Side Trip In Airport Leads to Near Missed Flight

December 18, 2015

in Airport Stories

After a whirlwind weekend visiting friends in Orlando, Florida, my girlfriend and I were headed home to Houston, Texas. We had chosen to fly home on a Tuesday, as prices would be lower and the airports generally less crowded, making traveling out of a busy airport like Orlando a little easier.

We arrived at check-in three and a half hours prior to our departure to allow us some time to grab a bite to eat, as we had an evening departure and no real chance for a substantial meal on our flight. Check in went very smoothly, although the older woman next to us decided to leave her pet carrier open and her little Yorkie decided to make a run for it. After helping to chase that canine bandit down, we headed up to security.

When we got to the security, there were about six outrageously long lines at each of the two ends of the terminal. We decided to head to the opposite end of the terminal, hoping the lines were more fluid. What we came to realize is that instead of six independent lines, all six of these lines fed into the same queue for the metal detectors. There were six different TSA stations where agents were checking boarding passes, IDs and passports; however all of these lines basically stacked up into one mega-line. Whoever decided to create this system, bravo. The lines kept feeding people in while not moving, causing a gigantic backlog of people for only one set of metal detectors. After over an hour of waiting, we finally are able to make it through security. However, I couldn’t help but laugh at how badly that whole mess was set up. I can’t even imagine how the holiday crowds would be able to navigate security without an extensive delay. Seems like they are setting themselves up for failure.

Once we pick up all of our belongings and get shoes/belts back on, we took the train to the terminal where our gate was. The way the Orlando airport is set up is there are two different trains that pick up where security lets out. One train heads to one set of gates, while the other train will go to a different set. There was an open walkway between the two trains, which made it easy to choose which side you needed to head to. We were flying Southwest, so we headed down to the train to take us to our gates. We got off the train and looked around for somewhere to eat, but unfortunately all but one of the food stands or restaurants in the area were closed for renovations. The only one open had very slim pickings when it came to anything to eat. At this point, we were both pretty hungry and old boxed sandwiches didn’t seem very appealing.

We took a look at the airport map and saw that the other concourse had plenty of food options which were more appetizing than a boxed chicken sandwich, so we took the train back to the check-in/security area and decided to cross over to the other set of trains. As we walked that way, I stopped and asked a TSA agent if we could come back this way without having to go through security again as we were looking for something to eat in the other concourse, despite our gate being in the opposite concourse. He told us that we could simply just walk back to the train that took us to our gates, just as we were doing to go get food, without issue. So my girlfriend and I take the other train and head down to the other concourse to grab a bite.

About an hour later, we’ve finished eating and got back on the train to head back to security/check-in to transfer onto the train that will head to our set of gates. Once we arrived at the security/check-in area, we notice that now they have the gap between the two trains BLOCKED off. We quickly go up and ask some of the TSA reps there if we can cross the barrier and get back on our train, stating that we were told we wouldn’t have any problems getting back to our gate. We were told that we’d have to go BACK through security in order to get back to our gate. We were about an hour away from our departure time, and another hour standing in death line with no end didn’t seem like a great option.

We talked to a couple of different TSA agents, pleading our case that we had been told by THEIR employees we wouldn’t have to go back through that security line to make it back to our gate. After a few vain attempts, we decided to suck it up and head back through security as we didn’t have a lot of runway to our flight.

Forty-five minutes go by and we luckily are able to make it through security a little quicker than our first attempt. We caught the train to the concourse and rushed down to our gate, to see that everyone had already boarded. So much for paying for early check in. The gate agents let us on the plane and we got to fill in the last couple of middle seats on the way back to Houston. The flight went just fine other than the two people I was seated between were actually traveling together and decided to make conversation with each other the whole flight. I offered to swap seats (window or aisle), but they declined.

At the end of the day, despite arriving at the airport way ahead of time and asking airport personnel prior to making any moves between concourses, we had barely made our flight home. For anyone else planning on traveling out of Orlando, make sure you get to the airport very early and don’t try to go between concourses, regardless of what you are told by the employees. Oh, and probably eat before you make it to the airport.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Aaron December 18, 2015 at 9:00 pm

It does sound very frustrating and I am glad you made your flight. But, you're mistake was to rely on and believe airport/airline employees. They are chronic liars and often don't have critical information necessary to accurately inform travellers.


Jay May 26, 2017 at 5:09 am

You sure say "head" a lot.


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