Mon, January 24, 2005
OK, I don't know the entire situation, and am very glad that you understand that a delay is not necessarily the airlines' fault... seriously, that is a very admirable thing and not all passengers feel that way. A three hour delay is very inconvenient and if I worked at that airline I would very much appreciate any passenger who understood that "delays happen" and didn't take it out on me. So, first, thank you!!! However, do you realize that it is not Tower Air's responsibility to "get people through security" because these people should already BE through security, regardless of their flight being delayed. If passengers are not at the gate because they are outside smoking, sitting at the food court, wandering around another terminal, etc., and then choose to go through security at the last possible moment, they should be left there and those passengers who are ready to board should be allowed to. The only thing I can think about this is that: a) Passengers were just wandering around and not paying attention, not listening to announcements, or not getting updates at their gate as to departure time. This happens constantly, because some passengers think that if someone tells them the flight is delayed until midnight that they don't have to come back to the gate until then. What they DON'T REALIZE is that the plane, once it is fixed, or the weather passes over, or whatever else the reason for the delay, WILL depart earlier than that if possible and they need to stay in their gate area, or at the VERY least inside security!!! (sheesh). b) The proper announcements were not made to get passengers to BE in the boarding area at the correct time. I work for an airline, and when we are ready to board a flight, we make an announcement. If we are still missing passengers, we make a TERMINAL WIDE announcement. If they are still missing 10 minutes prior to departure, FAA regulations allow us to offload their seat and their bags and they miss their flight. We make every announcement possible (in as much advance time as possible!!) to avoid this situation. We recently had a delayed flight (very rare, actually), and served snacks and beverages in the gate area. We advised people NOT to go outside security and that if they wanted to pick up food elsewhere to get it "to go" and bring it back to the gate area so that when the plane was ready, we could leave. Everyone was very nice and cooperative and when the plane was ready, we had everyone all organized and at the gate and departed with no further delay. Sometimes passengers need to be told such simplistic things (remember that it took you XX minutes to get through security last time? Why would anyone go back outside security again???). It's somewhat irritating, and VERY obvious for those of us who work for or frequently travel on the airlines, but some people need to know that they CAN'T be wandering all over creation, even if their plane is delayed... siiiiigh. c) The last possible, and unfortunately most likely reason, is that Tower Air lied and that is not the real reason that the flight was delayed longer than the original announcement. I don't think ANY airline would wait an additional HOUR and a HALF (!!!!!) for passengers who were not responsible enough to already be inside security. There MUST have been another reason (with the potential that there were some passengers who were indeed stuck in security through their own procrastination... the airline using them as an excuse). Why did they not make a terminal wide announcement well ahead of the 10:30 original delayed departure for all passengers to be at their gate area immediately (enough in advance to allow time to get through security)? Why did they not pull their passengers out of line at security or arrange with TSA for a special line to get them through more quickly, if they were not able to make such an announcement in time? We do this if there are unusual security delays or if it is not the fault of the passenger and their flight is ready to board. I personally think that anyone who is outside security in that particular situation actually deserves to be left behind (after some effort at locating them), while those who waited patiently, like yourself, could depart at 10:30 as they originally had said. Sounds like a disorganized mess, employees not keeping passengers updated, and probably an attempt at blaming a further delay on passengers rather than owning up to a maintenance problem taking longer than expected, or waiting for another plane, or any number of other reasons. Sorry for your experience. If you experience a delay in the future, my advice is to ask for an update periodically (depending on the delay, anywhere from every half an hour to every hour or so). They should keep you apprised of the situation anyway. And IF nothing else, you were certainly entitled to an update at 10:30 of why the departure was delayed further. You are right, that does su**. Ask for a voucher! Call now! I would.