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A Question about Mis-Connects

Tonight my wife was flying Dayton – Dulles – LaGuardia on United metal. Her flight into Dulles was a few minutes late, and when she arrived at the gate for the flight to LaGuardia, they told her they just shut the doors (10 minutes before departure) and she could not get on. This was the last flight of the night out, and the plane was spending the night at LaGuardia.

My question: is this normal procedure? I’ve never misconnected on the last flight of the night, so I wasn’t sure.

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  1. For United, absolutely. Their employees don’t care and I’m sure the gate agent wanted to close the flight and get home. What happened to your wife was not their concern.

  2. I’d disagree with the above poster that this has anything to do with a specific airline or gate agents caring. It is standard procedure for a seat to be given away or the door closed with an empty seat if a passenger is not at the gate 15 minutes before scheduled departure.
    I am assuming the first flight was more than “a few” minutes late if this was a legal connection to start with?
    The airline’s obligation will depend on the cause of that first delay.

    • It was a legal connection – 45 minutes or so – but that can be tight at Dulles given the sprawl. The plane was 15 minutes late getting in, but it’s easily 15-20 minutes from gate-to-gate. It was tight.

      I’m not saying they necessarily should have held it (though i think they should have), but I’m curious what people have experienced in this situation.

  3. I’ve been on a number of westbound EWR-SFO/LAX flights on UA that have been held for (international) connections.

  4. It is not out of the ordinary at all. If there are a large number of people who are would miss the connection, they’ll sometimes hold it, but I wouldn’t think that is the case coming from a small city like Dayton. If it’s just one or two people, what your wife experienced is routine. And that goes for any airline.

  5. I had the same thing happen as your wife with Delta in Detroit. I don’t think it is emblematic of United, but the culture of getting flights out on schedule – despite the padded schedules.

  6. Ah, an issue near and dear to my heart. Earlier this year, 4 of my family members were stranded 18 hours in Houston because their inbound aircraft was delayed and United wouldn’t wait a couple minutes to get them on their connecting flight. UA had even sent me email “alerts” as to their impending doom, and I actually got an agent at their 1K desk to call the gate and ask them to hold the plane for them. No dice; they simply gave their seats away to standby passengers, and all my family could do was watch the plane leave the gate after they were denied boarding.

    Their story didn’t attract much sympathy from the Flyertalk crowd.

    http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/united-mileageplus-consolidated/1439969-no-help-iah-tonight.html

    Just a couple of weeks ago, my last-flight-of-the-day on AirTran waited 10 minutes past departure time for late connecting passengers. So you never know.

    It wouldn’t be a bad idea for the airlines to be required to warn passengers of the risks of last-flight connections — especially since the hotel tab is almost always at the passengers’ own expense. I doubt most travelers know of this material risk of trouble.

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