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AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.  
User currently offlineFXramper From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 7197 posts, RR: 85
Posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 5574 times:
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AA is reexamining how it operates during thunderstorms to avoid stranding passengers on grounded airlines for hours.

Lightning at DFW in Sept closed the airport, and cancelled hundreds of flights.

Again on 29 Dec, storms cancelled hundreds of flights and caused countless diversions. Diverts to OKC and AUS overwhelmed ground staff and a/c were left sitting on taxiways with no gates to go to.

The flight from SFO that waited some 8 hrs to deplane, and there was a better one, the ZRH flight to DFW diverted, and got to wait some 10 hrs before letting the pax get off.

It was chaos at the diverted airports and more than once, a pilot would request a gate to park, only to be ignored by ATC.  Sad

I know good ole mother nature can't be controlled, but I'm glad to see some proactive solutions being developed by AA for future scenarios.

FYI. The pax that were left on the a/c for 8 hrs at AUS, got food and hotel vouchers and flew out at 9am the next morning to DFW.  airplane 

62 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineJayDavis From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 2000 posts, RR: 16
Reply 1, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 5491 times:

They had nothing but a total CLUSTER F**K on their hands last Friday at DFW. To not let people off a plane is just insane............

What would have happened if somebody had have just totally freaked out and popped open an emergency window and climb out? Would they be arrested and what would the crime be?

That is just the stupidest thing I have ever read about AA, to make people wait on a plane that long................just uncalled for.


User currently offlineCory6188 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2686 posts, RR: 6
Reply 2, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 1 day ago) and read 5435 times:

I understand that things can get crazy at airports when IROPS are occurring, but seriously....keeping pax on a plane for 8+ hours? That's just ridiculous!

If a pax decided to pop the emergency exit and escape via the slides, I'd really like to know if any judge could honestly tell the pax that they should have stayed on the plane instead...


User currently offlineWorldTraveler From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 1 day ago) and read 5410 times:

The sad reality is that I watched an AA DC10 from FRA to DFW make a planned fuel stop in CVG back in the early 90s. Sure enough, the flight developed a mechanical on taxiout after refueling. TW was AA's maintenance contractor in CVG but they didn't have any parts or people w/ knowledge for a DC10. Bottom line is that AA cxld the flight, towed it to DL's int'l arrivals facility (and US Customs required AA to wait for DL to complete its int'l operation before unloading), and AA ended up putting up most of the people overnight because they couldn't get passengers processed fast enough to get them out that night. That was probably 15 years ago but AA obviously didn't learn its lesson about dropping int'l flights into cities where they shouldn't be since they diverted int'l flights during this latest mess at DFW into TUL which apparently doesn't have Customs/INS on duty. Since the crew timed out, the passengers had to be kept on the plane until a new crew could be flown to TUL to continue the flight to DFW. I find it hard to be sympathetic to a company that continues to make the same kinds of mistakes year after year. (I'm sure some AA people will get really peeved about that statement but can you explain why AA didn't have the foresight to divert int'l flights to cities that could handle them, like Houston?)

User currently offlineAsuflyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 135 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 1 day ago) and read 5380 times:

Quoting FXramper (Thread starter):
The flight from SFO that waited some 8 hrs to deplane, and there was a better one, the ZRH flight to DFW diverted, and got to wait some 10 hrs before letting the pax get off.

The SFO apparently was terrible. Lavatories overflowing, people angry and crying.

http://users1.wsj.com/lmda/do/checkL...0.html%3Fmod%3Dhome_we_banner_left


User currently offlineWorldTraveler From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 5278 times:

THIS situation is no different than the NW show situation a couple years ago at DTW... in fact, probably not as bad because rain and Tstorms don't physically prevent you from getting to a gate.

AA mgmt bears sole responsibility for this whole disaster. It should be their policy and the gov't should demand that they file it as part of their customer service plan that if a plane diverts and is on the ground for more than X hours (2 is probably a realistic number), the flight must be pulled to a gate and the passengers deplaned. Even if there are a dozen flights on the ground and 2 gates available, flights can be deplaned by jetway except during the height of a storm. that flight should be pushed off the gate and the next flight pulled up.

there is simply no excuse for AA handling these flights as they were.... and you have to ask why AA could not find cities that were not being impacted by Tstorms so that flights could be handled there. I don't have a copy of the radar for that Friday but you cannot tell me that cities all over the Southwest were all impacted by Tstorms at the same time. If AUS was being impacted by Tstorms, it should not have been used as a diversion city. it's obvious that AA mgmt and flight control uses very poor judgment in deciding where to divert.


User currently offlineAA787823 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 5120 times:

I think part of the problem started several hours before the bulk of the bad weather arrived. At around 1400 or so the corner posts to the south closed and that started a few diversions. The forcast was for sever wx, at that time AA should have had a heads up and started to cancel several flights at their up line cities before they came to DFW and created havoc.

User currently offlineFXramper From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 7197 posts, RR: 85
Reply 7, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 5112 times:
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Quoting Asuflyer (Reply 4):
Lavatories overflowing

I manage at the AUS ramp, I saw the pilots walking around a few dogs they popped open from the belly. No lav service the entire time. Disgusting.  ill 


User currently offlineReins485 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 136 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 5068 times:

Quoting Cory6188 (Reply 2):
I understand that things can get crazy at airports when IROPS are occurring, but seriously....keeping pax on a plane for 8+ hours? That's just ridiculous!

Well if the ramp is closed there is no way to get the passengers off the airplane, unless you want to expose workers to get harmed. While not a big chance, I know I much rather keep my employees safe, and thats what AA did and is the correct decision. The liability that AA would be exposed to and if someone got hurt and sued, the payout could be in millions and they would have to pay it. AA made the right decision because any company and organization has to minimize its risk.

Quoting AA787823 (Reply 6):
The forcast was for sever wx, at that time AA should have had a heads up and started to cancel several flights at their up line cities before they came to DFW and created havoc.

Well some, if not most, of these flights would be in the air. No airline is going to keep their airplane in the air longer than the absolutely have to because of the cost of fuel.

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 3):
. That was probably 15 years ago but AA obviously didn't learn its lesson about dropping int'l flights into cities where they shouldn't be since they diverted int'l flights during this latest mess at DFW into TUL which apparently doesn't have Customs/INS on duty.

Well, TUL was most likely the filed diversion plan due to its closeness to DFW. And most pilots will try to get their airplane as close to their final destination as possible. Having a DFW flight divert to ORD would be like a flight from the USA to MAD diverting to LHR or a flight to DEN diverting to ORD. Just does not make any business sense to be that far away from the final destination.


User currently offlineWorldTraveler From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 4953 times:

I didn't say divert to ORD. I said divert to the closest suitable airport that was capable of handling the type of aircraft and themission it was flying. IAH is fully equipped to handle international flights and is about the same distance from DFW as TUL is.

The fact that AA diverted a bunch of flights into a city that was also experiencing severe weather only validates the point. AA flight control and meteorologists are not using good sense in how and where they divert aircraft or in managing the diversions once they are on the ground.

Let me provide a contrasting note. I've learned DL had a strong line of Tstorms go through ATL on Friday about noon and had to divert a couple dozen flights. Several cities got as many as a half dozen. Sources tell me CAE got 6 including several widebodies but they managed to get them all out within an hour except for one 764 that had some kind of mechanical and was dispatched in 2 hrs.

I know people don't like comparisons but that is exactly the kind of diversion management that airlines should be doing. DL diverted to cities that could handle the situation - and got the flights back out quickly. Even when a mechanical arose, CAE was able to handle it. that is the way diversions should be handled.


User currently offlineLegend11 From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 107 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 4892 times:

Having been on the inside in a major SOC operation, there are a lot of considerations that are apparrently not a known quantity based on the above comments. SOC/Flight Control is always responsible for monitoring both current and forecasted wx, especially at a Hub. Thing you cannot control is the manner in which ATC starts closing down routes. There is an ATC/airline SOC conference line that kicks in when wx starts to play a part, but you are always going to have diversion limitations based on how much fuel any given flight has available. I worked at ATA, and our policy was to attempt to set gates, fuel, services up prior to a diversion, or as a diversion was enroute. Smaller carrier granted, but still a process. Second thing we would attempt, particularly when the wx problem was ORD ro MDW, was to delay inbound flights at the origin airport as long as possible, to avoid the NW DTW blizzard spectacle.

Prior planning is an easy thing to speculate on, but until you have been there.... I have been at both FWA and IND during major diversion activity, and it is an extremely difficult event to manage on the ground side when handling diversion activity to YOUR airport. It becomes expontentially more diffiuclt in a large carrier environment, because the weather will usually change faster than plans can be expedited.


User currently offlinePar13del From Bahamas, joined Dec 2005, 7075 posts, RR: 8
Reply 11, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 4827 times:

Let me add a couple more points
1. AA is conserving money by only taking fuel required, including diversion fuel
2. Same for lav water etc, yes I watched the documentary on TV
3. When considering diversion airports, fuel availability and runway capacity
is considered, does anyone check air stairs?

Most a/c today are made without their own stairs, hence a/c have to wait for jetways. An expense AA could consider is having the trucks with stairs at various "diversion" airports, in this case, they could unload pax via stairs, direct them to terminal, and use the truck for the next a/c. Passengers would much rather wait in the terminal rather than the plane, what most pax cannot understand is why they cannot deplane, talking about gates and jetways just flies over their heads, and of course, the airline gets the blame, not the airport infrastructure. Maybe airports should refuse to be diversion airports if they dont have adequate equipment, in this case, I think manual stairs is a must at any diversion airport - guess that means all airports.


User currently offlineLawnDart From United States of America, joined May 2005, 970 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 4827 times:

Okay, so AA had a boatload of flights inbound to DFW, and a line of tstms hit. Forecasting is not quite as good as Aftercasting, so knowing that within XX to YY time period these tstms might hit DFW...maybe directly, maybe to the north, maybe to the south...maybe widely scattered...the dispatchers send the flights out with fuel to hold, hmm...maybe 35 to 40 minutes (but not too much, it costs money, and passengers don't want to pay more than $39 to fly these days), and with an alternate.

Alternate choice based primarily on which direction the flight is coming from (OKC and TUL for the northside, AUS and IAH for the southside). Alternate can not be too far away (remember, tickets only cost $39 and there is a total cost to think of). Alternate is, however, approved to handle the type of aircraft it is chosen for (can AMA handle a 777? No? Then don't send one there).

So, AA has 2 777s, 3 767s, 5 757, 8 738s and 15 MD80s holding for clearance inbound (33 aircraft - not unreasonable), when all of a sudden a tstm hits DFW directly. Airport closed, and won't reopen for 30 minutes...there goes your hold fuel. Pilot nervous, dispatcher looking at weather situation and oops...TUL was your alternate, but tstms approaching. Do you risk it (remember AA's accident in TUL a few years back?)?

All of a sudden, another one of that dispatchers flights request diversion...AUS is the alternate...hey AUS looks good - let's send them both there. 2 inbound to AUS. Suddenly, a third flight starts squawking...ok AUS as well. However, 4 other dispatchers have just given clearance to 3 of their flights to divert to...you guessed it...AUS.

The poor schmoes at AUS are working on getting their MD80 to ORD out, passengers boarding...the DFW flights is held on the ground...passengers in gate. One gate is awaiting the inbound SJC flight. All of a sudden they get a call...hey, prepare for a diverted MD80 flight. Okay. Then they get another call...hey, I've got a 757 diversion inbound...yikes! Another call...another MD80...holy sh*t...another call...inbound 777, oh, and by the way, it's from LGW so passengers can not get off (no customs). A couple of calls later, AA's AUS crew (what, 20-25 people?) are looking at holding their DFW flight, pushing their ORD flight and working the SJC inbound...oh, and welcoming a dozen other flights including an international 777, an international 767, a 757, two 738s and 7 MD80s. For three gates.

What to do...what to do. Well, here they come. Okay, first, push ORD...bye! Two gates out of three open...here comes SJC...okay, one gate open...offload SJC. Four diversions on the ground...shoot, park one at the open gate, make the other two park on the ramp.

Oh no, WN and DL just diverted to AUS...they're taking up ramp space. Here come four more of ours...coordinate with the tower, can we park them somewhere? No room on the ramp, how about a taxiway? Okay, four on the taxiway, four more inbound. Alright...the SJC inbound is now the SJC outbound....let's get it going. No ground crews just sitting around? The diversions will have to wait. Call a couple of guys in on their off day. SJC outbound goes...bring in one diversion...fuel, get the flight dispatched...oh, DFW not open yet?

Okay...fuel another on the ramp...oh, fuel truck needs to go get more fuel? How many fuel trucks are there at AUS...only five, and four are taking care of CO, DL, WN and F9...hey, guys, my passengers are getting restless...yeah, mine too...why can't they get off? DFW open, but can't leave until we have a flight plan and fuel...lots of fuel this time, so I don't have to come back...what? 777 took all the fuel?

Anyway, damn those idiots at AA for not planning ahead. I paid my $39, I expect better service than this...


User currently offlinePSU.DTW.SCE From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 7537 posts, RR: 28
Reply 13, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 4778 times:

Thank you LawnDart, for providing this snapshot of the operational complexity of this situation.

As said, it is very difficult to handle situations like this based on the limited resources, labor, all while trying to not completely blow the bank.

For as many times throughout the year, that diversion situations arise, there is usually one or two that don't go too well. This one had all of the right ingredients - long stalled severe weather system, heavy holiday traffic, inaccurate weather forecasts, employees off on holiday weekend, and a lot of last minute decisions made without coordination.

Obviously, they want to get a lot of planes out of the air quickly, and it can be very easy to get more planes in one place than an outstation can handle.

I'm sure there will be lessons learned from this, but its pretty easy to see how this type of situation can occur in severe weather situations, especially surrounding airline mega-hubs.


User currently offlineLegend11 From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 107 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4624 times:

Let me add another dimension to diversion planning. Fuel onboard notwithstanding, most folks dont realize that operating thru a hub has enormous operational considerations when you have to start diversions. Most planes and their crews are on a scheduled line- once you start diverting flights, there are considerations that require further flights on that line to be either cancelled, delayed, or replaced, pending aircraft and crew availability. Safety is the first consideration, but when you get a bunch of flights diverted for weather, you now have a massive coordination problem forboth aircraft and crews, and this causes a schedule impact that could cause problems for several days. Crew duty is always an issue when diversions start, and another factor to consider is how aircraft are routed on specific lines with a view of scheduled maintenance requirements ( A checks, B checks, Line checks, etc). Normally dont have an option to do any or all of those at ALL destinations.

Lastly, forget that $39 fare business. How much a pax paid for a ticket is not a major consideration in looking for a diversion airport. More important is getting the flight safely out of severe weather, and then dealing with rest of those issues. Flights are dispatched based on FAA flight planning requirements- fuel to get from origin to destination, plus 45 mins hold, fuel to the selected alternate plus 45 mins hold fuel. Once the weather issue sticks up, options start to get smaller in a very rapid fashion.

I recall getting off work at ATA IND on a day when the thunder boomers started to impact ORD and MDW both. Within a very short period of time, IND was flogged with nearly70 plus diversions, including an AA 777, KLM 747-400 and multiple 737, 727, MD80 etc. These diversions had to be parked on the International ramp, taxiways, etc, untill they could be moved to a gate for fueling. I can appreciate the frustration caused by the the $39 ticket, but there is a whole more going on than just the pax frustration.  banghead   banghead 


User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4495 times:

Quoting Legend11 (Reply 10):
Having been on the inside in a major SOC operation, there are a lot of considerations that are apparently not a known quantity based on the above comments.



Quoting Legend11 (Reply 10):
Prior planning is an easy thing to speculate on, but until you have been there....

I could agree more with both your statements...   

Two of the biggest variables are the weather (specifically, how much coverage, line/area?, and movement) and ATC (ground stops and extensions thereto, and ground delay programs.) This is a screenshot of the weather later that day:

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d143/OPNLguy/1230060129zradar.jpg

The problem with the weather that Friday at DFW was two-fold. First, it wasn't the typical SW-NE oriented line of TSRA that blows through at 20-30 kts. and are thus usually somewhat predictable, and it was instead a N-S oriented line associated with the east side of a low pressure system. This meant that the thunderstorm cells would "train echo" anything longer than if it had been hit like the "usual" line hits. Secondly, the effects of this kind of system are exacerbated should its overall movement (usually NE, E or SE) slow down at any point, which is what apparently what occurred here.

Everyone pretty much knows and understands the concept of "Murphy's Law" and the various corollaries thereto, and airline ops are no different. As a dispatcher, there are alot of things I can plan for, but one can't plan for everything that could possibly happen. If a release has to be sent 1 hour before scheduled push time, and it's a 1 hour flight time, you're trying to plan (occasionally laughable NWS TAFs aside) for what you think the aircraft may encounter 2 hours into the future. For a 3 hour flight, make that 4 hours into the future. For an 8 hour flight, make that 9 hours into the future.

As this weather also demonstrates, sometimes it can also preclude the use of certain desired alternates. The AA ZRH-DFW flight (767?) would have found SAT or IAH better places to divert to as far as Customs went, but did either station have the appropriate ground equipment? Could they have even made it to SAT or IAH from northeast of the DFW area, given the enroute weather? Sure doesn't look like it. Could MCI or STL been used? Assuming they had Customs and were capable of 767 ops, did they have enough fuel to get to either place, or should you have "known" (absolutely) that they'd need such fuel options hours ago when you planned the thing?

As far as the stations go, it's almost a moot issue whether it's just irregular ops, or really AFU irregular ops--both involve hitting that station with 2X-3X (or more) of their normal "X" demand and overwhelming them. It's easy for a station to say "no more diversions please" and while we try and accomodate those kinds of requests, there are times when one can't.

A far as establishing policies of not having passengers sitting on an aircraft any longer than 3 hours, that's fine in theory, but it's not realistic. A common scenario can see a departure push for destination XYZ, and then ATCSCC issues a groundstop for XYZ with an update time 1 hour from then. Tick tock. ATCSCC then issues an extension to that update time, and it's an additional hour. Tick tock. ATCSCC comes out of the groundstop but transitions into a ground delay program (GDP), and the flight now gets a EDCT ("wheels-up" time) that's another hour away. The flight was already pushed and on the ramp for :15 before the initial groundstop hit, so now they will have sat there for 3:15 before their EDCT rolls around. Do they go back to the gate to avoid busting the3 hour limit? (If so, and a few folks get off, they'll have missed their EDCT, and the flight (and the bulk of the folks) will now be an extra hour or two late.

Quite simply stated, most days, you get the bear--on a rare day, the bear gets you, and you end up with irregular ops, the likes of which makes the papers.

[Edited 2007-01-07 20:35:37]

User currently offlineJA54123 From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 137 posts, RR: 3
Reply 16, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4459 times:

LawnDart, I think you best summed it up and I think most people have no idea what goes into scheduling, especially when diversions are taking place.
1 flight arriving from a destination can affect 10 different ones, and those 10 affect 30 others.

One thing I might point out though is AMA, my home airport, could in fact handle anything that you might land there. We most likely have a portable airstairs for any aircraft as we have a major aircraft painting firm that routinely paints 747s, 777s and is able to handle those with ease.
We have had the occasional 757 stop by and have been able to deplane those birds with airstairs.

I think that our jetways are not designed for the taller birds, only 737s, 727s, MD-80s, CRJs & ERJs. We probably would run short on fuel, however we do refuel military aircraft when they stop by--which is quite often. We have lots of ramp space available on the airport property (former B-52 SAC base). Last but certainly not least, we do have a small customs/immigration facility that would certainly have its work cut out for it, but could work it out.

Just a thought next time DFW is closed and diversions take place.



You wouldn't understand, it's a Texas Thang!
User currently offlineEdelag From Mexico, joined Dec 2005, 331 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4360 times:

Sadly for me, I flew in to DFW last Friday. It mas a major chaos. My flight was SEA-DFW on a B757. My flight was scheluled to take off at 12:15 but we got out of the gate at 12:30. The pilot did tell us that there was some sort of weather problem in DFW, so we waited about an hour at the ramp. Watched about some 10 planes take off and some other 10 land when we finally took off.

The flight was calm with only some 5 minutes of turbulence. Finally we got to the DFW area to realise that the airport is on and off constantly. So we got into a holidng position for about an hour, and then the captain comes on and tells us that we have to divert to AUS due to fuel.

We land in AUS to see some other AA planes on the tarmac near us, but we were way far from the termnial. We sit there for 3.5 hours when finally the captain tells us that they have fuel and are ready to go to DFW. About 50 minutes later I am still sitting on my same seat for which I have been for about 9 hours.

The captain tells us that there is no gate available. So we wait another 30 minutes when finaly there is one available. It was C7 or something like that. We get to the gate to find out that there is nobady to connect the jetbridge to the plane. About 25 minutes later we get out of the plane.

Sadly for me I was connecting that night. My flight to MTY was cancelled, so inestead of making a 50 people line to get my flight, I called AA's 1-800 number. I got a flight departing at 11 AM, it was 12 AM at the time.

I had already called a hotel and got reservation for the night. The next thing was to find a taxi, but I knew a taxi number in DFW so i called them. 5 minutes later I am in a cab ready to go.

The next morining I arrived to DFW to find the check in line to be quite long. But I had to get in it, an hour later I am checking in.

I get to my plane on time and everything is great. The flight was beautiful and everything. I got to MTY, finnaly, to find out that my bags hadent arrived. So again I had to stand in line for about 30 minutes to give a report about my bags. I got to my house at 2 pm and my bags arrvied at 8 pm that same day.

So, you can see that AA on bad weather really sucks. But hey my bad luck, also paid off. I got my bags 6 hours after my arrival, I got a hotel, I got a cab, and I got into a flight the next morining instead of another the next day.



It's not just the destination, it's the journey.
User currently offlineLuv2fly From United States of America, joined May 2003, 12090 posts, RR: 49
Reply 18, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4310 times:

Quoting FXramper (Thread starter):
FYI. The pax that were left on the a/c for 8 hrs at AUS, got food and hotel vouchers and flew out at 9am the next morning to DFW.

Well per the WSJ article they had to fight tooth and nail to be given these from the AA staff that had to deal with this mess, and only 2 agents were available to handle this.



You can cut the irony with a knife
User currently offlineLogos From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 793 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4295 times:

Quoting LawnDart (Reply 12):
Anyway, damn those idiots at AA for not planning ahead. I paid my $39, I expect better service than this...



Quoting Legend11 (Reply 14):
Lastly, forget that $39 fare business. How much a pax paid for a ticket is not a major consideration in looking for a diversion airport.

Actually, as LawnDart pointed out (nice post, by the way), the $39 doesn't bear on selection of the diversion airport, but in the margin that you've got to work with in the case of a diversion. In the case of inbound DFW flights, I wouldn't be surprised that they're carrying as little fuel as they can get away with becuase it will be cheaper for them at their hub. This isn't quite as bad as the DTW snow storm of 1999 (where the flights would actually have been better off if they had diverted) but there are still probably some lessons to be learned.

Cheers,
Dave in Orlando



Too many types flown to list
User currently offlineGoldenshield From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 5970 posts, RR: 14
Reply 20, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4208 times:

Quoting Legend11 (Reply 14):
Flights are dispatched based on FAA flight planning requirements- fuel to get from origin to destination, plus 45 mins hold, fuel to the selected alternate plus 45 mins hold fuel

Not to burst your bubble, or anything becuase of your former job title, but that's not quite correct.

You got the trip fuel part right, but the rest goes:

- fuel to the furthest alternate
- 45 minutes reserve fuel

Holding fuel is not required for domestic ops, but the dispatcher can make it mandatory for takeoff per 121.647—Factors for computing fuel required, and the wording of the OpSpecs and FOM one is operating under.

Otherwise, I completely agree with you.

On a related note, I had a plane going to DFW that day. He ended up holding for a little more than an hour, and was the first one in.



Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.
User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4192 times:

In my view, neither ticket price or fuel price has any bearing here. It's much more a matter of what fuel you can get on the aircraft. It's the holiday season, and loads are full, which for on many "short" flights (< 3-5 hours in duration, depending upon the aircraft) you're going to be landing weight-limited, so you ight not hae the fuel options that you'd like. Sure, you can put the fuel you want on there, but you'll have to kick some payload (read: passengers and/or bags) off to do so.

User currently offlineWorldTraveler From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4146 times:

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 15):
A far as establishing policies of not having passengers sitting on an aircraft any longer than 3 hours, that's fine in theory, but it's not realistic.

I don't agree. Theory is established long before the bottom falls out in any situation so that you have some sort of template to follow in a crisis. Do you think Boeing tells pilots that theory doesn't really matter in an engine out scenario? Of course not. They have to develop procedures for pilots that will work based on the scenarios they have seen or can foresee and then they tweak them as more experience comes in. but it is incumbent on a pilot to follow the procedures that have been developed in an emergency.

managing diversions is no different. I can fully appreciate the complexity of moving weather systems, multiple flights, international operations, etc. But it is expected that airlines that operate in those situations should be capable of managing when those things start falling apart. AA is just as responsible for managing an unforeseen weather situation as it is for dealing with in-flight mechanicals and, God forbid, terrorism.

The reality is that AA is one of just a couple airlines in the US that have special permission from the FAA to use lower reserves than other airlines. It is precisely in situations like a week ago Friday that those kinds of decisions come into question. It is one thing to operate with limited reserves when no bad weather is forecast but when it is known that there could be problems (and that is usually known well before any transatlantic flights leave their origin airports), you put on more fuel and prepare for the possibility that things could go bad. And your meteorologists work with your flight dispatchers to make sure the diversion strategy reflects the current weather situation.

Quoting Edelag (Reply 17):
I got my bags 6 hours after my arrival, I got a hotel, I got a cab, and I got into a flight the next morining instead of another the next day.

Which goes to show that passengers who can manage through airline IROPS are usually the ones that take the bull by the horns - and are willing to spend their own money. Of course, when you are sitting on a plane for hours, you have lost all control.


User currently offlineIH8B6 From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 208 posts, RR: 2
Reply 23, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4119 times:

LawnDart and OPNLguy.....

Thanks for saving me tons of time! I had highlighted many comments to quote and try to explain (fuel, altnernates, etc) but I got to the bottom and see you both already tried to explain things.

Quoting Par13del (Reply 11):
Let me add a couple more points
1. AA is conserving money by only taking fuel required, including diversion fuel

Not necessarily. The dispatcher has hold/contingency fuel too. The companies can suggust the amount of hold fuel to carry but since the dispatch job is governed by FARs, the company cannot dictate what the dispatcher should carry - just give guidelines. It makes the dispatchers job lots easier when we are carrying as much fuel as possible during a thunderstorm event.

A full flight with an alternate and some cargo can only carry so much hold fuel (not counting reserve which we cannot plan to use) before being over max structual landing weight. When the flight is planned, you have to assume you will be landing with all of that hold and alternate fuel still on the plane so you get limited by structural weights. All the planning in the world can't give you more weight. Once you spin four or five times your 45 minutes of hold fuel are gone and it's time to divert, doesn't matter if you are second in line to be cleared out or not.



Over-moderation sucks
User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 3962 times:

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 15):
A far as establishing policies of not having passengers sitting on an aircraft any longer than 3 hours, that's fine in theory, but it's not realistic.



Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 22):
I don't agree.

That's certainly your perogative. I'm basing my comments upon my 29 years in the operational end of the biz, all but 3 years of that as a dispatcher (and not for AA, mind you).

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 22):
Theory is established long before the bottom falls out in any situation so that you have some sort of template to follow in a crisis. Do you think Boeing tells pilots that theory doesn't really matter in an engine out scenario? Of course not. They have to develop procedures for pilots that will work based on the scenarios they have seen or can foresee and then they tweak them as more experience comes in. but it is incumbent on a pilot to follow the procedures that have been developed in an emergency.

I'm sorry, but there are so many apples and oranges here that I don't even know where to begin...

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 22):
managing diversions is no different.

Actually, they are. Each flights has unique variables associated to it (exactly how much crew time do they have? Can they hold and divert to X and relaunch for DFW without timing out or would diversion to Y allow that?)

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 22):
The reality is that AA is one of just a couple airlines in the US that have special permission from the FAA to use lower reserves than other airlines.

Are we talking domestic or international ops here?

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 22):
It is precisely in situations like a week ago Friday that those kinds of decisions come into question. It is one thing to operate with limited reserves when no bad weather is forecast but when it is known that there could be problems (and that is usually known well before any transatlantic flights leave their origin airports), you put on more fuel and prepare for the possibility that things could go bad. And your meteorologists work with your flight dispatchers to make sure the diversion strategy reflects the current weather situation.

OK, we'll assume all that in the pre-departure realm. Now, that said, how about when the weather you planned and fueled for gets worse while you're enroute? I know you used the word "usually" before, and this is one of those times when the weather is unusual.


[Edited 2007-01-07 21:23:59]

25 Post contains images FXramper : I work at the airport, I dunno where those WSJ writers get their info...they are media...the ones that hack aviation news to bits. The only fighting
26 OPNLguy : If he was asking ATC (ground) for a gate, I can see where they would ignore him after awhile, since the airline's local ops (and not ATC) issues the
27 WorldTraveler : obviously int'l but the FAA doesn't say that you CAN"T carry more fuel if you think you may need it. I'm certainly not saying things won't deteriorat
28 SuseJ772 : Having flown out of FWA my entire life, I couldn't imagine if it was used as a diversion airport for more than about 6 planes - holy cow that would h
29 IH8B6 : I saw flights in MEM and LIT when I looked...84 diversions over 2 hours at one point - the planes where everywhere. AUS can handle diversions just fi
30 Jetdeltamsy : The airline should be held liable for civil damages in such cases. They claim there were not enough gates to get people off the aircraft. A little bit
31 777fan : Soooooo...after reading everyone's input (very interesting, I might add), I'm surprised that nobody bothered to bring up the possibility of diverting
32 IH8B6 : Yes but then there would be a thread from someone bitching about being on the first plane to get unloaded and their flight missing the wheels up time
33 Luv2fly : Yes considering they had to fight for them.
34 IH8B6 : Fuel. Domestic...45 minutes reserve that you can't plan to use (not even to go to another airport because of a backlog in AUS or wherever), dispatche
35 ExFATboy : Interesting reading, and admittedly there's a lot behind the scenes that passengers don't realize. On the other hand, I don't think it's unrealistic t
36 777fan : No doubt those holding wouldn't have been able to make it on 45 minutes' extra fuel - I was referring to the aircraft en route. How about OKC or SAT?
37 Post contains images OPNLguy : I asked for the clarification because I suspected (correctly so, it appears) that you were confusing "reserve" fuel with "arrival" fuel, and they are
38 IH8B6 : IIRC, everywhere was slammed. The 80-90 aircraft where distributed pretty evenly around the South Central US. There was plenty of concrete to park on
39 Logos : Amen. Look, I've done research on the airline industry but have never been on the "inside" to the degree that you are and your explanation of the com
40 WorldTraveler : But I reiterate that no one is telling AA or any other airline that they shoudn't take more fuel than the minimums knowing weather is a possibility -
41 Post contains images OPNLguy : Can those met folks also tell you if the airports are suitable for the aircraft type, or are already swamped with diversions? Nobody said they were.
42 OPNLguy : In terms of diverted aircraft, I don't think they got slammed any worse than other airports peripheral to DFW, it's just that they nad a notable "exc
43 AA767400 : I guess you have never heard of NW's scandal a couple of years back in DTW. And all these things go on at every airline in the U.S.. In fact, any air
44 Luv2fly : The sad thing is, the NW Winter situation was how many years ago and still we have not learned to deal with these type of situations.
45 Silentobserver : they could just run DFW like the do ORD...one snow flake these days and AA just stops flying altogher. Cancel everything... this was their strategy ba
46 PSU.DTW.SCE : The big difference in the DTW fiasco was that the county was able to keep the airport open. Runways & taxiways were plowed and clear of snow. The issu
47 Post contains images LawnDart : If AA's MD80s are like anyone else's MD80s, than no...they can't carry that kind of extra fuel on top of full passenger loads and some cargo. If AA d
48 Post contains images OPNLguy : I'm sure there'd be one who then complain about how "crowded" the terminal was... Aw, man, you depriving them of that "conspiracy theory" argument...
49 MrSTL : STL did handle at least one 777 diversion out of Miami. The C concourse is equipped with a customs facility- not sure what the hours of operation are
50 FXramper : Fighting? The AA AUS station manager had already made up his mind to give food and hotel vouchers prior to getting the pax off the a/c...
51 Luv2fly : Per the WSJ article AA tried to use the weather excuse and was offering nothing to the stranded pax. Also why only 2 employees to deal with this mess
52 Post contains images Goldenshield : Well, pilots and flight attendants, maybe, but we dispatchers, we'll just stretch our legs under the desk and forget about the day when the relief co
53 HPAEAA : well, from what I hear, AUS TSA has to sholder some of the blame... from several articles I read the option of using airstairs to deplane and busses
54 AA767400 : The sad thing is you not admitting that WN has the same issues when faced with the same situation. And you here bashing AA when you should think abou
55 OPNLguy : No, the sad thing is that you appear to be assuming he's a SWA employee purely by his user ID, when his profile says he's in sales. For SWA? BTSOOM;
56 Post contains images FXramper : See below. The media are biased and report aviation news accurately about as often as hell has frozen over... I don't know if you were trying to make
57 Post contains images Electech6299 : Hey, that's funny enough for an encore! OK, OK, I've got to catch my breath.... Great! Lets see...6 diversions in 120 minutes. 8 Diversions in 160 mi
58 Post contains images AA767400 : Again, the sad thing here is you assumed that I thought he was an employee for WN. When the truth is whether he works for them or not he is obviously
59 SHUPirate1 : Brief bit of news...AMA is capable of handling a Space Shuttle. A 777 is hardly an issue for them.
60 Luv2fly : Its one thing to have a SOP it is another to follow it.
61 LawnDart : Okay, bad example...what's the city code for Lufkin? College Station? (These are rhetorical question...please don't answer!)
62 HPAEAA : very true Luv2fly, let's hope the renewed voice for a passenger bill of rights causes people to pay more attention...
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