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When To Make Announcement To Pax?  
User currently offlinePanAm747 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 4242 posts, RR: 8
Posted (8 years 5 months 4 hours ago) and read 2961 times:

This question is to flight attendants and flight crews.

When faced with a minor delay that is turning into something a bit more "difficult" and time-consuming, at what point do you inform the passengers of the reason for the delay?

I bring this up as my ExpressJet flight on Thursday, 12/27, BFL-SAN flight #446 had a problem with computers and the loading of the proper amount of fuel. The attempt by the flight crew to possibly make-up for a late arrival was negated by uncooperative equipment. The pilot, in communication via his Blackberry-like device, went out several times.

About ten minutes after we were all boarded, a male passenger got up and was extraordinarily rude with the flight attendant, demanding to know "why the hell you put us on this coffin and now you can't even operate a gas pump?" among other things. Jenn, the flight attendant kept her cool and told him that as soon as the flight crew knew anything, they will inform us. Indeed, they were on a minute later explaining that they had everything under control, and we took off promptly after that.

The man's actions were rude and out of line, but I would ask crews that might be in this situation what would you do? When do you say something to the passengers?

By the way, if anyone from ExpressJet can pass on my thanks to the crew of flight 446 from Thursday, please do so - they all worked very hard to get that plane in the air as quick as they could.

Pan Am:The World's Most Experienced Airline - P(oor) S(ailor's) A(irline): San Diego's Hometown Airline-Catch Our Smile!
12 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineCzbbflier From Canada, joined Jul 2006, 1032 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (8 years 5 months 1 hour ago) and read 2844 times:

The rule of thumb is.... as soon as possible. Keep the pax informed. Yes, you'll get jerks who will try to make a mountain out of a mole hill- but that comes with the territory of customer service.

Trouble is.... people have such confused expectations now... they almost expect to be treated like cattle given how little many have paid for their tickets but resent the cattle-like treatment when it starts to happen and get really worked up about it. To make matters worse, sometimes explanations sound more like justifications and apologies aren't sincere- and people pick up on that.

In the case of your delay, Jenn sounds like the quintessential professional. She kept you informed and handled the jerk well enough that the situation didn't escalate.

Not that I'm absolving the pax. The behaviour as you described it was completely inappropriate. But it is expected.

The worst are creeping delays- just as yours probably was because one doesn't really know when the problem will be resolved and you give a best estimate of when that might be- only to be wrong several times.

The worst creeping delay I came across was a DC-9 CO flight I was working at the gate in YOW. The A/C went MX because the batteries for the emergency lighting had completely discharged. They had to be re-charged. With everybody already boarded, the flight was delayed.

At first, the expected delay was 1/2 hour to replace the batteries with new ones purchased from Air Canada. A free round of drinks on board for the wait. That didn't work- the batteries were the wrong size or something like that. So NOW off come the pax back into the terminal. Then there were a number of glitches the details of which no longer matter but it went from 1/2 hour to 3 hours, to 4 hours, to.... You get the picture.

In all, the departure was pushed back about 5 times and the delay turned into an 8-1/2 hour ordeal for pax and everybody else concerned. I think the pax were boarded three times before they were finally underway. But through it all, we kept the pax completely up-to-date with the latest information as it became available- the good news and the bad news.

When the problem was finally licked and we boarded the flight for the final time KNOWING that the flight was going to leave we had, among the grumbles, many words of thanks for our professionalism and admiration and even congratulations from some for handling the handful of problem-pax as well as we did.

(Timely) honest reports is the best policy. Fortunately, that was in a time when pax were accommodated: alternative flights if possible, meal vouchers issued without a fight or delay.

People still yelled at me and my colleagues. They yelled at the flight and cabin crew. People still yelled so loud they could be heard half way down the terminal, 8 gates away. But that's life. There are people out there who get frustrated and lack the maturity to handle it in an adult-like fashion.

And for some reason, they tend to fly. A lot.  Yeah sure

User currently offlineEghansen From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (8 years 5 months 1 hour ago) and read 2825 times:

Personally, if that man had been sitting near me, I would have turned to him and said "Why don't you just shut up?" Or in the words of King Juan Carlos "Porque no te callas?"

User currently offlineAirnewzealand From New Zealand, joined Oct 2000, 2549 posts, RR: 6
Reply 3, posted (8 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 2728 times:

Its hard to say. At Qantas policy is every 20-30mins an announcement is to be made.

Like czbfier stated, rolling delays are the worst as you have to "guesstimate" when the problem will be fixed.

We had a delay on QF25 MEL-AKL (when is it not delayed) which was originally delayed for 40 minutes, so was decided we would board the passengers (usually takes 30 mins) and by the time this is done the part should be fixed.

40 minutes went by...and with 430 passengers onboard, it was getting VERY hot. The Captain interphoned the CSM and informed her the delay will now be around another hour. A PA was made to inform the passengers at which time many remained fine with the delay. It was explained that the Cargo door had a fault and needed a part replaced.
As is common practice at QF, when a delay is in place crw are to remain in the cabin/doors so passengers can see them, and it is the discreation of the CSS if waters/juice are to be done.

One hour went by, and Captain came back on PA and stated it would be another hour before depature as part still had not been found. At this time, it was requested that Door L5 be opened as it was so hot down in E-zone. Trays of Juices were handed out and the entertainment unit was switched on for passengers to view. (That IFE this day was a heaven send!).

We as the crew went round with Pretzels, Ice creams and water (Water was CONSTATNTLY done) to keep the passengers occupied....
Next update came in and good news was part had been found and was on its way down from SYD. New ETA another hour before departure. (We as the crew knew it would be over 1 hour as had to be bought over to aircraft, fitted and cleared). To cut a long story short... the passengers and crew sat on the aircraft for 3 and a half hours (not including 40 mins to board) before we pushed back and were on our way to AKL (which is a 3hrs 10 min flight). The passengers were all very good about the situation and i believe this is because they were kept informed about the situation and the crew worked very hard to keep everyone happy (Babies, mothers with children, MAS...).

In regards to the person complaining, it happens everyday on every flight. Moral of that story, you cant please everyone. Even the famous SQ can't. (Was on a flight where a passengers blew the veyr nice flight attendant up for no fault of hers.) This is what seperates a competent flight attendant from the rest...one who remains calm, professional and polite at all times. I firmly believe if you are truthful to passengers 9/10 they will reward you for it in a good way.


User currently offlineWeAreUnited From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 423 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (8 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 2674 times:

Quoting PanAm747 (Thread starter):

The man's actions were rude and out of line, but I would ask crews that might be in this situation what would you do? When do you say something to the passengers?

First off- the pax is an idiot. I'd bet that this man has flown a total of 1-3 times within the last 5 years. He thinks that his $99 ticket means he should have First Class treatment at an Economy fare. He also thinks that any delay by the airline is their way of getting back at him and he is entitled to a thousand dollar settlement as he he will be late arriving to his destination where he would be proceeding to a bar to drink too much and bitch about "airlines."

If crew had any say in this matter- people like that should never fly. They should also never leave their home.

Delays happen- anybody with any sort of intelligence knows that. This issue I'M SURE happened around the holidays where the Greyhound riders come out of the woodwork and decide to spend the extra $50 bucks and "fly on one of those airplanes."

This for sure was not an individual that flies more then once a month as they get it. They realize things happen.

I commend the Flight Attendant for being so professional- I often find it hards in situations such as this.

User currently offlineKAUSpilot From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 1976 posts, RR: 30
Reply 5, posted (8 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 2655 times:

Thank you for bearing with us during the computer malfucntion earlier this week. It was extremely frustrating, but luckily we were able to work around it most cases with marginal delays.

Personally, I inform the passengers as soon as I know of a delay, assuming it is going to be significant (more than 5 minutes). I make PA's to update the PAX every 15 minutes.

If the delay is going to be more than 1 hour and I'm still at the gate, as a general rule I will deplane. 1 hour may seem like a long time, but it takes 10-15 minutes to deplane and another 15-20 minutes to reboard, so anything much less than that really doesn't make sense.

I will never board the airplane if I have an "indefinite" departure time (eg fogged in and no way of knowing when it will clear, maintenance problem with no estimate, etc).

If we have been sitting on the ground for more than 3 hours, I return to the gate and deplane no matter what.

User currently offlineKiwiandrew From New Zealand, joined Jun 2005, 8970 posts, RR: 13
Reply 6, posted (8 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 2645 times:
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Quoting Airnewzealand (Reply 3):
Next update came in and good news was part had been found and was on its way down from SYD.

while in general I agree with your comments on the way the pax were kept informed I find this sentence undoes most of what you were saying - flying a part from SYD to AKL does not imply a delay of indeterminate nature but rather a seriously lengthy delay , SYD-AKL is approx 2 h 30 m from what I recall , and , as you said yourself there would be additional time in unloading /clearing and fitting the part - at this point I would seriously question keeping pax on the plane when the delay is clearly going to be in the order of 3 hours - it is not as though AKL is so congested that there would be major problems getting a revised take off slot - as a pax I would have felt seriously disgruntled afterwards if I found out that it was known the part was being flown from Australia , quite a different scenario from a rolling delay where there is no way of knowing whether the problem will be solved in 20 minutes or 20 hours

Moderation in all things ... including moderation ;-)
User currently offlineVHHYI From Australia, joined Oct 2007, 97 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (8 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 2613 times:

Quoting Kiwiandrew (Reply 6):
flying a part from SYD to AKL

I think he meant from SYD to MEL.

This Porsche is like an Airbus;an Engineering marvel, but without passion - Jeremy Clarkson
User currently offlinePeh From Australia, joined Nov 2006, 340 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (8 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 2610 times:

Quoting Czbbflier (Reply 1):
The rule of thumb is.... as soon as possible. Keep the pax informed. Yes, you'll get jerks who will try to make a mountain out of a mole hill- but that comes with the territory of customer service.

Thanks for sharing this story with us, Czbbflier. Thoroughly good read.

Flown: ATR72, DASH 8, 737, 747, 767, 777, A300, A320, A321, A330, A340, MD80
User currently offlineSirDeath From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 88 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (8 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 2610 times:

It's a two way street as well. As a pax you always get more being pleasant even if the situation is bad. One time I had waited several hours for a flight and so soon as the problem was resolved, the workers at the destination airport overseas staged a wildcat strike and our flight was canceled. I couldn't take my trip as the event I needed to attend would be over by the time they could get me there since flights were oversold and booked solid for the next several days. So instead of chewing the head off of the CSA at the hub airport, I was nice and pleasant... I let her take her time and kept telling her that I had no rush, chatted with her, asked her to take her time and to do what she needed to do (by now it was close to 2:00am, so I'm sure she was on overtime).

The CSA also told me that there weren't any coach seats on any flights back home later that day and ASKED ME IF FIRST CLASS WOULD BE OK!?! There were no open rooms at close airport hotels, so they put me up in a 4 star a few miles away, and paid for a taxi. So for being nice in a bad situation, I got a couple of nice meals, a first class seat and a good night sleep. At the same time, I saw some of the same people in line with me who had spent the night in the airport even more miserable than before and complaining about playing standby roulette.

The point: DON'T KILL THE MESSENGER! If you are going to be mad at someone, be mad at the right person, not the poor steward or CSA who has to tell you what they don't want to say and what you don't want to hear!

The moral: Being nice make everyone better off! If you yell at the steward or CSA, you both get more frustrated and you're still stuck in the same untenable position as before... you're right back where you started, except now everyone is pis$ed off... not only have you gotten nowhere, you've made things worse. Give props to the airline workers, 99+% are top notch folks who will do everything they can to help you... they don't want to be stuck in a big metal tube that ain't goin' no where neither.

User currently offlineKiwiandrew From New Zealand, joined Jun 2005, 8970 posts, RR: 13
Reply 10, posted (8 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 2560 times:
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Quoting VHHYI (Reply 7):
Quoting Kiwiandrew (Reply 6):
flying a part from SYD to AKL

I think he meant from SYD to MEL.

Doh! my apologies , I should read properly before I post , I was thinking QF 25 AKL-LAX rather than the MEL-AKL sector - that does make it a completely different situation from what I misread - my apologies to Airnewzealand for not reading his post properly

Moderation in all things ... including moderation ;-)
User currently offlineNG1Fan From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 446 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (8 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 2522 times:

From a pax pointof view: as often as possible (within reason). That includes at the gate area and also on board.

I was on a delayed flight VIE-SVO on OS in 2005. It was in Winter, Feb to be precise. Extremely heavy snowfall, in fact, just sitting in the aircraft at the gate, a heap of snow would just slide over the window - every 20 min or so. THey kept us informed, watered, were apologetic, explained that one of the runways was closed for snow clearing, explained how de-icing a narrow-body took around 20 min, a wide-body around 40 min, and that there were quite a few aircraft in front of us in said de-icing queue.

The total delay was nearly 3 1/2 hours, a bit longer than the actual flying time of 2h 40 min. Every 20 or so min the pilot or purser would update us. IFE was on, phone use permitted, but unfortunately we weren't able to get off the aircraft.

There were a couple of passengers with RUssian domestic connecting flights which they would obviously miss, but that's life in winter.


User currently offlineSFOQQAA From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 96 posts, RR: 1
Reply 12, posted (8 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 2296 times:

I remember when I was a gate agent in SFO and for one week straight was the number one on our daily DC-10 HNL trip. I'd check my schedule and that was my only assignment for the whole day. For some reason that week, the particular plane we used was on heavy maintenance each night and would often go into a several hour creeping delay. Several times it was so bad we had to wait for a ferry flight from LAX. The 9am flight would become a 3pm flight. I would always make frequent announcements (and to the dismay of my superiors) rebook customers on alternate airlines when asked. We'd bring out beverages and snacks for the customers, but most of all just remained available and compassionate.

I had asked why I was stuck on the HNL flight every single day and they told me that I was the only agent who could manage to handle 300 people without one irate. I guess that was a compliment. I know the DC-10 was one heck of an airplane... but it really wasn't one of my favorites to work.

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