One of the least pleasant things at an airport is a “bus gate.” You wait in the gate area and when they call you to board you don’t go down the jetbridge onto the plane, you walk outside and board a bus. Then you wait on the bus until it fills up, and then you wait until the driver is ready to leave. You’re probably standing, with a carry on, crammed with passengers around you. And you drive out to the plane, only to get out and walk up air stairs onto the plane.
Frontier Airlines is actually working with the Denver airport to eliminate jet bridges and board all their flights via stairs because it’s cheaper, even though it sometimes gets very cold in Denver.
At London Heathrow the drive in the bus can seem half as long as the flight itself. At Washington Dulles it’s a “mobile lounge” rather than a bus, and you can board right into one of those off of an international flight. American’s New York JFK terminal 8 has added hardstands (places where planes park away from the terminal) as part of moving in British Airways.
Once you’re on the bus you can usually be confident that you’ll at least make the plane. I’ve never seen passengers miss a flight once on the bus.
Yet somehow Indian low cost carrier Go First boarded passengers on a 1058 mile flight from Bangalore to Delhi onto a bus and then forgot them. Reportedly 55 passengers were left behind. Four buses were used for the flight, but only three bus loads of passengers actually made it into the cabin.
@DGCAIndia @timesofindia @TOIBengaluru @THBengaluru Flight G8 116 (BLR – DEL) flew leaving passengers on ground! More than 50 passengers on 1 bus was left on ground & flight took off with just passengers of 1 bus on boarded. Is @GoFirstairways operating in sleep? No Basic checks
— NIDHI K. (@Nids51) January 9, 2023
Most horrifying experience with @GoFirstairways5:35 am Boarded the bus for aircraft 6:30 am Still in bus stuffed with over 50 passengers, driver stopped the bus after being forced.Flight G8 116 takes off, leaving 50+ passengers. Heights of negligence! @DGCAIndia
— Shreya Sinha (@SinhaShreya_) January 9, 2023
Flight G8 116 (BLR – DEL) flew leaving passengers on ground! More than 50 passengers on 1 bus was left on ground & flight took off with just passengers of 1 bus on boarded. Is @GoFirstairways @JM_Scindia @PMOIndia operating in sleep? No Basic checks. pic.twitter.com/QSPoCisIfc
— Satish Kumar (@Satishk98130718) January 9, 2023
Flight G8 116 departed on time at 6:20 a.m. and arrived 29 minutes late at 9:29 a.m. India’s Director General of Civil Aviation blames “lack of proper communication, coordination, reconciliation and confirmation” on the part of the airline.
The coordination failures here by the Airbus A320 operator are mindboggling. Presumably the flight crew had the expected passenger load, and also knew how many people were on board, and would have realized those two numbers were different (by a lot).
Fortunately passengers didn’t have to bus all the way to Delhi and were accommodated on the 10 a.m. departure. Nonetheless this is just another reason why “hardstands” or “bus gates” are always a bad passenger experience.