American Airlines Flight Delayed When Passengers Decided to Create Their Own Boarding Group

Two passengers on American Airlines flight AA1655 from Philadelphia to Boston yesterday apparently didn’t like their boarding group. Instead of waiting for the official boarding call, two hours prior to flight they “walked on board through the doorway to the jet bridge and took their seats.”

The pair were discovered during the boarding process. They were on the correct flight, and in the correct seats. But the plane was offloaded. The aircraft was searched. And American decided to swap planes anyway before proceeding with the delayed flight.

The passengers had been screened, but since TSA fails to catch 95% of what goes through the checkpoint caution is wise.

However, if the passengers were looking to do something nefarious, they’d presumably have stashed contraband and gotten off the plane. If they were looking to fly with something they shouldn’t, they’d have boarded at their regular time.

The passengers did not speak English. They explained,

Francesco Dedos and his 21-year-old daughter flew from Philadelphia to Boston after they boarded the plane around 6 a.m. and put their luggage on the plane without showing a boarding pass to airline personnel.

“Someone went through the door first,” Dedos said, through a translator. “We followed him.”

The door to the jetway had, apparently, been open all night.

(HT: Paul H.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Why is it that instead of reporting exactly what happened, you go above and beyond and turn this into a creative exercise? This had nothing to do with boarding groups. Two idiots snuck onto a plane and caused a delay.

  2. @David does not appreciate my sense of humor, which is cool, most people don’t. Of course @David regularly leaves negative comments and I could certainly ask why he spends his time reading and reacting that way.

  3. These people are usually the 1st (or 1st few) to post replies, i suspected @David actually need a daily fix of these posts from Gary or Lucky.

  4. These passengers were the first to use the new American Airlines Executive Platinum AAdvantage perk “boarding group zero”. I am waiting for AA to roll out “boarding group negative one.”

  5. I don’t see where they snuck into this plane. The door was open…they boarded. Maybe the thought it was like a bus…door open, come on in.

    Not sure why they searched the plane though.

  6. @Gary: I will send you and @david my insult list and we can get a real internet fight started…which, ironically is good for you

  7. Jeez instead of Debby Downer it’s David Downer. Gary has been one of the best and most accurate sources of information I have yet to find. If you don’t like his articles don’t read it! It’s that simple! You’re kind of like that jealous school bully that likes to pick on people because of your own lack of satisfaction in life.

  8. Wayyyyy too much editorial in this piece … accompanied by a fair amount of non sequitur … it’s making my brain hurt!!!!

  9. This is fairly typical for Philadelphia. Boarding as an elite I have to fight my way through the crowd and usually 40-50 people who are definitely NOT elite are forcing their way onto the plane in front of me. Super annoying. I’ve even seen gate agents yelling at people when they are boarding F since sometimes 30 or so people will try to board with F.

  10. Since the door was open for an extended period I think AA made a good call. No telling what else was loaded or hidden in that plane. In hindsight of a terrible accident or event the lawyers would definitely place blame on the airline.

  11. Even if they managed to sneak those items through security, how exactly would hiding them onboard be an advantage to just carrying them onboard during normal boarding and having immediate access instead of having to go retrieve them?

  12. I’ve been searched after being cleared initially at the terminal entrance and before boarding. If a suicide bomber like the 911 high jackers wanted to board early, stash their weapons somewhere and beat a search of their person, then they would act as these two passengers did. No too long ago some hijackers beat the system in Egypt. Were you a security chief, you could not be blamed for being too cautious amid these unusual circumstances.

  13. They didn’t beat the system…they had inside help. Contraband can be hidden in a plane any day and at anytime. Passengers boarding early does not increase that risk.

  14. Whether it’s inside help or a lax procedure the lives of passengers were at stake. As you can see by this report, passengers and unauthorized individuals do not have open access to stash weapons. QED

  15. Max is right, Bill is wrong.

    “Someone went through the door first,”

    That someone was NOT on the plane. That someone could have left a bomb.

    You don’t switch planes because of what those two people might have done. You switch planes, and do a thorough search, because of what anyone else who accessed the plane while the door was unlocked might have done.

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