A likely story "Aircraft doors close 10 minutes before departure" - notice at Virgin Atlantic check-in, Gatwick

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online
Richard Branson's airline wants to reduce the delays that result from passengers dallying in the duty-free when they should be stowing away their hand luggage. So the company warns: "Even if you are checked in, if you are not on board 10 minutes before departure, your luggage will be unloaded and the aircraft will depart without you."

So last Saturday, I tested this threat. The door of the 11am service to Athens was still wide open at 11.05, as the last remaining passengers climbed aboard. No sign of any offloaded luggage on the Tarmac there. "To offer the most reliable and punctual service in the air, we will be closing the aircraft doors 10 minutes before departure," insists the airline.

I was travelling to Miami at 11.15am, and hung around with the smokers who were reluctantly stubbing out their cigarettes in advance of the nine- hour non-smoking flight. We stragglers boarded five minutes before scheduled departure time, and the plane left about five minutes late. Just like any other flight at Gatwick, in fact. The warning seems to be an empty threat - a high-risk game for Virgin Atlantic to be playing. If there is no evidence of penalising tardy passengers, some may be persuaded to flout other, more serious rules.