Why you should always get a boarding pass in advance

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(Sources: 3TV/CBS 5 and AllegiantAir.com) (Sources: 3TV/CBS 5 and AllegiantAir.com)

An Avondale mom says her teenage son was at the airport almost three hours before his flight but still missed it. The mishap could have been averted if her son had gotten his boarding pass before arriving at the airport.

Discount airlines can offer such low fares because they know where to minimize expenses. One way they do that is limiting when their airport ticket counter is open. If you miss the window the ticket counter is open, you won't be able to get a boarding pass to fly, so you had better get it ahead of time.

"He's a scholarship athlete at Cowley College in Arkansas City, Kansas," Jill Dillon said.

Dillon says it was her son Brenden's last chance to come home to Phoenix before his basketball season started. He didn't get his boarding pass in advance because he planned to check a bag. Dillon says Brenden was dropped off by his coach at the Wichita Airport about 2.5 hours before his flight on Allegiant Air.

"Holiday weekend, he was there early; he walks up to the ticket counter and there's no one there," Dillon said.

Dillon says Brenden came back two more times; still no one at the counter.

"He's not really familiar with flying so he says, hey, 'I have this confirmation; I'll go to TSA and maybe this is enough to get me through,'" Dillon said.

It wasn't. He missed the flight. Dillon says Allegiant didn't have another flight for days, so she had to pay for an overnight hotel then a flight the next day on Southwest that cost over $400. Dillon felt Brenden did nothing wrong so she asked Allegiant to reimburse her expenses. She says that was nine weeks ago.

"I send an email, I said, 'It's been well over the 30 days. I haven't received anything. Can somebody give me an update?' Still nothing," Dillon said.

She and her son have learned the risk of not getting a boarding pass in advance.

"Absolutely do it ahead of time. Do it on your phone; do it on mobile app," Dillon said.

Allegiant says its agent was at its ticket counter, exactly at the times they were supposed to be - from two hours before the flight departure to 45 minutes before the flight. It seems Brenden went to the counter three times outside that one hour and 15 minute window.

This was a case of a passenger not knowing the rules, but because the reimbursement claim dragged on, Allegiant decided to make an exception in this case and give Brenden a voucher for future travel. CBS 5 News thanks Allegiant for quickly and fairly resolving this matter after we brought it to its attention. According to Allegiant, the processing delay was due to the time it was taking its agents to re-route passengers related to the hurricanes, and the shootings in Las Vegas and Texas.

If you show up at the airport too early or too late without a boarding pass, you risk missing your flight with discount airlines. Avoid this potential stress and aggravation by always getting your boarding pass before you arrive at the airport. If you have your boarding pass ahead of time and need to check your bag but there is no agent at the ticket counter, you will be able to check the bag at the gate.

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