Delayed Boarding for VIP

Old Feb 27, 20, 1:14 am
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Delayed Boarding for VIP

DL1362 tonight, LAX-JFK. I, cutting it close, get to Gate 21 at 11:28 PM for an 11:55 departure. Boarding has not begun. I figure cleaning’s taking a while, since the plane had only arrived from JFK just before 11. I assumed that, once that was finished, they’d rush us onboard for an on-time departure.

Around 11:33 the agents board a wheelchair passenger. But then, we wait. About 3-4 minutes later — this feels like a while when you’re waiting at the gate and worrying, needlessly, about your right connection at JFK — an agent gets on the mic to announce we’re waiting before a passenger “needs some extra time” to board. I assume they’re talking about the wheelchair passenger, though it’s been a little while.

Then, just before 11:40, a very fashionably dressed young man walks up casually, passes the line, and is ushered to the boarding-pass scanner by a Delta agent who has apparently been waiting for him at the gate. Clearly, the guy’s a celebrity (I dunno who). He gives the agent a handshake and pats his back — he is apparently the Delta agent’s assignee — and boards.

As soon as he’s on the jet bridge, a gate agent gets on the intercom to announce we’ll be hustling on board (didn’t use that exact word, but something comparable) to get out on time.

As of 12:00, they’re getting ready to close the door. An FA is asking people to “try not to use the bathroom” since we’re running late and need to close.

I’m a longtime United flyer who took a status match to Delta Platinum late last year. In my experience with United, I haven’t seen that carrier delay boarding for a VIP. I fly largely in and out of Dulles and DCA — lots of members of Congress and senior officials — and, nonetheless, I’m not aware of one of my flights taking a delay for one. (And, though I can’t say for certain, I don’t think United at Dulles is using back doors to get VIPs onboard in secret.)

Is holding boarding for a celebrity common in the NYC/LA markets? Is it a Delta practice? Because I would be surprised to see United delay the start of general boarding for a celebrity in virtually any circumstance (except, maybe, if they had a Secret Service detail), and I’d be shocked if they delayed boarding to the point of taking a departure delay simply because some celebrity was taking his time showing up.

Then again, my initial sense has been that United puts more emphasis on on-time departures than does Delta. That’s simply based on the sense of urgency I’ve seen from gate agents. So maybe tonight was reflective of a broader distinction in company policy.
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Old Feb 27, 20, 1:42 am
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I've flown that route with tons of celebs. Never had that happen and many were A lister type.

It could be a FAM who was needed onboard due to someone else onboard.
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Old Feb 27, 20, 5:06 am
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There is an entire thread for these types of trivial complaints......
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Old Feb 27, 20, 5:32 am
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Originally Posted by WestCoastPDX View Post
There is an entire thread for these types of trivial complaints......
I disagree. This is not trivial.

OP - I flew the 11:55 p.m. LAX-JFK departure with a group of 5 others last month. All in paid D1. We were all in the SkyClub in T2, right upstairs from the departure gate. At 11:30 p.m., I still did not receive the boarding designation on the app, so I went to the front desk of the club, and the agent called down and said they were delayed in boarding and that she would come get us when boarding began.

10 minutes later, a different agent comes up to us and tells us they are boarding at super fast speed and that we need to run down there...what? We get down there and they've rammed everyone onto the jetbridge. There are three gate agents there (but no Red Coats) and they're yelling at us to board and that we almost missed the flight...

I professionally but firmly let them know that this was an unacceptable way to speak to any customer, let alone a DM or paid D1 customer, when their colleagues had just spoken to them within 10 minutes and were told that boarding hadn't begun and was DELAYED. They apologized after that, but it certainly seemed like something had happened at the gate that delayed boarding and then required a massive hustle and stress on the GAs...

My friends then said they thought Kim Kardashian/her friend were in D1. I was in 1A and slept and didn't really care; but I could certainly see something similar like the OP stated having happened for my flight, but I was just not at the gate during those 10-12 minutes to observe it...and it was certainly the most negative experience I've had at LAX with DL in a long time, so it was a concern for me too, and now I think I know why!
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Old Feb 27, 20, 5:37 am
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Are FAMs generally "fashionably dressed"?--I would assume they should look like the average JOE.
OP had a connection in JFK and the potential departure delay makes his complaint more than "trivial".
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Old Feb 27, 20, 5:41 am
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Originally Posted by WestCoastPDX View Post
There is an entire thread for these types of trivial complaints......
1)dont think OP was complaining as much as gathering info
2)even if was, this is far from trivial, the flight was forced to board late, almost using departure time. 3)A redeye is the last flight people want to feel rushed onto. They want to get on as smoothly as possible to goto sleep.
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Old Feb 27, 20, 5:43 am
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I thought celebrities only flew on AA, since they have 3 class service on most transcons [Y, BC and "real" FC]
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Old Feb 27, 20, 6:53 am
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Originally Posted by WestCoastPDX View Post
There is an entire thread for these types of trivial complaints......
I promise I am capable of making infinitesimally trivial complaints, mostly concerning left-lane drivers and overly carby inflight snacks, but I’ve learned to internalize them (the complaints, and the snacks).

My post was a combination of pique and genuine inquiry. Inquiry, in the sense that this boarding experience was an extreme example of a trend I’d noticed of Delta gate agents seeming a bit less desperate than United ones to get the plane out exactly on time. There are strong customer-service arguments for allowing a few extra minutes to assist passengers with their requests and to wait for late connections, as Delta has appeared, in my limited experience, to do. And I have yet to arrive significantly late or find a connection in jeopardy as a result, so DL seems to have been justified in not racing to shut the door. Maybe the airline just gives its agents a little more discretion to take a small delay than does United, at least when the flight is projected to arrive early.

The pique was because of my connection and the boarding experience. Most importantly, I had a 35-minute connection in JFK. (It was a last-minute booking with few alternatives.) I realize a transcon redeye will probably get in early, so I wasn’t panicked. But, given everything outside a carrier’s control, a wholly avoidable eight-minute delay against a 35-minute connection feels, bluntly, a little distressing.

And I didn’t really like the go-go-go boarding experience that followed as a result. I may be a non-lister, but the optics of everyone, including D1 pax, getting urged to rush on the plane after the agents waited nervously for one guy to stroll up weren't great, and several people made the same observation.
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Old Feb 27, 20, 6:54 am
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Originally Posted by nrr View Post
I thought celebrities only flew on AA, since they have 3 class service on most transcons [Y, BC and "real" FC]
Netjets et. al.
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Old Feb 27, 20, 7:11 am
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I haven't seen it unless it is someone traveling with an armed detail, in which case there are other procedures in place and the individual would not generally board through the gate in any event.

This has all the makings of the histrionics surrounding the Los Angeles fake VIP culture. E.g., totally unimportant people who thrive on "celebrity."
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Old Feb 27, 20, 7:21 am
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Originally Posted by ezefllying View Post
DL1362 tonight, LAX-JFK. I, cutting it close, get to Gate 21 at 11:28 PM for an 11:55 departure. Boarding has not begun. I figure cleaning’s taking a while, since the plane had only arrived from JFK just before 11. I assumed that, once that was finished, they’d rush us onboard for an on-time departure.

Around 11:33 the agents board a wheelchair passenger. But then, we wait. About 3-4 minutes later — this feels like a while when you’re waiting at the gate and worrying, needlessly, about your right connection at JFK — an agent gets on the mic to announce we’re waiting before a passenger “needs some extra time” to board. I assume they’re talking about the wheelchair passenger, though it’s been a little while.

Then, just before 11:40, a very fashionably dressed young man walks up casually, passes the line, and is ushered to the boarding-pass scanner by a Delta agent who has apparently been waiting for him at the gate. Clearly, the guy’s a celebrity (I dunno who). He gives the agent a handshake and pats his back — he is apparently the Delta agent’s assignee — and boards.

As soon as he’s on the jet bridge, a gate agent gets on the intercom to announce we’ll be hustling on board (didn’t use that exact word, but something comparable) to get out on time.

As of 12:00, they’re getting ready to close the door. An FA is asking people to “try not to use the bathroom” since we’re running late and need to close.

I’m a longtime United flyer who took a status match to Delta Platinum late last year. In my experience with United, I haven’t seen that carrier delay boarding for a VIP. I fly largely in and out of Dulles and DCA — lots of members of Congress and senior officials — and, nonetheless, I’m not aware of one of my flights taking a delay for one. (And, though I can’t say for certain, I don’t think United at Dulles is using back doors to get VIPs onboard in secret.)

Is holding boarding for a celebrity common in the NYC/LA markets? Is it a Delta practice? Because I would be surprised to see United delay the start of general boarding for a celebrity in virtually any circumstance (except, maybe, if they had a Secret Service detail), and I’d be shocked if they delayed boarding to the point of taking a departure delay simply because some celebrity was taking his time showing up.

Then again, my initial sense has been that United puts more emphasis on on-time departures than does Delta. That’s simply based on the sense of urgency I’ve seen from gate agents. So maybe tonight was reflective of a broader distinction in company policy.
I have been on enough flights with true A list celebrities, sports stars, and high ranking news people to know that this is absurd and should not have been done. They board just like the rest of us (or in one case I saw someone being brought into a Sky Club and was put at a regular high top to sit and relax pre flight)

Also if this person was "such a celebrity" they should have been taken to the gate in a Porsche and boarded through the stairs. I am honestly amazed DL has not found a way to monetize the whole "VIP experience" where you pay to get your own agent who escorts you etc etc blah blah blah. Plenty of Instragram Influencers would surely pay so they can live stream the "exclusive" experience for being so important.
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Old Feb 27, 20, 7:39 am
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Originally Posted by ezefllying View Post
I promise I am capable of making infinitesimally trivial complaints, mostly concerning left-lane drivers and overly carby inflight snacks, but I’ve learned to internalize them (the complaints, and the snacks).

My post was a combination of pique and genuine inquiry. Inquiry, in the sense that this boarding experience was an extreme example of a trend I’d noticed of Delta gate agents seeming a bit less desperate than United ones to get the plane out exactly on time. There are strong customer-service arguments for allowing a few extra minutes to assist passengers with their requests and to wait for late connections, as Delta has appeared, in my limited experience, to do. And I have yet to arrive significantly late or find a connection in jeopardy as a result, so DL seems to have been justified in not racing to shut the door. Maybe the airline just gives its agents a little more discretion to take a small delay than does United, at least when the flight is projected to arrive early.

The pique was because of my connection and the boarding experience. Most importantly, I had a 35-minute connection in JFK. (It was a last-minute booking with few alternatives.) I realize a transcon redeye will probably get in early, so I wasn’t panicked. But, given everything outside a carrier’s control, a wholly avoidable eight-minute delay against a 35-minute connection feels, bluntly, a little distressing.

And I didn’t really like the go-go-go boarding experience that followed as a result. I may be a non-lister, but the optics of everyone, including D1 pax, getting urged to rush on the plane after the agents waited nervously for one guy to stroll up weren't great, and several people made the same observation.
Wow...and still...in the gate at JFK 8 minutes early.
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Old Feb 27, 20, 7:41 am
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Originally Posted by vincentharris View Post
I have been on enough flights with true A list celebrities, sports stars, and high ranking news people to know that this is absurd and should not have been done. They board just like the rest of us (or in one case I saw someone being brought into a Sky Club and was put at a regular high top to sit and relax pre flight)

Also if this person was "such a celebrity" they should have been taken to the gate in a Porsche and boarded through the stairs. I am honestly amazed DL has not found a way to monetize the whole "VIP experience" where you pay to get your own agent who escorts you etc etc blah blah blah. Plenty of Instragram Influencers would surely pay so they can live stream the "exclusive" experience for being so important.
At LAX theres a special facility with it's own TSA security that can be used (for $$$$$$). Part of it gets you a rid in car to the plane.
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Old Feb 27, 20, 7:56 am
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Here's a dumb question. If celebrities can't board with normal people and are running late to the gate, why don't they board last (rather than delay boarding for everyone)?
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Old Feb 27, 20, 8:03 am
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Originally Posted by OHDL1 View Post
Wow...and still...in the gate at JFK 8 minutes early.
The schedule always includes padded time.

With favorable tailwind, I was on transcon flight (787-10) last month which arrived at gate about an hour ahead of schedule.
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