Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

I witnessed something tonight that I wish was surprising or shocking. Unfortunately it wasn’t. I was sitting on my American Airlines flight from Dallas to New Orleans as they closed the cabin door a few minutes early. Nice, because that probably means we are leaving early. Suddenly a young lady jumps up and declares that she needs to get off the plane.aalogo

 A brief discussion occurs with the flight attendant confirming that she is indeed planning to get off the plane because her boyfriend’s flight was a bit late and he had apparently missed this flight and she could not go without him. The Captain agreed to have the Jetway door opened so she could deplane. She begged the flight attendant to wait for her boyfriend, but the flight attendant told her there was nothing she could do about it, but if she wanted to get off the plane the Captain would permit it.

She agreed, gathered her belongings and proceeded to the cabin door, which was being opened for her. As she was walking up the cabin aisle towards the door of the plane, she connected with her boyfriend via cell phone who informed her he was at the top of the Jetway, but was not permitted to come on board because the Jetway door was closed. She told him they were opening for her to get off, so why did he not just get on.

As the door opened she posed the same question to the gate agent who informed her that the door was being opened for her to get off, not for him to get on. She pleaded that it was her birthday and this was the last flight. The gate agent told her to get off the plane. She did as she was told.

The door was closed and we left. I asked the flight attendant if she could explain the logic behind what had just happened. She shrugged and said she was embarrassed by the whole thing. That gate agent proved her power and created a lifelong story for that young couple to tell everyone. Unfortunately what could have been a story of unbelievable customer service will be exactly the opposite.

And the gate agent will likely be commended by management for the on-time departure of their airplane. Meanwhile close to 100 people know that while we left on time, it wasn’t right.

I sure hope the Federal Government doesn’t decide to bailout any of the airlines when this kind of behavior finally comes home to roost … which I trust will in my lifetime.


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