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Has anyone ever heard of an airline leaving early?

Has anyone ever heard of an airline leaving early?

Old Jul 27, 10, 6:50 am
  #1  
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Has anyone ever heard of an airline leaving early?

Was booked on a 6:30 flight on Continental leaving from Toronto to New York and due to a bottleneck at customs (waited an hour) we arrived at the gate with 8 minutes until boarding time. They did not let me on as they said they have already pulled away from the gate because "the pilot wanted to leave early."

As a result of this US Customs delay many people missed their flight but we all arrived at the gate before the departure time.

Are they allowed to do that? Any suggestions on how to file a proper complaint to get compensated for my troubles?

Thanks
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Old Jul 27, 10, 7:19 am
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I suspect your boarding pass said that gates would close xx minutes before the scheduled departure - typically somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes. Rocking up to the gate with only 8 minutes before scheduled departure (even though it wasn't your fault) is likely to lead to disappointment.

If the plane pulled back before the boarding time, as opposed to the departure time, then you are quite entitled to feel aggrieved. But I suspect that wasn't the case.
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Old Jul 27, 10, 7:25 am
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Well, technically you're supposed to be at the gate 10 minutes before departure (or is it 15 on CO?). So it's possible if the flight was oversold, they'd be eager to get it going at 10-min prior to departure.

Just to make sure, this is 8 mins prior to the departure time listed on your boarding pass?

I would suggest contacting Continental first and then contacting DOT. I doubt you'll have any recourse (in the way you describe the story), but you may get a goodwill voucher. .
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Old Jul 27, 10, 7:45 am
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Originally Posted by seanfitch
we arrived at the gate with 8 minutes until boarding time.
If you arrived 8 minutes before boarding time, then you certainly have cause for complaint, but if it was 8 minutes before departure time, that's another story altogether.

Originally Posted by seanfitch
As a result of this US Customs delay many people missed their flight but we all arrived at the gate before the departure time.

Are they allowed to do that? Any suggestions on how to file a proper complaint to get compensated for my troubles?
It certainly is annoying to miss a flight, but as others have mentioned, departure time is when the plane is scheduled to leave. To accomplish this, the boarding cutoff has to be some period of time before departure time. This varies by airline, and because of paperwork requirements, is typically longer for international flights. The cutoff might be as much as 30 minutes before flight time.
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Old Jul 27, 10, 8:57 am
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1 hr plus to clear CATSA and US CBP at YYZ T3 is normal, especially for early morning flight to US. All pilots are trying to get into the takeoff lineup during the rush. If they miss their scheduled slot there can be long delay taking off.

I believe the cutoff boarding for US flights in YYZ is 30 minutes.

Before I got my Nexus I always give myself 2 hours minimum to get to US from YYZ T3.
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Old Jul 27, 10, 9:10 am
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The plane left at 6:24.
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Old Jul 27, 10, 10:48 am
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It's not unusual, the individual airline forums are full of threads with people who were running for a plane that had left already.

United for example says:

For flights within the U.S., to/from Mexico and the Caribbean, and to Canada, seat assignments are subject to cancellation if you do not check in and obtain a boarding pass at least 30 minutes prior to scheduled departure and if you are not available for boarding at the departure gate at least 20 minutes prior to scheduled departure.

I'm not saying it's right, but at 20 minutes before departure if you aren't there they can just cancel your seat and off they go. American is 15 minutes, etc.

We have all been running to a gate with single digits minutes to spare, and it's never any fun to get there and have the door be closed, but it's just how it is sometimes. If you aren't there before the cut off time, they can leave without you.
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Old Jul 27, 10, 11:05 am
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I meant to write "8 minutes before departure time" on the boarding pass. My frustration is that I was at the airport an hour and thirty minutes prior to the flight but it took forever to get through customs. Additionally, they knew of the bottleneck at customs and still pulled away before the departure time knowing that 6 of us were running there (all of us got there by 6:25) and they still pulled back before the departure time.

Just very frustrating. Hopefully I will get a goodwill voucher.
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Old Jul 27, 10, 12:37 pm
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we have left early before on Ryan Air, the plane was full and everyone hustled to their seats like good little girls and boys.......
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Old Jul 27, 10, 12:51 pm
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Continental's policy is that you must be at the gate 30 minutes prior to departure for an international flight (with some exceptions, Toronto isn't one).

They may not have gone out with your seats empty. They may have filled them with standby passengers at the 30 minute mark.

If all the seats are full and/or all booked passengers on board, I've seen flights leave the gate early.
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Old Jul 27, 10, 12:57 pm
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I once was on a international flight leaving a whole hour early. It is very strange to me, but FA said they have everyone on board, so they just leave. Hard to believe.
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Old Jul 27, 10, 1:03 pm
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I recall reading a trip report where a SQ flight from LHR left an hour early as the airport was closing at 11am due to the volanic ash and they wanted to get out of there. Would have hated to have been wandering around the airport and miss that flight - you would have been stuck in London for days!
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Old Jul 27, 10, 1:09 pm
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Originally Posted by kristen1nv
we have left early before on Ryan Air, the plane was full and everyone hustled to their seats like good little girls and boys.......
I was on a Ryanair flight last month (RYG-NYO) that ARRIVED at our scheduled departure time (25 mins flight time). Only 7 passengers so the crew decided to hustle and head out early.
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Old Jul 27, 10, 5:42 pm
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I was booked once on an Indian Airlines flight and arrived in plenty of time for the scheduled departure, only to learn that the plane had left already; the gate agent told me it had been "preponed."
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Old Jul 27, 10, 8:59 pm
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I hope you get a 'goodwill voucher', but you did arrive at the gate late and CO did nothing wrong. The carriers have to set a cuttoff time and it is hard for them to try to figure out where checked in passengers may be. This has been especially true lately with so many passengers checking in online.

Finally, you were on an international flight and all bags are PPBM. The airlines must shut the doors of the plane and have enough time to pull bags (if need be) and still depart on time.
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