Misinformation Leads to Missed Flight

August 28, 2012

in Delay/Cancellation Stories

My daughter and I were booked on an AirTran flight from Milwaukee to Washington DC on Sunday Aug 5th. During the day I went online and realized early that the flight was delayed by two hours, re-scheduled to depart at 9:30 PM. But common sense and advice tells you to go to the airport as though the flight is on time. We arrived at about 6:20 PM, flight originally scheduled to depart at 7:30. We checked in (including bags) and I noted the boarding passes stated 9:32 as our departure time. I asked the rep whether there was any chance the delay would be lifted and she said, no, it had been delayed all afternoon.

So what would you do for three hours in the Milwaukee airport? We ate, went to a great bookstore and I worked at my laptop in a central area of the main lobby. At about 8:20 we headed to security and arrived at our gate to be told that the plane had departed at the original time – the delay had been lifted. To add insult to injury, the representative scolded us for not being in the gate area (no one had suggested this was important 3 hours prior to departure!) and failed to apologize. AND the next flight available was the following day at 2:30PM. The follow-up inconveniences and expenses are too many to enumerate.

Two simple ways this problem could have been prevented:

1. Tell folks when they check in that it is impossible to know if a delay may be lifted so it is safest to stay in the gate area, even if for three hours. I HAD ASKED!!
2. Overhead page people in the airport (MKE is a small airport). You KNOW they have checked in and are there!!!

And beyond prevention, apologize and compensate travelers who have followed all the “rules” in arriving early and acting at the mercy of the airlines. I will NEVER fly AirTran again. I have no idea how Southwest will shape them into a respectable airline. It was humiliating, exasperating and hurtful to be treated so poorly. It was made worse by realizing that if we had made a different choice to wait in the gate area, it all would have been avoidable – makes you feel like a fool and they took advantage of knowing we felt that way.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Kyle August 29, 2012 at 8:54 am

That's quite unfortunate. Maybe it's an airport specific thing as I continuously hear "Looking for passenger John Doe on flight 265 to Denver, the plane doors are about to be closed" at O'hare.

Regardless, sounds like you got hosed.


david August 29, 2012 at 10:16 am

did you even check the monitors to see if the flight time was updated?


Aaron August 29, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Your mistake was actually believing something an airline employee told you. I'm sorry this happened to you, but over the years, I've learned that employees know little, say anything, and generally are not accurate. I agree with David. In this situation, it's best to take it upon yourself to check the monitors for updated information every 10 minutes or so.


Kate September 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm

I do applaud you reasoning of getting to the airport ahead of time for the originally scheduled time, but whenever I get through security I ALWAYS go right to the gate first, just to make sure there's no funny business (delays, gate changes, etc.). It certainly sucks this happened, but it is partially your fault. The woman at the check-in desk may have been giving you the information that she had, but a lot can happen 'between' the check-in counter and the gate.

Though I do agree that when it comes to airlines, superlatives like 'never' and 'definitely' shouldn't be used because air travel is so unpredictable and there are so many variables. And it is strange that you weren't paged, unless you just didn't hear it.


1025 April 30, 2013 at 2:29 pm

In Milwaukee, TSA is located as you enter each concourse of the airport, and I believe that they only page passengers that could be wandering in that specific concourse.

The area that the OP was in, is a general area between all concourses, ticketing, and baggage that passengers and the public can be in so they do not generally page in this area.

HOWEVER, there are monitors right smack dab in the middle that the OP should have checked for flight times. There is also a customer service agent right there that the OP could have verified the flight times with as well.

Also, there are a few restaurants and stores in each concourse that the OP could have spent the time at after going through TSA and could have periodically checked in at the gate and with the gate agents.

It's sucky because the OP did everything right up until s/he decided to kill time in the main area vs in the concourse / gate area.


sexygal April 8, 2014 at 7:02 am

since you were smart enough to get there as thought the flight was "on time", you SHOULD'VE stayed at the gate, regardless!!!! THAT'S where you made your mistake!!!!!!!!!!!


CMR May 2, 2016 at 3:29 am

Maybe next time sign up for text alerts on your phone for the flight? Every airline nowadays has an App for your phone, and you can easily sign up to receive flight notifications for whatever flight your are on.


Traveler1 May 16, 2016 at 11:36 pm

This is so unfortunate and coming from Australia, where they normally have the consideration to constantly page boarding calls throughout the airport especially a particularly small airport, I believe you are not to blame and should be compensated. That being said, I hope you learnt never to believe any staff as they really don't know what they're talking about, unless you constantly ask at the gate itself (although, I've learnt to even the gate numbers can change without notice), and constantly be around the gate to check monitors. Still, I entirely sympathise with you.


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

Previous post:

Next post: