Welcome to Terminal Tales, the weekly blog series where I highlight my favorite personal encounters with passengers while fulfilling my job duties as a Ticketing & Gate Agent. Have you heard the news? I am moving to Montana, so this will be my last installment from the Colorado Springs airport. Kalispell, Montana -- brace yourselves, I'm coming for you. In this week's final Colorado Springs edition: sweating through my shirt, lying passengers, & late passengers.
Summer is upon us... which means that when I go running through the airport like a crazy person trying to run two gates when we were understaffed, I sweat. A lot. Yes, yes, I have tattoos, so I have to wear a long sleeved jacket over my blue shirt -- so trust me when I say that my body temperate skyrockets in the summer heat. Ya'll would not believe the sweaty mess I was when I got home from work. I'm embarrassed to even show you the photo. This day was no picnic.
One agent went to Gate 9 to work that flight, & I hovered between Gate 5 & 7, quickly realizing that the inbound aircraft at Gate 7 was on the ground... & parked at the gate. Waiting for an agent to pull up the bridge. Said Gate Agent being ME. YIKES. I took off running, didn't even check to see if we needed wheelchair assistance because all of that agent & gate-swapping transpired in about 60 seconds. I pulled up the jet bridge to the ERJ-145 when I realized I may have needed a wheelchair. Nay, two wheelchairs. The wheelchair vendors work on a first-call basis, so there was basically no chance that I would have the help to bring me a chair & escort the passengers to baggage claim. I ran back up the jet bridge to get one wheelchair while I called the vendors to see if they had anyone available to help. Thankfully, they had a free agent to meet me halfway between my gate & baggage claim with the passenger. When it came time for wheelchair number two, another Gate Agent was in the bridge assisting the passenger -- but, the passenger was too heavy for this person to push up the bridge. You know how steep those bridges are, & pushing a 200-pound person up that bridge is no easy feat, but we got it done. At the expense of my crisp, blue shirt that was now sticky & sweaty.
Later in the week, I was working the Ticket Counter when a TSA Agent approached the podium with a passenger who had just missed his flight. The passenger was mostly irate & wouldn't let me get a word in to understand his situation -- internal eye rolls commenced, outward smile exchanged. The passenger cut me off, "I missed my flight because they didn't wait for me! I was in security! I'm meeting my niece who is a MINOR and traveling alone in Houston, I have to be on that flight! She can't be there by herself!"
That sounds like a situation to be empathetic about, right? I don't want a minor running around all willy-nilly through Houston's airport either. So before I even looked at additional flight options for the passenger, I called Houston to get in touch with our operations there. I was connected to one of our more "elite" customer service offices -- turns out, this passenger was a family member to one of our invite-only airline memberships. The kind of passenger we will bend over backwards to please, whether it costs the airline money to do that or not. While on the phone, the passenger walked away & left the terminal. Still not sure exactly where he went, but he had disappeared for a solid twenty minutes while I attempted to sort out the alleged problems he had been whining about. The woman at the customer service number advised that the passenger he was meeting in Houston was not a minor, that the "minor" was, indeed, an adult. Cool, so that's strike one for lying. Strike two? I spoke with the TSA Agent after completing my phone call with customer service. The passenger was traveling without an ID (which you can do if you're traveling domestically in the U.S.), which meant that he was subject to additional screening. Which the passenger refused. Okay, now I will be more direct with this guy when he comes back from Never Never Land or wherever he decided to storm off to while I wasted time sorting out his lies. Lo & behold, he did return. I greeted him by name with a smile (duh), & stated, "Sir, I was able to get in touch with our agents in Houston, & they confirmed that the family member you are traveling to meet is not an unaccompanied minor, so that solves the first issue." Before I could even give him rebooking options, which was next on my agenda, he removed himself from my line & put himself in Susie's line & said, "I don't want to work with you, I don't even want to talk to you, I want to talk to her." I'm actually still crying & losing sleep over that one, sir.
I had another passenger who arrived 14 minutes prior to boarding closing & she had a bag to check. I explained, with sincerity in my tone, that she would miss that flight, the reasons why, & that I would rebook her. As I started looking at additional flight options, I could feel her death glare... I swear, she was choking me with her mind or something. It was terrifying. I told her the other flight options & she said, "Wait. So I missed it?" And I said, "Yes, miss." Insert death glare. Insert rolling eyes. Insert awkward staring. "I don't have to check this bag, I can carry it on." Insert me taking a deep breath so I don't lunge across the counter. "Well, miss, that bag is too large to be a carry-on," (which is true, this thing was double the carry-on size). "And I also see in your reservation that you are traveling in our discounted fare class, which means you are only permitted one personal item, not a full-size carry-on item," reiterating AGAIN that her bag was too large for a full-size carry-on. I hope you guys are sitting down for her response. Okay, you sitting? She. Said. "I don't even have to take this bag." I'm sorry, what? "Miss, I'm not certain I understand--" "I'll leave this bag here, you guys can throw it away, I don't need anything that's in it." Umm. Why did you pack it in the first place...? At this point, boarding for the flight had already closed, so she had to be rebooked anyway. Death glares & all.
Later in the day, an older gentleman appeared to check in for his flight. The only problem? He was six days late for his flight. Yup. True story. Ron, one of the morning supervisors, was assisting him, and I couldn't help but overhear the conversation. The passenger had pre-paid for his hotel AND his rental car also, all of which had been booked for six days prior. When my English teacher harped on us in school about the importance of proofreading, I had no idea that this skill would actually benefit us in the future as adults -- like when we book vacations. Take notes, people. Proofread your English papers... aaaaaand proofread your itineraries.
Megan Elizabeth is a storyteller based in Kalispell, Montana. Take a peek at her blog & portfolio, drop her a line, & follow her story on Facebook & Instagram.