Tarmac Sitting in Las Vegas?

There?s always one big “accessible travel disaster story” during the holiday season, and this year it?s the story of Jeanne Grettum. UPI reports that Ms. Grettum was left (abandoned) on the tarmac in Las Vegas after she deplaned from her incoming flight from Bakersfield. She missed her connecting flight to Orlando, and it all gets a little fuzzy after that.

Some outlets have reported that she was left on the tarmac for 12 hours, while the original wire service story stated that she was “12 hours late” getting to her destination. And Ms. Grettum?s daughter, Tammy Nielson, reported that her mom called her at 3 AM “crying hysterically”.

On the other hand, Channell 8, Eyewitness News dug up the logs at Mc Carran Airport, and here?s what they revealed.

11:40 PM – Ms. Grettum?s incoming flight from Bakersfield (US Air 2784) arrived in Las Vegas. It was 38 minutes late.

The contract vendor (Prospect) arrived before 11:50 PM and transported Ms. Grettum inside the terminal.

12:02 AM – Ms. Grettum was rebooked and issued a boarding pass by US Airways customer service agent.

Apparently Ms Grettum was then left alone (the first flight out wasn?t until the morning), and she became distraught, which is when she called her daughter.

Now, make no mistake about it, I?m not minimizing the situation, however it appears to have been widely exaggerated in the media. Ms. Grettum was apparently left on the tarmac for approximately 10 minutes, near midnight on a very cold night, and that should not have happened. US Airways needs to look at their whole policy to make sure this doesn?t happen again. Folks shouldn?t be deplanned until someone from the contract company is there to take them inside the terminal.

But, missed connections do happen, and that?s something we all have to be aware of. Sure you may get a great deal on that flight departing at midnight, but if you?re making a connection, you need to have a backup plan. It?s a very real possibility that you may miss your connecting flight; and at that time of night, the next flight out won?t be until the morning.

A backup plan in this case pretty much means realizing the possibility that you may get stuck. And deciding what to do if that happens. You could spend the night in the airport or go to an airport hotel. And although advance planning won?t help you make your connection, it pays to have an airport hotel phone number handy, when you discover you?re stuck.

And if for whatever reason you can?t stay alone in a hotel (you need PCA help or assistance) then it?s best to avoid those last flights of the day — especially during the busy travel season. There?s just too many things that could go wrong. Just ask Ms. Grettum.