Spirit Airlines passengers bound for San Juan showed up at their gate a couple minutes prior to scheduled departure. They didn’t understand why the boarding gate was closed. They weren’t just there on time, they were early!
Ain't nobody behind them doors baby. You follow the BOARDING time, not departure pic.twitter.com/it7vg476Lz
— Ichigo Niggasake (@SomaKazima) January 27, 2024
The thing about Spirit Airlines passengers is that they are disproportionately infrequent travelers, who may fly because the tickets are cheap (and may fly instead of driving or taking the bus because of the cheap fares). So maybe they do not know this, but:
- What’s the point of banging on the door? Who do they think is back there? It’s not like that is the airline’s management office, with someone empowered to re-open boarding waiting just behind it?
- The departure time isn’t the time you’re supposed to show up. It’s the time the plane is supposed to leave. Your airline will be boarding generally 30-50 minutes prior to that, depending on aircraft and carrier. They may give your seats away 15 minutes before departure if you aren’t there and there are passengers waiting. And the doors probably close (not to be re-opened) 10 minutes before departure.
It probably even says the boarding time on your boarding pass, and some airlines also print “gate close” time as well.
Take that into account when deciding when to leave for the airport (factoring in traffic, parking if applicable, in-person check-in or checking of bags if needed, security and the time to get through the airport). Take that into account when deciding whether or not to stop for that Starbucks enroute – or whether even to use the bathroom in the terminal or just on board the aircraft.
Most people actually don’t cut it close, they show up too early. They go straight to their gate, just to make sure that it exists, before venturing off to go get something to eat even. And even with half a hour to boarding, many passengers are afraid that something might happen if they don’t stay right there. That’s why some concessions companies in airports have iPads or mobile ordering at the gate – and deliver food there – because it increases their sales from people unwilling to take boarding risk for retail.