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missed flights - Gatwick family security lane chaos

London, United...
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missed flights - Gatwick family security lane chaos

On 20 December 2016 my family of four (me, my partner our 4-year-old twin boys), and three other families travelling with small children had to be escorted back through Gatwick passport control and customs as a result of our all having missed our flights. Three of us were with Easy Jet and one with Air Lingus.

Like others, we had arrived at the airport two hours before scheduled take-off as advised, and we entered the family section of security control over an hour before departure. We were held up in the family section for over an hour - there were only a couple of staff on duty there, and only one scanner, but maybe 30-40 families were in the queue in front of us. Once inside the “family” section of security control, we were unable to turn back, and found ourselves stuck alongside lots of other families

We made it through with 25 minutes to spare before our flight left. But because of Easy Jet’s strict arrangements for closing the gate 30 minutes before departure the flight gate was not even listed on the boards. We had to wait for half an hour for airport officials to escort us back to the other side of security / passport control and then a further hour to get back to departures. There was not enough seats on any of the Easy Jet flights before Christmas to take us to our destination so we hauled our luggage to the Eurostar at St Pancras and paid for some very expensive one way tickets to France.

Do we and the other families affected stand any chance of compensation?

Loughborough...
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61. Re: missed flights - Gatwick family security lane chaos

In the case of the understaffed check-in desks, Norwegian don't employ any check-in staff or gate staff anywhere. They are all employees of ground handling contractors, who may well deal with flights of several different airlines in the course of a shift. Norwegian (and all the other European low-cost carriers) will specify how many desks they want open, which may or may not be the right number for the particular flight. This is because on the day there may be an abnormally large number of people with questionable travel documents, or overweight baggage, or simply most of the passengers turned up in a rush in the last few minutes before check-in closed instead of spread out over the couple of hours or more it was open.

The local manager of the handling contractor will know there is an issue at check-in affecting plenty of passengers and can, with the co-operation of the plane crew, slow down the gate closing process to match so nobody is left behind. They won't do this for people who simply turn up after check-in has officially closed, of course, and indeed the staff may have left the desks and moved on to deal with a different flight elsewhere. They also won't do this at airports where leaving the gate 10 minutes late has repercussions on ATC slots and would result in a long delay in actually taking off.

It gets harder when the passengers pass through check-in/bag drop before the cut-off time but don't appear at the gate. In the case that started this thread, one specific lane at security was bottlenecked, not the entire security checkpoint, so it is doubtful that anyone at the gate knew there was a problem, almost all of the passengers will have gone through the other lanes and turned up on time. It is all too common for travellers to be seduced by the delights of airport shopping, eating, or of course drinking, and lose all sense of time. People with small children may avoid all of this and be caught by demands for toilet visits instead. But since nobody knows where in the airport the missing passengers might be, the gate staff will just close boarding on time in the interests of the majority of passengers, who may have connections to make at the other end, and of those who are booked to fly on the next journey the plane is to make. If there is checked baggage, there might be an announcement in case the missing people are very close to the gate, as it will take a few minutes to unload it or extract it from the bags waiting to be loaded.

Scotland
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for Oban
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62. Re: missed flights - Gatwick family security lane chaos

"Sorry guys I'm a bit confused. Are you saying that you ignore the departure time of 3hrs for international flights and go by the gate closing time. I'm a bit of a panic person and would be to scared I would miss the flight."

I more meant when you're doing your own reality check on when you need to leave, when you think you need to arrive at the airport. Three hours before the departure time should be fine.

So, if your flight is, say 10am, don't think "Arrive at 7am, half an hour to check in and drop bag, another half an hour for security, ten minutes to walk to departures, that gives me an hour and fifty minutes spare time for eating and shopping or in case something goes wrong". Think "That gives me an hour before they announce the gate, and twenty minutes from gate announcement to find it". See the difference?

mayo, ireland
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611 posts
28 reviews
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63. Re: missed flights - Gatwick family security lane chaos

It's all too easy for time to get away from you at an airport. Queue for bag drop, trips to the loo and shops, disposing of liquids, disrobing at security. Faffing about then discovering there is a ten minute walk to the gate. Boarding was almost complete by the time I got to the gate last Sunday, even though in theory i should have been sitting at the gate relaxing with a coffee half an hour before boarding. Not missed a flight yet, but cut it very fine on quite a few occasions. ✈😮

64. Re: missed flights - Gatwick family security lane chaos

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65. Re: missed flights - Gatwick family security lane chaos

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England, United...
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66. Re: missed flights - Gatwick family security lane chaos

Maurice F,

Millions of people, every day, all over the world, manage to get themselves to the boarding gate on time to catch their flights

There's no " injustice" in airport systems at all. If you want to fly, then just comply.

East Sussex, United...
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67. Re: missed flights - Gatwick family security lane chaos

>>> putting it onto us to wise the system and make it in time.<<<

Weird post but this bit is interesting. Of course it is up to you, the passenger to 'make it in time', why on eafrth wouldn't it be ?

United Kingdom
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68. Re: missed flights - Gatwick family security lane chaos

>>> putting it onto us to wise the system and make it in time.<<<

If I'm not wise to the system can I claim compensation if I miss my flight :) ;)

69. Re: missed flights - Gatwick family security lane chaos

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70. Re: missed flights - Gatwick family security lane chaos

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