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When Family Members Get Held Up At The Airport, Should You Board And Travel Without Them? – View from the Wing

When Family Members Get Held Up At The Airport, Should You Board And Travel Without Them?

Maybe one family member gets stuck at security, or you have PreCheck and they don’t. Or someone in your group has to go to the bathroom and it takes a long time. You’re cutting it close to your flight. Do you board without them? Do you split up, and maybe wind up leaving them behind?

One passenger shared a story of traveling with his wife to visit their college age daughter. They are very different travel personalities,

  • He’s “type a” preferring to be early and organized.
  • His wife is “go with the flow” and everything works out.

They planned to leave for the airport 2 hours prior to departure, drive 30 minutes, and arrive an hour and a half out. But she only got up 20 minutes before they were supposed to leave the house and still wanted to “make coffee, shower, and eat a bowl of cereal” so they only left the house an hour to departure. They arrived at the airport when their flight was boarding, security had a longer than usual line, and they missed their flight. They got rebooked for the next day.

On their next trip out to see their daughter they left earlier, and arrived at the airport with plenty of time, but this “annoyed” the wife since she would “have to sit and wait for 45 minutes for them to start boarding.” They had an hour connection, which meant 25 minutes to change terminals.

They arrived at their gate with 15 minutes to spare, and she went to get a Starbucks – in a different terminal – and didn’t return for boarding. She didn’t answer her phone on the first several tries. Eventually she said she was in a long line, but was on her way.

Finally he’s alone at the boarding gate, and the agent tells him he has to make a choice – they’re closing the boarding door. He boards the plane, his wife is left behind. She calls to say they won’t let her on – and he should get off. He did not, and now they aren’t on speaking terms.

She got to Jess’s school and seemed unbothered by the whole situation, didn’t even really talk about it. I thought maybe she realized it was her fault and just wanted to drop it.

Boy was I wrong. We are now home and she hasn’t talked to me since the trip, over a week ago…

Who was right here? Who was wrong? Should a family split up like this?

Let’s forget moralizing. Going ahead without the irresponsible family member who insisted on stopping at Starbucks when there wasn’t time – and who decided to stay there even with the long time! – may be the practical decision, best for you and even best for them!

At a minimum boarding without someone in your group is a no brainer when flying with Southwest. How early you board determines your choice of seats. You can board the plane and save them a seat! You’re literally doing them a favor by getting on the plane without them, and it’s their responsibility to at least make it to the gate before doors close.

I don’t recommend leaving behind children, though raise your teenagers to be travelers and learn their way around an airport people!


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