to see that this was now our flight and it was sitting there, but the ramp was slowly moving away,” she remembers. “I was so shocked and started to panic, but there wasn’t anyone at the podium, so I couldn’t get anyone’s attention. Then, all of a sudden a woman came through the door and I hurriedly told her that we needed that plane.”

The US Airways employee ordered Lagasse and her friends to sit down and wait for her to finish some paperwork relating to the flight they’d just missed.

“I told her she had six passengers that were going to miss that flight, leading to a missed connection and then a cruise ship in Florida,” Lagasse says. “She acted like it was no big deal.”

Being brushed off by an airline employee — ordered to sit down and shut up like that — happens every day. But US Airways gets more than its fair share of complaints about that kind of behavior. No doubt, the gate agent didn’t want to argue with Lagasse and get talked into allowing her to board the flight. She wouldn’t have had an on-time departure.

Also, missing the cruise? Not her problem! She knew full well that US Airways wouldn’t compensate Lagasse and her family for missing a vacation.

Lagasse, it should be noted, is not an experienced air traveler. She flies “maybe once a year,” she told me.

US Airways rebooked her and her party, but what a mess it turned out to be. Four of them were put on a flight to Fort Lauderdale via Washington and two flew to Fort Lauderdale via Chicago. The Chicago passengers made the boat, but the ones flying through DC didn’t because of a mechanical delay, she says.

In order to catch up to their cruise, the four stranded passengers had to pay for a hotel in Fort Lauderdale and fly to Curacao to catch the ship, which set them back another $1,300 per couple.

They complained to US Airways. Here’s how it responded:

I am sorry you and your co-travelers were unable to travel with us as originally scheduled from Manchester and the way this was handled by our personnel; given your description.

It is unfortunate you may have not heard the gate change announcement in Manchester and you were unaware your flight was boarding. Once a gate change is made an announcement is made to inform of the change. In addition, the airport monitors indicate the most up-to-date information for flights, such as newly scheduled departure and arrival gates.

Furthermore, if you’re not checked in and present in the boarding area at least 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time, your reservation may be canceled. Your seat is released to another passenger, and you will not be eligible for denied boarding compensation. In the future, please be aware that pilots have the discretion to depart 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time.

The airline offered each passenger a $50 voucher. Multiple appeals to US Airways to offset the cost of the delay were met with the same response: no.

Lagasse wants me to help her get her money back.

Here’s the thing: If US Airways told her to go to gate 9 and she did, and if it made no announcements of a gate change, then who’s responsible for her missing the flight? Did you say US Airways? I’m skeptical that they made no announcements, but it’s possible.

On the other hand, US Airways’ policy on this is clear. She needed to be checked in and at the right gate, or she would lose her seat.

So, in one sense, both parties are right. In another sense, they are wrong.

I think Lagasse could have done more to ensure she was at the right gate when things seemed too quiet. Looking at the departures board might have been a good idea. Similarly, US Airways gave her a boarding pass with the wrong gate and then, after failing to deliver her to her destination on time, told her she was on her own.

Should I try to get more than a form apology and an unusable voucher for these passengers?

Should I mediate Christine Lagasse's case?

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170 thoughts on “Should my airline compensate me for a lost cruise?

  1. I’m really confused about how a party of 6 people couldn’t realize they were at the wrong gate. When the flight time was approaching and they didn’t see any other passengers, let alone didn’t see their flight listed at the gate, why didn’t they ask an employee or check the board? Someone that flies even less often than the OP (let alone the other 5 people), should have known better. Maybe I’m wrong, but there has to be more to this story.

    1. I think there is more to the story, too, plus it need to be pointed out that you should never fly in on the same day your ship departs…EVER!

      1. The Embassy Suites in Ft. Lauderdale seems to be the crash pad for cruise passengers who KNOW to arrive one day before departure, just in case. They even have a free shuttle to the docks.

    2. I agree they should have seen something was amiss. But I’m still sympathetic because I’ve seen some oddball behavior when it comes to cancellations and gates being switched–gate signs not being updated, announcements never being made, etc.

      I was at a packed gate once near the counter and saw a passenger talk to the agent and then leave in a hurry. The agent was nonchalant and went back to reading something, but I thought I’d overheard the word “canceled.” After a few minutes with no announcement and no signs she was going to make one, I approached and asked the status and she calmly told me the flight had been canceled and I’d better hurry over to their customers service counter if I wanted to get rebooked on a different flight. She then went right back to her reading still without making an announcement, still with a packed waiting area in front of her.

      1. I see what you’re saying, but in the OP’s own description, she says the gate was empty. Plus, I’m curious how her party was the only one that didn’t make it to the new gate? If the plane left a bit early, obviously all of the other passengers got the memo.

    3. I have to agree with you too. I don’t fly often, so that makes me even more of aware of anything that seems wrong. I am constantly checking the board and looking for indications that I am at the right gate.

    4. I’m going to agree with you here. I have flown maybe 2 times in the last 5 years and I still know to check the board and check the listed flight at the gate.

  2. I feel really bad for the OP, but I just don’t see how US Air is on the hook. I appreciate that she’s an inexperienced flyer, but wisdom and common sense must prevail. If no one else is at the gate, unless you believe that you’re the only one on the flight, a reasonable person would realize that something is amiss. Figuring that out doesn’t require extensive travel experience. And if you’re a very infrequent flyer then ask someone.

    Its also highly unlikely that gate announcements were not made as again, only the OP and her party remained at the wrong gate.

    1. Although I agree that many airports can be chaotic and difficult to navigate for inexperienced travelers, it is worth noting that apparently the rest of the passengers figured out the gate change. US Airways wouldn’t have closed the flight if dozens of passengers hadn’t boarded – if they truly failed to make such an announcement, no one would have gone to the new gate and the staff would have realized something was amiss. In reality, US Airways wants the passengers to hear the announcements and will make at least some effort to communicate the change, if only because they don’t need the hassle of rebooking dozens of people! And it sounds like the passengers didn’t check the departure boards until much too late – even flying once a year should be enough to understand how the screens work.

    2. And let’s not forget, there were five other passengers flying with the OP. Were they all inexperienced fliers? I’m not a big fan of the airlines pulling away from the terminal with passengers standing at the departure gate. It puts me in mind of the bus driver driving away from the bus stop – big smile on his face – as a harried commuter runs alongside, banging on the door. I get the whole “on-time departure” thing, but it just seems cruel; especially if the plane departs early. That being said, how clueless do you have to be to sit at a departure gate for any length of time, noticing that there are no other passengers around, NOT noticing that your flight number is nowhere displayed, and not inquiring of any of the multitude of uniformed gate agents around?

      1. Once the door to the aircraft is closed, and especially after the bridge starts backing away, there’s no way for the gate agent to talk to the plane outside of calling the tower and asking them to relay a message. If the parking brake has been released, the flight has officially “departed”, and returning to the gate would probably delay the flight by at least 20 minutes (maybe causing passengers who were paying a lick of attention to miss their connections.) It’s not as simple as a bus.

        1. I had the experience once that a member of my traveling party had a major panic attack just as the plane had pulled away from the gate. They tried to do anything they could think of to calm her down and proceed, but they determined in the end that it would be unsafe to travel with her and pulled back to the gate. A flight attendant mentioned how much this would cost the airline, and it was a big amount. The plane lost its departure slot and it was a significant delay for all. They do have reasons for refusing to let anyone on after the door is closed.

      2. Six passengers is nearly 10 percent of the seating capacity of the aircraft, a significant number to knowingly leave behind (I say “knowingly” because the carrier knows that the passengers did check-in). I would be curious to know how busy the airport terminal gate area was at that early hour, and whether the gate employees could have readily spotted the missing passengers waiting at Gate 9.

          1. I checked the flights from Manchester to Philadelphia on US Airways at that time of the morning. US Airways uses an Embraer E-170, which seats 9 in First Class {snicker} and 60 in Coach.

            I fly out of an equally small airport, so I do fly on some pretty small aircraft. 🙂

          2. Hey, don’t snicker too much!

            I have flown on those planes when Republic had some assigned to Frontier. These 1st class seats are more comfortable than many of those on the legacy carriers. Of course you get the same service as the rest of the plane (no free anything) with Frontier but at least the seat is nice.

          3. Good to know, since I’m flying “First Class” on similar planes on Friday morning and Saturday evening. (Only flights that met my requirements and FC was the only seating left to purchase.)

          4. When I looked at the current schedule for the early morning flight from Manchester, N.H. to Philadelphia, Pa., I saw that US Airways listed the flight as being operated by Republic Airlines with an Embraer E-170 aircraft. Wikipedia reports that type of aircraft has about 80 seats. So six passengers represents a significant proportion of the total seating capacity. Assuming that the flight was not filled to capacity, the family might well have represented an even higher percentage of the total number of passengers actually flying.

          5. Wait a minute – Seatguru only has 69 seats total. Where does Wikipedia seat the other 11 people? I know – at Gate 9! 😀

        1. Is this regional paid by the mainline on a fixed fee or proration basis? If fixed fee, then they could care less if boarding pass is lifted or flown.

        2. If you look at the terminal map, the two US Airways gates (8 and 9) are separated by an arcade and something else (I can’t remember); the two gates are not within direct sight of each other.

    3. Agree with Clark and jpp42 and virtually everyone else. I can’t imagine how just the six of them missed the flight while everyone else managed to get on board. I don’t think it takes an experienced traveler to figure out that something is wrong when there’s no gate agent and no passengers in the gate area! As such, this is her mistake – and US Air shouldn’t pay for it.

    4. I suspect they were not, in fact, at the gate. They were probably at the Sam Adams Drafthouse right across from Gate 9. Few (any?) airport restaurants have announcement speakers.

      On another note, gate 9 is also right next to the security area, which we can guess has departure monitors, had they bothered to check them.

      1. Since the Draft House doesn’t open until 05:30, I guess they could have been sitting there but it would have been difficult to get a drink. 🙂

    5. It is a question of fact whether or not US Airways (or Republic Airlines, the actual operator of the flight) properly announced the change, a fact that comes down to “he said, she said.” If there were proper notice, then I think it is clear that the carrier should not be liable. But if there were not proper notice, then it is not so clear to me. I’m not confident that a passenger has an affirmative duty to ascertain any possible change of departure gate in such a circumstance.

      1. I respectfully disagree. Consider your two points:

        1. Did US airways make the announcement?

        It’s not really a “he said, she said.” That would imply that both sides made credible cases. The facts as the OP presents them do not support her statement. It’s uncontroverted that no one outside of the OPs party was similiarly confused about the gate change. Therefore the reasonable conclusion is that US airways sufficiently notified the passengers. Had their been other confused passengers, then the OP would have made a credible case.

        2. Affirmative duty to check

        Even assuming arguendo that US Airways did not make the gate change announcement, I would also opine that if you show up at the appointed time and place and no one else is there, and no one else ever arrives, you have an affirmative duty to investigate. Forget the lack of a gate agent and staff, the lack of other passengers should send a bright neon red sign that something is wrong.

        This is not unique to air travel such that a newbie might be confused. I remember I once showed up for second service at church one day and the building was locked. No lights, no music, no people, a veritable ghost town. All it was missing was some tumbleweeds. Turns out it was the day of the church picnic. How silly would it have been for me to sit on the church steps waiting. Any reasonable person immediately realize, “hmmmm, no one is here, I must be at the wrong place or wrong time”

        1. 1. I think the OP asserted that no announcement was made, while US Airways, in its letters, asserts the contrary. There is a dispute of fact. Is it is reasonably plausible that no announcement was made? Maybe the gate change happened after the OP checked-in and all subsequent passengers were given correct information, thereby obviating the need for an announcement. I don’t think one can summarily dismiss the OP’s assertion on the information provided here. But, frankly, both sides have reasons not to be truthful, and I don’t who to believe.

          2. I remember a few years ago, showing up for a ferry departure from New London, Conn. destined for Montauk, N.Y. It was to be operated by a fairly substantial vessel, and as departure time approached I did get concerned that there was no one else around the dock from which I believed the ferry would depart. Nor were there any agents or other representatives of the ferry company around, and I recall the ticket office being locked up. In fact, it turned out that I was the sole passenger. Another time I was flying from Montreal, Qué. to New York, N.Y., and the entire international departure terminal was devoid of people and half the lights were off. I was concerned that I went the wrong way and that there would be no flight. In the end I think it was myself and one other person who were the only passengers. (I also remember many years ago seeing off a friend on Trans World Airlines, the ticket counter being closed at the time. He was the only passenger boarding, and paid a cash fare (exact change) to a crew member at the departure gate when the airplane was ready to depart.)

          Yes, being the sole passenger is unusual. I would be anxious. But my personal experience has been that what was scheduled did in fact operate. If I were in the OP’s position I might have wandered around a bit simply because of this anxiety (especially with a same-day cruise connection), but would I have had a duty to do so? I’m not so certain about that.

          1. 1. Since US allows online check in, I would have to believe that someone checked in before the OP and would have been given the previous gate number as well. Unless of course the gate number changed multiple times. 🙂

          2. According to the story, the OP picked up the boarding cards at the airport ticket counter. Now if someone does advanced “check-in” online (an oxymoron to me, for how can one check-in as being “ready” to fly if not already at the port of departure?), and not at the airport, it seems to me that when they actually do arrive at the airport it becomes incumbent to make inquiry as to the proper departure gate.

          3. It sounds like you are making a quasi-legal argument. Allow me to formalize it.

            I think you can dismiss it. The OPs assertion is uncoorborated by independent evidence and contrary to common experiences. Accordingly, as 1) the OP is making the assertion, 2) the assertion lacks an indicia of reliability, and 3) the other side disputes it, the OP bears the burden of establishing her position. While we can engage in idle speculation, absent hard evidence, we must go with the most likely scenario., which is clearly that the OP missed the announcement.

            With regards to your second point, I think your post answers it well

            The Ferry

            ,” and as departure time approached I did get concerned that there was no one else around the dock from which I believed the ferry would depart. Nor were there any agents or other representatives of the ferry company around, and I recall the ticket office being locked up”

            In Montreal

            “[T]he entire international departure terminal was devoid of people and half the lights were off. I was concerned that I went the wrong way and that there would be no flight”

            In both cases, the circumstances concerned you, and rightfully so, as “a reasonably prudent person”. The question isn’t whether you might be the only person on a flight. The question is should the lack of other people, a gate agent, the flight number and destination, the lack of a plane outside the window raise an alarm.
            Honestly, were a similar case to walk in my office, I would decline it as the chances of prevailing would be infinitesimal

          4. It may be more likely that US Airways is factually correct about an announcement having been made, but, having managed transportation operations for many years, and with the understanding that neither transportation employees nor passengers are as truthful as one would hope, I cannot conclude with any significant degree of certainty that one side or the other is correct.

            Not all reasonable people will take the same actions under a given set of circumstances. While many of us here might have investigated (as I likely would have), consider someone else who has been influenced by the advertisements that the carrier provides worry-free and relaxing travel. Is it unreasonable for that person to have not investigated? I just don’t have a sufficient degree of certainty that the answer is “yes.”

            But I do agree that, on the stated facts alone, the likelihood is low that there would be an outcome favorable to the passenger were that passenger to bring an action against the carrier.

          5. Is it unreasonable for that person to have not investigated? I just
            don’t have a sufficient degree of certainty that the answer is “yes.”
            Ultimately that’s where you and I basically disagree. I find the OP’s actions completely unreasonable, if not downright foolhardy. I cannot image an analogous situation where sitting around, doing nothing, as the appointed time gets closer and closer would be a reasonable thing. What did the OP think would happen?

  3. From the narrative, it sounds like the OP and her party were the only ones to miss the flight. How did everyone else make it to the new gate and board the aircraft?

    According to the USAirways website, they use gates 8 & 9 at Manchester. Do we know what gate the flight ultimately left from? Since they missed gate change and boarding announcements, and with the other USAirways gate being so close, I am having a hard time understanding how this could have happened, unless the OP and her party were simply not paying attention.

    1. Hmmm… yeah, Manchester isn’t exactly a huge airport. Not tiny, but not a huge hub either. And at that time in the morning, there should not have been a huge number of “Filght XYZ is now boarding” announcements, which in most small airports are played throughout the whole terminal.

      My guess is that they were enjoying some pre-cruise drinks while keeping their eye on their original gate (announcements are never played in bars/restaurants.) When it started to get too close to departure, only then did somebody start trying to investigate.

      1. I thought that same thing, but 4:50AM is probably too early for “happy hour”, I imagine the airport adult drinking establishments weren’t open. I gave them the benefit of the doubt on that one! 🙂

        1. Agreed, but at a smaller airport that time of morning is usually dead. If they’d checked in early like the story says it should have been pretty obvious that gate wasn’t going to be used any time soon. And if the gate was misprinted on their paperwork, it should have been wrong for other passengers’, as well. Nobody else walked over to that original gate while they were there?

  4. Not only no other pax around, but no gate agent? No signage? And they just sat there? If they didn’t respond to any of the physical clues, I doubt they heard the gate change announcements being made.

    Kinda feel sorry for them, but no one else is to blame here but them.

  5. No, no, a thousand times no.

    Firstly, all she had to do was stroll over to any status monitor anywhere in the airport and she would have immediately saw the problem. It does not take a seasoned road warrior to figure out that if your gate is otherwise abandoned and it’s getting near departure, there perhaps is a misunderstanding going on. The OP made an honest mistake, but that doesn’t mean it’s US Airways responsibility to bail her out of it.

    Second, delays and cancellations happen all the time. Arriving in town the same day as cruise departure is playing with fire, especially if you don’t carry insurance coverage that will help you out.

    Lastly, airlines have NEVER been responsible for whatever it is you are doing once you arrived. This would be a completely unaffordable pandora’s box if they were. (As in, could you now sue the airline because you missed a business meeting that could have closed a billion dollar deal?)

    On another note, I don’t see the gate agent as rude at all. There IS paperwork to file after a flight departs, and immediately attending to these oblivious passengers wasn’t going to make a lick of difference to get them to their destination any faster.

    1. The status monitor at Newark airport in the USAirways terminal in my experience is not reliable and had contained wrong information on numerous occasions. It’s been a while since I flew USAirways out of there (for obvious reasons) so maybe things have changed by now.

      1. Agreed that monitors aren’t infallible. The part of the story that throws me off is that the gate was supposedly misprinted on the paperwork they got from the ticket counter, meaning it would have been wrong for other passengers, as well. Yet they were the only ones who wound up at that gate? That just seems odd.

        1. True. And gate changes are not that uncommon. Depending on how long they arrived before their flight, plenty of time for the gate to change from the time they checked in. Might have been cheaper for them in the long run to just have purchased a walk-up direct flight on another airline.

        2. It is not odd they were the only ones left, Joe, these people were just clueless . . . the other people with the wrong gate on the BP discovered the mistake when there was an airplane at Gate 9 instead of Gate 8 . . . after they are all of 100 feet apart – you cannot be expected to look that far.

  6. Sorry… I just don’t buy into the story that the airline did something wrong but everyone other than the OP and her party somehow managed to make it to the new gate. (I’m going to skip the whole never fly into a cruise on the day of / you should have bought trip insurance bashing especially since I don’t think trip insurance would cover her mistake in this case.)

    I’ve never flown out of Manchester NH so I pulled up a diagram of the airport. It’s tiny. Not only is it tiny, US Air only seems to use two gates (8/9)… That are right next to each other. We’re not talking about a case where she thought she was leaving from A12 and it was really C12.

    I don’t know what happened in the airport that morning but somehow I don’t think the OP’s narrative is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

  7. The first thing I thought when I started reading this column was,”This is not someone who travels a lot.” That being said, I agree with other posters that a group of six, inexperienced or not, should have been more proactive in figuring out what was going on with their flight when they felt something was wrong. While the US Air gate agent was rude, the airline’s policy is clear and I don’t believe the OP deserves more than what she was offered.

    Aside: Nice grammar in the first sentence of US Air’s letter.

  8. I usually fly on international flights in to and out of certain regions as opposed to domestic travel, but my experience has been that if someone has checked luggage but hasn’t boarded there are lots of announcements to track down the passenger because they would have to unload the luggage if the flyer isn’t on board (I’ve had flights delay pushing away from the gate for this). Is this something that they only do on international flights?

    I’ve never been on a cruise, but am going on my first one in 2 weeks. My family (5 of 8 of whom have never cruised) who all live on the East Coast are arriving in Florida the day before and because I’m coming from overseas, I am arriving a day before them just in case (and to recover from jet lag a bit). I’m also super paranoid about what gate I’m supposed to be at. I obsessively check my boarding pass, the monitors in the concourse, and the little sign at the podium.

    1. Yes, generally they allow the baggage to still travel on US Domestic flights even if the passenger is a no-show.

      When I am on a route with frequent flights, I’ll sometimes arrive 30 minutes before the previous flight is leaving, but 1:30 before my flight, and my bag goes out on the earlier flight and is there waiting for me.

  9. I would understand this happening only if none of these people had EVER flown before and they were flying out of DFW or some other massive airport. It’s a shame they missed their flight, but as almost everyone else has said, they ought to have suspected something was wrong when no one was at their gate….including airline employees. That happened to me before in Austin. No employees, no flight from that gate.

  10. This is a case of user error. U.S. Airways doesn’t sound the slightest bit responsible. I think this is an education situation for all parties involved.

  11. You should NEVER fly the same day as a cruise for this very reason. Always fly in to the port city a day before. the ship is not going to wait for you

    1. THIS! While I have compassion for the OP (since I, as an experienced traveler, came within moments of missing a flight three days ago because of an unannounced gate change not indicated on the monitors), there is NO excuse for flying in the same day as the cruise departure. That’s a serious rookie error. I’ve taken many cruises, and never would I even consider flying in the same day.

    1. It’s marginal as to if it would have been covered or not. Probably not, as the original missed flight was the traveler’s fault, and the mechanical delay was probably not lengthy enough to qualify for coverage.

      But yes, in general if you want to arrive on the day of cruise departure, insurance is a really good idea.

  12. Everyone else here beat me to it but I’m going to say it, too: All the other passengers were awake and at the correct gate…..

  13. So they waited all the way up to departure time to go looking for their plane? Even when the boarding pass says boarding starts at X time? Sounds to me (like others have mentioned) that they either fell asleep or they were so busy talking that they didn’t hear any announcements.

    Never been to this specific airport, but every airport I have ever been to in the US regardless of size there are multiple announcements made when a plane is boarding and they are missing passengers they know have checked in. Some are a simple announcement that the flight is boarding at a specific gate. Some are pages with the specific passengers’ names. There are also gate change announcements made multiple times. And of course there are monitors showing the latest departure info.

    They weren’t delayed by traffic on the way to the airport, lack of staffing at the airline counter, or TSA screening at the airport. Maybe the printer at the counter was not printing clear enough so that the 8 looked like a 9. No matter, the airline can’t be blamed for the passengers not finding the right gate. Since the jetway was already retracted by the time the passengers got to the gate, there was no way that they were getting on the plane anyway so I doubt that is why the gate agent didn’t want to talk to them right away. At least they were rebooked onto alternate flights at no additional charge. Unfortunately all the alternate arrangements didn’t get everyone there on time. People have to take responsibility for their own actions.

    1. People check in and fail to show up for flights all the time. I doubt the computer system tells the gate agent that they checked in at the counter vs. online. If I was the gate agent, I would not have thought to walk down the terminal to see if there were somehow passengers at the wrong US gate even after all the boarding announcements.

      I suspect they were not, in fact, at the gate, as they would have heard the boarding announcements if they were. I suspect they were at the Sam Adams Drafthouse (at least eating breakfast, if not drinking) directly across and merely looking at their gate. Airport restaurants generally don’t have announcement speakers so you can dine in peace.

      1. Then that’s a problem with the system. If I arrive an hour before the flight and you tell me Gate 9, then you change it to gate 16, how is it that nobody at the airline thinks that there might be anyone at Gate 9 where you told them to go? Especially at such a small airport? After all, you know all six passengers are in the airport – or at least they were 20 minutes ago.

        Having said that: I have sat in the gate area, at the periphery – not in a restaurant across the hall or in a bar down the street, but in a chair at the proper gate – at IAH, reading a book, and completely missed about 15 calls over the PA saying my flight was boarding right in front of me. So it’s possible to be right there and still miss it. And for an infrequent flyer, they may never know there’s such a thing as a gate change 20 minutes before departure.

        1. These days you can “check in” up to 24 hours in advance. So, the fact that you checked in does NOT mean you are actually even in the airport.

          1. From the article: “They walked to the gate indicated on the boarding passes they’d printed at the airline counter.”

            So,they were in the airport, and checked in somewhere within it. I don’t know if there are kiosks at MHT.

    2. The gate agent can’t leave once the door is open for security reasons (or so I’ve been told by multiple GAs working for different airlines at different airports.)

      I have never, and I do mean never, seen a flight close without an airport wide “final call” boarding announcement.

    3. I do think it would be a good idea if they would just put a sign up or change the wording on the digital signboards at the gate the flight was meant to leave from that say “Flight [blah blah] now gate [whatever]” if nobody is there to tell people. Is it technically necessary? No. But it couldn’t hurt.

  14. When I fly to meet a cruise or other non-changeable event, I always write an extra day or two into the schedule. A mini-vacation in Miami is cheap insurance against an airline problem, especially when you’re bound for a region known for bad weather.

    Another question: how many gates can there be at Manchester, NH?

  15. I feel very sorry for the OP and her friends, however, she and her friends are adults, and I’m sure they were caught up in the excitement and no one took charge of the “details” of travelling (i.e. making sure they were at the right gate). Although she is not a frequent traveller, I cannot imagine that all six of them were also. Half an hour before take off SOMEONE should have realized that boarding should have commenced. The US Airways’ agent was rude, but ultimately, the OP is the responsible party here.

  16. Gosh, like a lot of other people I am very confused as to how people could go to and stay at a gate where there were apparently no other people & not query what was going on? And, also not hear a gate change announcement.

    And totally agree 100% that with arrangements like a cruise trying to get there the morning of and assuming there would be no delays is a bit risky.

  17. This story doesn’t make sense. If she flies once a year she should know to check the board for any changes and the gate she was sitting at should have had a sign with the flight number and destination.

    Three lessons here-
    -NEVER fly to a cruise on the day of a cruise! We insist clients flyin at least a day early in case things like this happen.
    -buy travel insurance, thatay have helped depending on the policy purchased and the insurance company in all probability could have had th on other flights faster.
    – check the flight boards. There were multiple red flags- 6 people sitting at a gate with no one there being the biggest!

  18. A couple of thoughts here. I’ve been on two cruises and in both cases, we arrived in the port city the day before and stayed overnight, just in case an incident like this happened. I don’t want to blame the victim here, but we all know how unreliable airlines can be these days (although with my second cruise, we drove to the port city so that wasn’t an issue).
    As far as paying attention to the gate the plane is departing from, USAirways pulled the same crap on me a few years ago! I wasn’t going on vacation, but was on a business trip to Dallas. My boarding pass indicated the gate, the gate I was at indicated the flight was leaving for Dallas up on the screen, an electronic sign at the game indicated my flight was departing from there and I didn’t hear any announcements about a gate change (I was reading my newspaper and maybe I could have paid more attention, but when three different sources of information indicate the same gate for a flight, I thought I had done enough due diligence). After I went up to a gate agent and discovered that the flight to Dallas had left from another gate and there were numerous other angry passengers who had to be rebooked. Fortunately, there was a flight leaving later that day and all I missed was an evening reception, a “socializing” aspect of the business trip I wasn’t looking forward to anyway but it really pissed me off that three different sources of information that are supposed to be reliable were completely wrong.
    On a subsequent business trip that I took on USAirways (I was trying to avoid taking them again but this time I was going to Pittsburgh and didn’t have much choice) I learned my lesson, they just stink at updating the gate information and I did as much due diligence as I could. On that trip my boarding pass, overhead monitors, electronic gate signs, 800 number and website all gave different gates! The supposed gate for Pittsburgh didn’t have any employees there so I walked over to a nearby gate to speak with a human to find out my correct gate, which matched what was on the website. I pointed out all the inconsistencies to the employee and was told “nobody had the time to go change the electronic signs at the gates, and they had no control over the overhead monitors or any other source of information.” So what’s the point then if you can’t rely on what you see? All I can say is, speak to a human voice when flying USAirways and make sure they double check it on their computer terminal. I avoid them when flying business (which isn’t as much at my new job) – other airlines aren’t perfect but USAirways seems to have the absolute worst track record about keeping its passengers correctly informed. I hope they give the OP something more than just $50 vouchers and learn the error of their ways.

    1. @Chris Johnson Here’s the key thing that you included that the OP didn’t ” there were numerous other angry passengers who had to be rebooked.” If the OP includes that in her narrative, I might have a different view. Its a key piece of evidence that the airline’s method of announcing the gate change wasn’t effective.

      As far as we know, only the OP’s group didn’t make the flight and that’s suspicious.

    2. On a recent flight I took on UA, the signs around the gate area and the board behind the gate agents all had different and incorrect info on them. The gate agent got annoyed with everyone asking if they were at the right gate and made an announcement to that effect. I mentioned that if the signs were right, there would be fewer people asking because it would be clearer. Her response: “We have no control over what appears on the monitors or on the gate signs because the airport owns them.” Huh? No control? It is their gates at an airport where they have the majority of the gates assigned to them and the podiums and signage at the gates is customize specifically for them. How can they have “no control”?? I could see this being true if they only had a couple of shared gates at an out of the way airport, but even at Key West (EYW) each airline controls its gates and sineage when they are using them and then the next airline and so on. I believe situations like this are just someone too lazy to do their job.

  19. A few thoughts:

    I just want to understand where in USAir’s contract of carriage it informs passengers the flight crew has the right to leave 10 min early. . .

    I am tired people trotting out age or ignorance as an excuse as in ‘We only fly once a year.” So then its ok to be clueless and stupid then? You are sitting at gate and there is no one else there – but down the hallway are a whole bunch of people. . . you never thought to inquire? You just spent $2000 a person minimum between airfare and cruse fare and taxes etc etc etc – and you just sit there? Wait for someone to take care of you?

    USAir made a mistake – they did – and they got them to FLL eventually – what if they booked they original flights on the ones that had the mechanical delay? They would still have been stuck having to travel to the ship’s first stop.

    There is a common sense rule that has developed in the cruise industry – unless you have multiple independent ways to travel to a cruise port [car, bus, plane, private plane, rail] you should never depart for the cruise port the same day as the cruise departs the port. Because, weather, mechanical problems, security issues, anything can happen to prevent you from getting there. Did you use a travel agent to book the cruise and airfare? They would have told you this? Did they? And you conveniently forgot? Or are you such a sophisticated traveler in your once a year foray into the airlines that you booked it all online and understood all the risks?

    Mama Gump told Forrest that stupid is as stupid does – thats what happened here. Tough. You learned an expensive lesson. Don’t do it again.

    1. Actually, provided all are boarded early, any airline can then depart early, provided ATC allows it. Just don’t see if happen too often.

      1. of course, but where in the Contract of Carriage can the airline defend a claim against it? Its not there – it is an operational thing – now – of course they require you to be aboard 15 min prior to scheduled departure . .. .which lets them leave at any time thereafter practically – but if they intend to rely on early departure as a defense they need to reserve the right to do that.

        Question: You purchase a ticket from LAX-MLI. The fare computation shows the LAX-MLI fare. The airline decides to route you through DEN. You appear at the LAX gate and board timely and the flight is delayed by a mechanical issue. You miss the connection in DEN and you arrive just as they are closing the boarding door. It’s the last flight of the day. The airline claims you did not check in 15 min before the DEN-MLI segment – did you? The airline chose to operate connections through a hub – you checked in before your first departing flight – do they have an obligation to care for you under their contract? Or can they claim that your failed to be at your gate 15 min before departure?

        1. They can route you as they see fit – the point is they need to get you from LAX to MLI, and if the LAX flight was delayed, they’ll have to reaccommodate you out of Denver, to see you get to MLI. OH – and they only allow an early departure when they’ve announced final boarding and all are boarded (unless you didn’t show – which of course, would be due to not being there 15 minutes prior to boarding).

          1. ah, but I’ve heard of airlines telling people who misconnected that they are not responsible under their customer care provisions because they did not present themselves at the gate 15 min before departure for the connecting flight, When they cannot use weather – cause it has been nice everywhere for the last 3 days – and its the rare day that a gate agent cannot blame weather for a delay. I even heard once a gate agent try the ‘the weather is so nice there are more flights than normal so the airport cannot handle them all.’

            Airline employees lie to people all the time. Its part of their job. The question is: “Does the 15 min check in requirement apply to connecting flights as well?”

          2. They still need to get them to their destination -after all, they can change flight connections as needed, but in the end they have to deliver you from point a to B (LAX is A MIL is B – stops in between are fairly meaningless). However, they are only required to get you there in a timely manner, which may very well mean you miss the last night of the day, you fly tomorrow. ONLY time they do NOT care, is if you have a split ticket (LAX-DEN roundtrip) (DEN-MIL roundtrip).

          3. OK. I checked in for my flight and arrived at the initial departure gate more than 15, 20, 30 minutes (whatever they require) before departure. If there are unavoidable delays between then and my arriving at the connection airport (last minute boarding issues, baggage issues, mechanical delays, whatever) and I don’t reach my connecting plane early enough, that cannot be my fault. I might miss the connection. I might in turn miss whatever it is I am traveling to. But I was not in any way capable of getting there sooner. The airline should take care of me. But this is also why I avoid flying anywhere with connections if I can in any way avoid it. This might mean I pay a few dollars more, but then I miss out of this type of situation. I realize that not everyone has this option available to them especially if they fly out of small airports.

            Now I have seen people getting off a late arriving flight and head straight for the bar instead of the connecting plane. Or take time to visit the souvenir shop to get that jar of the special condiment only available there. To those if you miss your connection I say tough.

  20. First, arriving at port the day of your cruise, big no no, but that’s another story.

    Here’s my problem with their sob story, there were probably at least 60-100 other people on that flight that all managed to figure out that there was a gate change because of the announcement, the board change or whatever but these 6 passengers did not. If you just sit blindly at a gate and there’s nobody at the podium and there’s nobody else waiting why would you NOT get up and look at the status board to at least CHECK if there’s a problem with your flight?

    This is total user error. Gate changes are pretty common. I think the Legasses are to blame here, despite what is printed on your boarding pass. In fact, I recall messages all the time that remind people to check the monitors for gate changes. I don’t think there’s any to mediate here.

  21. I doubt that US Airways did not make an announcement of a gate change. It is more likely that they were not paying attention or were in the restroom. The clients, even inexperienced ones, know to check the board for gate changes. And why did they not find a representative when no one showed up at their gate? If they got there when the jet way was being retracted then they already missed the flight. No airline will bring it back except for extraordinary circumstances. (And as a platinum flyer with DL I know that status will NOT achieve that.)
    The travelers fell down completely in personal responsibility. I think there is more to the story that the OP is sharing about what they did before the plane left. This is their fault and they need to accept the financial consequences.

    1. Check out my new comment at the bottom of this comments thread. I almost missed my connection on Sunday because of a gate change that was NOT ANNOUNCED. In fact, it still showed the original gate on the monitor 45 minutes before the departure time. And there was plenty of activity at the original gate, so there was no reason for me to think there might have been a gate change. I only found out when they started boarding from the gate MY flight was supposed to be at, that they’d changed my gate to the other end of the terminal! I had to race down there, and I only just made it.

      Don’t assume the airlines always do the right thing.

        1. Yeah, that does put a different spin on this. I wrote my comment before I read about how close those gates are. So yeah…I’m now wondering too!

          1. Believe me – I well remember the NW days – whenever there was a change, the gate agents would all miraculously disappear – then we would see a monitor reflect a change they did not want to hear you complain about. But this one just makes no sense – only 2 gates, and they are the ONLY folks not to make the flight? I think there is, as Ron White says, “no fixing stupod.”

      1. Your circumstances vary significantly from these travelers who say there was no rep and few passengers at their gate. The problems that happened are their responsibility, especially in an airport as small as this one is. Any reasonable person would get curious if, within an hour to 45 minutes of boarding, the gate did not have an airline rep at it. No activity indicates a problem even to the very inexperienced traveler. What they say happened and what actually happened are probably 2 different things in this case.

  22. Okay, current vote is 359 No and 257 votes yes to mediate. A quick read of the comments and I don’t see one person advocating for Chris to mediate the Lagasse’s claim. I’m always perplexed how the comments very clearly indicate that nobody thinks this is worth mediating yet the poll is so split.

    1. My theory? US Airways is presumed guilty of something by readers of this site. Passengers have been burned too often by deceptive fares, horrible service and lying employees. That’s a shame. I know some good people over at US Airways. I’m sure poll results like this make them cringe.

      1. Chris – you need to fine tune the BS detector . . . this one smacks of an incomplete story and 6 people all just sitting there?? At an empty gate. While a 100 feet away people are boarding a flight at the same time noted on their boarding pass.

        Do they have a boarding pass with the wrong gate number on it? Have you seen it? Or is that just a ‘recollection’ that the 9 looked like an 8 at 445am?

        Once US merges with AA [someone in the federal govt has their hand out] those ‘good people’ will get overwhelmed by the incompetent buffoons at AA who ran that place into ground after 75 years . . .

      2. US Airways is on my list of airlines never to fly. I’ve never heard anything good about them. Not anything good that I believed, anyway.

      3. There are good people working for every corporation out there. If they cringe when there is something negative about the company they work for is brought to light, that means there is still some good left in them. Unfortunately those good people tend to be in spots where they have to follow iron clad rules with little or no wiggle room and without power to effect change to reduce the cringe worthy issues.

      4. She is at least owed something because of the mechanical delay on the flight she did get, assuming she would have made the cruise but for that. I suppose they will flip a worthless voucher at her and consider themselves gods of generosity.

  23. I wanted to make one point, for those who feel it was incumbent on the passengers to find out about the gate change.

    I flew from Phoenix to Hartford this past Sunday, changing planes in Detroit. I had a 56 minute layover – not a lot of time. Both my boarding pass and the monitor said that my flight to BDL left from gate 8, at the far end of the terminal. I went to gate 8, and it was filled with passengers and there were agents at the desk. As I already had my boarding pass, I sat down and waited to be called. Right before the time we should be boarding, the gate agent made an announcement about boarding this flight, which was going to…La Guardia!

    I rushed up to the desk and asked what happened to the flight to Hartford? He blithely told me that my flight was now going out of gate 78 – all the way at the other end of the terminal!

    I managed to run to the express train and get myself to gate 78 JUST as they were boarding the last passenger. There was never an announcement, no notice at all, no text message (I did sign up for text notifications), I DID check the damn monitors as soon as I arrived in the terminal, and there was enough activity at the indicated gate so that no red flags went up.

    What would have happened if I hadn’t caught wind that the gate was changed at the last possible moment to make my flight? Would I have received any compensation? Of course not.

    I feel bad for these passengers, but they will get nothing. It doesn’t matter how experienced a traveler you are…I’m pretty darn experienced, and even I almost missed my flight because of a gate change that I was NOT notified about.

    That being said, I do think that these passengers should have tried harder to confirm their gate, because gate assignments do change frequently. I always at least check the monitor, which in this case it seems would have revealed their gate change. It sounds like they didn’t even bother to check the monitors, and the lack of activity at the gate should have been a red flag sooner than it was.

    Air travel just sucks these days.

    1. You checked the monitors – did they still say Gate 8? Or did it say 78? And you saw an 8 and brain farted on the 7?

      Seriously – you said you looked at the monitors – did they say Gate 8 still? What did the monitor at the gate say? ALL of Delta’s gates have those monitors which display flight number, weather, time enroute, standby and upgrade list. What did they say?

      1. Gee, thanks for just assuming I brain farted, Joe!

        YES, I checked the hallway monitors as soon as I exited the plane into the terminal. They said Gate 8. That’s a single digit, with no 7 in front.

        YES, the monitor at the gate itself said BDL when I got there. When they
        started boarding the flight to La Guardia, and I rushed over to the desk to ask what happened to my flight, it now said LGA. So clearly it changed while I was sitting there at the gate reading my Kindle.

        I did not bother to check the hallway monitors after the agent at gate 8 told me my new gate was 78. I didn’t have time– I had to run like a madwoman to get there before they closed the doors!

        YES, that happened. Exactly as I described. When did the monitor change at gate 8? Dunno, I wasn’t staring at it.

        1. I did not assume anything- thats why I asked the question!

          Ok -well, that does happen. Glad you made it to Bradley – though even when it was home I always wanted to be somewhere else ….

          there was missing fact – you said you checked the monitors – you did not say what they said. honest question, really.

          1. Okay, you’re forgiven. And it’s not like I haven’t suffered my share of brain farts. 😉 Just not this time! I try not to suffer brain farts that involve air travel…the consequences can be awful steep.

            Totally off-topic, but…are you saying that when CT was home, you wanted to be somewhere else? I’m the opposite! I grew up in CT, and just don’t get back here often enough. I’m now sitting in the terminal at BDL waiting for my flight home, and wishing I didn’t have to leave. The leaves are just turning, there’s that crisp Fall feeling in the air…damn, I LOVE it here and hate to be heading out!

          2. Well it is quiet now in our place in CT. For the last 4 hours we had news helicopters hovering over our small neighborhood. An explosion levelled a 6000 sqft home to the ground and shook all our houses. I thought my roof fell. Anyway some people here probably never felt anything and might be oblivious to sirens and other attention getting signs. Maybe these travelers belong to this category.

    2. I guess you would have missed your flight!
      I run into the same issues with “United Express” out of Denver…so I try to avoid that airline, which in this case was SkyWest.

  24. After looking at the terminal map and seeing that there are only two USAirways gates at this tiny airport, I need to revise my previous thought.

    File this one under “Stupidity Tax” and move on. Seriously? She didn’t notice a gaggle of people elsewhere?

    1. Later in the day I’d have assumed they missed the plane having drinks at the bar. That time of day I don’t know. Could they all have fallen asleep? And since they were checked in and there were 6 of them, there probably would have been an announcement looking for them.

  25. They missed their flight, lucky they didn’t lose the value of their ticket entirely.
    It is regrettable that they missed the flight, but these gate changes happen all the time, I doubt it is even the fault of the airline.

    1. Airlines control which plane leaves from which gate. So, unless there is a malfunction at the gate where it cannot be used, a gate change is always the airlines fault.

        1. And after reading my comment it might have come across too strongly. Apologies if it did. Knew I should not have had that extra coffee this morning!

      1. But those can be impacted by ATC changes – so not entirely their fault. As things change on the ground, the gates may need to be changed as well.

        1. But we only have this client stating they made no announcements – and since only her group missed the flight, find it a bit hard to swallow.

  26. If Lagasse travels by air “once a year,” I’m surprised she wouldn’t have known to check the departure boards. That’s frequent enough to know where to look for gate information.

    I agree that the airline should have announced the gate change and the gate agent could have done a better job, but still, ultimately it doesn’t seem to me like this is US Airways’ fault.

    As to whether or not one should fly on the day one’s ship departs, sometimes life doesn’t allow for more optimal scheduling.

    1. I disagree with your last sentence. If you don’t have enough time off, to add one more day, then wait a year. Air travel doesn’t go smoothly for many and why cut it short? I stopped selling air for clients who wanted to do this. I would handle the cruise, but they had to made their own air arrangement.

      1. Sorry, no. Sometimes life just doesn’t allow for that-for example, people can’t get off from their jobs an extra day. But they have enough time to travel on a cruise. I’m not going to be that judgmental and harsh.

        1. Well I am going to be judgmental as I deal with this a lot. If you can’t get to the port a day early, don’t come asking for help when you miss your cruise.

      2. I understand why you do that. If anything goes wrong, they’re going to blame you. I’m the same way, if a client wants to proceed against my advice, depending on the severity of the situation, they have to find another attorney.

    2. I’m an occasional air traveler too. Some years I don’t travel by air at all and some years it’s 3-4 trips. Even so, I’ll always check the departure boards and even have the airline phone apps to check for boarding changes. Gate changes and delays happen so often it should be expected. I highly doubt it didn’t end up on the departure board and suspect that the Christine Lagasse simply didn’t bother to look.

      I have no sympathy for someone who can’t handle the most basic concept of air travel – that the gate printed on the boarding pass can change at any time.

  27. Everyone is saying “all the other passengers” made it. My question is how many is all the others? If it is only a half dozen, that is much different than say 30-40. I have been at a full Delta gate(in Denver) that was the wrong gate and if it is the wrong gate, usually no one is there to ask. Monitors showed we were right, the sign on the gate said we were at the right place, but 15-20 minutes before our departure no plane and no employees, people began to wonder. Someone finally went and checked. They came back and told us, never did get any announcement from Delta or the airport. I betting Manchester in the early morning there are a not a lot of people to ask.

    1. They were at gate 9. The other USAirways gate at Manchester is gate 8. Could they have asked the person working that gate? Somehow, it sounds like the other people on the flight made it from gate 9 to gate 8.

  28. The law now requires a WRITTEN notice as well as an auditory one. There should have been a notice at the original gate. Absolutely USAir is in the wrong.

      1. Federal Law: “Telecommunication Display Devices (TDD’s) should be available for use by deaf and speech-impaired persons, in compliance with the ATBCB’s proposed transit facility standards.”

        Also: 28 C.F.R. 35.104.
        “To achieve equal access in airports, the most important auxiliary aids for deaf and hard of hearing persons will be telephone services and videotext displays.”

        1. Neither citation is useful. The first doesn’t tell me which law. (There are many many federal laws) and the second is a definitions section. Not useful either. If I remember, I might look it up to get the actual laws

          1. He might be referring to 14 CFR Part 382.
            The pax must inform the airline that he or she has a hearing disability and that will make the airline liable for not informing a person with disability for a gate change and they missed their flight because of it.

          2. That makes infinitely more sense. Of course, it doesn’t support the position that the airlines was required to give non hearing impaired passengers visual notice

    1. Interesting statement. Is it a state or federal law?

      Also, it’s times like this that I wonder where all the sensory impaired passengers are? We must have hundreds of thousands of sight- or hearing-impaired passengers travel every year, and not once have I seen a complaint from one that it was the airline’s fault that they didn’t see or hear the boarding announcement. Since I doubt we have special flights just for them, they must be making the same connections the rest of us make.

      Take a page from their book and pay more attention to your surroundings. Not only will you catch key information that’s being delivered for your benefit, you just might see some inserting things you might otherwise have missed on your vacation.

      1. Federal law: Google Transportation for Individuals with Disabilities as Disqus doesn’t like links. “Telecommunication Display Devices (TDD’s) should be available for use by
        deaf and speech-impaired persons, in compliance with the ATBCB’s
        proposed transit facility standards.” And yes, the same thing happened to me as with this person in the article. I’m deaf. If you were part of the disability community you’d know the problems we face every day. And the law!

        1. 28 C.F.R. 35.104

          To achieve equal access in airports, the most important auxiliary aids for deaf and hard of hearing persons will be telephone services and videotext displays.

        2. Honey, I travel with a mobility dog, so I am part of the “disability community”. I believe you’re citing the Americans with Disabilities Act which calls for *reasonable* accommodations for people with impairments. Those monitors that are in the terminals count as written announcements and are available for all, disabled or not. While you might think it is reasonable to have someone go to the old gate and post the change there, you would have to take the airlines to court to enforce your view of reasonable. It is not only apparently not the standard to post changes at the gate, but they could argue it creates an undue hardship with juggling employees to post the changes and can show that the vast majority of people — able-bodied and disabled — get by just fine with the current setup.

          Being disabled doesn’t exempt you from paying attention to the things you need to do to get where you’re going. If anything, those with impairments pay *more* attention and therefore have fewer problems, something the able-bodied travelers could learn from.

          1. “Honey,” those are both DOT and FAA regulations. Disqus wouldn’t let me post the links, but you can google them. I travel with a hearing service dog. Nobody has to go anyplace any more to post notices; all they have to do is change the LED notices on the gates. Not exactly a hardship. The airlines should post gate changes at the original gate.

    1. They may well have been – since they couldn’t SEE the gate next to them, doubt they could HEAR it, either. (Frankly, think they all fell asleep!)

  29. I asked my 14 year-old daughter (who has flown exactly ONE time in her life, when she was 6) about what she would do if at an empty gate like the OP described and she immediately replied “check the monitors or ask an employee.” It’s common sense.

    I think with an early morning flight like that, the group likely fell asleep or was otherwise so drowsy they missed the announcements.

    It is unfortunate, but I don’t see that this is the airline’s fault.

  30. Actually, I don’t know, but I think it might be worth looking into it further. As an experienced traveler, I know to always keeping checking. I’m semi-paranoid about it until see both a sign for my destination and an agent at the counter at the indicated gate. I can see though that an inexperienced traveler may not be as aware of the potential gate change problem. Perhaps it has never happened to her. I think the airlines do have the responsibility to make clear announcements.

  31. The airline should take care of this??? Ridiculous. If you’re so “inexperienced” that you don’t notice you’re at the wrong gate, you need to hire someone to guide you around. If you don’t fly often, ASK SOMEONE in a uniform for some help. Do this long before it’s time for your flight. These people will probably get left at some cruise port because they can’t figure out how to get back to the ship.

  32. Codeshare to the rescue. It sounds like the Manchester to Washington to Lauderdale passengers were re-accommodated on USAirways and/or USAirways Express flights, while the Manchester to Chicago to Ft. Lauderdale passengers were likely on United/United Express which codes with USAirways on many domestic routes. The codeshare made for an option that likely would not have been made available to them otherwise for a missed flight.

    1. Aren’t all regional flights technically codeshared? The operator has their own flight number but they just do not market any seat themselves.

      1. Yes, but I’m referring more to the Manchester-Chicago-Ft. Lauderdale. MHT-ORD is operated by Expressjet as United Express and coded with US as well. ORD-FLL would be mainline UA coded with US. US does not operate these routes with their aircraft or regional partners. So, it sounds like the people who flew over Chicago were on Expressjet in United Express livery and then United mainline from Chicago to FLL. Had it not been for the UA/US codeshare, I suspect they would not have been re-accommodated as such since they were considered as no-shows by the fact they checked in and failed to board.

        The DCA people were probably Republic in USAirways livery connecting to a US mainline from DCA to FLL.

        Since the six had to split up, it didn’t sound as if all would have been accommodated on the DCA option and the UA via ORD option made it possible for all six to be re-accommodated. (The mechanical screwed up the DCA connecting passengers…but that’s a whole different topic!)

  33. They hardly ever announce gate changes unless its a small airport. Experienced travelers know that gate changes happen and to check the monitors or online, but that shouldn’t be a requirement. Gate changes should be announced airport wide or at a minimum of at the old gate, giving passengers ample time to get to the new gate.

    The last time I checked in super early for a flight, the agent at the counter did tell me that the gate may change and to check closer to the departure time. Maybe this should be added to the electronic check in process as well.

  34. 90% of the announcements made in an airport are ignored because they mean nothing to you. The newbie flier response is insignificant. Any Travel advisor would give the Lagasses the ins and out of flying, and to PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SURROUNDINGS AND WATCH THE FLIGHT MONITOR. I watch the flights change a dozen times an hour at Dulles and Pittsburgh, my main airports. USair has 1 horrible customer service desk, so they are indeed going to say customer error. They do not care that the ship is leaving without you.

    Cruising with an airline to get there? My clients never travel the day of a flight because all airlines have a beter than 50% chance of having the passenger miss the ship. For a cheapie hotel in FLL or MIA or where ever, you don’t miss the ship. For another $100-150, you don’t lose $1000’s,

    Better yet, was insurance bought through a real live travel agent, not internet garbage. That would have been trip interruption and funds fully recoverable.

    Travel agent do get the job done better than the Lagasses did. “we don’t travel a lot” just is a poor excuse. Live and learn, it’s very costly!

  35. The boarding pass is a document. If the airline changes the gate, it has to make damn sure that all people with the wrong pass are rounded and notified of the change. The airline knows their names; a pointed announcement, like “Dear Ms. Lagasse, your gate has been changed” is in order. Repeatedly, if necessary. Please mediate.

      1. I’m not asking them to babysit anyone (except maybe unsupervised minors) :-). I’m saying that they are guilty of printing an erroneous document, so they should take responsibility for it. If their system does not reflect an error and the list of people affected by it, it’s their problem that should be fixed.

        1. Gate assignments change for various reasons. I had one flight change 3 times in less than 5 minutes after being given my boarding 90 minutes prior. So it isn’t an erroneous document, it is a boarding pass that could have the gate number changed after issue. That is why you watch the screen, watch the gate area and ask questions to airline employees behind the gate counter.

          1. When you are a DIY’er, you do have to take responsibility. Something I notice is that people don’t pay attention to things and it isn’t just in travel. We learn by observing.

  36. I find it difficult to believe that no announcement was made, however sometimes announcements do overlap and get jumbled together. Regardless my experience traveling finds that the inexperienced traveler tends to check things over and over and over again because they are so worried about everything. I assume they have more to tell you about their story about why they just sat at an empty gate.

  37. Airlines are notorious for fibbing about on time status, gates, connections, etc. to your face when they know otherwise. As an experienced traveler I have almost been caught a few times even after inquiring and checking boards. As for a group of inexperienced travelers at that time of the morning who were directed by the ticketing agent and boarding pass, I am not surprised. Now had an agent gone to that gate to make an announcement or check to see if there were any passengers who may have missed the announcement (and the coincidence there would be 6 passengers that were missing from their boarding roster sitting at that gate….) everybody would be happy. All it really took was due care from the airline to ensure that time all their passengers had actually been notified of the change. Isn’t that really part of their business and the core of customer service?

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