What DOT On-Time Paranoia will do.


Well-Known Member
For those that don't know, I fly for a contracted regional airline. Flying from GSP-CLT the other night, we get a wheels up time thanks to the fact that GSP is right on the UNARM1 arrival into CLT. Block time has already accounted for this general delay, so we're still looking at an on-time arrival. We land runway 36L right on time (around 9pm, for a scheduled 9:08pm gate arrival at termal E), make our way to the north hold line, and are informed that a maintenance tow is blocking the entire alley where our gate is located.

After about 10 minutes of waiting at the line, we get a call from the FA. She lets us know that there is a transplant surgeon on board that was notified of an available organ and was instructed to get on the next set of flights to RIC as soon as possible so he could perform transplant surgery. Due to the late notice, he was only able to book the last flight into RIC from CLT, which departs at 10:04pm out of the B gates. It is now about 9:15pm.

With this new information, I contact company operations, which informs me that they won't wait for him should he arrive late. I asked her if there was any way she could call the gate and let the agent know that the passenger is on the ground and will be there. She says it's not possible. I then ask for the B-gate operations frequency, which she gives me.

At this point, it's 9:20pm and we're finally moving. We set the parking brake at the gate at 9:30pm. We kept the seatbelt sign on so the surgeon could exit the aircraft first and also requested an electric cart be waiting at the gate to take him. I get on the B-gate frequency and explain the situation, this time stressing the fact that the surgeon is on an cart headed directly to the gate.

"We're not holding a flight for one person."

The most I could get him to agree with was to call the gate and make sure they don't close early. I tried directly contacting the flight on ops freq, but I don't think they were monitoring it.

I can totally understand not holding a flight for one person when their connecting aircraft hasn't even landed yet, or when it's not the last flight of the night. However, I think the extenuating circumstances in this situation should have warranted a different response. What do you guys think?


Former Maddog Whisperer
The inflexibility of airline ops these days is perhaps even worse than any government agency. Your story is just another example of how the service provided to our customers is becoming more and more of an embarrassment everyday. If it weren't for a few good frontline employees such as yourself no one would ever have a positive experience. While I realize that an on time departure lends to an time arrival, the arrival time is what counts for DOT, and like the enflated block of your GSP-CLT flight indicates, a late departure doesn't necessarily mean a late arrival. Forrest through the trees I guess.

Was the RIC flight on frequency and possibly heard your conversation? I know if it was me I would have held the flight...ops be damned.


Island Bus Driver
BS they don't hold flights for one person. Last flight out of the night out of CLT and I am ALWAYS stuck waiting on last minute bags and passengers, up to 10 minutes past push, just on the say so of the gate agent, and they can go way past that if they get permission from the little tower. Hopefully he made the flight.

Justin, it was good to see you again. Hope the training department guy wasn't too bad to fly with.