Passengers Help Student Get Home to Los Alamos

New Mexico Airlines commuter plane. File photo

Los Alamos Daily Post

It was Nov. 26, two days before Thanksgiving and flights all over the country were arriving late into Albuquerque. A couple flying from Florida into the Sunport were worried about missing their connecting flight on the New Mexico Airlines commuter to Los Alamos to visit friends.

The pilot assured everyone they would make their connections. He was right, the commuter plane was still on the tarmac when passengers finally arrived. The Florida couple boarded the plane bound for Los Alamos. The pilot came out and told the passengers there was a plane arriving later still with a student onboard who was scheduled to take New Mexico Airlines home to Los Alamos to spend Thanksgiving with family. 

The pilot explained that if the passengers, already tired from their late flights, wanted to leave right away for Los Alamos then that was what he would do. He would return later for the student. The passengers unanamously voted to wait for the student.

A grateful father armed with chocolates for every passenger met the plane as it landed at 11 p.m. at Los Alamos County Airport.

 Los Alamos County Airport Manager Peter Soderquist spoke to the Los Alamos Daily Post about the events that took place that night. 

“I’ve heard of this happening and New Mexico Airlines is to be commended for their compassion,” Soderquist said.

Editor’s note: Kelly Stewart, marketing specialist for Los Alamos County responded to a woman who that same night had submitted a “wait” request to the airline, which did not make it to the pilot, so she was left behind. She submitted a complaint directly to the airline, which has resulted in the parent company, Pacific Wings, issuing a mandate to New Mexico Airlines pilots restricting them from delaying takeoff for any reason.

“While Pacific Wings’ policy decision is disheartening, I want to assure you that Los Alamos County Airport and New Mexico Airlines pilots’ commitment to quality service and the Los Alamos community is as strong as ever,” Stewart said. “Based on feedback received from both pilots and passengers, Los Alamos Airport and New Mexico Airlines are currently considering schedule changes that will allow more cushion for connecting to flights that frequently experience delays into and out of the Albuquerque Sunport.”

Stewart told the customer who did miss her connection that her continued support and promotion of the New Mexico Airline service between Los Alamos and Albuquerque is the most effective way to ensure future operations and improvements to our service. Based on feedback to date, this was an anomaly, she said.

“Please continue to use the service and provide feedback to us. Encourage your friends, family and colleagues to do the same. Each e-mail received at is received and processed by the decision makers at the County and at New Mexico Airlines,” Stewart said.