Alaska Airlines Fort Lauderdale Door Closed

If You’re Flying Alaska Airlines This Holiday Season, Good Luck

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Alaska Airlines Shows Root Of Financial Problems With Fort Lauderdale Flight Tuesday Morning. Airline Like “Special Uncle Lenny.”

Alaska Airlines Fort Lauderdale Door Closed
Alaska Airlines in Seattle denied boarding to several Fort Lauderdale-bound passengers Tuesday morning. The door was closed well before flight time. (BocaNewsNow.com).

BY: ANDREW COLTON | Editor and Publisher

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Copyright © 2022 MetroDesk Media, LLC) — If you are flying Alaska Airlines (NYSE: ALK) this holiday season, God help you. A year after the airline suffered from mass cancelations and service interruptions, the airline’s continued operational incompetence was on display Tuesday as I attempted to fly from a meeting in Pasco, Washington, back to Fort Lauderdale.

Why am I publishing this? Because it is important to understand just how bad some airlines continue to be well after the universal excuse of “COVID” should have been put to rest. As many of our readers know, I fly nearly 200,000 miles a year, providing communication guidance to trauma victims in the midst of litigation. I have seen — and I have written about — the good and the bad in the air. When I return “On The Air” as morning host for NewsRadio 610WIOD starting on January 9th, you can bet that consumer-related coverage of travel in and out of South Florida will be part of the morning news. Tourism is an integral part of South Florida. Which is why it is incredible that a major airline that flies into Fort Lauderdale just can’t get its act together.

Alaska Airlines has a reputation of using schedules as a guide, not as an absolute. Even on a good day, your 2:30 flight from Seattle to Yakima, Washington, for instance, may or may not actually depart anywhere near 2:30. And that’s okay. Alaska Airlines is like your Special Uncle Lenny. You accept him for who he is. But even Uncle Lenny sometimes goes too far. When several unrelated people flying on a non-stop flight from Seattle to Fort Lauderdale are at the gate yet denied boarding, it points to a special level of incompetence that really shouldn’t be tolerated by the airline’s board of directors, and probably should be investigated by the Department of Transportation.

On Tuesday morning, the 5:30 a.m. flight from Pasco to Seattle was boarded on time. It was sub-freezing in Pasco, so the plane needed to be de-iced. That’s a good thing. Crashing into a mountain is a bad thing. The de-icing at this small airport where Alaska is the dominant carrier took nearly an hour. The pilot, in a passive-aggressive pilot voice, kept updating passengers that de-icing was underway but, “there’s only a skeleton crew at this airport. They’re doing the best they can.” That messaging fell on deaf ears for the 70 or so people on the regional jet connecting to flights in Seattle.

Finally, the flight, which was expected to land at 6:15, took off at 6:55. It’s a 30-minute flight, but add taxiing in a major airport like Seattle and even if the plane landed at 7:30 — which it did — catching an 8 a.m. flight was unlikely. Although it didn’t have to be. If Alaska Airlines had any operational intelligence whatsoever, it would have been a non-issue. But with Special Uncle Lenny, everything is an issue. While Delta and American Airlines routinely hold flights for several minutes for people with tight connections, what Alaska did next was unbelievable.

Gate Agent Fort Lauderdale Flight Seattle
Customer Service? The supervisor who closed the boarding door on the Fort Lauderdale flight refused to explain why several Florida-bound passengers were being denied entry well before departure time. She refused to identify herself, covering her name tag in this photo. (BocaNewsNow.com).

Like O.J. Simpson back in the days of Hertz ads, what turned out to be multiple unrelated people on the Pasco to Seattle flight dashed across the airport to make the Fort Lauderdale flight. It was scheduled to depart at 7:55. The flight crew on the Pasco jet suggested the airline knew that Pasco was delayed, and the Fort Lauderdale flight would be held for a few minutes. Incredibly, many of the Fort Lauderdale passengers arrived before 7:55. The plane was there. But the door was shut. The gate agent refused to open the door. She’s the woman seen above. She also refused to provide her name, and called for a supervisor when her photo was taken to document the interaction. That Supervisor’s name is Troy. “I’m the only Troy in the airport,” he said. We don’t know if that’s true. SeaTac is a rather large airport.

Troy, deciding that I was a problem for documenting the customer-service-challenged gate agent, immediately used his “de-escalation training” to walk me to a customer service center. He actually threatened me with, “you’ll never fly on Alaska again.” Seriously. “Who would want to sit next to an unhappy passenger?” Dude, seriously!? He refused to explain why the door was closed, and why people trying to fly to Fort Lauderdale — on a plane sitting at the gate with the jet bridge connected — were not permitted to board. He later stated that the gate agent seen in the photo had recently been transferred from baggage and has a problem with confrontation. That may have explained her inability to problem-solve in real-time, but it didn’t explain the denied boarding. Perhaps an expert in finding lost bags shouldn’t be a gate agent for people.

It’s the befuddling business decision that came next that is truly the reason for this article — and negates any financial complaint that Alaska Airlines may ever make. People miss flights all the time. It happens. But those missed connections are normally 20, 30, 40 minutes, or even several hours. In this case, the plane was there, and it wasn’t yet departure time. Instead of reopening the boarding door, Alaska Airlines decided it made more economic sense to rebook six people. With no other daytime flight from Seattle to Fort Lauderdale on Alaska, the decision meant the airline had to execute interline agreements with other airlines. For some passengers, the airline had to pay for hotels. For others, pay for meals. Is that a big deal for a handful of people? Of course not. But according to Troy, Alaska Airlines deals with hundreds of situations like this in Seattle every day. Start multiplying. Alaska’s self-inflicted stupidity ends up costing the airline big money. Alaska ended up refunding my ticket. I booked on another airline. Something I should have done in the first place. The airline’s net revenue in the third quarter of 2022 is significantly lower than 2021.

Delays happen. Cancellations happen. Often, it’s out of an airline’s control. But when an airline causes its own delay, then denies boarding five minutes before a scheduled departure to passengers affected by the airline’s operational inefficiency, then threatens passengers asking “why?”, it’s worthy of attention. That Special Uncle Lenny. He’s always getting attention.

LOCAL JOURNALISM SUPPORTER.

Hotwire Communications

 

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