Late And Irate

December 5, 2007

in Airport Stories

My older daughter and I took my younger daughter to the San Francisco airport to catch a flight to Cincinnati. My younger daughter was going to visit my parents, her grandma and grandpa. She was 14 and Delta policy was that parents of unaccompanied minors wait in the boarding area until the flight had safely departed. The policy is probably to avoid callbacks and stranded kids in case the flight was grounded or had to be cancelled for whatever reason. It was during that waiting period after the plane had boarded, and the doors had closed, that my story begins.

It was at least 10 minutes past the “official” flight departure time. We spotted a very well dressed older man, who seemed to be in a flustered state, arriving in the boarding area. “Let me on that plane. I’ve got to get on that plane!” He exclaimed. The counter attendant, who was basically done with his work, was finalizing the paperwork, divvying up the tickets and doing whatever it is they do with the stubs to close out the flight. Doing his best to ignore the almost hysterical man, he said “Sir, the flight is already boarded, you’ll have to get another flight.”

The guy almost went apoplectic then…”This is a ticket, I just got this ticket, it’s for this flight, you need to let me on, etc.” Instead of being nice and saying “sorry I’m so late, I was delayed” (which I would have done if I were in his position, and which might or might not have been enough to convince them to re-open the doors. I don’t know at which point the ground crew decides not to let anybody else on NO MATTER WHAT. Probably after it pulls away from the gate).

But late passenger wasn’t getting his way this time. The young man at the counter said “Sir, you’ll have to wait a second while I finish this up then I’ll take care of you.” But the late passenger was having none of it. Oh no, it couldn’t have been late passenger’s fault for being late!

After the attendant disappeared for a second behind the red door to deposit or finalize the tickets, the late passenger got behind the ticket counter, picked up one of the house phones and started talking to whomever would listen. “Hello. I’ve got to get on such and such flight, yadayadayada.” When the attendant came back and saw the late passenger doing this, that’s when he read him the riot act. “Sir, if you don’t get out from behind there I’m going to call security!” Late passenger: grumble, grumble, grumble. He was still grumbling when my daughter’s flight took off! Glad he wasn’t on it….it was rather amusing to watch his antics!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous May 10, 2008 at 10:19 pm

Short story long, I'm in Tampa wating at the gate for my flight home. An hour before take-off. The cell phone rings I answer it. Call the secretary and get her take care of the request. Sit down next to the gate, Phone goes off again, get up and walk a few paces from gate so I can put out fire and sooth irate customers nerves without everyone hearing the conversation. Call Secretary to put everything in motion to keep Mr irate happy. 1/2 way through, I look out window and tell her to wait a minute, I will call her back. I look more closely out the window and watch my flight taxi out to the runway. Go to the gate agent she looks at me says Mr xyz? Yes I respond. She claims they called me three times. I doubt it to this day.

I tell her which flight I want the next day as I have missed the last one out. She tells me they ain't paying for a hotel since it was my fault. I don't argue. She books me on the flight I want. I smile and say is this where I scream, shout and holler at you about how unfairly I have been treated. She smiles back and says yes and this is where I refuse again to help you out since it was your fault while sliding a meal and stranded passenger voucher to me.

I've been strande in worse places that the Hyatt for 49 bucks.

The next day she is workig the gate when I come up. My name is called to see the agent. I walk up she smiles, hands me an upgrade to first and says you are required to turn off your phone now so you can use this and not miss the flight again.

It's all in the presentation. The gate agent has no control once the door closes but she can make a bad deal better if you handle it correctly.


paul July 8, 2008 at 11:22 am

there are always a good mix of 'good' and 'bad' help in every airline.. i always had good experiences with people who work on floor level in AA and United.


Denim April 3, 2009 at 11:22 am

Anonymous, that was a good story!


Rich October 21, 2010 at 2:38 am


I can't agree more. In 90% of the cases it is not the agents fault and people like in this story are yelling at the one person in the building that can HELP you. Not smart.

I witnessed a similar irate exchange when it was blowing snow outside while I waited to talk to the agent myself. After the jerk stormed off I walked up and in an angry tone said "Miss I have just one thing to say here". You could see she was waiting for another tirade. Then I leaned over and quietly said "That guys was an A….hole. You can't say it, but I can." She just smiled.


Leave a Comment
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post:

Next post: