Missed Flight Due to Gate Change

I don't need any help - just an unfortunate situation I thought I'd share with you guys - because you love this sort of thing.

My father needed to take a domestic flight from Melbourne to Mildura recently, his first flight in over 40 years.
He received an SMS the day before flying advising that he could print-at-home his boarding pass, so he did, and got to the airport 4 hours early just to be sure everything would go smoothly.
After having a wander around he settled into a chair at the gate listed on his boarding pass to wait for the flight.

Shortly before his flight time he was concerned there was nobody else around. He asked at a desk and found out his flight's gate had been changed. He arrived at the new gate in time to see the plane being pushed back.
The airline said that he should have monitored the screens which list flight details. He ended up paying $600 for a seat on the next available flight.

I was pretty pissed off at the airline. I really felt if they could SMS him about a boarding pass then they could SMS him about a gate change. Also it would seem a common courtesy to send someone to the initial gate to check for any less-aware people.

Comments

  • +55

    The airline said that he should have monitored the screens which list flight details.

    They're right. Sometimes things change.

    • +13

      Of course. I'd be checking the board every 15 minutes - but I'm neurotic like that.

  • which airline?

    • Rex, QLink or Virgin?

      I'm guessing Virgin 737.

    • I don't remember for sure, I think the issue was Rex, then paid heaps for Virgin later.

      • +3

        Sorry mate, wouldn’t have been Rex. They have literally two gates in Melbourne and bus people to the planes for every single flight. There’s never a need for them to do gate changes as a result of bussing people to the planes.

        • Ah well, I know first ticket wasn't Virgin so process of elimination…

          • +3

            @bmerigan:

            I was pretty pissed off at the airline.

            Which one in particular are you pissed off at?

  • +38

    Unfortunate but should’ve monitored the screen. The screen at the gate he’s waiting at should also show that the flight was not his. I would assume that there were also multiple loud announcements calling for his flight.

    What was your father doing for 4 hours at the gate?
    I am not blaming your father, but the family.
    What were you guys thinking by letting someone whose last flight was 40 years ago to fly alone!? It’s literally his first flight in this modern era.

    • +4

      Oh I blame the children

    • +8

      I think he was reading a book.
      I helped with the I.T. side of ticketing and figured getting there early enough to find the terminal and gate would be enough. He's a retired engineer, not completely useless, and it's not like I'm an expert flyer either… "what could go wrong" I thought…

    • -3

      How incredibly patronising. I hope your family don't force you to get their permission to go to the airport when you get older…

  • +17

    There was probably a PA announcement and he was asleep.

    • +14

      Specifically 2-3 with his name aswell……

      • +1

        At least 2-3. I've heard far more than that in the past.

    • Last time I had a gate change was because the PA was faulty.

  • +8

    Agreed. You have a right to be upset. That has to be a common scenario, and they should be a lot more prepared for it.

    • Agree. I think that if they state the gate on the ticket then they have to also state on the ticket that the gate may change. If they don’t state that on the ticket, then I think the OP has grounds.

      • +10

        Whether they put it on the ticket is largely irrelevant. If I sold you a drink that had fine print on the bottom that said 'Upon ingestion the consumer may be subject to the application of a foreign tibia to the inguinal area', that wouldn't make it fair for me to kick you in the balls.

        The question here is how foreseeable is this event, and how difficult is it for the airlines to prevent. I don't know anything about how airlines run, but I'm guessing is a) Extremely foreseeable, and happens all the time and b) Highly preventable. Just text the passengers, and make an announcement at the previously set gate if people haven't boarded within 30 minutes of departure. How is that hard?

        My guess is that the airlines don't care about doing this, because they don't receive any money from doing it, and there's no punishment for not helping. In fact, by not doing it, they may even sell more tickets.

        It just seems like pure laziness to me

        • -9

          verbal diarrhea

  • Did he have travel insurance? MIGHT be able to claim

    • -3

      Travel insurance for a 1-way $150ish flight from Melbourne to Mildura?

      • +7

        Some credit cards have included travel insurance

        • not domestic

          • +2

            @DisabledUser100949: My Macquarie credit card covers me for interstate travel on an airline, for cancelled flights etc. Its not as comprehensive as intl travel insurance but has up to $3000 in benefits and max of 14 days for the trip.

            Worth OP checking if they paid on a credit card with 'travel insurance'.

            • +4

              @Skramit: Even so, insurance will not pay in this instance. The flight operated as normal and every other passenger managed to get on it.

      • Well it's actually a 600 dollar ticket he had to buy, so could be eligible for 600 if the policy allows

  • +30

    I'm surprised that a boarding pass issued the day before would have a gate number on it because the airline wouldn't usually know what gate the plane would be until a couple of hours before.

    • +1

      Flying from T4 Melbourne Jetstar did the “Gate not assigned” thing, so I walked through to the
      Cluster of Gates the other Jetstar flights were leaving from to wait…

      But yeah, it is a bit unsettling when it is an early flight and the coffee hasn’t kicked in.

      • +2

        Somewhere I was at in the last few years (might have been Sydney?) the airline didn't assign the gate (on the departure boards at least) until about half an hour before departure. The walk from the central area to the gate was about 10 minutes for a normal person. I'd have hated to be an elderly or otherwise mobility challenged person!

        • +2

          In Heathrow until now most flights only show gates 45 min prior to departure.

    • +6

      I flew international with Qantas earlier this year. The gate number on the boarding pass I received in the regional airport was wrong by the time I reached the international airport. Infact it was changed 6 times! The reason I knew was because the app was notifying me.

      • +2

        your comment was 4 days into this year. Where did you go and it must have been a whirlwind?

        • +1

          Last year woops. Flew domestic this year 😉 Still got notified of gate changes though.

    • Couldn't agree more. I fly more than 50 flights a year and often online check-in 24 hours in advance. Not one single time in the past 5 years have I ever been allocated a gate on my boarding pass.

      If it's a small commuter plane, or you're in the front half of the plane, it's entirely possible you could confuse seat with gate (if 'seat' is in small print'). Many airports have 'A' and 'B' gates, meaning '16A' is a seat and a gate.

      MEL doesn't have that, but is it remotely possible the OP's father mis-read the BP and went to gate 16 (for example) rather than seat 16(A)?

      Virgin in MEL are renowned for their gate changes as well. I've had a gate change 3 times one time whilst waiting around 2 1/2 hours prior to a flight.

      Golden rule of air travel when at an airport: check, re-check and check again the flight information screens!

  • +4

    The app TripIt Pro monitors gate changes on your Itinerary and provides alerts.

    I think the free version of TripIt does as well as I have had gate changes at Canberra and it alerted me but I might have been using a
    Trial version.

    https://www.tripit.com/web

    • +5

      Kayak does this free of charge, you don't even need to book with them. You just enter your itinerary details and it will notify you of any changes. My mum's gate changed when she was in transit overseas and I let her know.

    • +3

      TripIt is awesome. Lets you know before the airlines do (free version included)

    • +1

      Tripcase app does it for free as well

    • Only for certain airlines, and it's not 100% reliable. That said, it has gotten much better over the past 5 years for QF/VA.

  • +2

    Even if he hadn't flown for 40 years. The modern flight board is very similar to a split-flap display from the old days. Only thing that's really different is checking in and security.

    Best thing you could of done is have someone accompany him until the flight leaves.

    • -5

      If he didn't print the boarding pass at home it wouldn't have happened. Once he had the boarding pass it would never have occurred to either of us that the info could change.
      I've had a flight delayed and cancelled, haven't flown enough to have experienced a gate change. I still don't understand why a gate would change if the date and time stay the same.

  • +16

    Gate changes seem to always be terribly handled. You get told which gate to go to, and 90% of the time you can just stroll over at boarding time and everything is fine.

    The other 10%, you turn up to an empty gate with no information or people to tell you what changed, and you suddenly have to run around looking for a billboard with flight info to tell you which far corner you need to sprint to.
    Or even worse, like in this story, you try to be safe and turn up well ahead of time and still get no information before boarding time. You'd expect the airline to send someone around or something, maybe put up a sign.

    The only way to avoid it is to be paranoid and keep monitoring the screens, which an inexperienced traveller being given a gate number would not even think of.

    • +2

      It's far less than 10% - source have taken 200+ flights

    • We missed a flight in the US once because we got to the airport on time, then my wife realised she'd left her phone in the Uber. We stuffed around calling Uber and eventually got the phone back, hurried to the gate and our flight number was listed on the overhead monitor, but there was no queue or announcements so we sat down and waited. After a while the flight number on the board disappeared. It turns out that boarding was pretty much finished when we arrived which is why no one was queued. Even though we'd checked luggage, the plane left without us and didn't call us over the PA.

      Fortunately we were able to take the next plane for only about $30 rebooking fee - but we were thinking we were going to be in for many hundreds of dollars for a last minute booking, and then wondering what would happen to our luggage. It turns our luggage was just sitting in the bulky items section, which acted as a lost and found, when we arrived at the destination hours later.

      • +5

        I am beyond amazed that they allowed the plane to leave carrying the luggage of a passenger who was not on board.

        • So was I, but apparently that's how they do it over there. That was one of the reasons we were so shocked when we missed the flight.

    • its far more than 10% - source have taken 20+ flights

      • Suits your username :)

        50+ flights, 0% gate change (my experience)

  • +15

    Would they not have called his name over the PA 5 times as an urgent last boarding call?

    • +1

      Is it possible to find out whether they made announcements? I had checked it at a counter and been told to go to a particular gate (which later changed) and staff made two announcements - otherwise I wouldn't have known. Where I was sitting (near the gate) there wasn't a screen nearby. The other issue is you can't always properly hear announcements. I would try contacting the airline to pass on feedback - I wonder how many other people this happens to. I would think it would be good practice for a staff member to check the previous gate or for a simple sign notifying of the gate change for the particular flight to go up just to make sure no-one gets missed.

      • -1

        Yeah, he said there was no screen near the gate

      • +1

        Back when I used to be in the industry domestic flights have significant no shows so unless the passenger had checked luggage a lot of staff don't bother with pa announcements when there is enough pressure to get the flight out on time and other related kpis.

        Probably carry on only and no counter interaction for a reprinted boarding pass.

        Unfortunate but his fault. Try and contact the airline a responsible one like my ex employer would offer at least something even minor for compensation if not refund the difference…

    • No idea

    • I know that virgin does not do PA/last call. And the gate open for boarding announcement can be misheard or unnoticed as well. Once I was literally sitting close to the gate (not exactly in front of the gate though), and somehow missed the flight.

  • +5

    got to the airport 4 hours early

    What did he do for 4 hr? Just sitting around waiting at an empty gate?

    • +4

      That's what I'd do (and go for a walk to get snacks). What would you do?

      • +4

        Not wait at an empty gate lol

        • -1

          Not everybody has the amazing gift of perfect 20/20 hindsight that you have.

          • +7

            @bmerigan: Hindsight or common sense? Where are all the other passengers? I must be the only person flying to YMIA today. Awesome.

          • +4

            @bmerigan:

            Where are all the other passengers?

            This would have been the first question. Followed by why doesn't the screen at the gate show my flight?

    • +4

      He hadn't flown in decades. Perhaps he had to catch public transport to get to the airport so left extra time for delays - or the transport only ran every 4 hours (regional trains).

      If I'm in an unfamiliar situation then I can't relax until I know all the variables have been taken care of; so I often get to airports earlier than I have to, or go straight to my hotel and check in before I can stop and look at anything else.

  • +2

    problem with trying to pass the time like listening to headphones. You may miss announcements over the PA with gate changes. i almost did until is saw people waiting in my gate starting to haul ass to the newly announced gate.

  • +12

    The worst part of this story is the waiting for 4 hours. He could have driven there for around the same time after all is said and done.

    • OMG this is so true!

    • +1

      He was going there to collect a car

      • +2

        Irrelevant. I'm not suggesting driving. I'm suggesting a greater appreciation for opportunity cost.

        • Sorry I don't understand what you mean

          • @bmerigan: Yeah I'm not fully catching on either..
            Are they saying 4 hours is way too long to wait? Should've driven there later for shorter wait maybe even half the time 2hours?

          • @bmerigan: I'm saying your relative undervalues their time.

            • +1

              @jacross: Reading a book at home or reading it at the airport does it really matter? What did you expect the OPs dad to be doing instead, perfecting cold fusion?

              • @try2bhelpful: If the relative was genuinely going to be sitting and reading, no matter the venue and associated options, sure.

                But that's not true. That's the lie we tell ourselves so we can accept certain realities of life like having to wait in an airport. Even still there's a difference between accepting those realities, and spending four hours.

                • @jacross: Believe me, if it was me, I would be taking out the book and reading it or playing on my iPad. Given the ability to do things “remotely” you don’t need to be anywhere specific; unless you intend to spend the last few hours, before flying out, cleaning out the fridge, pantry, etc. Not a lie, just a realisation that how I was intending to fill in time, at home, can be done at the airport. That way if I have done something stupid, like forget my wallet, passport, etc, I might still have time to either go home, or get someone, to send stuff. It also gives you a comfort zone if you stuff up 24 hour time.

  • +1

    I’m not good at “waiting” at gates for long periods so we tend to wander around. I’m always checking the boards, as we pass, to check the gate status in case they’ve changed things. The worst was our Jetstar flight to Hawaii when they had a dud plane which incurred a 6 hour delay, The initial delay was 2 hours, after that there were a number of rolling short delays; so we were all stuck in the gate area for a long time. If they’d been more honest about the prospects I would’ve spent more time in the duty free.

    The problem with SMS notifications is that it isn’t a guaranteed delivery message.

    However, your post is a reminder for people to check.

  • I have never experienced this, so helpful for future trips. Our last trip had many flights and other than having to wait at terminals which seemed forever the trip when fine for us. Only the luggage was delayed getting there and on the way back. There is a luggage return guy who does most of Vic. All he does is return bags where ever it has to go. Very lucrative job supposedly.

  • +5

    I got an SMS saying my SAA flight from Joburg, was delayed 10 hours..
    I tried to book the luggage on about 3 hours before the new flight time but was told it was closed and I should still have delivered my luggage at the old check in time.

  • +4

    I think it's a generational thing, to take things at face value. That being why they are the generation most likely to fall for phishing emails too. My generation is a bit more suspicious of everything.

  • +2

    I would also like to highlight to people using trains in Europe you are unlikely to get a correct platform until just before the train arrives so keep an eye on the boards and be prepared to move quickly. Also, double check your train bookings the day before each travel. We checked ours to find the train we were travelling on had been cancelled. The best option was a move to an earlier time on travel day to get us to our destination that day so we hot footed it to the platform, that night, and got ourselves rebooked.

    • +1

      Yes. I can recall having to switch from one train to another in a small town in Switzerland with about a 20 minute transfer window. Of course the incoming train ran 15 minutes late, so we had to push past some pensioners and run from one platform to the other, and still only made it by about 30 seconds. It would have been an uncomfortable wait for the next train the following morning, in December in Switzerland.

      • +3

        That is a tad unusual in Switzerland. Our, general, experience is they run to the second. France, on the other hand, often runs trains that are late. The classic is Italy. Waiting for the train in Milan train station is a crap shoot. Never go to the platform until you know the train is pulling in, then run.

        • +1

          Waiting for the train in Milan train station is a crap shoot. Never go to the platform until you know the train is pulling in, then run.

          Hahah so true. I remember this distinctly. 4 heavy bags between my SO and myself, and a sprint at full tilt to get on.

          Edit: Beautiful station though.

          • +1

            @ThadtheChad: Europe has some really beautiful stations. I haven’t been to Russia but, apparently, they have some magnificent ones. I’m a bit of a train junkie, in Europe, my first form of transport is always train. Leave/arrive middle of cities, room to stretch, comfortable and stunning scenery. Also, you don’t have all the security checks. Train pulls in, you get on. Bliss.

  • +1

    I had two close calls with gate changes.

    at Kingsford Smith, mum and sister-in-law needed wheelchairs; the attendants took us to the gate as printed on the boarding pass and displayed on the board. very few people around and no one at the desk. We thought it was a pretty empty flight. 30 minutes before the flight was due to depart I went and had a look and sure enough, there was a gate change. I pushed my mom across to the new gate, told them what happened and then ran back and pushed my sister-in-law to the new gate. If we had waited, we would have certainly missed the flight.

    Just recently at Kuala Lumpur - the touch screen gave us the wrong gate number. It was a short connection too. Luckily we checked the board on the way to the new gate but we were pretty close to it so no running required.

  • Haven’t missed a flight due to gate change but almost missed one recently as they decided to board 30 minutes early so they could ‘leave early’. I casually checked the board thinking I had tons of time and it was final call… I was some distance away so ran. A bit annoyed, can they do that? I mean can you miss a flight if they decide to leave early?

    • I've had this once! I was getting pretty slick with my check-in online (with carry on only) and arrive at the gate 15-20mins before boarding routine and arrived once just in time to see the plane pushing back. I questioned it with the gate staff, as I was also pretty annoyed, but to be fair to them they do say arrive 45mins before scheduled boarding. It had plenty of time to sink in as the next flight was like 8 hours later haha. Lesson learned.

  • +1

    I think the airline should at least call his name over PA since they are the one issuing the boarding passes with outdated info.

  • I mean welcome to modern travel I guess. Sucks. Lessons learnt.

    • yep

    • Yep, guess it surprises some that you still need to use your brain at an airport!

  • +2

    He should have gotten up at boarding time. Not to sit down longer for people to start the queue.

    • Are you one of those people that stands up as soon as the plane has landed and is taxiing?

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