Port Adelaide's Charlie Dixon has been left stranded in Victoria following their game against Geelong on Thursday night after missing his team's scheduled flight home to South Australia.
Witnesses say that Dixon, who had checked in on time and wasn't separated from his colleagues, was a second late to the boarding gate and airline staff refused to let him on.
"Normally if someone hasn't boarded on time they'll hold the plane up for a second, but they just took off instantly," a witness said.
"I'm not even sure if they called his name over the PA, or if they did it was very late."
Airline staff are adamant that they made the correct call by instantly ceasing the boarding process, despite allegations that they differed from their standard protocol that most travellers are accustomed to.
Traditionally, staff have a countdown clock to determine when the boarding gate will close that they are expected to keep track of mentally in their head. There are different interpretations as to when the countdown begins as each staff member has varying levels of leniency, but once their mental timer reaches zero they're expected to take action.
In nearly every circumstance previous, staff have warned travellers who are tardy to attend their gate well in advance. On this occasion, it's alleged, staff broke with protocol and warned Dixon with 9 seconds remaining, rather than the traditional 15.
Another allegation made was against the pilots, who are alleged to have been extremely close to take-off before the boarding gate had closed, despite regulations stating that there must be a certain distance between the last traveller to board and the commencement of take-off. They call this buffer area the 'protected zone', so-called so as to prevent the situation where a traveller is only just stepping onto the flight as it takes off, ripping their legs off instantly.
This was not the only event that soured Port Adelaide's flight home, as footage has surfaced of forward Robbie Gray, who was just trying to stow his bags in the overhead locker, being pulled back violently into his seat before the bag was anywhere near stowed.
The authorities are expected to investigate these incidents over the coming days, and then do nothing.