Orders To Disembark Fall On Deaf Ears

December 16, 2009

in Attendant & Pilot Stories

My wife and I decided to take our kids, ages 1 and 4, to Las Vegas for a vacation. When trying to book the flights we could not get a direct flight back from Vegas to NY. Speaking with the Northwest reservation agent, she suggested we take a red eye flight that had a stop over in Memphis and that we would not have to de-plane and we could sleep through the layover. We proceed to take the trip; lo and behold we land in Memphis, taxi to the gate and the captain comes on the loudspeaker to tell everyone they need to get off the plane as the crew taking over is late and this crew wants to go home. Now my two kids are fast asleep and it is roughly 3:00am. I asked the FA if we could just let the kids sleep. She proceeds to cite the regulation that no passenger is allowed to stay on a plan without a crew. I asked her instead of disturbing 300 passengers couldn’t they wait until the crew arrived before leaving. I was told they were tired and wanted to go home and how dare I suggest such a thing.

At this point I am very tired and now very cranky. I tell the FA that since they can’t leave until all the passengers are off the plane, that I refused to get off and since they can’t leave, let all the passengers stay on the plane (my logic was not appreciated). They threatened to call security and have me arrested. At this point my wife (who was as furious as me) told me it wasn’t worth getting arrested over and we proceeded to pack up our things. I asked the FA where we could get our strollers and was told they were not going to open the luggage compartment so we would not get our strollers.

Well, enough is enough, I told them there was no way in hell I was getting off the plane with two young children at 3:00am to a closed airport without the strollers and they could call the police for all I cared because while they were calling the police I was going to call every national news organization to cover the incident (this was not long after the Northwest debacle in Detroit where they left passengers on the tarmac for something like 9 hours). So I gave them a choice to give me our strollers or call the police. They got our strollers.

So we get off the plane and we are met by Northwest’s airport manager who apologizes for the behavior of the flight crew, that we were absolutely right and she gave us vouchers for 5,000 frequent flier miles. Like I would ever fly them again???

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Kad December 16, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Subversive reactionary? Smart poker player?

Very well played, even if you did risk spending a night in lock up and potentially having your kids taken by people who think laughing is pronounced 'Hyuck, Hyuck, Hyuck'…….

Flight crews are unfortunately subject to very strict up/downtime rules. I would suggest however that they also have too much power over people who are already helpless. Being able to send someone to jail because you don't like the tone of their voice is a power every Dunkin' Donuts employee would like to have.

I'm not putting down airline employees here. It's a b*tch of a job sometimes with scheduling, getting to your next assignment, sleeping in a Motel8 or worse, than you ever imagined possible. Except for the pilots though, it is a job dependent on strict scheduling of the feeding and watering of the cattle, and occasionally up-selling some liquor or whatever other contrived value-added product the airline mis-marketers can dream up.

From my point of view, treating passengers like cattle to be herded and managed has resulted in the decline of air travel quality over the last 30 years. I'm giving away my age a little maybe, but I believe I speak truth.

This is far from the first story about NW I've read about on FFH. Glad I've never flown that airline.


Gerry December 17, 2009 at 3:52 am

Not saying it was pleasant. As a parent I can certainly sympathize and the situation qualifies on my personal flight-from-hell-0-meter, but I don't think I'd write off an airline for this incident when the manager seemed to bend over backwards to make things right.


Trixi December 17, 2009 at 6:17 am

I couldn't get past you taking your kids to Vegas on vacation. Why do people do that?


Kad December 17, 2009 at 7:57 am

Very funny Trixi. I was kinda wondering the same thing. And hoping someone else would ask since my posts are already too long.


Jane December 17, 2009 at 9:00 am

There are actually a lot of kid-friendly things to do in Vegas–it's more than a gambling/drinking city. Yes, there aren't as much options for families as there are for drinkers and gamblers, but vacations can be had there–M&M Place, Coca-Cola Factory, Marshmallow Factory, Ocean Spray HQ, Medieval Times, the swimming pools, Hoover Dam.

Just google it. It's possible. It's not only for drunks and showgirls.


Kad December 17, 2009 at 11:24 am

^sheepish grin.

Hoover Dam eh? http://www.hooverdambypass.org/
I understand it's going to be something special when completed. I mean, more than just a way to improve transportation, the bridge itself is going to be architecturally unique and rather awe-inspiring.

Good to know there are 'kid-friendly' things in LV. Because of complications in getting a marriage license here in Ontario (bureaucracy mostly due to her being a US citizen), my Texan (Christina) and I are going to get our legal wedding in LV asap.

Oh yeah, in case anyone questions the marriage in Ontario thing, I have already been informed (as in we had a discussion and my mind was made up for me) that I would probably die in a Houstonian summer due to my proclivity for perspiring in 80 degree F weather. My Texan Belle will be moving here shortly after the ceremony in LV. She loves snow too. And right now, some of us are getting a lot of it. Snowball fight begins in 4 days. 🙂


Demotage December 17, 2009 at 10:59 pm

I know! With the free drinks they give you while you are gambling, it didn't cost me anything to smuggle a couple slugs of whiskey up to my room to put in my daughter's baby bottle. She slept for two days straight, which left me with way more time for craps that I was hoping.


Kad December 17, 2009 at 11:25 pm

Have you figured out how to make them sleep until they are ready to leave home? That would be cool. Not watching 'Blues Clues' or some other claptrap for ten years that-results-in-the-inevitable-decay-of-my-mind would be helpful to my sanity.


Trixi December 17, 2009 at 10:50 am

Oh, well I'm just a drunken showgirl, so what do I know.


Kad December 17, 2009 at 11:32 am

Trixi, apparently you know a lot. And with less verbosity than me.


david December 17, 2009 at 11:45 am

qustion…..what time does the noise pollution rule come into effect over there? i know that after a certain time airlines are not allowed to take off andor land due to the noise, and i know over here in ny itsmidnight……unless it is a cargo plane

your not going to fly with them because they wanted to get some sleep? dont you think that is kinda selfish? i would say that your the one with the attitude and are being rude demanding that the FAs to stay on the plane for your comfort so that they can "babysit"…….andthey had a right to call the cops on you, as that is a safety issue if you wont get off the plane…….so you wouldn't fly any airline because no airline would keep their staff on for a family……..your saying that they cant go home/hotel to sleep before they go back to work just because you dont want to follow rules and feel that your above these rules, get over yourself


Kad December 17, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Last flights to YYZ (Toronto) are generally scheduled to land between 11:30pm and 12:00am. Noise rule law would allow them to land until about 2am, as far as I know, which is usually sufficient to account for normal delays and so forth.

—–Yeah David, I think it was pretty ballsy to put up a fuss given it’s easy to get arrested, and there were children involved. But at least they got their strollers out. See my earlier posts on this topic. You might get a hyuck, hyuck, hyuck out of them.


david December 17, 2009 at 7:27 pm

i checked flightstats and there are no flights that go to memphis at 3am, all flights end around 12 other than fedex, ups and other cargo

the Fa’s did al that their job requires and they have family to get too and need their sleep so one being selfish and ignorant like that should feel that they are responsible, it cant all be one way or if not a whole scene is created, thats childish and selfish, egocentric


Luke December 17, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Can I have those 5000 Frequent Flyer Miles?


Kad December 17, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Luke, you can have the FFM, as long as you understand you’re going to be pushed out the door over Salt Lake City. NW makes you pay for your own parachute.

*queue evil FA laugh.


debbie December 17, 2009 at 3:16 pm

I cannot believe you would be such a Ass to the crew. Fly at a decent kid friendly time next time. The manager was nice to reward you for your bad behavior.


Kad December 17, 2009 at 10:10 pm

Debbie, really? He risked having his kids removed by force as he was thrown into a police van…..(I can tell you honestly they don’t include creature comforts, ………….a friend told me that 🙂 ) Our simple pleas for common sense won’t have any effect. He is just lucky it didn’t turn out worse.

My guess is the paperwork was more hassle than satisfying hm.


guest April 11, 2013 at 1:31 pm

He only risked being thrown into a police van in front of his kids because he was being an entitled a$$. His precious babies were sleeping so throw the rules out the window and cater to his whims. He sounds like a complete douchebag.


debbie December 17, 2009 at 10:21 pm

Thats my point. He didn't do what was asked of all the customers and he was rude to the airline crew and he did this in front of his kids and then expected to be compensated. He should have taken a flight during the day. The crew is not there to babysit, when the flight is done their day is complete.


Jim December 18, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Wow, another parent wanting special entitlements for their choice to have children.

1) You chose to fly with a 1 year and 4 year old. (of all things to Las Vegas…good parenting….I bet that wouldn’t be your kids first choice…maybe next time, think of your kids and go to Disneyland….you selfish butt)
2) If you have flown before you know that things do not always go as planned…so, yeah…you may have to deplane…sorry….to expect the crew to accomodate your choice of bringing your children to Las Vegas is ludicrous…you should have planned ahead.
3) Taking a kid on a red-eye flight…again, not great parenting…they should be snuggled in their beds at that time…not flying through the clouds….
4) Taking a kid on a red-eye flight….how inconsiderate of you….if your kids act up, or cry, etc…how many adults are you disturbing that are trying to sleep?
5) Ever thought, that these flight attendants or pilots may have children at home, that they need to get to? But, of course…your needs are more important theirs….even after their shift has ended.

You are an egotistical, selfish person with welfare-like entitlement issues….it is not the worlds responsibility or the airlines responsibility to accomodate your children—your choices.


debbie December 18, 2009 at 1:51 pm

I agree totally!


Kad December 18, 2009 at 10:53 pm

Can you guys stop making so much sense?!? It is sort of anti-internet for you to reason so effectively.

That said, Jim, you make some excellent points.

And remind me that no matter how good a story I might think I have from time to time, it shouldn't be about me being an arrogant, self-absorbed s.o.b.

Contrary to popular belief, being a FA, pilot, or any other employee of an airline is hard work. The 'romantic' days of the 1940's are long gone, and the pay scale has certainly flattened.


Demotage December 21, 2009 at 8:21 pm

I've hesitated commenting on this one for a while (except for jocularly). But after some thought, I think I know how I feel about it.

I think the author's wife was right. Her husband is an asshole. Things go wrong sometimes while traveling. You roll with it as best you can to maintain your status as a bonefide human being. I understand that the author thought he had a direct flight and he wouldn't have to get off the plane, but hey – didn't work out that way.

Did he even think that the crew had kids of their own at home? Did he think that they these crew members had not have seen their kids for a few days, or that it is hard on a family to have their FA-parent away so much? No. Apparently he didn't. He had to have his strollers, even if it meant keeping these off-shift people at the airport an hour or two longer. Screw everyone else's family. All he was asked to do, was to have his kids wait in the terminal for a bit before re-boarding the plane. I agree – a hassle. But is it worth degrading your own humanity to fuck over several other people's familys, just for a minor convenience for yourself? I think not.

BTW, what kind of plane would be on a route from LAS to MEM that would hold 300 people? I think that the author's exagerating to make his own case seem more compelling – we are talking 747 or A380 territory here. I don't think they fly those between Vegas and Memphis, except maybe for freight.


Joe December 21, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Hands down Northwest is the worst airline I’ve encountered in 25 years of flying. Their crews are all hostile, they strand you at will in any city, and worst of all they do not care. I feel a little bad for the Delta crews who will have to work with them.

After being stranded by them in Detroit for two days with no apology or compensation I refuse to ever board another of their aircraft again. No wonder they filed chapter 11.


Ilovefyling February 5, 2016 at 4:15 am

What gets me is why they had to disembark when the other people said they could just stay on? Lack of communication? Yeah right I think the people that they originally spoke to lied considering what airline it was. I think I even remember seeing the Detroit thing on the news! When it happened it has been a while though (writing this in 2016l


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