Sometimes I like to answer questions that I receive about airlines via email. Recently I found an email in my inbox that I would probably classify as an “angry rant.” As I posted before, I get a lot of letters from angry passengers who feel they have been greatly wronged by the airline and want their story heard. Even though I do not agree that this person experienced a huge life hardship, I think there are some clarifications of his situation, that I want to share.
Long story short, this person’s original flight was cancelled. He was working with a gate agent who explained that there was a flight that he might be able to make ifÂ he ran for it and that he did.
When he arrived at the new gate he was told that the flight was closed and he couldn’t make the plane. Then he noticed that the airplane’s door was still open and felt the gate agent should let him on the plane. I can understand that it is a hard thing to see that your plane is sitting right there, not moving and you could just easily jump on.
The gate agent explained again that he is not able to allow the passenger board his flight, which caused him to have a seven hour delay before catching the next flight (I know, I told you it was going to be horrific). Although the passenger felt that the gate agent was playing some power game with him, that is not the case.
This scenario is not uncommon and if you haven’t experienced it, chances are you might have seen a passenger yelling at a gate agent about being let on to the aircraft. Heck, even Kevin Smith (of the “I am too big to fly on Southwest” fame) had some issues with this not too long ago with Virgin America. So why won’t the mean old airline let you on your flight? There are a few reasons…
First off, running an airline is very complicated. A small delay on one flight can snowball and affect passengers, crew and airports for hours and even days.
The FAA will not allow an airline to push back their flight until everyone is seated, each bag is stowed and the cabin door is closed. Before the cabin door is secured, the gate agent must get an accurate count of the passengers and physically hand that to the pilot before returning back to the terminal. Last minute calculations on weight distribution and fuel need to be done before the plane is ready to go.
Just because the aircraft’s door is open doesn’t mean it would be easy to open the gate door and let an extra passenger on board. Remember that there are many people that are already on the plane waiting to take off on time and they need to make their connections at other airports. Why should they all be delayed waiting for the flight crew to redo their counts?
Believe me, airlines and those that work for airliens (well a HUGE majority) are not evil people. Their goal is not to make your life a living hell. They need to run their business and to do that, sometimes, some people will be inconvenienced. It can be lame, but it is just the price of living this thing we call a modernÂ society.