13 May 2016

This was better than coffee to wake everybody up!!

Baltimore airport was a mess this morning. Extremely crowded security lines and too many people trying to get out of Baltimore for the weekend I guess. Eventually I found myself at the boarding gate surrounded by a lot of sleepy passengers. Delta was oversold by 5 seats and were desperately looking for volunteers for a later flight. There were also a bunch of armed forces folks sitting at the gate. Looked like young folks from the Navy (assume from nearby Annapolis).

In any case, we finally started boarding. I had checked in my bag – which always surprises the Delta lady since I carry only one night’s clothes and it is a very small and a very light bag – but that way I can be the last passenger to get on since I do not have to look for overhead space.

I was watching from a distance as the pre-boarding started. Then they called for first class folks to start boarding. As always, there were a couple of first class passengers who were in desperate hurry to board. But something different happened today. One of those early passengers said something to the nearby folks in the line and then talked to the boarding agent who was checking the passengers in.

Ten seconds later, the agent came on the PA and made the following announcement – “Ladies and gentlemen, the passengers of Delta Flight 1222 this morning would request our armed forces personnel to board first. Could all of our servicemen and servicewomen step up to the gate please? And thank you for your services”.

In a second the place was electrified. The service folks were not ready for this – so they had to scramble to get their stuff together. Everybody stood back to give them way to the front of the gate. And as these young talent from the services filed in one by one, to a person, everyone gave them a big hand. There was not a single person who was not moved by the gesture. There was an instantaneous feeling of being part of something by everybody.

Nobody needed coffee any more. We had enough adrenalin pumping in our system.


Posted May 13, 2016 by Rajib Roy in category "Travelogs


  1. By Ravi Lachhman on

    Great gesture! Was at D24 yesterday. Lack of a Sky Club at BWI makes the trek from DCA look more appealing ha!

    1. By Dip Sengupta on

      Rajib Roy : Both are great stories .The thing is the members of the armed forces do not expect anything by way of recognition or preferential treatment.That’s what makes such gestures heartwarming.

  2. By Hiren Desai on

    Rajib, great story. In my US domestic travels it has happened a few times they announced boarding first for the defence peronnel. I thought it was customary practice. Seems some of. The airlines do this, perhaps not all unless prompted.

  3. By Jon Martin Karl on

    Which airline, Rajib? Alaska Airlines used to board active military first…I’ll pay attention on my next flight to see if they still do. Nice to see the gesture from the passengers, and the flexibility of the boarding agent.

  4. By Vicky Ruffin Cupit on

    My brother is retired Navy … off a sub…this was a nice gesture and so glad you wrote about it… nice start to a weekend among all the hateful political news…. there are good Americans left in a country where we are already great and caring …. and this proves it…

  5. By Pramod Chowbey on

    Awesome, though surprised that Delta doesn’t have this as part of the standard boarding procedure. United allows all military personnel in uniform to board right after passengers with special needs and kids board

  6. By Sri Ganesh on

    United.. I have heard announcements that service personnel board first, i.e. after passengers with small kids.

  7. By Ram Narayanan on

    remember (whenever I’ve paid attention) hearing active service folks being called for priority boarding after spl needs and people with little kids. maybe this was an unintentional slip on the agent’s announcement; more important is those who cared to listen and restore the process’ intent, and as exemplary to me in the story was the poise of the service personnel who waited (since they were not called) despite knowing they were eligible to board…

  8. By Larry Mason on

    Just flew back from Chicago and on both flights American announced service people first. Everyone else seemed to board in unison disregarding the number after the word Group. Guess everyone wanted ample time to determine how to fit their entire lifetime belongings into the overhead bin before the Cirque de Soleil act of sitting in coach class seats. Guess I was an alternate for exit row duty, assuming I could exit my own row, since I was asked to verbally acknowledge the duties of those seated in the exit rows. To compensate for the 2 hour delay, the pilot used the HOV lane in the sky and cut the flight by 14 minutes. That in turn was spent walking the entire terminal trying to find the 24 hour exit door. The best part of the trip was no traffic at 3AM in Dallas and street lights that knew only green. But I digress, wonderful story Rajib.


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