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Old Apr 15, 09, 8:12 pm   #1
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
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FL planes leaving early from ATL?

Ms. Goheels called at 9:46 from ATL, very upset that FL29 ATL-CLT had left early. Departure was scheduled at 9:50pm, she was at gate with 3 other connecting pax by 9:35--no agent, door shut. Special Services is telling her the plane left at 9:40pm and thus she wasn't eligible for compensation or alternate transport (they were at SS by 9:43pm, which was several minutes' walk away.)

Does FL do this often? I understand there are weather issues and GA's want to get out of there, but leaving people behind and then claiming a 9:40 departure (which we all know means the door shut long before) is terrible policy and should subject them having to offer IDB compensation.

Any perspectives (on what she could/should do?) Thanks in advance from a FL rookie!
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Old Apr 15, 09, 10:26 pm   #2
 
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My feeling is that AirTran can be quicker than most about closing the door early. They will claim in your situation to be following their published ten minute rule. Their records, from what you are saying, will show they closed the door exactly ten minutes early at 9:40 PM.

If I ever felt they were leaving ahead of the ten minutes, I would find the nearest AirTran employee (nearest gate where they have a computer), ask them "what time do you show it is?" and if it is more than the ten minutes I would take their name and the time that they gave. Then you would have the foundation for a complaint and getting some kind of customer service compensation.

I did this once for a Delta flight ATL-JAX and got some miles put in my account.

By walking around the airport and letting the clock tick down to seven minutes, you now have let them be able to say it the way they want to in order to follow their rules.

If she was on a tight connection, presumably due to an inbound delay, the airline should protect her fully including the overnight stay, even with them leaving early within or outside of their rules. This would be the same if it was ten minutes before or if she got there after the flight's published time--the inbound was late, end of story.

I don't think IDB would ever be an issue in this case; it is for when they don't honor your reservation due to overbooking.
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Old Apr 16, 09, 12:25 pm   #3
 
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In my anecdotal experience (about 60 or so flights a year) AirTran is prone to close the door as early as they can -- 10 minutes before the flight is scheduled, I believe it is -- as often as they can.

Originally I thought they did it if they saw from the tickets collected that everyone was already on the flight. But I guess they might just do it whenever they can. It is, I suppose, possibly that they'd shut the door earlier than 10 minutes out, if tickets showed everyone was on board (which would only then effect unscheduled people trying to get onto the flight).
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Old Apr 16, 09, 2:53 pm   #4
 
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Most airlines close the doors 10 minuets prior to departure and there are some that close 15 minutes prior. There is a lot that needs to be done in that 10 minutes to get an ontime departure. If all passengers listed are checked in and on board, then they can sometimes leave earlier, but that is very rare. Even if the aircraft door is not closed, the boarding gate doors will always close 10 minutes prior.
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Old Apr 16, 09, 3:31 pm   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airtran1 View Post
Most airlines close the doors 10 minuets prior to departure and there are some that close 15 minutes prior. There is a lot that needs to be done in that 10 minutes to get an ontime departure. If all passengers listed are checked in and on board, then they can sometimes leave earlier, but that is very rare. Even if the aircraft door is not closed, the boarding gate doors will always close 10 minutes prior.
That's simply NOT true. Most airlines WAIT at least until 5 minutes before departure at a hub, when they know that connecting passengers are still on their way. There's NOT a lot that needs to be done in that last 5 or 10 minutes. I've literally had the door close and start pulling away from the gate within 90 seconds.

It sounds like AirTran doesn't care about their passengers. They schedule the connections, not the passengers. The passengers are paying AirTran to transport them between xxx-ATL-yyy. Why on earth would they leave early, if they have passengers running to make the connection?
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Old Apr 16, 09, 8:37 pm   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airtran1 View Post
Most airlines close the doors 10 minuets prior to departure and there are some that close 15 minutes prior. There is a lot that needs to be done in that 10 minutes to get an ontime departure. If all passengers listed are checked in and on board, then they can sometimes leave earlier, but that is very rare. Even if the aircraft door is not closed, the boarding gate doors will always close 10 minutes prior.
I guarantee you that WN does not if there are passengers with boarding passes but not on the plane. At 10 minutes, WN may cancel your seat ( unless you are coming in on a transfer - and they do know if you are ) and start loading stand-bys. They certainly don't close the door and refuse to load late comers if seats are available.
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Old Apr 19, 09, 6:02 pm   #7
 
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I was the victim of this last year. I made it to the gate 8 min. before scheduled take off. They just closed the door. I was rebooked on the next flight, which was a brutal 3 hours later. I've been on plenty of FL flights too that have left 5-10 early. It's been awhile since I've flown DL but I always remember them leaving either on-time or a few minutes late.
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Old Apr 20, 09, 12:57 pm   #8
 
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Originally Posted by spec View Post
I was the victim of this last year. I made it to the gate 8 min. before scheduled take off. They just closed the door. I was rebooked on the next flight, which was a brutal 3 hours later. I've been on plenty of FL flights too that have left 5-10 early. It's been awhile since I've flown DL but I always remember them leaving either on-time or a few minutes late.
I would rather leave right on time than 5-10 early, if there are connecting passengers running through the airport trying to get to the plane. I figure that I will be the "runner" next time and I would like to be able to make my connection.
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Old Apr 25, 09, 9:35 pm   #9
 
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Thanks for the replies--AirTran apparently left about 15 people stuck in ATL overnight, as the door closed at 7:32, per some of the other pax who were misconnected, which was 18 minutes before scheduled departure. Of course, their system showed 7:40.

AA did this to me in DFW a month ago, but at least gave us hotel and meal vouchers b/c our connection came in late.

A common-sense policy for all airlines would be to hold the last flight out of the day from a hub for any connecting pax that have a reasonable shot at making it. I never mind waiting myself in these situations--per a FA I talked to about it, the problem is usually the gate agents trying to leave, as the flight crews are always willing to wait.
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