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UA @ SFO Inefficient (not Due To Fog)?  
User currently offlinePSA1011 From United States of America, joined Jan 2011, 284 posts, RR: 0
Posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 9315 times:
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I flew UA 468 last night from PDX-SFO on a 757-200.

We landed 20 minutes early in clear weather and made our way to T3, at which point we stopped near gate 90 and held for an available gate. We waited 15 minutes. Then we pulled into to G93 (which had just been vacated by a UA 777 to LHR/FRA), and then waited another 10-12 minutes for the aircraft door to open.

Even on a fogless evening, the flight experience took about a half hour longer than necessary due to gate space and staffing (not sure where the individual assisting with the 777 pushback went). And even when the renovated pier of T3 opens, I can't see the situation improving dramatically.

Any thoughts on what can be done?

41 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinespiritair97 From United States of America, joined Jan 2011, 1231 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 9281 times:

Maybe they can take the amount of aircraft that can be at the airport at a gate/parking space, and have 3/4 of that amount of crews to operate a turnaround there at any time.

User currently offlinen471wn From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1507 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 9268 times:
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The best thing to do is to fly into OAK----it is closer to downtown San Fran than is SFO. We long time Bay Area residents only use SFO when we have to---like on international flights. The problem is SFO needs another runway out in the Bay and the Environmental Whacko's who run this place will not even discuss it-----avoid SFO at all costs.

User currently offlinePSA1011 From United States of America, joined Jan 2011, 284 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 9213 times:
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Runways were actually not the problem in this case. Maybe UA could start using more of G for domestic flights?

User currently offlineJetmatt777 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 2760 posts, RR: 33
Reply 4, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 9182 times:

You mentioned you had arrived 20 minutes early. You waited for a gate because of that, that happens all the time everywhere including outstations. They plan gate assignments based on the schedules, not necessarily by what time an aircraft is expected to be touching down on the runway.

As for why they took forever to open the door, I can't explain that. But waiting for a gate was a non issue since you arrived earlier than the station was planning for.



No info
User currently offlinePSA1011 From United States of America, joined Jan 2011, 284 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 9112 times:
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True, we did arrive early. Although the block time was 1h51m, when even the longest PDX-SFO flight should only take 1h30. So they're either blocking that long for fog, or overcrowded gates, and not at PDX.

User currently offlineN782NC From United States of America, joined Feb 2012, 70 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 9057 times:

Quoting n471wn (Reply 2):

Not all people who want to protect the environment are wackos... Expand the economy but try to do so in the most environmentally sensitive way.

The problem with OAK is that while it's closer to dtwn SF as the crow flies, the Bay Bridge and Nimitz Freeway are commonly absolute hell. I personally take my chances with 101 and SFO's problems than deal with the East Bay's traffic. The new BART connection will help, but SFO is still more convenient to get to from SF.

Quoting PSA1011 (Thread starter):

The main problem with UA @ SFO is lack of available gates. They've tried to remedy some of the problems by moving ops to T1, but that only goes so far. I agree that when B/A E opens, it won't help that much. Hopefully some compromise will be reached regarding a new runway, possibly using PSP's as a way to reduce the impact on the bay.



Stairway to Seven
User currently offlineAADC10 From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 2061 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 9019 times:

Quoting PSA1011 (Thread starter):
And even when the renovated pier of T3 opens, I can't see the situation improving dramatically.

Why not? UA does not want to send any more aircraft to the old CO gates in T-1 than they have to, since it is a pain to connect to the UA gates in T-3 and I believe the former AA pier had more gates than CO had in T-1.

Quoting PSA1011 (Thread starter):
then waited another 10-12 minutes for the aircraft door to open

That seems to happen surprisingly often at UA hubs, particularly when there is a gate change or an early arrival. They sometimes seem to forget to send someone to the jetbridge.


User currently offlineN782NC From United States of America, joined Feb 2012, 70 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 8994 times:

Quoting AADC10 (Reply 7):
Why not? UA does not want to send any more aircraft to the old CO gates in T-1 than they have to, since it is a pain to connect to the UA gates in T-3 and I believe the former AA pier had more gates than CO had in T-1.

Yes, there are more gates, but the plan is to have AC and US use all 6-7 of the 9 positions. What's left for UA will not be near enough to dramatically improve the situation.



Stairway to Seven
User currently offlinePSA1011 From United States of America, joined Jan 2011, 284 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 8972 times:
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Quoting N782NC (Reply 6):
The main problem with UA @ SFO is lack of available gates. They've tried to remedy some of the problems by moving ops to T1, but that only goes so far. I agree that when B/A E opens, it won't help that much. Hopefully some compromise will be reached regarding a new runway, possibly using PSP's as a way to reduce the impact on the bay.

Wouldn't using more of G help, or have they maxed out that opportunity?


User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7503 posts, RR: 32
Reply 10, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 8960 times:

Quoting PSA1011 (Thread starter):
We landed 20 minutes early in clear weather and made our way to T3, at which point we stopped near gate 90 and held for an available gate. We waited 15 minutes. Then we pulled into to G93 (which had just been vacated by a UA 777 to LHR/FRA), and then waited another 10-12 minutes for the aircraft door to open.

Early arrivals mess up everything for the terminal staff. You left 5 min late and arrived 20 min early.

Gates might not be available - as you mentioned.

When they have to put you into a different gate, the staff to work you flight - usually the next leg for the aircraft - has to move to that gate and get the computers setup.

The baggage crew is in the wrong place for the off load and on load.

The service crew is in the wrong place for any services the plane needs.

I would suspect the delay in opening the door was a combination of trying to get the baggage straight so pax would know where to go, and the gate agents not being at the gate yet.

I've seen the same type thing at DFW with AA and at ATL with DL in the past.

Airlines could be more efficient, if they hired larger staffs for the airports. Though of course costs would go up.

Everyone is in the minimal staff possible mode of operation these days.


User currently offlinedartland From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 643 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 8661 times:
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Quoting N782NC (Reply 6):

Quoting n471wn (Reply 2):

Not all people who want to protect the environment are wackos... Expand the economy but try to do so in the most environmentally sensitive way.

The problem with OAK is that while it's closer to dtwn SF as the crow flies, the Bay Bridge and Nimitz Freeway are commonly absolute hell. I personally take my chances with 101 and SFO's problems than deal with the East Bay's traffic. The new BART connection will help, but SFO is still more convenient to get to from SF.

Yes and Yes. I live in SF and almost nobody I know flies out of OAK for above reasons (as well as connectivity options).


Also -- I fly in and out of SFO all the time, mostly on UA, and I have not had a major wait for a gate at all this year (can't think of any wait more than 5 minutes). So while I appreciate that you faced a problem, I don't necessarily find that it is endemic. There are always flukes like this, but I have seen no evidence of a trend or systemic problem that needs fixing.


User currently offlinemodesto2 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 2783 posts, RR: 5
Reply 12, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 8522 times:

If the City is my final destination, SFO is generally more convenient (assuming no wx delays). Especially when taking BART, it's more convenient to hop on BART and be in downtown in about 30 min vs taking OAK's Air BART bus and transferring at the Coliseum station.

As others have also said, despite an early arrival, it's a logistic headache to change gates. When crews are expecting a particular flight at a particular gate, changing the gate assignment causes a ripple effect that is often more trouble than it's worth. UA certainly isn't perfect, but there's far more to airline operations than meets the eye.


User currently offlineusairways85 From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 3372 posts, RR: 7
Reply 13, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 8339 times:

Quoting PSA1011 (Reply 5):
True, we did arrive early. Although the block time was 1h51m, when even the longest PDX-SFO flight should only take 1h30. So they're either blocking that long for fog, or overcrowded gates, and not at PDX.

Airlines pad schedules all the time at delay prone airports. It results in a better on-time percentage.

Quoting Jetmatt777 (Reply 4):
You mentioned you had arrived 20 minutes early. You waited for a gate because of that, that happens all the time everywhere including outstations. They plan gate assignments based on the schedules, not necessarily by what time an aircraft is expected to be touching down on the runway.

Pretty much answers it.


User currently offlineRoseflyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9464 posts, RR: 52
Reply 14, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 8269 times:

Currently there are 13 gates in the closed off section E of Terminal 3 (former AA gates). They are remodeling that section of the terminal. While it is happening, UA is short of gates. Airplanes waiting for gates is relatively common, especially if flights are early, which they typically are during good weather.

It should all be fixed by the end of 2013. 13 gates is a lot.



If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlinePSA1011 From United States of America, joined Jan 2011, 284 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 8251 times:
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So the answer looks to be yes, United is struggling with overcrowding and understaffing, and has to create padded blocks for flights to create an image of on-time performance and efficiency at SFO 

User currently offlineCV880 From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 1124 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 8235 times:

Quoting Roseflyer (Reply 14):
It should all be fixed by the end of 2013. 13 gates is a lot.

+ USAir will be married to AA by that time.


User currently offlinehereandthere41 From United States of America, joined Aug 2012, 28 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 8153 times:

Quoting N782NC (Reply 8):

I'm not sure that's still the plan for US to move over to these gates. My understanding is that UA will occupy the majority of these new gates now.

Quoting PSA1011 (Reply 15):

When you leave for work in the morning, don't you allow extra time for rush hour traffic? It's no different with the airlines. They have to plan for traffic and delays.

Quoting PSA1011 (Reply 9):

If you haven't noticed lately, UA is using the G gates for lots of domestic flights, especially during the off-peak international hours like early morning. I believe with the October schedule UA will move UAX to terminal 1 and the former UAX gates 76-79 will be converted to mainline like they used to be when Shuttle was around.


User currently offlineN782NC From United States of America, joined Feb 2012, 70 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 8149 times:

Quoting PSA1011 (Reply 9):
Wouldn't using more of G help, or have they maxed out that opportunity?

Yep, as far as I know, G is maxed out during peak hours. However, there is still plenty of gate space off-peak.

Quoting CV880 (Reply 16):
USAir will be married to AA by that time.

It's still an 'if". I for one do NOT want to see that merger happen.



Stairway to Seven
User currently offlinen471wn From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1507 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 7372 times:
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Quoting N782NC (Reply 6):
The problem with OAK is that while it's closer to dtwn SF as the crow flies, the Bay Bridge and Nimitz Freeway are commonly absolute hell. I personally take my chances with 101 and SFO's problems than deal with the East Bay's traffic. The new BART connection will help, but SFO is still more convenient to get to from SF.

This is simply not true as 101 between SFO and the City is among the most congested freeways in California----expecially around Army Street. I'll race you to the Ferry Building any day of the week and I will win.


User currently offlineUALAMT From United States of America, joined Aug 2012, 4 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 7326 times:

Sounds Like being more patient with your time.SFO is a major Intl airport. I dont think 15 minutes is too much to ask considering all things involved.

User currently offlinefshplns From United States of America, joined Oct 2010, 89 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 6885 times:

Quoting Jetmatt777 (Reply 4):
You mentioned you had arrived 20 minutes early. You waited for a gate because of that, that happens all the time everywhere including outstations. They plan gate assignments based on the schedules, not necessarily by what time an aircraft is expected to be touching down on the runway.

As for why they took forever to open the door, I can't explain that. But waiting for a gate was a non issue since you arrived earlier than the station was planning for.
Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 10):

Early arrivals mess up everything for the terminal staff. You left 5 min late and arrived 20 min early.

Gates might not be available - as you mentioned.

When they have to put you into a different gate, the staff to work you flight - usually the next leg for the aircraft - has to move to that gate and get the computers setup.

The baggage crew is in the wrong place for the off load and on load.

The service crew is in the wrong place for any services the plane needs.

I was going to answer to this post, but it seems the two posters above, have hit the nail on the head. I currently work in the position that has to make those decisions (on the ground gate changes). When a flight shows up extra early as yours did, we try our best to find another available gate. Sometimes it takes the other work groups time to catch up with the gate change. Cant speak for SFO, as I work on the other side of the country, ATL. We also have our extremely early flights, but on a much smaller scale.

Chris


User currently offlinechristao17 From Thailand, joined Apr 2005, 937 posts, RR: 8
Reply 22, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 6773 times:

Quoting n471wn (Reply 19):
I'll race you to the Ferry Building any day of the week and I will win.

That assumes that the Ferry Building is the intended destination. Depending on where you are going in the city, SFO is often more convenient than OAK. Also true if you live anywhere on the Peninsula and even the western side of the south bay.



Keeping the "civil" in civil aviation...
User currently offlineN782NC From United States of America, joined Feb 2012, 70 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 6634 times:

Quoting n471wn (Reply 19):

Your kidding... The Nimitz and Bay Bridge are less congested and less of a hassle than 101 or 280 on the peninsula? I absolutely can't believe that, considering my commute from my house (adjacent to SFO) into the Financial District never takes more than 25-30 minutes.

Quoting christao17 (Reply 22):

   Agreed



Stairway to Seven
User currently offlineSFOHORIZON From United States of America, joined Jun 2007, 93 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 6471 times:

Quoting n471wn (Reply 2):
The best thing to do is to fly into OAK----it is closer to downtown San Fran than is SFO. We long time Bay Area residents only use SFO when we have to---like on international flights. The problem is SFO needs another runway out in the Bay and the Environmental Whacko's who run this place will not even discuss it-----avoid SFO at all costs.

As an 8-year SF resident, I disagree 100%.

I just google mapped it, and the trip to SFO is less miles and takes less time than the trip to OAK.
I have also driven both routes multiple times and the drive to SFO has always been shorter.
I loathe driving across the Bay Bridge or taking BART to OAK. I drive/BART to SFO whenever possible.


25 UA772IAD : And deal with the nightmare that the Bay Bridge can be, especially at the mixing bowl before the toll plaza at rush hour? No thanks. Then there's the
26 rickabone : In addition to being a gate issue, I believe it's a staffing issue as well. There are times of day when all of the gates are full, and arriving early
27 apodino : The problem with this is any advantage gained by using SFO is negated by the fact that the airport runs 2 hours delays almost every day due to fog. W
28 mikeology : I'll gladly take that bet Exactly. Lived on the Peninsula my entire 26 years of existence and OAK would never be faster. As you mentioned for those o
29 n471wn : Thank you my friend for saying this better than I did.......I cannot tell you how many people I know have come to your conclusion and have changed to
30 Alias1024 : International inbound flights (except Canada) aren't going to get caught in the flow delay programs that SFO often has. For example, right now SFO is
31 UA772IAD : Agreed. Early morning trans-cons will either hold at the gate, or slow way down once airborne. They usually arrive within reasonable time and well wi
32 DocLightning : I promise you that 101 from the City to SFO is not even a third as congested as the Bay Bridge is.
33 ytib : That will change next year when the new bridge opens. ha ha ha Bottom line is it depends on where you are going, if I am visiting people I know in Al
34 gigneil : Currently, there's not even a building there. They don't, as has been stated. NS
35 SFOHORIZON : That's an excessive exaggeration that's just not true. Yes, SFO has some fog delays. But, it's not everyday. And even when it does have delays, it's n
36 Jetmatt777 : Yes, I am aware of this. I work the ramp and operations, I know all about moving gate to gate to work flights.
37 sfoa380 : Yes there is... It is stripped down to the metal and being refurbished in much the same way that the old central terminal was transformed into T2, bu
38 legacyins : I flew into SFO on Monday and was quite surprised the pier was gone. All that is showing is the base with nothing on top. So, the Terminal might be t
39 Post contains images UA772IAD : Well aware of this thank you. I've worked domestic flights out of G. I forgot the words "try not." G is used as overflow when necessary for domestic
40 civetfive : Last year I had to start flying Bay Area - Orange County about twice a week between May and September. UGH. I ended up doing 31 round trips total, th
41 Post contains images gigneil : In so much as something see through can be a building At least in August, there was only the foundation. NS
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