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Posted on Tuesday, September 14th, 2004

Dave!I just don't know what it is about travel anymore. Everything seems to always go wrong for me! Today I'm headed out for a few days work in Korea. My flight from Wenatchee to Seattle went just fine, but when I got to Seattle all the flights to L.A. were cancelled or delayed (apparently there is a power outage at LAX or something). Anyway, eventually they release my flight with only a half-hour delay, so things are looking good for me making my Korean Air connection to Seoul.

Except Alaska Air had to go and do something stupid.

We're out on the runway but not going anywhere. A half-hour passes, and now I'm beginning to worry about making my connection at LAX. Naturally, they don't bother to tell us what's going on, we just sit there uninformed. And then FINALLY they announce it: we can't take off because the head count doesn't match the number of tickets they pulled.

Uhhh... excuse me?

How in the heck can something so amazingly stupid happen? There's a computer at the gateway, I always assumed that it was there to keep track of who boarded. The flight was totally packed with only three empty seats, so you would think that they could just call the gate and find out which seats were supposed to be vacant and go from there.

But oh no. We have to GO BACK TO THE f#@%ING GATE so they can get a passenger list and take roll call. Yes, that's right, we have to take a paper list and check off names to figure this shit out. Which leaves me with a few comments for Alaska Air:

  • Fix your lame-ass check-in system. Obviously if you don't know who is on your planes or what's going on with the passenger manifest, something is VERY wrong with your procedures. The fact that this could ever happen in the first place is monumentally stupid and very scary.
  • Keep your customers informed. If you are not boarding at the published time, let us know why. If you are making us sit out on the runway for anything more than 15 minutes, LET US KNOW WHY!! Give us updates. Tell us what's happening. Nothing pisses me off more than being kept in the dark, and Alaska/Horizon Air is the absolute worst in the industry at this. I've lost track of the number of times I've been sitting at the airport when the plane was supposed to be boarding 20 minutes ago, and the gate agent doesn't tell you a damn thing.
  • Compensate wronged customers. This wasn't a problem with the weather or mechanical difficulties or some other unforeseeable event, it's just gross incompetence. I find it amazing that you made no offer whatsoever to compensate the people that are having to pay for your screw-up. This is much more than a mistake, and "sorry for the inconvenience" doesn't quite cut it.

UPDATE: I just barely made it to my flight with 2 minutes to spare (I hate that you have to leave and re-enter security when changing terminals at LAX!). I nearly killed myself doing it, but at least I don't have to spend the night in the terminal building. I think the odds of my luggage making it to Korea are pretty much zero, however.

Categories: Travel 2004Click To It: Permalink


  1. Aravis says:

    The problem at LAX was pretty serious and made national news. Apparently they didn’t update a part of their system in air traffic control,and the back-up system failed, causing some sort of black-out as a result. Had not the on-board systems worked, two planes would have had a mid-air collision. They missed each other by 2000 feet. It was on the news here on the east coast. Sorry that you were caught up in it; your trip sounds awful. I hope your luggage catches up soon!

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