A Courtdale woman claims her Marine son was almost not allowed to board his flight back to his base on Sunday morning because two US Airways agents at the airport said he didn’t arrive on time and it was too late to board.
Diane Cowman claims the two female agents at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport were “rude and arrogant” and would not check his bags, but then another airline employee came and said he would get her son’s bags on the plane. Even after Lance Cpl. Trevin Cowman, 26, checked in and went through security, passengers still had not boarded the flight to North Carolina, said his mother.
Cowman claims her son was at the airport 30 minutes before the flight, despite one of the agents pointing out it was 28 minutes prior to takeoff. Cowman said the 2 minutes had passed as her son was trying to get checked in.
“They kept saying the plane was already boarding,” Cowman said. “They they said that two or three times. That wasn’t true. Even when he got past security to the gate, shoes off, coat off, no one had boarded yet.”
Cowman said she and her husband, Shawn, were heading back to their car when their son sent her a text.
“He told me not only had no one boarded, but he had to wait 5 minutes,” she said.
She identified the employee who finally helped her son as Bob Ekert. She did not know the names of the other two employees. But she emailed US Airways on Sunday to complain about her son’s treatment and received an automated response that the airline would respond in two or three business days.
US Airways spokesman Andrew Christie said Thursday he checked into the incident and found the Marine was late checking in.
“It does look like the customer arrived at the ticket counter to check his bag past the check-in cutoff time,” Christie said.
He said Cowman did check in online, but arrived late at the airport.
As for Diane Cowman’s claim the agents were rude and arrogant, Christie said he had no information on that and that the customer had not filed a complaint with customer relations. When told the woman said she had emailed the airline about the incident, he said he would check again, but no further information was available Thursday evening.
Cowman also posted a copy of her letter to the airline on the airport’s Facebook page on Sunday night. She received several comments of support from Facebook members and the airport responded on Monday morning that the letter would be forwarded to the airline.
But there is not much the airport can do, Airport Director Barry Centini said on Wednesday.
“They have rules and regulations that they go by,” Centini said of US Airways. “I heard a little bit about it, that he showed up late, he had some problems getting his bags on board and a supervisor took charge.”
But he noted the airport has no influence over how the airlines run their operations.
“If I had influence over there I would reduce ticket prices and get more flights for the people of Northeastern Pennsylvania,” Centini quipped.
Nationally, passengers frequently complain about delays, baggage handling and interactions with ticket agents, as evidenced by stories in the media and online complaint websites. But it roils Cowman that the agents even knew her son was in the military because he showed his military ID. She said military personnel deserve the utmost respect for their service.