Alaska Airlines Complaint - Leaving Luggage and Flight Sched Fiasco
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON -- Dear Mr Ayer and Mr Sagertzky:
I just returned from a Mexico trip flying on Alaska Air and I must inform you that at least two aspects of your recent drive to improve on-time departure ratings are turning into a fiasco.
I flew from Seattle to Manzanillo, Mexico via Los Angeles on 13 February. The Seattle plane AK # 210 landed as scheduled at 10:33 in LAX. The Manzanillo plane AK #256, the only one that day and the only one for two more days, was scheduled to leave at 11:10 am. **This is less than 40 minutes between flights – on the ticket schedule**. I and other Seattle passengers dashed to the plane and barely made it. It was chaos at the gate because they just announced boarding all rows all at once. Of course the first people on blocked the aisle for 10 minutes shoving themselves into the front seats on the plane. The plane took off about 10 minutes late. When we arrived in Manzanillo we learned that our baggage did NOT make it. We were told they did not have time to load it. At least 8 people were left standing there with no luggage and no chance of getting it for 2 more days, when the next AK flight from LAX came in. They had no clothes, no medicines, and in my case my guitar was left behind on my 5 day trip to play it with a band in Manzanillo. I told the AK rep to leave the bag in LAX baggage office and I would get it on return.
I spoke to two flight attendants who asked to remain anonymous. They said they hate the “all rows boarding” policy, it is simply dysfunctional and slows boarding down. I saw it on all four flights I took. They said it is AK policy now to somehow improve on time departures. Sirs, let me remind you: All-rows boarding slows down departure, it does not speed it up. And, the attendants said that it is not LEGAL to have less than 40 minutes scheduled between international flights. How is this happening then?
And does on-time departure mean leaving large amounts of baggage behind?? We were on our way to a simple round-trip destination for the plane, the only flight there for 2 days, and there was no harm in simply waiting 15 minutes more to get all the bags on board. We know the extra time could be made up in flight. The pilots knew all the bags were not on board and left anyway. Was this because AK management is insisting on such behavior?
I would appreciate an answer to the following questions:
1. Does AK Air actually have an on-going effort to improve on time departures?
2. Does this policy include permitting departures that leave behind luggage when the passengers are already on board, and not telling them their luggage won’t make it so they don’t have the choice whether to fly or not (many people would not go if their bags can’t go).
3. For how long has this “all rows boarding” policy been in effect, and what evidence do you have that it is working? It does not work. Your own staff hate it.
4. Is it legal to schedule arrivals and departure between domestic and international flights less than 40 minutes apart? I was told by your FA that this is forbidden by the FAA. If so why did it happen?
5. My long-awaited vacation was seriously compromised because I did not have my instrument to play in the band I was invited to join. That was one of the best reasons for the trip. AK left my luggage behind and could not deliver it until half way through my vacation. At least I had carried on my clothes bag, unlike the 7 other people in same situation. Please inform me if there is some consideration AK Air can give to make up for this rather amazingly bad decision making, which if my information is correct is partly due to the flights being scheduled too tightly together, against regulations.
These are all serious issues for your airline and indicate systemic concerns, especially re scheduling and gate management. I am looking forward to hearing from you in response to the questions above.