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What's The Longest Holding Pattern You've Been In?  
User currently offlineCha747 From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 821 posts, RR: 5
Posted (12 years 5 months 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 7269 times:

Just after Air Tran started their LGA-PIT route, there was a fare-war with USAirways with r/t's starting at $88. I did this 5 times during January and February of 2001 (I was on a rotation in PIT and my fiancee...now wife, lived near LGA). Usually, Friday evening from PIT-LGA we'd be in a holding pattern circling above Allentown, PA for 30-45 mintues before being cleared straight into LGA.

One night, however, we spent an hour circling above Allentown. Then, the pilot announced we were cleared but took us on the most bizarre approach I've ever been on. We crossed into New Jersey from Pennsylvania but instead of heading east after the Goethals Bridge, we continued North up the New Jersey Turnpike. The next thing I new, I looked down and saw the Statue of Liberty and then the World Trade Center (who knew then??). At that point, we headed west crossing over the Hudson and around Teterboro, we started to head north into Northern Jersey. We crossed the Hudson River just south of the Tappan-Zee bridge, and then headed back north into Westchester county. We then headed east into the Long Island sound. OK...I thought...we're on our way to Laguardia. Instead, we cirrcled a few times over Long Island itself (my guess is Nassau County), headed back over the sound into Westchester County, then turned south again. We followed the New England Throughway South (I could see the Toll Plaza clearly) and then the Whitestone bridge appeared on our left and we finally landed!

Any other bizarre "holding pattern" / "approach" stories out there?

You land a million planes safely, then you have one little mid-air and you never hear the end of it - Pushing Tin
17 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineB6FA4ever From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 821 posts, RR: 10
Reply 1, posted (12 years 5 months 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 7227 times:

i remember on X-Mas day last year i was working a flight from FLL-JFK...my normal 2 1/2 hr flight turned out to be almost 5 1/2 hrs. though this hold was due to the snow storm that hit the area and the airport recently opened back up as we came to the NY area. but we were circling for a very long time (felt like 10 yrs  Laugh out loud) going over the southern part of Queens along the Jersey coast then back out over the atlantic and over and over again. heard of ATC that some AA flight from europe were diverting to chicago because of the traffic problems in NY.


User currently offlineGigneil From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 16347 posts, RR: 79
Reply 2, posted (12 years 5 months 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 7228 times:


A DL 727 hit the pavement with no nosegear one night at SFO. We circled around in between Sacramento and Fresno for 2.5 hours (a UA 767-300/ER). Watching the airshow map showed this omnious little oval where we'd been circling

When we left IAD, I felt fine. By this time (now 8.5 hours after I left) I was getting progressively sicker. My body ached horribly, and it was getting harder to sit still in my seat I was so uncomfortable.

By the time I hit the terminal I was positively ill. Didn't even try to drive to my hotel in San Jose, I checked into the SFO Doubletree right then.

Next day found an urgent care. I had strep throat and a high fever.

My single least favorite airplane experience.


User currently offlineArmitageShanks From Costa Rica, joined Dec 2003, 3926 posts, RR: 14
Reply 3, posted (12 years 5 months 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 7190 times:

It was coming into Atlanta this summer during a typical thunderstorm. We held for like 15 min, so I guess I am pretty lucky so far.

User currently offlineMilesrich From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 2078 posts, RR: 6
Reply 4, posted (12 years 5 months 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 7150 times:

Easter Sunday, 1964. United Flight from MLI to ORD. DC-6B. We took off at about 9:30 flew 35 minutes to Chicago, and started circling. We returned to MLI at about 3 p.m. ORD had a snowstorm that day and received about 10 inches or more of snow. We flew figure 8's for almost 5 hours.

User currently offlineCopaair737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (12 years 5 months 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 7140 times:

I was once in a DL 767 enroute from DFW to PBI, and due to thunderstorms in PBI, we circled the area for over an hour before finally landing.

User currently offlineUnited777 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 1657 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (12 years 5 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 7134 times:

All my worse were flying from Seattle to the Bay Area (SFO & SJC)! The worse was on AS SEA-SFO on a B73NG. We were descending into SFO over the North Bay Area when we were told that fog has stopped all flights from arriving. We pretty much went in circles north of the bay area for about 45-50 minutes until finally proceeding down to SFO.

Another bad experience was landing at NRT! I still don't know what exactly happened but I was flying SEA-NRT on a NW 742 when we circled for about an hour. After landing it took us a while to get to your gate!

Farhan Ali
Seattle, USA

User currently offlineJcxp15 From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 997 posts, RR: 4
Reply 7, posted (12 years 5 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 7126 times:

One of my weirdest routings was from CVG-JFK on a DL763. I was routed PNS-ATL-CVG-JFK, (I think it was cheaper than doing PNS-ATL-JFK, go figure). Anyway, upon arrival into CVG we found out there was a 45 minute ground hold due to weather in the NY area. 45 minutes later, we were on the plane, I had a window seat on the right side of the aircraft. About 2 hours later, I really started wondering why we hadn't started our approach (I'm pretty sure CVG-JFK is about an hour and 45 minute to a 2 hour flight), and why we were still at cruising altitude. 30 minutes later we were still at cruising altitude, and the Atlantic Ocean became visible. I figured we must have had to slow down, because of the amount of traffic and poor weather at JFK, and that we must have been close. Sure enough we started a turn north, and headed up the coast. The only problem is that 30 minutes later, we were still at cruising altitude. About 2 hours and 45 minutes with no cabin announcements or anything explaining why we were still airborne. Finally, the captain came on, and explained that due to weather en route to JFK, our flightplan was completely changed, and instead of heading east after takeoff, we headed south, to the Georgia/Tennessee boarder, then over North Carolina, and that we were headed up the coast to JFK, all the while with a speed restriction due to the amount of traffic in the area.
We flew the normal approach into JFK (East of Sandy Hook over the Atlantic) and flew the Canarsie Approach to 13L, with strong thunderstorms off to our west moving east. We touched down on runway 13L and I'm pretty certain that we were one of the last aircraft to do the Canarsie Approach (I know there was one more behind us), as just after we landed it started pouring with reduced visibility and lightning, and I saw no other aircraft land on 13L.

Sucks that I kind of had to doubletrack ATL-CVG-ATL and then take a slow route up the coast. I like airplanes and all, but this flight turned into almost a 4 hour flight, and after flying 2 legs earlier in the day, I couldn't wait to get on the ground. It also sucked because I'd say the majority of the people on my flight were headed overseas (a lot at that time to Bombai), who missed their flights. Fortunately, several flights were delayed or held so that some passengers could conmake their connections.

User currently offlineBN747 From United States of America, joined Mar 2002, 5641 posts, RR: 50
Reply 8, posted (12 years 5 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 7003 times:

The coolest place to hold...over Heathrow. On a TWA 747 arriving very early into the London area due some serious fog on the ground and before curfew we had to circle nearly an hour. During that time it was cool watching an Air Canada L-1011 below and Air India 747 circle above all in out stack. I thought it was cool to watch the whole process unfold. But today due to flow control..you don't see that much these days.

Two years ago did a sh*tload of circles in a YX DC-9 over Lake Michigan (enroute to MKE)..now doing that over all that water..and not so high up and a lotta ORD traffic nearby did make me a bit uneasy. But it was cool to watch.


"Home of the Brave, made by the Slaves..Land of the Free, if you look like me.." T. Jefferson
User currently offlineUnique From Switzerland, joined Mar 2003, 1703 posts, RR: 32
Reply 9, posted (12 years 5 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 6984 times:

Dense fog at ZRH, Cat II rated aircraft at that time, it took us 3 hrs in the air from FRA to ZRH on a CX B742 (20 min. flying time until the holding pattern, 2:40 hrs holding. Usually it's a 30 min. hop).

User currently offlineDufo From Slovenia, joined May 1999, 846 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (12 years 5 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 6932 times:

4 minutes.. Los Angeles - San Francisco in the Delta 757.

I seriously think I just creamed my pants without any influence from any outside variables.
User currently offlineSlamclick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 66
Reply 11, posted (12 years 5 months 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 6761 times:

Guess I have been lucky. For length of time you guys have me beat. Once got held at FL350 over UBG (Oregon) I asked for 40nm inbound legs and it was just like cruising around over the Williamette Valley. Only went one turn before they opened the gates again.

In January 1970 I flew United SFO-OAK-RNO in a DC-6. It was solid overcast at SFO and we took off and went over Woodside VOR and descended into VFR conditions offshore. We turned northeast and flew in just under the overcast, over the Golden Gate Bridge, past Alcatraz, over the Bay Bridge and the old PanAm clipper terminal at Treasure Island, past Navy Alameda and landed southeast at OAK. The leg to RNO was an anti-climax after that.

Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
User currently offlineFunFlyer From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 866 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (12 years 5 months 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 6754 times:

Mine was on Feb. 28th on DL a 777 (it was supposed to be a 767) coming from FLL-ATL, we were in the air an extra 2 hours.

Who cares about status?
User currently offlineTan flyr From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 1983 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (12 years 5 months 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 6683 times:

A number of years ago on an AA MD-80 from FAT-DFW in the afternoon we beagn flying a racetrack hold west of DFW. After I few Moments I reealized what was happening and mentioned it to the guy seated next to me.. sure enought he captain came on the PA and advised we were holding due to a Thunderstorm over DFW..well...we held for very close to an hour and then the Captain advised we were diverting to SAT. We glided down to SAT, landed and sat on the tarmac for close to 2 hours while this stubborn storm held over DFW. After several hours got cleared to make the quick hop up to DFW (after some nice Jet-A was put in the tanks!)..Total hold/divert time was close to 5 hours.

User currently offlineFoxBravo From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 3084 posts, RR: 4
Reply 14, posted (12 years 5 months 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 6681 times:

Flying from KEF to AMS on an Icelandair 737-400, we must have circled for at least an hour because AMS was covered with a thick blanket of fog. Finally we diverted to CGN as we were running low on fuel. They put us on a bus for the 3-hour ride to Amsterdam--not fun after flying all night from JFK! When we finally arrived at Schiphol, the fog was still some of the thickest I have ever seen, so it was not surprising that we hadn't been able to land.

Common sense is not so common. -Voltaire
User currently offlineAmhilde From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 643 posts, RR: 5
Reply 15, posted (12 years 5 months 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 6537 times:

I once held for an hour over SFO which really wasnt cool because it was on VS after 11 hours out of LHR- boy did I want to get off that damn tank!

Ive been held twice over LHR- the first time my stomach was just not holding at all and I honestly just wanted to get on the ground so I could deal with it, and yet we just kept circling and circling, for about 45 mins, it was awful. Same thing this last trip three weeks ago- we circled above the Home Counties for a while but at least this time I had sorted out what the stomach problem was (only ever happens going into LHR) and at least was prepared and it wasnt such a big deal. When we landed and I couldnt see the ground until we hit it, then I realised what the problem had been for the hold  Smile

Hang on tightly, Let go lightly
User currently offlineAlitaliaMD11 From Spain, joined Dec 2003, 4068 posts, RR: 12
Reply 16, posted (12 years 5 months 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 6530 times:


EWR-LAX i waited in the waiting patern for three hours. and on teh way back we were on the taxiway for five hours!!!

No Vueling No Party
User currently offlineScf158 From Switzerland, joined Dec 2003, 413 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (12 years 5 months 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 6513 times:

YVR - LHR ... We were held for 30 mins then came in for landing but had to do a touch and go because an Air India 747 was in the way! So overall it was about 1 hour...

Not too bad me thinks.

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