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Rules/law about getting off a plane connected to jetway

Rules/law about getting off a plane connected to jetway

Old Jun 30, 11, 11:25 am
  #1  
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Rules/law about getting off a plane connected to jetway

A few weeks ago I was on a flight MCI-ATL-CLT, when ATL was shut down for some time due to storms and our flight from MCI-ATL was diverted to MEM due to lack of fuel to circle ATL.

We pulled into a gate, and the wait began. The captain asked that we remain on board until we were refueled, etc., and the MEM gate agents were on and off the plane checking on things. I called Delta reservations, asked to be booked on the first flight the next day from MEM-CLT. The agent confirmed me on the first flight the next day, I grabbed my bag, and walked off the plane.

A very panic-y FA followed me up the jetway, saying the captain said no one was to get off the plane, etc. I was very polite, told her I had already been confirmed on the MEM-CLT flight the next day, and continued walking. The gate agent inside the airport said I couldn't get off the plane(even though I already WAS off) because of some TSA rule. I didn't have any checked bags, and she knew that, so not sure what she was referring to.

Anyway, I apologized profusely to the FA and gate agents for potentially messing up something in their system. Though Delta clearly wasn't obligated to put me up for the night in MEM due to weather, they did, and I was in bed at the Marriott by 11pm.

I checked the next day, and had I not mutinied, I would not have arrived into Charlotte until 4:45am the next morning.

Anyway, I don't know if I broke some law or rule by disobeying the captain (he never "ordered" us to stay on the plane, just "asked"), and there were many others on the plane who would have done the same thing, but didn't, since they were told they couldn't get off of the plane. I was the only one who left.

Is there someplace where these types of rules are written (ie passengers have a legal right to disembark a plane when connected to a jetway, or don't have a legal right to, etc.) and what the punishments are, if any, if passengers disobey a captain's requests?

Thanks.
jchock1 is offline  
Old Jun 30, 11, 11:31 am
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Interesting thread topic. I'll be excited to see some of the replies.
nytraveller53 is offline  
Old Jun 30, 11, 11:33 am
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You messed up their system when you took action on your own. The fact that it was a better outcome for you is irrelevant.

Plus, you obviously put yourself in danger by entering the jetway and terminal without official permission.
Allan38103 is offline  
Old Jun 30, 11, 11:36 am
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Originally Posted by Allan38103 View Post
You messed up their system when you took action on your own. The fact that it was a better outcome for you is irrelevant.

Plus, you obviously put yourself in danger by entering the jetway and terminal without official permission.
Forgive me for my ignorant question, but how would the OP be in danger? Maybe he should of asked permission, but it certainly wasn't dangerous...
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Old Jun 30, 11, 11:39 am
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Kind of reminds me of when I had jury duty in BOS on 9/11. We were a group of about 20, following events by radio and asked to just "sit still" until the courts sorted out what to do. After a little while, I went to the bailiff and said, "clearly there won't be any trials today. I'd like to go home." He said that everyone was asked to stay. I asked him what would happen if I walked out. He shrugged his shoulders and indicated he wouldn't chase anyone down. I informed the others I was leaving and each could decide on their own. Everyone walked out after me.

I never heard back from the courts and I assume they considered my obligation fulfilled. Too bad, as I'd like to serve on a jury

Anyway, to the OP's point, I think that you were in a situation where there is "reasonableness" and there are "rules." Even if there was a "rule" against what you did, your action seems reasonable to me, and forcing you to remain on the plane seems unreasonable.


[N.B. There are other times when I'd say that getting off is selfish and unreasonable. I was once on a delayed flight BOS-ATL. Some people who would clearly miss their connections wanted off. This would have caused a greater paperwork delay, and caused more people to miss connections that they had a shot at making. In that case, it would have been thoughtless for those people to disembark, which they did not do.]
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Old Jun 30, 11, 11:42 am
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Originally Posted by Allan38103 View Post
Plus, you obviously put yourself in danger by entering the jetway and terminal without official permission.
+1... A lot of times there are things like bear traps, fallen logs and extreme weather in the jetways, the OP could've been harmed by say, stumbling upon an ill tempered goose on his way out... that's why you should always wait for the ok from the captain and the GAs that the place is safe to step out.
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Old Jun 30, 11, 11:47 am
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I'm sure it is policy for passengers not to get off a plane when a flight diverts to re-fuel (most of these flights aren't on the ground long enough for pax to deplane and then re-board). They will always open the door to get paperwork (i.e. fuel information, new flight plan, etc.). I'm sure you technically forfeit your ticket when you do get off (mitigated by the fact that the agent re-booked you via phone).

As for the legality of the issue, I can't imagine there being any serious possible consequence in your case. Certainly if it was an Int'l flight, there would be issues, and perhaps also if you had checked a bag.

In your situation however, if someone wants to get off an aircraft, and the door is open, I can't imagine this is a serious problem; especially considering the PAX Bill of Rights legislation.
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Old Jun 30, 11, 11:58 am
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Happened to me last month on MSP->CDG->GOT.

MSP->CDG left gate, made the runway, then returned to the gate due to a mechanical. Had a short connection in CDG anyway so I called the Diamond line and was re-booked on MSP->AMS->GOT (which left about 1 hr later).

With the seat confirmed / re-ticketed - I went to leave plane and was told by the lead FA that I couldn't leave (same story, I had no checked luggage).

I asked her to contact the lead GA, who came down the jetway and told me that at that point the Captain had to approve me leaving the plane () - which he ultimately did.

Long story short, the original MSP->CDG cancelled anyway (after the AMS flight) so I am glad I made the move, or I would had to travel the next day.

Not sure if this Captain thing is true - but they sure made it difficult for me to get off in that situation.

I think what they fear is 100 people exiting the plane with no other plans and storming the desk for re-booking. However, IMHO when someone with some experience tells them they are already re-booked via the CS line and they have no bags - they should get "out of the way"
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Old Jun 30, 11, 12:18 pm
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Originally Posted by Allan38103 View Post
You messed up their system when you took action on your own. The fact that it was a better outcome for you is irrelevant.

Plus, you obviously put yourself in danger by entering the jetway and terminal without official permission.
If it was 'dangerous' then why were the gate agents in the jetway. We know the terminal is "secure" We have the TSA (OK so we don't know anything but...)

Sorry, but "we don't want you moving around" does not equal danger. It equals you are making my life hard And invoking the TSA is always the "I don't have a good reason so blame them, they are always the bad guy anyway" LOL!


I don't think they can "hold you against your will" They aren't a police authority!

Now if the agent had said to me "your departure will hold up everyone else on the plane getting to 'point x'" then I would stay on. But staying on because the GA doesn't want to reprint his/her paperwork? Especially after Delta already moved you off the flight?
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Old Jun 30, 11, 12:19 pm
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Originally Posted by mbarreto View Post
+1... A lot of times there are things like bear traps, fallen logs and extreme weather in the jetways, the OP could've been harmed by say, stumbling upon an ill tempered goose on his way out... that's why you should always wait for the ok from the captain and the GAs that the place is safe to step out.
You missed the most obvious danger:

You could be walking right into a pretty major Lice infestation from the next flight. That could be quite dangerous..

Also, there could well be an Elite who was denied an UG on the prior flight in full battle with the GA in the Jetway. Try getting by that without injury.
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Old Jun 30, 11, 12:26 pm
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not sure on this, but I believe it has to be approved by the captain, because he signs paperwork (which includes manifest and weight and balance information). if you get off, he has to re-file, which can cause more delays.
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Old Jun 30, 11, 1:11 pm
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The discussion seems to be straying from the OP's intent.

We can debate:
... polite vs. impolite
... Delta rule or not
... dangerous or not
... inconvenient or not
... consequences or no consequences
... etc.

The question is: IS THIS A TSA RULE OR NOT! From the OP it sounds like it started with "the captain said no" and then quickly moved to "TSA rule says no". I too would like to know if the FA was using the stand-by TSA excuse when no such rule exists. If the rule does exist then why was the door left open and unattended for the OP to walk right back into the terminal?

Perhaps the FA should be held responsible for dereliction of duty? After all, if the TSA says "no" then the airlines should place an armed guard at the door locked-n-loaded to take out the pax that dare try to escape.
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Old Jun 30, 11, 1:19 pm
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Originally Posted by mbarreto View Post
+1... A lot of times there are things like bear traps, fallen logs and extreme weather in the jetways, the OP could've been harmed by say, stumbling upon an ill tempered goose on his way out... that's why you should always wait for the ok from the captain and the GAs that the place is safe to step out.
Needs more love
SamuelS is offline  
Old Jun 30, 11, 1:23 pm
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The captain can't keep you from leaving the airplane. He has no authority to keep you a prisoner against your will. Only law enforcement can hold you and TSA would need to request a peace offer to come do that work. The TSA dudes ain't sworn officers.

If the airlines don't like people deplaning on these situations then they should stay away from a jet way and keep the door shut.

Likewise they could tell people the truth (for a change) and let them make their decision. Noble idea, I know.
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Old Jun 30, 11, 1:24 pm
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Originally Posted by mbarreto View Post
+1... A lot of times there are things like bear traps, fallen logs and extreme weather in the jetways, the OP could've been harmed by say, stumbling upon an ill tempered goose on his way out... that's why you should always wait for the ok from the captain and the GAs that the place is safe to step out.
Don't forget 4 year old girls and 90 year old grandmothers. They could be packing heat!

As far as the TSA goes....

The job of the TSA is to ensure people entering a secured area are cleared to enter that area.

TSA has no biz-wax monitoring passengers inside a secured area. That's what airport police is for.

As long as you ain't disturbing the peace or breaking any laws then pol-pol has no beef with you.
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