Something unusual happened on my Delta flight from LaGuardia to Atlanta this afternoon. Four TSA agents stood at the entrance to the jetbridge, checking IDs and boarding passes. A couple of us in line said remarked that we had never seen that before. There was in the line a middle-aged Muslim man with a Salafi beard, wearing a long black robe and a scarf draped over his head, traveling on an Egyptian passport. Naturally I wondered if there was something about him that caused the TSA alert.
When we landed in Atlanta, the plane was met by more TSA agents at the top of the jet bridge, who once again checked IDs and boarding passes as we deplaned. An officer with some sort of badge around his neck stood by watching all this impassively. The Egyptian man was in front of me, and was very briefly detained — so briefly that it could have been simply a matter of him asking the officers a question. I couldn’t hear what was being said.
It might have had nothing to do with that passenger at all. Any idea what that could have been about? I’ve never seen anything like it.
By the way, when I made it to the gate for the Baton Rouge flight, I was informed that there might not be a seat for me. It would depend on whether or not others made their connecting flight. I asked the Delta gate agent how that could be, given that I had checked in online in New York this morning, and had received my boarding pass over my smart phone.
“You must not have come in on the flight you checked in on,” she said dismissively. That, of course, made no sense at all. I certainly had come in on that flight.
Anyway, I eventually got on the plane with that boarding pass. I talked later to Delta personnel, who said sorry, but the airline overbooks flights frequently. What happened to me was normal. It’s so infuriating, though! There ought to be some consumer protection in these matters.
This is the first time I’ve flown Delta since coming back from France last fall. We took Air France, though it was a Delta flight (codeshare). Longtime readers might remember that when we got to the airport in Paris, we were told that the flight was overbooked, and that there wasn’t room for our entire family of five on the flight. One of us would have to stay behind in Paris, while the other would be responsible for shepherding three children and a bunch of bags through customs, then onto a connecting flight.
After some heroic work by Air France ticket agents, and a storm in Italy that delayed connecting passengers, we all five got on the flight and made it home together. But think about what a colossal pain that would have been had one of us had to remain overnight at an airport hotel in Paris — at our own expense, no doubt — while the other had to do his or her best with those kids on the long flight and dash through the Atlanta airport, checking and rechecking lots of luggage. This, even though we had bought our tickets and reserved our seats months in advance, and checked in with plenty of time to spare.
In other words, we had done everything right, and Delta/Air France still came thisclose to splitting up a family with children on an overseas flight. Because of overbooking. There oughta be a law.
Are the other airlines just as bad? Talk to me. Also, if you have a good idea what likely prompted the TSA to be all over that LGA-ATL flight, please say.