Family Misses JetBlue Flight Because TSA Agents Had Already Gone Home
In recent months, getting through airport security in a timely manner has been a major headache for travelers, the TSA and airport personnel alike. But one family didn’t even get the chance to make it through the security checkpoint at Albany International Airport (ALB) last week, as TSA agents had already packed up for the night and gone home about 20 minutes before they'd even arrived for their flight.
According to the Albany Times Union, the Swick family had arrived at the airport at 8:20pm for their 9:45pm flight. But when they approached the security gate, they were informed that the TSA team had already left for the night and as a result, they couldn't be cleared for that evening's JetBlue flight to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). The flight was originally scheduled to depart at 5:06pm but had been delayed several hours because of bad weather due to Hurricane Matthew.
It’s worth noting that the TSA recommends passengers arrive at least two hours prior to their scheduled departure time for domestic flights, which would have meant being there at 7:45pm for John Swick and his family. The Albany Airport website suggests arriving 90 minutes beforehand, which would have been 8:15pm, the same time that particular TSA checkpoint closes, TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein told the Albany Times Union.
After two hours of attempting to reschedule their travel plans, the Swicks were given a hotel room for the night, though they checked out at 2:00am and drove to Boston to catch a 7:00am flight out of Logan International Airport (BOS). Even then, Swick had to argue his way out of not having to incur additional charges for flying back to Boston — where his car was now parked — instead of Albany.
Interestingly enough, this isn't the first time something like this has happened. Back in 2013, a Frontier passenger traveling from Houston to Indianapolis arrived at the airport one minute late for check-in and found the ticket counter empty. “The people at American told me it happens every day," Brown told the Houston Press at the time — he was one of five people who were barred from checking into that flight and had to fly out the next day.
Airlines are also cracking down on check-in times — earlier this year, low-cost carrier easyJet began denying guests who arrived at the airport less than 30 minutes before their flight time access to the gate area.
According to a TSA blog post from 2012, abandoned security gates do happen. And while the TSA claims to make every effort they can to accommodate latecomers, agents admit that it’s not always possible. "This is why it is so important to arrive early, at least an hour before your departure when possible at smaller airports and two at larger ones to ensure you make your flight,” the TSA blog states.
If your delay to the airport really was caused by something completely out of your hands though, some airlines will waive fees thanks to what's been dubbed the "Flat Tire Rule," so it never hurts to try and work out a solution with your carrier.
H/T: Albany Times Union