Airlines occasionally have delays due to weather, crew issues, mechanical problems, or other relevant reasons. When this happens, the airline almost always includes a caveat that says to be at the gate for the original departure time. This is because the airline will try to get the flight out earlier than the new later estimated departure time. Depending on the type of delay, the airline may bring in a new aircraft, weather can rapidly change, crew issues sorted out, or mechanical problem fixed quicker than expected.
Once the originally scheduled departure time has passed, the airline can close the boarding door, and why it’s essential that you always stay informed about what is happening at the gate with the flight. While airlines say to always be at the gate 15 minutes before departure, this is not applicable to estimated delayed departure times and should not be relied on. Doing so may result in missing the flight as was discovered by a United flyer when their delayed flight left earlier than the estimated departure time.
Delays are frustrating and gate areas have notoriously not been a great place to wait when heavily crowded or for extended periods of time. If you have the luxury of lounge access before the flight, the first thing is to check with the gate agent about the situation and see if they can notify the lounge when boarding commences. Additionally, speak with the lounge desk when you arrive to see about being notified when boarding starts. Ultimately it is your responsibility to check the status of the flight by getting information directly from the gate agent, however the lounge team should be able to call the gate and get updates if you don’t want to have to frequently walk to the gate area.
When a delay is lengthy, it’s not uncommon for the airlines to provide some snacks and beverages in the board area, but if you are looking for more substantial food you will probably have to venture out. It might be tempting to sit down at a bar or restaurant for a drink or meal, but this is not recommended. Delayed flights can begin boarding with little notice and information can be hard to get when away from the gate. If you want food, consider ordering take-away to eat near the gate area. Do not always trust airport monitors or 3rdparty flight information sources for accurate boarding details. Check the gate frequently when you want to leave the area and feel free to ask the gate agent if you have time for a specific situation.
The airlines strive to make unexpected delays as short as possible to minimize the disruption and get their operation back to normal. If air traffic control sees the weather clearing up quicker than expected, they may offer pilots an earlier departure slot to make up for the delay. You don’t want to find yourself not at the airport because the estimated departure has moved from 2 hours delayed to suddenly only a 25-minutes. While this scenario is not always the case, the impact of missing a flight can severely impact your trip and should be avoided, especially because you already intended to get to the airport on time when you booked the ticket. The airlines are working to implement more tools to update you about a delayed flight, including notifications via text and on their respective phone applications, but it is always the responsibility of the passenger to be at the gate when boarding commences for a delayed flight.