The Plane that Left Without its Passengers


Every passenger’s worst nightmare is missing their flight but you generally think that everything is alright once you have walked through the gate and are proceeding down the corridor to the plane. It now appears that even then you might contrive to miss your flight as 29 EasyJet passengers discovered this week. I know low cost airlines are targeted by the press, often unjustly, but sometimes they really don’t help themselves!


This week 29 passengers missed their flight from Malaga in Spain to Bristol because of what EasyJet described as “an issue at the boarding gate”. This “issue” was the fact that the poor unsuspecting passengers were trapped in a corridor. They had already had their boarding passes scanned and their luggage had been loaded to the hold but they were forced to watch on in horror as their plane took off without them. The group were confined in the walkway for 20 minutes whilst other passengers boarded and then the plane could clearly be seen departing from the gate through the small porthole.

19 of the unlucky group managed to get home the same night whilst the rest were forced to stay in Spain for another night but without the benefit of their luggage which had left without them. EasyJet have made profuse apologies, are offering compensation and have launched an investigation into the unfortunate affair.


What I want to know is how nobody noticed that these people were missing. The crew are supposed to count the passengers on the aircraft and they know how many are supposed to be there. You could just about understand them missing the odd person but 29? Can these people not count?

There are serious security issues here too. Planes are not supposed to take off with luggage in the hold unless the passenger is on board. These measures were introduced in the wake of the Lockerbie disaster when an unaccompanied bag contained the bomb that brought down Pan Am 103 killing everyone on the flight. I know these EasyJet passengers were not trying to miss the flight but if something like this can happen one wonders what other things are being missed.

The Old Days

All this reminds me of how things used to be. Before more stringent security measures were introduced, airports and airlines were rather lax in their procedures to say the least. I once got all the way from check in to the door of the plane at New York’s JFK Airport without anyone checking anything at all including my passport. I also once left the terminal whilst waiting for a flight and walked back to the departure lounge without being stopped when changing planes at Chicago.
Modern security measures make flying a less pleasant experience. There are endless checks and holdups and you can quite easily spend hours trying to get to the departure gate. How infuriating that you could go through all that only to find that the airline is happy to trap you in a walkway and then leave without you! What is the point of all these checks if the airline staff can’t notice something as fundamental as 29 missing passengers?


Article by Sally Stacey