If you miss a flight because of a long check in line it can cost you money

If you’re one of those people who scoff at the two-hour a head of time check-in schedule recommended by airlines, check out this story that Christopher Elliot posted on his website, Elliot.org. A woman showed up on Jan. 5, two hours and twenty minutes before her American Airlines flight from Orlando back to Japan, but the line was so slow that she was denied boarding by the time it was her turn. It cost her $2,600 more to get back to Japan because American Airlines originally said it was her problem, not theirs.

Since this happened, American Airlines, according to Elliot has agreed to send the woman a voucher for $2,600 for air travel. Although this a decent gesture, still she’s out the money.

While reading Elliot’s recounting of the woman’s tale where she describes telling the agent that she was afraid of missing her flight and the agent brushed her off, I’m wondering if getting riled up might have helped. After all, it seems as if the airline was not keeping up with their part of the bargain. About an hour before the flight, I might have really started to get pushy–a bit forceful. By that time, being sweetly polite would have been brushed aside.

I might be wrong, but from the way the situation was described, I’m picturing a mild, nice woman who is trying to be heard in a crowd. Depending on the nature of the staff person you’re dealing with, such a person often gets ignored. The person in the business suit with the no nonsense voice gets further.

There’s a balance between being forceful and going so far that you might have security on top of you, but if the airline doesn’t staff enough people to handle the volume, one has to have a voice loud enough to be reckoned with.

After reading the comments left on Elliot’s post, it seems that this is not an isolated instance. Some have suggested folks should arrive three hours before a flight to be safe, particularly on high volume travel days. I still don’t get why she just wasn’t put on the next available flight without any charges. Too bad there isn’t a time-card punch so you can prove exactly what time you arrived. Maybe that’s the next step.

By the way, because she was flying internationally, she couldn’t check in on her own at a kiosk so that wouldn’t have been a solution.