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I read a news article yesterday about a group of 40 teenagers that were embarking to leave on a weeklong mission trip to Mexico.  I was doubly interested because they are from Kentucky (the article doesn’t say where) and were leaving on their mission trip out of my home airport (CVG)

What happened

According to William Davis, who was the pastor of the church and posted on Facebook:

Mr. Davis led a group of 40 teenagers who had raised $1500 over 2 years to go to Mexico for a 7 day mission trip. They arrived at CVG at 5:58 a.m. for a 7:54 a.m. flight (nearly 2 hours early)

Once they got to the AA checkin counter, according to Mr. Davis, there was mass confusion on the part of the counter agents.  I imagine that any time you’re trying to check in with a group of 40 people (especially ones that are all arriving at the same time and part of the same reservation), there’s a little bit of madness, but from what he described, it seemed like more than I’d expect.

(SEE ALSO: Dan, I think I’m going to miss my flight!)

It appears that the counter agent was trying to put all 40 bags on his account instead of 1 per passenger?  I’m not 100% clear what happened there

In any case, that took a lot of time, and by the time everyone was processed, they were running way behind.  Despite running through the terminal to the gate, by the time they got to the gate, the doors were closed and the gate agent, undoubtedly in an attempt to get the plane off on time, would not reopen them.

The other side of the story?

I have to say that whenever I hear stories like these, I always start out with a healthy dose of skepticism. While it’s always fun to blame the “evil corporation”, typically when these stories come out, you only hear one side of the story.

So here are a few things to think about – first, the recommended arrival time at CVG is 3 hours for an international flight, though I’m not sure American even would have staffing at the counter at 4:54 a.m.

It’s unfortunate that American is now flying out of Terminal B at CVG (they used to fly out of Terminal A which would have saved 3-5 minutes coming from the ticketing counter.

And while I understand the airlines’ emphasis on on-time departures, it does feel like they are often a little TOO aggressive on closing the boarding doors.  Last month when my CVG-LGA flight (also on American) was abruptly canceled, the AA phone agent rebooked me on a CVG-ORD-LGA connecting ticket but by the time I ran to the CVG-ORD gate, the gate agent said that the boarding door was closed and the flight was full (even though I had 2 tickets for the flight).

On the other hand, had American held the plane, we’re not talking about a small delay – it’s probably AT LEAST 15 minutes for everyone to get to the gate, board the plane, stow their carryons, etc.  According to Mr. Davis, while he was waiting at the gate, the gate agent received a call from her supervisor who was upset that she had not held the flight.

In any case, the church and their teen volunteers were out nearly $2000 due to the delay (should have booked it on a credit card with trip insurance! 😀 )

Readers what do you think? What should American have done differently (if anything)

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