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Airline Annoyances: Are These Legitimate Excuses?  
User currently offlineRampart From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 3110 posts, RR: 6
Posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 7125 times:

Fully recognizing the thin margin for error in a very busy travel season, I was still astounded by some practices I experienced while flying over the holidays. I would like to know your views and, for you airline employees, verification of whether these are real policies or simply the perceptions of an irritated traveller.

Without getting into a trip report, I'll say that I was flying RT on CO, from EWR to DEN, just before Christmas, and my original EWR-DEN flight was precancelled due to some serious and legitimate weather, while my rebooked flight was 6 hrs late due to what seems like a combination of lesser but highly annoying delays. Still, for the most part, I was pleased with how CO customer service handled my rebooking.

Here's where I have some suspicions and gripes:
1) Is it true that a flight is considered "departed" when it is pushed away from the gate? In my case, we spent another 1.5 hours a mere 20 feet from the gate, waiting for clearance and de-icing. (Annoying, yes, but I do understand the importance of de-icing and certainly appreciate the concern for safety.) But, if that counts as "departed", as I was told, it would reflect better on the delay statistics, so I can see an airline attempting this for statistical purposes. We were "departed" enough that the FAs had us keep cell phones off, electronic devices stowed, and tray tables up though we were stationary and close to the terminal (within spitting distance) for close to 2 hours. Yes, doors were closed and all that for rules purposes, but I began to appreciate that "unwilling detainment" language that appears in the Passenger Bill of Rights.

2) I know nothing of ramp operations, but it seems inconceivable that CO would not have enough tugs available to push a plane away from the gate within a reasonable time. Our pilot explained for about 60 minutes that we were waiting for a tug. Perhaps someone can explain how weather affects the availability of tugs. Or how many gates are assigned per tug.

3) Similarly, I observed ramp workers hand-loading luggage into the cargo compartments. Yes, lifting and hoisting by hand, entire baggage trains, without aid of a conveyor ramp. This ccontributed to more delay, according to our pilot. A nearby aircraft looked like it was experiencing the same manual labor. Maybe I never noticed before, but aren't loading conveyors always available? Would poor weather affect equipment availability? Or is this a chronic problem at EWR?

4) Lastly, I've observed de-icing plenty of times. I actually think it's fun to watch. But, meticulously slow, even at a place like EWR which had a dedicated de-icing pad capable of 4 simultaneous aircraft. The inventor in me thinks there must be a better way, perhaps a "drive through car wash" type of facility.

I appreciate your thoughts and discussion.

-Rampart

52 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineOHLHD From Finland, joined Dec 2004, 3962 posts, RR: 25
Reply 1, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 7021 times:



Quoting Rampart (Thread starter):
1) Is it true that a flight is considered "departed" when it is pushed away from the gate?

Yes. that is true. As soon as the plane is moved away from the gate it is "gone". Even if you have to wait 1 hour for departure. This would be called " long taxi d/t deicing or whatever).

Quoting Rampart (Thread starter):
2) I know nothing of ramp operations, but it seems inconceivable that CO would not have enough tugs available to push a plane away from the gate within a reasonable time. Our pilot explained for about 60 minutes that we were waiting for a tug. Perhaps someone can explain how weather affects the availability of tugs. Or how many gates are assigned per tug.

The airport certaintly only has a number of tugs and not one for all aircraft. So in case there are major delays one has to wait until it is your turn to be pushed back. My record was waiting 3 hours for the tug. But waiting at the aircraft in the cold and not inside. Big grin

Quoting Rampart (Thread starter):
3) Similarly, I observed ramp workers hand-loading luggage into the cargo compartments. Yes, lifting and hoisting by hand, entire baggage trains, without aid of a conveyor ramp. This ccontributed to more delay, according to our pilot. A nearby aircraft looked like it was experiencing the same manual labor. Maybe I never noticed before, but aren't loading conveyors always available? Would poor weather affect equipment availability? Or is this a chronic problem at EWR?

Same probelm as with the tugs I suppose. There is no possiblity to have so much equipment. So there is no other possibility then loading by hand.

Quoting Rampart (Thread starter):
4) Lastly, I've observed de-icing plenty of times. I actually think it's fun to watch. But, meticulously slow, even at a place like EWR which had a dedicated de-icing pad capable of 4 simultaneous aircraft. The inventor in me thinks there must be a better way, perhaps a "drive through car wash" type of facility.

Another solution would be to deice directly before push back ( A la ZRH) but this requires the necessary facilities.  Smile


User currently offlineJhooper From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 6202 posts, RR: 12
Reply 2, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 6993 times:

One thing to keep in mind is that the crew does not get paid while the airplane sits at the gate with the door open. Once it blocks out, regardless of how much time it then takes to get to the runway, the crew goes "on the clock".


Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
User currently offlineFlyglobal From Germany, joined Mar 2008, 573 posts, RR: 3
Reply 3, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 6884 times:



Quoting OHLHD (Reply 1):
Same problem as with the tugs I suppose. There is no possibility to have so much equipment. So there is no other possibility then loading by hand.

Why to say this? There is a possibility of course by buying more, there is now law that limits no of equipment. Its also a financial decision of course, but this is not 'no way'. I understand to some extend that deicing is a hard thing to decide, but tugs and any kind of loading support should make the airport more efficient.

In my opinion it is cheating the statistics when they just move off blocks and then wait 2 h. Not fair.

regards

Flyglobal


User currently offlineOHLHD From Finland, joined Dec 2004, 3962 posts, RR: 25
Reply 4, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 6840 times:



Quoting Flyglobal (Reply 3):
Why to say this? There is a possibility of course by buying more, there is now law that limits no of equipment

Of course it is a possibility but actually there is enough for a normal operations day but in case that 40,50 or more planes getting stuck because of weather,etc there is simply not enough equipment. You will agree that it is economically not wise to keep so much of it in storage when you might need it only a few times a year.

When ever I am doing my job on the ramp and there is no equipment I do wish there was more but simply there isn´t. The only ones normally making terror are the pilots because they wish to leave as they are paid for flying and not for sitting around at the tarmac. Big grin


User currently offlinePanHAM From Germany, joined May 2005, 9170 posts, RR: 29
Reply 5, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 6819 times:



Quoting Flyglobal (Reply 3):
Why to say this? There is a possibility of course by buying more, there is now law that limits

There is. It is called economics, and that law is as eternal as math or physics.

Bad weather is a reality, not an excuse. At the end of the day, people are happy that they reached their destination, whataver time it took. Over the years I have experienced many delays, not only weather, Over 5 hours taxiing at JFK around the pudding in a TWA MD 80 JFK-MSY-DFW was the worst I can remember.

The 2 1/2 hours once in an LH A300 in Hamburg on the way to FRA with de-icing twice and about 30 cm snow outside were forgiven when the captain said in a broad Hamburg drawl, a second before take-off roll " Nu geit dat loas ". It's those minor things that can make the differnce between a good and a bad experience.



E's passed on! That parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker!
User currently offlineBennett123 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 7479 posts, RR: 3
Reply 6, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 6793 times:

what does "Nu geit dat loas" mean

User currently offlinePilotpip From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3149 posts, RR: 11
Reply 7, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 6786 times:

1) When weather gets bad it's entirely possible that you'll push, but not be able to move for a while. Yes, the crew may have done this to start getting paid but it's much more likely that they did this to get into line for deicing. By being off the gate they also free up that ground crew to go work other flights.

2) Most airlines don't have tugs for every gate. This would be too costly. You also don't have crews for each gate. If a tug were to break down, it could add to this but its' also very likely that because of the bad weather some of the rampers called in sick. This happens more than you'd think.

3) When the weather gets bad, the equipment can get hard to use. CO may have a policy of not using belt loaders during icy conditions because it's really easy to hit the airplane with one. If you have enough people, hand loading doesn't take any more time. However reference #2.

4) There are facilities like you mentioned. However those have their limitations too, namely the amount of space they take up, cost and effectiveness for something that isn't needed very often even in winter areas. Some airports are much better than others when it comes to deicing as well. DEN and PIT are among the best I've seen.



DMI
User currently offlineWILCO737 From Greenland, joined Jun 2004, 8971 posts, RR: 76
Reply 8, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 6762 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
HEAD MODERATOR



Quoting Bennett123 (Reply 6):
what does "Nu geit dat loas" mean

It is german accent and mean: "and here we go".

WILCO737 (MD11F)
 airplane 



It it's not Boeing, I am not going.
User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 6756 times:



Quoting Rampart (Thread starter):
2) I know nothing of ramp operations, but it seems inconceivable that CO would not have enough tugs available to push a plane away from the gate within a reasonable time. Our pilot explained for about 60 minutes that we were waiting for a tug. Perhaps someone can explain how weather affects the availability of tugs. Or how many gates are assigned per tug.

If an airline (CO or anyone else) has, say, 60 gates at an airport, it doesn't necessarily follow that they have 60 pushback tugs. Due to various economic factors (legitimate, IMHO), they probably have a lesser amount, say (strictly for the sake of example) 20. During normal ops, that's plenty and they float from gate to gate as needed.

Now, let's look at an abnormal ops event, and in particular, a snow event. Let's assume the airport operator has taken the runway(s) for plowing, and nobody is able to pushback. Tick tock, tick tock. They finish the plowing at 10:47am, and now all 60 aircraft want to pushback ASAP and head to the de-ice pad. Some 20 will be able to pushback in short order, but 20 others will have to wait, and another 20 will have to wait even longer. It's easy for some to say that the airline "should" have 60 pushback tugs, but that ignores the economic reality that they're going to be "over-equipped" during the 95% of the time when they're NOT getting hit by a blizzard.

Quoting Rampart (Thread starter):
3) Similarly, I observed ramp workers hand-loading luggage into the cargo compartments. Yes, lifting and hoisting by hand, entire baggage trains, without aid of a conveyor ramp. This ccontributed to more delay, according to our pilot. A nearby aircraft looked like it was experiencing the same manual labor. Maybe I never noticed before, but aren't loading conveyors always available? Would poor weather affect equipment availability? Or is this a chronic problem at EWR?

Same as before, only with beltloaders versus pushback tugs...


User currently offlineBennett123 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 7479 posts, RR: 3
Reply 10, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 6732 times:

PanHAM

Personally, I want to arrive roughly when the timetable says.

5 hrs taxiing at JFK is a bit beyond a joke.

As for a 2.5 hr delay at HAM, how long does it take from HAM to FRA.


User currently offlineOHLHD From Finland, joined Dec 2004, 3962 posts, RR: 25
Reply 11, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 6710 times:



Quoting Bennett123 (Reply 10):
As for a 2.5 hr delay at HAM, how long does it take from HAM to FRA.

Roughly one hour.  Smile


User currently offlineItalianFlyer From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 1099 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 6703 times:



Quoting OHLHD (Reply 1):
Yes. that is true. As soon as the plane is moved away from the gate it is "gone". Even if you have to wait 1 hour for departure. This would be called " long taxi d/t deicing or whatever).



Quoting Jhooper (Reply 2):
One thing to keep in mind is that the crew does not get paid while the airplane sits at the gate with the door open. Once it blocks out, regardless of how much time it then takes to get to the runway, the crew goes "on the clock".

This is one thing that has gotten in my craw since I started working in the industry almost 10 years ago. Yes, there is some financial self-interest as far as the crew is concerned...but there is allot of pressure from operations management in the USA to "get off the gate" in order to make their DOT 'on-time +15" numbers look good. If I had a quarter for every time we loaded the A/C up...KNOWING that, say ORD, is on a 120 min delay program and our 'wheels up' slot is a good 2 1/2 hours away. We (the airline) tell our passengers that we need the gate...yet we sit in the gate stand for minutes/hours on in.
From a customer standpoint I can see where this adds to the stress and frustration of the modern travel experience.

As far as the FA's enforcing the secured cabin rule...it is the Capt's call...not the flight attendants. Some are enlightened about it...others do not give it much thought. Sorry you ended up with the latter that day.


User currently offlinePilotpip From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3149 posts, RR: 11
Reply 13, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 6666 times:



Quoting ItalianFlyer (Reply 12):
As far as the FA's enforcing the secured cabin rule...it is the Capt's call...not the flight attendants. Some are enlightened about it...others do not give it much thought. Sorry you ended up with the latter that day.

I've yet to fly with a captain that didn't give the FA's a heads up, then make an announcement about using cellphones, throw the seat belt light off, and make sure everybody knows what's up. While there is no such thing as the passenger bill of rights some things have changed since the JetBlue fiasco at JFK a couple years ago. Namely we are required by our ops manual (I think it's also a federal reg now) to make passenger announcements every 15 minutes to keep them informed.

Contrary to public belief we're often doing as told as well.

If you fly often and want to know what an airline can and can't do ask a gate or ticket agent for a contract of carriage. A small portion of it is on the back of your ticket. If you like legaleese it will surely keep you occupied during a long groundstop  Smile



DMI
User currently offlineRampart From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 3110 posts, RR: 6
Reply 14, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 6654 times:



Quoting OHLHD (Reply 4):
Of course it is a possibility but actually there is enough for a normal operations day but in case that 40,50 or more planes getting stuck because of weather,etc there is simply not enough equipment.

Now, this is just anecdotal observation on my part, but the night I left, there seemed to be less activity than normal. It might have been fewer aircraft their because of gate holds from the incoming airports. I have seen far more CO aircraft at their Terminal C gates during one of their banks during good weather. Which is why I asked, shouldn't the airline have sufficient tugs (or loaders) to handle full gate operations on their concourses during good weather, recognizing that they are no doubt going to share equipment between gates. What could have caused a delay during bad weather when the gates looked relatively less crowded? Than again, it's just one passenger's observation.

-Rampart


User currently offlinePanHAM From Germany, joined May 2005, 9170 posts, RR: 29
Reply 15, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 6593 times:



Quoting Bennett123 (Reply 10):
PanHAM

Personally, I want to arrive roughly when the timetable says.

5 hrs taxiing at JFK is a bit beyond a joke.

As for a 2.5 hr delay at HAM, how long does it take from HAM to FRA

Me too, and it's not a joke when you sit inside that MD80 even though when you have an F seat like I had on that occasion. The reason was weather as well, TWA despatched a relief crew from STL to MSY who flew the a/c to DFW and I had to wake up a cabbie at 3 am who drove me to the Hotel. But what can you do? I came from a T/A flight which was already about 8 hrs, plus immigration and transfer. They really drove at least twice around the central JFK terminal area.


The same goes for that FRA delay, what options do you have once you sit in the a/c, ? You can leave when you are still at the gate (pilots get a salary here) but then you have to get to the main station which is, under snwo conditions may be a 1 hour drive by bus or taxi, could take longer as well. Then assuming the trains run, it is a regular 4 hour train ride, But trains may be delayed as well.

In my opinion, people complain much too fast., Look outside and you will realise that under certain weather conditions things slow down. It's a fact of life and it does not matter oif you are on a flight, a train or in your own car.

.



E's passed on! That parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker!
User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 6454 times:



Quoting PanHAM (Reply 15):
In my opinion, people complain much too fast., Look outside and you will realise that under certain weather conditions things slow down. It's a fact of life and it does not matter oif you are on a flight, a train or in your own car.

I completely agree and wish more people would realize that movement and movement with weather are two different things...


User currently offlineItalianFlyer From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 1099 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 6388 times:



Quoting Pilotpip (Reply 13):
I've yet to fly with a captain that didn't give the FA's a heads up, then make an announcement about using cellphones, throw the seat belt light off, and make sure everybody knows what's up.

Oh I agree!!...I can personally count on one finger that they did NOT do this. But apparently it does happen, for whatever reason, based on anecdotal stories I read and hear.
I was just letting the OP know that the cabin crew was following orders.


User currently offlineMayor From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 10351 posts, RR: 14
Reply 18, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 6346 times:

DL's SLC operation, while not as large as CO's at EWR, is certainly very good sized with about 32 gates. We did have pushback tugs for every gate, as I recall, unless there was a shortage because of breakdowns.

As for the conveyor belts, availability of these can become short sometimes but most of the time there's two at each narrowbody gate and one for the widebodies. The only a/c I can think of that you could safely hand load the bags would be DC-9's, MD's, etc. When I worked at SHV we unloaded and loaded them exactly like that.

We had a sort of a drive thru, car wash, deicing operation at SLC. Two deicing trucks dedicated to each a/c at ramp area away from the terminal with access to the taxiway.
Usually there were three or four sets of these teams so they could do three or four at a time.
I used to work the deicing operation from inside ops, coordinating pushbacks and such so we had a pretty smooth operation going. No one had to sit for very long after pushback. I was in contact with the a/c crews and when one would leave the car wash, they would let me know and I would contact the next one to get in line. They would, in turn let me know when they entered and left the car wash. We usually only had one or two waiting in line at a time.



"A committee is a group of the unprepared, appointed by the unwilling, to do the unnecessary"----Fred Allen
User currently offlineMEACEDAR From Lebanon, joined Oct 2006, 753 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 6321 times:

Same thing here, I was on US Air flight from YUL to PHL and we had to wait about an hour plus just to deice. Then when we arrived in PHL, there wasn't a gate opened, so we had to wait another 45 minutes or so. So basically we had to wait nearly 2 hours on the ground when the flight it self is an hour. I understand that same things happen, but there has got to be a backup plan. I nearly missed by connection.

User currently offlinePanHAM From Germany, joined May 2005, 9170 posts, RR: 29
Reply 20, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 6194 times:

Again, things like that happen, I had the experience at PHL once that they found out the jetway could not be moved and it took 45 mins until they had a tow truck pushing that TWA 1011 back and to the neighbouring gate, call that a back-up plan.

Sure, an airline should know when their flights get in and have a gate open, unless it is occupied be another flight, which my have been the case here. But seriously, what alternates do you have on a route YUL-PHL. Even 3 hours is quicker than anything else.



E's passed on! That parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker!
User currently offlineFrmrCAPCADET From United States of America, joined May 2008, 1710 posts, RR: 1
Reply 21, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 6044 times:

My suspicion would be that tugs/belt loaders levels are adequate to feed planes to departure point and take off clearance at the busiest times of day (this is a matter of arithmetic), when takeoffs are delayed it would seem that there should be a surplus of equipment.


Buffet: the airline business...has eaten up capital...like..no other (business)
User currently offlineHAL From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 2558 posts, RR: 53
Reply 22, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 6029 times:

From a pilot's point of view;

We push back when we are ready to deice. The pushback is because we don't want to spray deicing fluid onto/into the jetway, and so the deicing truck has room to maneuver around the plane to get all necessary spots. If there is a wait for deicing, pushing back keeps us in the queue for the trucks so we don't lose our 'spot in line'. It really doesn't have much to do with getting paid or 'on-time departures'.

For some airlines that aren't at their hub, they contract deicing to outside vendors. Those vendors may be owned by other airlines, and those other airlines have priority, making your airline wait. It sucks, but no airline is going to staff every airport with expensive deicing trucks and personnel that may get used just a few days a year.

The number of tugs at a terminal is based on the number of departures expected in a particular bank. If you have at most 20 departures in a 15 minute period, then an airline will probably have 25 or so tugs to cover all the departures plus a few spares. But as OPNLguy said, if there are delays for runway plowing (or any other reason) you may suddenly have 40 or 60 airplanes getting ready to go at the same time. Now lets say some of those first 20 planes with the tugs attached have to get more deicing because of the delay in plowing the runway. That backs up the queue even more, and the later planes will have a much longer delay. Some will simply have to wait.

Another reason for pushing back is that at most airlines, the gate agents are required to remain at the gate until the plane pushes back. They may be scheduled to board a flight across the concourse, but can't do so until your flight has pushed back, even if it is just a few feet. If you don't push back, then the people on that other flight will be waiting even longer (and it may very well be you there at that second flight, stewing and fuming about 'where's the damn agents?! The snow shouldn't affect what time they get to this gate!) Bad weather can just cause the delays to 'snowball' (pun intended).

If the weather is bad enough, the snow and ice on the ramp may make it very difficult for tugs and baggage loaders to work. In Seattle last week our tug was slipping on the ice and unable to move our aircraft until the rampers dug out more snow (by hand) from under the tug, and the deice truck sprayed glycol on the ground. Then we moved back a few feet, and the process repeated itself after our aircraft had been deiced. THIS is why there are delays; airline schedules are predicated on everything working smoothly in the best possible conditions. Throw in snow and ice, and the delays will mount. Two hours? Five hours? Yes, it's possible. I'm sorry, but it's just something you have to learn to live with. As airline employees, we don't get any joy out of the delays either, but every single person out there is giving their upmost effort in getting the plane off the ground safely!

Remember this; if you drive your car across a few states in nice weather, it's probably a quick trip. But if the weather goes down, it usually takes a lot longer. The same is true for airline operations; bad weather simply means it takes longer to get the same job done.

HAL



One smooth landing is skill. Two in a row is luck. Three in a row and someone is lying.
User currently offlineIAirAllie From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 5965 times:



Quoting Rampart (Thread starter):
3) Similarly, I observed ramp workers hand-loading luggage into the cargo compartments. Yes, lifting and hoisting by hand, entire baggage trains, without aid of a conveyor ramp. This ccontributed to more delay, according to our pilot. A nearby aircraft looked like it was experiencing the same manual labor. Maybe I never noticed before, but aren't loading conveyors always available? Would poor weather affect equipment availability? Or is this a chronic problem at EWR?

What kind of aircraft were you in. Some you can safely hand load. Weather could affect availability of ground equipment. Just as it takes longer to drive your car from point to point in bad weather, it takes longer to maneuver ground equipment. Poor weather conditions lead to more accidents and mechanicals. Ground equipment can also get stuck or snowed in.

Quoting Rampart (Thread starter):
2) I know nothing of ramp operations, but it seems inconceivable that CO would not have enough tugs available to push a plane away from the gate within a reasonable time. Our pilot explained for about 60 minutes that we were waiting for a tug. Perhaps someone can explain how weather affects the availability of tugs. Or how many gates are assigned per tug.

Ramp equipment can have mechanicals leaving airlines short. And even though to you it didn't look busy there could have been more planes needing tugs than normal. It is rare that every gate is occupied at once.

Quoting Rampart (Thread starter):
1) Is it true that a flight is considered "departed" when it is pushed away from the gate? In my case, we spent another 1.5 hours a mere 20 feet from the gate, waiting for clearance and de-icing. (Annoying, yes, but I do understand the importance of de-icing and certainly appreciate the concern for safety.) But, if that counts as "departed", as I was told, it would reflect better on the delay statistics, so I can see an airline attempting this for statistical purposes. We were "departed" enough that the FAs had us keep cell phones off, electronic devices stowed, and tray tables up though we were stationary and close to the terminal (within spitting distance) for close to 2 hours. Yes, doors were closed and all that for rules purposes, but I began to appreciate that "unwilling detainment" language that appears in the Passenger Bill of Rights.

The DOT sets the criteria for how to determine departure time. There are many reasons why it is prudent to push back even if you are going to wait on the ground. 1) they could need the gate for someone else (yes there may be empty gates available but there they need employees to work those gates) 2) By pushing back you get in line for deicing and take off. You stay at the gate or go back to the gate you loose your spot.

Also unless they are able to pull into a safe spot the FA's were right to do what they did. The only accident I've ever been on was at the gate on push back we violently hit another aircraft. People could have been injured had they not been properly prepared for departure. In bad weather on the ramp or taxi ways the potential for an accident is high. Especially near the gate and terminals where there is a high level of activity.

Quoting Flyglobal (Reply 3):
In my opinion it is cheating the statistics when they just move off blocks and then wait 2 h. Not fair.

Again the DOT sets the standard blame them.


User currently offlineFlighty From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 8416 posts, RR: 3
Reply 24, posted (5 years 7 months 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 5963 times:



Quoting Rampart (Thread starter):
We were "departed" enough that the FAs had us keep cell phones off, electronic devices stowed, and tray tables up though we were stationary and close to the terminal (within spitting distance) for close to 2 hours.

It's frustrating, but that is a winter weather day at EWR. It is bound to be congested. This is a reality of travel. Try to keep in mind that CO for example runs about 2,000 flights per day. Their analysts do not have time to make educated gambles about how long the de-icing delay might be on a given day for your flight. They have more pressing needs (more serious problems) on a day like that. The situation you describe is really not that unusual. It does bring out emotions of containment and claustrophobia in certain people. The realities of weather-impacted travel are that the battlefield is "fluid" so to speak. Things can change. Even the best airline system will have delays, cancellations and (worst of all) uncertainty on the concourse and occasionally in the cabin. Uncertainty is real. In some cases uncertainty is justifiable. Sometimes it depends when the clouds part, or when the FAA acts (or does not act) in a certain way to solve ATC, weather or congestion related problems. Sometimes the best option is to wait and see what happens. Uncertainty is a built-in part of the airline business and it is (as it must be) routine.


But to answer your question, airlines are primarily concerned with their arrivals being on-time. If you depart 10 minutes late but arrive 14 minutes early, that's a good result. On-time departures are also good to gauge how well the airport employees are doing their job.

If you have an actual plane you are sitting in, that is better than having no plane at all. Airlines are not sadistic by nature, they are actively trying to accomplish their flights to serve their passengers (including in your destination city, where your aircraft is needed). They do whatever best accomplishes their flying roster for that day or week. In some cases this means hanging around in limbo, which is infuriating to type-A people, and often causes them to melt down (to no effective end). Sometimes the best thing is to take a chill pill and relax. The people who dispatch flights at big US carriers dispatch more flights than anybody in the world, so they usually have the situation -- fluid as it may be -- well in hand.


25 Flighty : Given the safety implications of what is going on, you could also have a robot that flies the plane. It would work great... most of the time. De-icin
26 Khobar : Your safety is only a concern in how it would ultimately affect their bottom line. IOW, they look out for you only because it's in their best interes
27 HAL : Because many airports do not have the space for deicing on the taxiway. It often takes 15 to 30 minutes to deice and anti-ice an aircraft. If there's
28 HAL : That's another thing to think about when getting angry about delays during winter. If an airline has scheduled 20 aircraft to push during a 15 minute
29 Alias1024 : DOT on-time is based on arrival time.
30 Maverick623 : Except the published DOT numbers use A14. It's not about cheating the numbers, but about reaching each stage of the departure process as soon as poss
31 Pilotpip : Actually, this is because numerous studies have found that passengers are less likely to book a flight that leaves at 5:42 than 5:30 so they book all
32 Post contains links Khobar : A dedicated deicing station would be far more environmentally efficient, and if designed correctly could be far faster and more effective than what t
33 Floridaflyboy : No it's not. The DOT statistic that really counts is the arrival time. A flight that waits 2 hours is getting dinged hard core in DOT statistics even
34 Doug_Or : Thats great for Denver, but DEN is also fairly unique in the HUGE amount of real estate they have to work with. I agree that De-icing could be done b
35 Burnsie28 : A lot of times if you do not push from the gate then you lose your place in line, so while even 1.5 hours wait, it would have been even longer had yo
36 Post contains links IAirAllie : I respectfully disagree. Airlines are primarily concerned with SAFETY. On time is a secondary concern. This IS the current system at many if not most
37 Rampart : I appreciate all the thoughtful explanations, everyone. I was in a 737-500, which I assume can be safely loaded by hand since it's so low, but my cont
38 Pilotpip : You can only load the aircraft as fast as the guys in the pit stacking the bags. A belt loader won't make it any faster. A belt loader just saves the
39 Mayor : It was always my thought that the DOT changed the criteria from departure times to arrival times to cover the poorly run ATC system. If the airlines
40 Mayor : But, you don't want the a/c to be air dried. The de-icing has two functions....first, of course, is to remove the snow and ice.......second, is to pr
41 IAirAllie : Exactly. As a former ramper I can attest to this. Regardless it is a heck of a lot faster to off/upload by hand than it is to wait for a belt loader
42 Khobar : I misspoke - I meant blow-dried, as in the ground folks would have enough time to do that and still be quicker than the alternative. It was an attemp
43 Flighty : Absolutely. Passengers very often interpret "delays" as "the airline does not know WTF they are doing." This is a little bit mistaken. #1 like you sa
44 Mayor : I'll give you a good example of what can happen. I was de-icing a 727 at SLC once. This was pre WA merger so we just had a small operation and one de
45 Khobar : Sounds like heated fluid would help. Of course then the question is - who is going to pay for the heating. There might be ways of utilizing waste hea
46 HAL : Khobar, I certainly don't want to pick a fight on New Years Eve, but unless you have some real-world experience in how deicing procedures work, how ab
47 IAirAllie : It often is. One important thing to note it is not something that can be rushed. Rushing a deicing/anti-icing procedure can damage the aircraft. Then
48 Flyglobal : Maybe next time I need to stop watch the time. However many times I experienced deicing in Europe it was carried out by 2 deicing 'vehicles', one on t
49 Mayor : It was heated. Matter of fact, it's always heated when you de-ice.
50 ADXMatt : How did you get 20 feet from the gate without a push back tug? Did anyone ask the FA if they could use their phone or tray table? The FA might have b
51 Rampart : The thread is pretty much answered, thanks everyone (excellent explanations, HAL and IAirAllie). But since ADXMatt asked, I'll reply... Well, we did f
52 MSYPI7185 : If only it were that easy. Deicing is a very deliberate and precise operation. It is not as simple as just spraying heated glycol on to the aircraft.
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