The Mystery of the Disappearing PassengersWe’ve all had flights delayed by passengers that have failed to board. Just last week, this caused an AFF member’s flight from Los Angeles to Sydney to depart more than an hour late. This member subsequently missed their connecting flight to Perth and a family reunion.

This is certainly not the first time a passenger has failed to show up, and it won’t be the last! Somehow, there always seems to be one or two passengers that go missing after checking in for the flight and cannot be located. These passengers’ bags need to be removed from the flight for security reasons, inevitably resulting in delays. But where do no-show passengers actually go?

There are many possible reasons that a passenger could no-show for a flight they’ve checked in for just hours earlier. For example, they could become sick or have an accident in the terminal. Sometimes parents need to suddenly change a nappy just as the flight is boarding. At larger airports, becoming lost is also a real possibility.

But not all excuses are fair. Some passengers lose track of time or simply fall asleep in the lounge. There are even some passengers that go duty-free shopping while the flight is boarding. jb747, a regular pilot contributor to our Ask The Pilot thread, writes…

I’ve always wondered just where these people disappear to. Perhaps it’s proof of the existence of wormholes.

The most hated though, is the person who knows we can’t go with their luggage, and so figures they can spend a couple more minutes in duty free. They then calmly walk to the aircraft, even though it’s after the departure time.

Sometimes passengers don’t turn up because their inbound flight was delayed. Occasionally, passengers will even intentionally not board because they’ve booked a hidden-city ticket. But this is unlikely to delay the flight if the no-show passenger has not checked in luggage. Offloading a passenger takes seconds; it’s the need to remove their bags from the aircraft that causes lengthy flight delays.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: No show on A380 between checking in with luggage and boarding


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]