When Is A Boarding Pass Not A Boarding Pass?

September 28, 2009

in Delay/Cancellation Stories

Our family enjoyed a fun Disney cruise last summer to celebrate our youngest son’s graduation from high school. We flew JetBlue (5 of us). The flight and connecting flight down, no problems at all. The return was a different story.

On our final night of the cruise, Disney, in their ever efficient way to make sure their customers have the easiest possible travel experience, printed out and put in our cabin our JetBlue Boarding Passes for the next morning. Yep, everything was exactly as expected and they said right on them “This is your Boarding Pass. You do not need to check in at the gate.” No problems. We get to the Orlando airport, go through Security, go to our gate, get on our plane and off we go. We do NOT check in at the gate, just board the plane and take our seats. Again, no problems. We arrive at JFK airport for our connecting flight and have a 4 hour layover. Very boring at the JetBlue terminal at JFK, but that’s life.

Now we see the gate is getting very crowded and they do not call for boarding at the expected time. No announcement about a delay, so we wait patiently. An hour goes by, still no announcement, and no gate attendants in sight. Finally a girl shows up and is rushed by people trying to find out what is going on. It looks like bad weather in Chicago or somewhere has caused a domino of problems at JFK, so there will be a delay. So now the 7:20 flight is pushed to 9:30. Of course, 9:30 comes and goes and still no updates. Then it becomes 10:50, then 11:20, then finally at 11:50 the plane arrives and people start to queue up to get on the plane. They don’t even call zones or rows, and people just start rushing the gate to get on the plane. It is a mad-house. Nuts, right, since of course everybody has a Board Pass and an assigned seat, so what’s the rush, like you have to get to a seat? So we hang back and wait for the crowd to get under control. Finally we queue up and hand her our Boarding Passes. She says “These aren’t Boarding Passes.” I show her on it where it says “Boarding Pass”, but she asks us to stand aside. She boards more people and another attendant comes up, looks at our Boarding Passes and says, “These are correct. They are Boarding Passes.” So off we go to the plane, only to find there are other people in our seats. Our seats that we have had reservations and seat assignments for the last 9 months. We are asked to stand to the back of the plane while they sort it out.

Apparently, they had boarded the Stand By customers BEFORE making sure there were actually seats for them. One family that was already seated were asked to leave the plane. They took a seat count, and we were then told we could sit in the Exit row seats and we should be “glad” since they are “better” seats. They then let the de-planed family back on the plane, only to find there weren’t seats for them and they were asked to leave AGAIN. There was another man who stood up and said he was on the wrong flight and left (and who checked his Boarding Pass?). The plane sat for another 45 minutes before leaving the gate and on the tarmac for another hour. I have never seen such a disorganized gate staff before.

The coupe d’ gras, of course, was they misplaced our daughter’s checked bag (which happens every time we fly JetBlue and we try to not ever check bag with that airline). It was delivered to her home two days later, which was amazing given their track record.

What bothered me most was when I complained to JetBlue, they could not have cared less. The first response I got from JetBlue was that they had “Deadhead” crew that took PRIORITY over booked passengers. WHAT??? The second explanation when I continued to pursue it was that it was an “inexperienced staff” and the dominoed delays had pushed many stand-bys to our flight and they were just trying to accommodate all of the passengers. So, the Boarding Pass for the reservation made months in advance, paid for months in advance and confirmed by Disney just the night before meant nothing to JetBlue. They did confirm that Disney had done nothing wrong but insisted that all passengers should check in at the gate to re-confirm their reservations. Why? I fly routinely on many airlines and on JetBlue and NEVER have I EVER had to check in at the gate if I have a confirmed printed Boarding Pass.

Excuses, excuses. That was JetBlue’s third strike and they’ll only be my airline of last resort in the future. At least when the other airlines make a mistake, I’ve always gotten an apology and compensation for my troubles and upset.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Demotage September 28, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Your are right. I've had boarding passes and had reason to wonder what was going on. When I went to the gate, they treated me like a moron -'you already have a boarding pass SIR, please sit down.' So having them tell you you should check with the gate, even though you have a boarding pass is BS. A boarding pass is not a ticket – it is a BOARDING PASS. It means you get to board the plane.


CLMT Lady September 29, 2009 at 7:11 am

"At least when the other airlines make a mistake, I’ve always gotten an apology and compensation for my troubles and upset."

So you often take flights, and then complain about things to get free stuff?


Jodi September 29, 2009 at 10:23 am

I agree a company should apologize and you are right, most do compensate for such an error. If I was you, I’d just ignore CLMT Lady – she’s apparently looking for a fight and this isn’t fight club. 😉


Demotage September 29, 2009 at 12:57 pm

But if is WAS fight club, we wouldn't know, because we couldn't talk about fight club.


J September 29, 2009 at 2:57 pm

If I was to print out a boarding pass more than 3 hours b4 the flt I would always ck with the gate or the tkt counter to make sure that there wasn't a change in aircraft and my seat was changed or dissappeared. Airlines can and do chg A/C often and it can affect your BP. It's like asking for your gate the day b4, it can chg between now and then.

And, yes, a deadhead crew gets first dibs, they're on their way to a flt, maybe your connection!


poco September 30, 2009 at 7:09 am

J: Try using a form of language when posting in the future, we'd all appreciate it!


Beth September 30, 2009 at 7:37 am








BP=boarding pass

Most of it's airline short hand, sorry you don't understand it.


theblackdog September 30, 2009 at 11:27 am

Beth, that original posting looks like something someone would write in TXTspeak rather than airline shorthand.


saw October 1, 2009 at 5:56 pm

J is probably a teenager suffering from POS…

As for Jet Screw, NEVER NEVER fly that POS airline (different "POS" intended there). It's amazing they know where their own asses are. Stopped flying that retard-run airline 4 years ago.


rerere April 7, 2010 at 11:33 am

Have you ever ridden on JetBlue?!


j October 3, 2009 at 5:12 am

I'm not a teenager (far from it) I just worked for an airline for many years and we use the short cuts because there is limited space in PNRs……….oops, I mean personal name records to record/document. Just a habit when I'm talking airline jargon.


saw October 3, 2009 at 7:13 pm

j… well… whatever your reason, get a grip. Do you speak out loud like that? Well? There's a time and place for everything, and this isn't the place to speak in gibberish.


FXbee May 15, 2010 at 1:34 pm

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