Passengers Held For Hours After Truck Hit Taxiing Southwest Plane After Midnight

Southwest Airlines flight WN6263 from Fort Lauderdale to Baltimore last night was struck by a pickup truck as it taxied to the gate. No one – onboard the aircraft or in the truck – was injured.

However it was after midnight, and passengers had to wait a long period of time before they were permitted to deplane — and then they were reportedly held in the gate area once they did.

Credit: Adam Aloi

Credit: Adam Aloi

According to reader Adam Aloi, who was a passenger on the aircraft, “It was about an hour before we were allowed to deplane. At no point were we told what had happened.” Passengers were concerned about the occupant of the truck, but they weren’t given any updates.

Once off the aircraft, “The accident was compounded when the entire plane was detained at the boarding area – a gate attendant said we were awaiting Southwest management. They offered us refreshments from the plane.”

Passengers Being Held in the Gate Area, credit: Adam Aloi

Finally the passengers just started deciding to leave on their own,

By this point it was nearly two hours after landing- and 40mins inside- with no announcements. A frustrated passenger asked why we were being held in the boarding area. It got a little heated and he was told by the police they would not be arrested if they left. About a dozen individuals left with him. Five minutes later we were told by a gate attendant we could all leave.

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. Was the passenger who left the boarding area named Jamie by any chance?

  2. They were held in the gate area after getting off the plane at their destination? I can understand some delay while emergency personnel attend to the accident scene, but beyond that, it’s just incompetence. Why don’t airlines hire someone whose job it is to be a leader in such situations? I’m sure the passengers will get a mealy mouthed “we’re sorry for any inconvenience” apology.

  3. Now we have airlines detaining people?

    Since when does an airline and, or, airport authorities have the authority to detain uninjured people who have the misfortune to be on an aircraft involved in an accident that was no fault of theirs?

    What has happened to civil liberties and, or common sense?

  4. It doesn’t seem like anyone was actually detained, just that airline personnel didn’t make it clear and implied that they were. When law enforcement was actually questioned about it, they stated anyone was free to leave if they wanted to, at which point the airline clarified the situation.

    What I think happened is, management wasn’t currently available, but wanted a chance to speak to the passengers before they left, most likely to make arrangements for luggage retrieval, but also to offer some token compensation to hopefully ward off more serious legal challenges. Airline employees were most likely ordered “don’t let them leave”, and took the command a bit too seriously. But that’s just my guess.

  5. @Restil, I disagree. A normal person would assume they were detained by the presence of crime scene tape at the gate area presumably for the purpose of not allowing the passengers to pass.

  6. I think the lesson here is that if you are asked to wait, you should inquire as to the reason. If there is police tape and police then the key question is: “Am I being arrested?” If the answer is no, then the next question is “Am I being detained?” If the answer is no then simply take off. Airline personnel do not have reason to detain people on the ground once they are off the plane. Neither do police, absent probably cause or protecting a crime scene from disruption (though that clearly wasn’t the case here). Even if an incident occurs on board they cannot detain witnesses unless there is a “special need” which is determined by 4 factors: (1) the seriousness of the crime witnessed, (2) the nature of the information the witness can reasonably expect to provide, (3) the level of proof that the witness can provide, and (4) whether there are less intrusive methods to obtain the same information.

  7. They landed and we’re detained. I could understand if this was before takeoff so they could be transferred to another plane, but after landing? After NTSB gives clearance to remove luggage, the matter is between the airline and the truck driver, with the truck driver having to do the explaining, not the customers. Now SWA will have to compensate customers that were otherwise perfectly happy they arrived in one piece, despite the fender bender.
    Finally, SWA operates 24-7-365. Customers expect mgmt to have immediate answers within 30 minutes to these situations, even if the %#@! CEO has to wake up and provide the answer. A plane full of customers =priority 1, nothing less.

  8. Contrary to popular belief police do not carry barricade tape for every possible scenario. All they have is crime scene tape. Also contrary to popular belief, the NTSB does not investigate every, or even most incidents involving a plane or any mode of transportation really, Usually only if there was significant equipment / infrastructure damage or fatalities. YOu can rest assured the NTSB wont be investigating this one either.

  9. Why did a pick-up truck hit the plane? It looks like the left front tire on the truck is flat. What happened?

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