Screw you, Alaska Airlines

So, today I’m flying back home from vacation in Portland back to Los Angeles. Flight is at 655am, I miscalculate a bit on the amount of time it takes to drive to PDX and we arrive at about 625 at Alaska Airlines. Go to the machine to do the bagless check-in, machine tells me I’m too late to check in and I need to speak to a customer rep. So I go stand in line (wasting about 5 more minutes) and the rep tells me that they have a rule that you need to check in 30 minutes beforehand. Can’t let me board the plane, even though I’ve got no carry-ons, and could easily get through security and go sit down at the gate long before they start boarding. So instead I get to fly home on an 8pm flight and miss all my classes today.

I asked the rep if other airlines did this… “well, I don’t know what other airlines do. But they all have their cutoffs.” No, they don’t. I used to fly Southwest all the time (only didn’t go on this trip because the prices were higher) and I had at least once where I late, literally running to the gate and getting on right before they had closed the gate and started pulling out. To be told I can’t check in with a 29 minute lead time is absolutely ridiculous.

So, two lessons learned:

  1. Do the web check-in
  2. Never fly Alaska Airlines

Sorry, you’re wrong. Unless this flight was delayed (which is unlikely for such an early flight) they would have been boarding already. Boarding typically goes down some 30 minutes prior to the take-off time listed on the ticket.

So your claim that you would have been to the gate long before boarding is incorrect, barring evidence you haven’t presented here.

Yes, they do.

http://www.southwest.com/travel_center/checkin.html

BTW, Southwest prefers you arrive at PDX at least 90 minutes prior to departure.

http://www.alaskaair.com/as/www2/help/faqs/Boarding.asp

Sorry that you missed your flight. Then again, traveling during one of the busiest travel times of the year, not to mention on a Monday, should have been a clue to you to plan a bit early for things. Also you were on a return flight to California. The [del]Oregon[/del] [del]Washington[/del] Pacific Northwest animosity to all things California still lingers.

Count me in as another person who thinks this is your fault. It’s not like you’re getting on a bus.

you have been presented with evidence of other airlines’ policies regarding check-in times. now, allow me to complement these fine posts with one of my own:

you, sir, are a moron who has no sense of reasonableness.
that is all.

I have never seen boarding actually begin before the takeoff time. Boarding always gets delayed for some reason. You have a point in that its less likely for an early flight, but if the plane’s not going to take off until 655, there’s no reason that they should cut you off before 655 (or maybe 650 or 645 if they want everyone in their seats before pre-flight checkoff etc when they start firing up the engines or something).

Thing is though, the airport was hardly that busy. Lines were extremely short, very light traffic getting in and I would’ve had no problem getting through security and sitting down at the gate before they started boarding. I just came a minute late for their completely arbitrary cutoff time (seeing as how Southwest apparently only has a 10 minute cutoff time).

Ha, good point.

If one airline has a 10 minute policy then why doe another need to have a 30 minute policy? Completely arbitrary.

What?

Sure, if the plane itself is delayed, boarding will also be delayed, but the vast majority of flights take on within a few minutes of their scheduled time, and those flights always begin boarding about half an hour before takeoff.

If you have truly never seen boarding start before takeoff time, either you have only flown a few times, or you are the world’s unluckiest airline passenger. Either way, you are wrong about how things usually happen.

if that’s your position then we know two pieces of information:

a) you haven’t flown much at all
b) you don’t know what you’re talking about

unless a flight is delayed for weather, mechanical, personnel, or no-plane is sitting at the gate reasons, they don’t board at take off time, because then they will be a late departure and they will be fined by the FAA (i’d verify that 2nd part) . they don’t always get delayed, and even when they do, they typically start boarding, again, 30 minutes before their revised departure time.

IIRC, a flight is “on time” if it pushes back from the gate before the departure time. they can’t do this until luggage is on board, pilot has completed all pre-flight checks, passengers are all seated with seatbelts on, and flight attendants have finished their cabin-securing procedures. this takes a whole lot longer than 5 minutes. and if someone rushes up 1 minute before the departure time, they have to re-do many steps. which is why they want you available to board X minutes before.

get a clue.

a) completely irrelevant to the fact that you are the one that fucked up

b) not arbitrary. southwest has open seating, alaska does not (to my knowledge). airlines with reserved seats make you check in at least 30 minutes prior so they can give your seat away to a standby passenger. they also make you show up 10 minutes before hand at the gate itself for the aforementioned “we need to get you on the plane before we are a late flight” issue (and for a second crack at giving your seat away).

Except that they have to give the standby passengers a reasonable amount of time to return to the gate and board the plane after being paged, put the extra checked luggage in the hold, and check that they have enough fuel based on the aircraft’s new takeoff weight.

Only somebody whose experience of commercial flight is limited to a half-dozen domestic puddlejumper flights would find a 30-minute-before-departure check in time unreasonable. Sorry.

Oh, and by the way, if you’re catching an international flight out of Heathrow (for example) you are expected to check in three hours prior to departure.

They fly the planes. They make their own policies. It’s up to you which airline to fly. Let’s not forget that Southwest has a different work ethos that practically any other major airline, although they seem to be moving more and more to the Dark Side.

I suppose we can argue anecdotes all we want, but that won’t really get anywhere. But yes, not only do flights get out-and-out delayed, but even flights that leave “on time” can still be late. Most recent example: the one I took to Portland on Thursday had a departure time of 1150. 1150 came and went and we still hadn’t begun boarding yet. (The plane was sitting in the gate and had been for some time, so I assume they were cleaning it or getting luggage on or something). We ended up taking off about 25 minutes late; the flight was still listed as leaving “on time”.

Completely true. But it is one of those things you don’t really know about and can’t compare until after the fact. I had no inkling of the policy until today (when I saw the little sign on the desk, which I almost never go by nowadays since I fly without checked baggage and with e-tickets). The emails that got sent to me didn’t have any mention of the times, and I doubt most people would go digging around on their website for it. I’m just saying it’s hard to justify the need for 30 minutes (and not 29) when 10 minutes suffices.

A 6:55 am flight is also likely to be the first flight for that plane that day. Meaning the plane was at the airport overnight, and without a doubt would have begun boarding on time. Boarding for a domestic flight would be 20-30 minutes prior to departure. It is possible that the flight might have even pushed back a few minutes prior to scheduled departure. Every airline has policies regarding check-in and boarding. They might not be strictly enforced every time, but that is for operational reasons. I would guess that you were late, and the airline had somebody ready to take your seat.

you’re a riot. go crawl back under the “i am completely to blame for this, but since i’m such a loser i will try to deflect this fault to others, and then when challenged about it i will just claim that my asinine anecdotes are just as valid as anyone else’s and blow you off” rock, please.

too bad they didn’t charge you extra for missing your flight. they were too kind, if you ask me.

Alaska Airlines sure does love Johnny Cash, tho. Why, I have no idea.

And speaking of Southwest Airlines, whose advertising slogan is, “bags fly free”: It’s great that they offer a 2-for-1 deal for married couples, but is that any way to refer to a man’s wife?

The point is, if you ASSUME that all flights are going to take off late because you think they always do, and that the WRITTEN warning on your ticket that states you must arrive no later than 30 minutes will be waived for you, then:

You simply have to take your lumps when your ASSUMPTIONS prove to be unfounded.

see, now you’re just a bad liar:

i suppose it could be just happenstance that you wanted to get to the airport more than 30 minutes before hand, even though you had no idea of how long before a flight you should check in :dubious:

I consider myself late to the airport if I don’t have at least at hour to sit at the gate and read or people watch before boarding time. You can’t predict traffic, security lines, or check in delays.

Fair enough, and that is a reasonable way of putting it. I have flown a fair amount but rarely early in the morning so I can see how the usual lateness of late-day flights wouldn’t occur for the first flight of the morning. You (and some of the rest of you guys) have convinced me.

Funny though how taking the right tone can help. If I just had a blowhard like Rumor_Watkins responding…

Wow, you really need to reach your daily quota of Internet Tough Guyness today? Talk about reading waaay too much into something. Yes, I said I miscalculated. I got up at 500, showered and left at 520, thinking it would take about 45 minutes to get from Salem to Portland, which would get me there around 6am. I forgot that PDX is on the very outskirts of Portland and it takes longer to reach. Just because I wanted to give myself an hour in case we hit traffic (we didn’t), or the airport was jampacked crazy full (it wasn’t) doesn’t mean that when I stepped out of the car with 30 minutes before take-off time I had no inkling that Alaska had a 30 minute cutoff time.

No wonder you’re so angry if you just assume people are lying for no reason.