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Why are airlines allowed to screw us around like this?

The fact that I got to the airport at 10:20 for an 11:30 flight is completely my fault. Somehow, when I checked in online and printed out my boarding pass yesterday, I made a mental note that the flight left at 12:30 from LaGuardia. The fact that it actually leaves as 11:30 from JFK is kind-of important. Luckily I was mostly packed when I went to bed, so when I checked on the flight status at around nine this morning – the exact time I would’ve left for the airport had I not been stupid – I wasn’t totally screwed. I called and changed the car to 9:45 and tossed the rest of my stuff in my suitcase. Really, all I was doing was getting to the airport at a more reasonable time. I’m traveling alone, my bag is already paid for, I’m wearing slip-on shoes, and I’m a completely non-threatening middle-aged white woman. Today would be easy.

I waltzed into the terminal and an employee immediately asked me what time my flight was. When I said 11:30 she went into panic mode. “You better hurry, you only have ten minutes to check in! Here, go to the priority line.” I won’t turn down a priority line, but I really didn’t understand the rush. The woman who checked me in was only slightly less panicked. Apparently the baggage is the big deal: ten more minutes and my luggage wouldn’t have made it on. I don’t always check bags so this fact had escaped me all these years.

I went to security and was quite literally the only passenger there. I got through no problem and rushed to the gate…where there was absolutely nothing going on. I asked the gate agent when we’d start boarding. “Well, at least not until the plane gets here.”

I understand that there are many moving parts behind airline travel that I don’t understand. But last year My family almost wasn’t allowed to check in because we were late – again, totally our fault (my fault, actually) – and after begging to go to the front of the security line, and quite literally running to the gate, that plane wasn’t there yet either.

Surely, what with all the fancy electronic ways of tracking things nowadays, there HAS to be a way for a check-in agent to be able to see if an incoming plane is running on time or not, so that when we don’t get to the airport as ridiculously early as they’re requiring us, we’re not totally screwed.

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3 Responses to “Why are airlines allowed to screw us around like this?”

  1. Josiah on February 25th, 2011 11:52 am

    don’t you just love how they give you all that hell, and they are the ones who are actually late? Wonder if they’d ever give you an apology, maybe an extra pretzel
    Josiah recently posted..And the Oscar goes toMy Profile

    Amy Reply:

    @Josiah: I’ll take it! The thing is, in my experience the flight attendants are almost always nice. And really, the gate and check-in agents are too. They’re dealing with rules and a lack of information that just seems unacceptable in the this day and age of instant info.

  2. Carolyn (temysmom) on February 25th, 2011 12:37 pm

    Completely ridiculous.