This American Airlines Passenger Missed His Flight. And Went Berserk Trying to Get the Pilot’s Attention.

There are good strategies when you miss boarding a flight, and bad strategies. And then there’s this:

Have you ever seen a missed flight tantrum — or thrown one?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Given how much change fees are for flights, it isn’t surprising. I once time sat at the LGA gate, when I should have been sitting across the way at EWR and realized it right as my correct flight was backing up. I was flying on the cheap $300 Delta RT to Europe ticket, so it costs us each $500 extra to continue our original routing…

  2. Perhaps more empathy than ridicule, without knowing the circumstances.

    Was he trying to reach a parent on death bed? A sibling’s wedding? A deal-breaking presentation? Any of these may make a person a bit irrational.

    The older I get, the slower I am to call someone an idiot without knowing the big picture.

    On the other hand, if he’s just an idiot, then have at him, and I agree!

  3. That video almost made me cry. The two of them sound desperate and I can’t help wondering what it was they were trying to get to. I hope everything turned out oh for them and that they got where they needed to go in time.

  4. @colleen Good point! We never know the situation of the other person. Thanks for reminding me that those folks are real people just like you and I.

  5. I fully agree with Colleen, above. We have no idea what his travel plans entailed. Maybe he just missed a crucial connecting flight in a series of flights meant to take him back home. And now, he’s stuck. Maybe that flight was taking him to visit a sick relative. No matter the circumstance, I would hesitate to poke fun at this. I actually feel bad for them. They’re obviously desperate. I wouldn’t be quick to judge, given that we know nothing about these two travelers. More empathy, less snarkiness.

  6. I actually did this at SFO in 2005 when a 6 hr delay and gate change left me waiting in front of the wrong gate. I woke up to my name being paged and missed the door closing by a minute, but managed to get the pilot’s attention and he phoned the gate agent before the jet bridge disconnected.

    Still made it to Hawaii 🙂

  7. I bet you’d like making fun of people in wheel chairs when they run up on a curb! HELL yeah! He-lar-ious when others have bad things happen to them!

    Seriously – you should just delete this post. You usually have great material – and by the way, your time isn’t free… don’t feel bad about referral links.

    But this… eh… maybe not so good.

  8. I didn’t throw a tantrum but I cried and have never flown on Delta since 1986 when they wouldn’t allow on a flight to see my dying mother. I arrived at the gate late but it was 3 am and no one at the airport. there was no reason to prevent me from boarding. I had flown many times and seen others arrive later and be boarded. I had to sit at the gate for 4 hours till the next flight anxiously waiting and panicking , wondering if I would see my mother alive again. Meanwhile the crew was so smug and pleased with themselves. No one in my family has flown Delta since 1986.

  9. They are desperate trying to get the attention of pilots/ground crew because the plane is sitting there. Thats not “berserk” Gary, he’s just trying to get out of a bad spot and since there’s apparently no airline staff at the gate offering to assist in any way, he’s knocking on the glass and asking politely for help from the only staff in sight. Maybe he doesn’t have a blog where he can go and post three entries lamenting his burden each time he catches a bad break or a delay (Lucky) until he gets a personal response from the airline. This isn’t funny, it’s unfortunate. You should a bit of empathy. Stick to posts about flying to the Middle East and back just so that you can receive positive affirmation that you are being treated as an elite.

  10. I know EXACTLY how these people feel. Had a similar experience myself while traveling with a HANDICAPPED parent. In response to the “fly first and never see these losers”, we WERE FLYING FIRST-internationally. Airport representatives (with the exception of one kind soul who rebooked/helped us find a hotel) were not compassionate and intentionally unhelpful. They would not even meet us at the gate with a trolley or hold the flight until we got there even though one of us was handicapped (flew American). Flying first is no guarantee that you will get better service. It just means that you get a more comfortable seat and snacks. Thanks to Colleen for putting it all in perspective. You don’t know the circumstances, so do not judge.

  11. This is not a tantrum. It’s more like a panic reaction from the sound of it. They’re begging. Poor dude probably has no idea what to do since there is no one at the desk. I don’t understand why somebody stood there filming something like that. Total lack of empathy…I don’t understand the kind of person who can stand there and film something like that. I feel bad that I even watched it and gave some sociopath the YouTube clicks…

  12. ‘Went berserk’? Unless the camera was turned on after he was throwing stuff around and/or breaking things, he was just pounding on the glass and yelling to ‘please open’ the door. I feel pretty bad for them.

  13. I agree with the others on this post…this is not berserk…these are desperate people, and we don’t know their circumstances. I also agree with Colleen…the older I get, the less quick I am to judge someone’s circumstances without having benefit of all the facts. And tangentially, waiting in line at Wal Mart most days while I am doing various financial shenanigans to fill up my FF accounts to fly in luxury around the world…it this has been a real education watching the working poor. I am less quick to judge poor people and the choices they make after repeatedly watching them scrounge to cash their checks, send a few dollars to Mexico, or put $40 on their Bluebird card. Everyone has a story, and we should not be so quick to judge or use people’s suffering for our own amusement.

  14. The people are clearly desperate and I am left wondering where the airline counter agents are? The plane isn’t coming back to the gate no matter what and I understand that, but these people don’t know that. There should have been some airline staff present, instead of letting someone bang on the glass in a blind panic. I have never missed a flight due to being late, but one time I had to sprint through gatwick while jumping over rows of chairs and just made it as they were closing the gate because my friend and I were delayed by Friday afternoon traffic in London. I am usually hours early to the airport, but even the people who go to the airport way early can run late on occasion.

    @ susan- after reading your comments I may not fly Delta again either. Then again I avoid delta at all costs anyway!

  15. This just seems more sad than anything. They’re not berating an airline rep in an arrogant manner, they’re just trying to get on the plane in a way that they thought made sense. I know we’re all used to knowing our way around airports, but it seems important to retain some sense of empathy for people without those skills.

  16. I’ve actually seen someone go berserk. He missed his plane which had already started rolling on the tarmac, and he was pounding (very very loudly) on the boarding door that had already been closed and yelling and screaming. We had small children with us, and was making us very nervous. It seemed like there was nothing this person wasn’t capable of in his meltdown.

  17. It may not be bezerk, but it is funny for one to make a fool of themselves like that. Yes, it sucks missing your flight – it has happened to me when I had a case of an upset stomach and decided to evacuate thy body one more time before boarding. Three email replay and one round of candy crush later and suddenly I was too late. I was ten minutes before departure time, but door was closed. I could have thrown a fit, but acted mature, got put on the next flight (with no change fee as there typically is none if you change within two hours of departure), and found myself with four hours to kill. Perhaps where they were headed was really important, like the scenarios others have described. But you got to realize that once the jet bridge is back and the plane door closed, you are not getting on for any reason. If airlines accommodating people in this situation they’d never push back on time.

    I am just surprised the guy didn’t go out the emergency exit to the tarmac setting off the alarm.

  18. The dude just realized that all the weed he had stashed in his checked bags didn’t get removed from the flight and the distributor had been calling his cell phone for the last few minutes…

  19. I find this “posting” disturbing, as it was pointed out we have no idea what is happening with the couple. To have no one from AA to help them is even worse. I wish Gary would take this posting down what new worthy does this post have except to make fun of this couple..

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