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fxramper
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AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Sun Jan 07, 2007 5:51 am

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 
 
JayDavis
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Sun Jan 07, 2007 6:46 am

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.
 
Cory6188
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Sun Jan 07, 2007 7:17 am

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...
 
worldtraveler
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Sun Jan 07, 2007 7:27 am

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?)
 
asuflyer
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Sun Jan 07, 2007 7:39 am

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
 
worldtraveler
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Sun Jan 07, 2007 10:42 am

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.
 
AA787823
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Sun Jan 07, 2007 2:28 pm

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.
F.U.R.P.....Families Under Reduced Pay
 
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fxramper
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Sun Jan 07, 2007 2:35 pm

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 
 
reins485
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Sun Jan 07, 2007 3:11 pm

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.
 
worldtraveler
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Sun Jan 07, 2007 11:12 pm

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.
 
legend11
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 1:00 am

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.
 
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par13del
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 1:42 am

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.
 
LawnDart
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 1:44 am

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...
 
PSU.DTW.SCE
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:10 am

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.
 
legend11
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:11 am

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 
 
OPNLguy
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:24 am

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]
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
JA54123
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:29 am

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!
 
edelag
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:38 am

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.
 
luv2fly
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:42 am

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
 
Logos
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:45 am

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
 
Goldenshield
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:52 am

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.
 
OPNLguy
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:54 am

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.
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
worldtraveler
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:58 am

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.
 
Ih8b6
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 5:02 am

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
 
OPNLguy
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 5:20 am

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]
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
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fxramper
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 5:24 am

Quoting Luv2fly (Reply 18):
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.

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 involved in the 8 hr hold was the pilots requesting, around 10 times, for a gate. After the fourth or fifth time, ATC simply ignored their requests.

It was weather after all, and airline policy isn't responsible for displaced pax because of weather...ALL the pax were EXTREMELY glad to get food and hotel vouchers...

 no 
 
OPNLguy
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 5:33 am

Quoting FXramper (Reply 25):
The only fighting involved in the 8 hr hold was the pilots requesting, around 10 times, for a gate. After the fourth or fifth time, ATC simply ignored their requests.

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 gate assignments. If AUS had X-gates and 2X-3X number of aircraft waiting for them, somebody gets to be airplane-next and someone gets to be airplane-last. You'd think that some crews could realize this, and I understand they're getting pressure from the cabin, but it doesn't change the basic supply versus demand equation. Patience is a virtue...
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
worldtraveler
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 5:33 am

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 24):
Are we talking domestic or international ops here?

obviously int'l but the FAA doesn't say that you CAN"T carry more fuel if you think you may need it.

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 24):
and this is one of those times when the weather is unusual.

I'm certainly not saying things won't deteriorate tothe point where you have to divert but then the issue becomes how the diversion is handled. Obviously, you as a dispatcher are instrumental in helping decide where to divert, and to a point how many flight go to a particular city.

I haven't seen the weather map at the time all of these flights started diverting but I can't believe that other cities that weren't being hit by weather were not available. How about AMA, LBB, ELP, ABQ for flights from the west? How about LIT, XNA, MEM for flight from the north? How many diversions went to those airports?

But dispatchers and SOCC as AA calls it isn't the whole issue here. The problems began when AA's stations dept (whatever they call it) was unable or unwilling to work to minimize customer inconvenience. Part of it was related to diverting to AUS which wasn't capable of properly handling a diversion - which means it probably wasn't a good alternate. But part of it was AA's stations people being unwilling or unequipped to handle what was thrown at them.

It doesn't really matter how badly you want to try and defend what happened, the world does not consider what happened to be acceptable and AA had best figure out how to handle IROPS or the entire industry will be slapped with mandatory laws to protect customers. If you don't think government hasn't done that kind of thing in response to poor customer service from airlines in the past, think again.
 
SuseJ772
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 5:36 am

Quoting Legend11 (Reply 10):
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.

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 have been an event!
Currently at PIE, requesting FWA >> >>
 
Ih8b6
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 5:46 am

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 27):
I haven't seen the weather map at the time all of these flights started diverting but I can't believe that other cities that weren't being hit by weather were not available. How about AMA, LBB, ELP, ABQ for flights from the west? How about LIT, XNA, MEM for flight from the north? How many diversions went to those airports?

I saw flights in MEM and LIT when I looked...84 diversions over 2 hours at one point - the planes where everywhere.

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 27):
Part of it was related to diverting to AUS which wasn't capable of properly handling a diversion - which means it probably wasn't a good alternate. But part of it was AA's stations people being unwilling or unequipped to handle what was thrown at them.

AUS can handle diversions just fine. It's just when you throw 4, 6, 8, 12 extra planes in a station. Any station can only handle so much with gate space, terminal space, employees on duty (remeber stations aren't staffed for diversions), etc.

You mentioned Delta's diversions on Friday. There were only about 29. There have been many times when Delta diversion events have turned into complete messes for all the same reasons AA's did. Many-a-summers there have been 69-80 diversions on summer evenings and the same thing happens: planes everywhere. The difference is these thunderstorms just wouldn't quit thus creating a terrible backlog in outstations.
Over-moderation sucks
 
jetdeltamsy
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 5:49 am

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 of rocket science would indicate that you offload one aircraft, use a tug and relocate it to a remote part of the tarmac and pull a full aircraft back to that same gate and allow those customers to get off. You continually repeat the process until everyone is off.

This is ridicilous.
Tired of airline bankruptcies....EA/PA/TW and finally DL.
 
777fan
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 6:04 am

Soooooo...after reading everyone's input (very interesting, I might add), I'm surprised that nobody bothered to bring up the possibility of diverting some flights to STL. The radar snapshot above suggests that aircraft from the west would've had no more or less trouble navigating through the weather to head just a bit north and east of the system, while westbound aircraft would've had a clear shot.

I'm not familiar with STL's layout or ops but would surmise that it's status as an AA focus city (or former TWA hub, etc.), that it would be large enough and have adequate customs facilities to accomodate diversions of all types.

Any thoughts?!

777fan
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Ih8b6
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 6:06 am

Quoting Jetdeltamsy (Reply 30):
A little bit of rocket science would indicate that you offload one aircraft, use a tug and relocate it to a remote part of the tarmac and pull a full aircraft back to that same gate and allow those customers to get off. You continually repeat the process until everyone is off.

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 during the subsequent ground delay program caused by the thunderstorms. They miss the wheelsup time because the fourth aircraft in line was being towed to the one open gate by the one ground crew so their aircraft couldn't be fetched in time. Then people would say well you (the poster) should sue AA since they didn't just put the people from your flight on the a/c that was at the gate (either because they weren't capable or they were just plain mean and unwilling) and just equipment change it. And people would then agree and then us operational types would try to explain how that's not possible.........and so on and so on and so on and so on.....

It's just never ending. The circle of life I guess.
Over-moderation sucks
 
luv2fly
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 6:15 am

Quoting FXramper (Reply 25):
It was weather after all, and airline policy isn't responsible for displaced pax because of weather...ALL the pax were EXTREMELY glad to get food and hotel vouchers...

Yes considering they had to fight for them.
You can cut the irony with a knife
 
Ih8b6
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 6:19 am

Quoting 777fan (Reply 31):
The radar snapshot above suggests that aircraft from the west would've had no more or less trouble navigating through the weather to head just a bit north and east of the system, while westbound aircraft would've had a clear shot.

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), dispatcher's planned hold fuel, fuel to get from hold or present position to your destination and fuel to get to the farthest alternate. Likely not enough gas to do it. There is always the option to change the destination, while enroute to STL. But you are looking at additional burn. You can use your planned hold fuel, and even the alternate fuel that you had for DFW if STL weather is okay but given the distance it's unlikely there is enough fuel for that.

I don't work for AA but looking at diversion from the day in question I am almost certain there were a few that stopped in STL, after the first 60 or so diverts happened. Those aircraft were coming from the east and didn't even pass STL, they just stopped there.

When looking at the radar images during this event and looking at the cells around holding fixes, there were some holes that opened up and looked like flights would get in. I even saw a few leave hold, but they all had to break off and go back to hold because of new cells popping up.

[Edited 2007-01-07 22:21:41]
Over-moderation sucks
 
exFATboy
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 6:35 am

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 to set some sort of bare-minimum standard where the airlines and airports would be required to offload passengers into the terminal or restock the aircraft, regardless of how it's done.

At the absolute minimum, passengers (and crew!) should always have access to drinking water and working toilets. If a plane has to sit so long that the water runs out and the lavs are full, then the plane comes in to a gate immediately, the passengers are offloaded with airstairs and bussed to the terminal, or the plane is restocked and the toilets emptied. Of course, if there's a thunderstorm sitting right over the airport and it's unsafe for ground crews to be out, then everyone has to wait for the storm to pass, of course. Otherwise, I don't think a water-and-toilets minimum is unreasonable.

I do realize passengers complain a lot - I had to sit on a plane for three hours at JFK because of weather problems earlier in the day, and it's damn frustrating to sit there, looking at the terminal and knowing that rather than getting to go home and sleep, I have to sit on the damned plane waiting for a gate. (And also having a blood sugar crash because I'm diabetic and am way past my dinner time...since that incident I've always carried a nice big bag of trail mix or something as insurance against delays.) But at least we had water and toilets.

It seems that every year we have at least a few of these incidents, and if the airlines and airports don't at least start to prevent the most extreme incidents, sooner or later the government will step in and impose regulations. Better that the airlines and airports deal with it themselves first.
 
777fan
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 6:36 am

Quoting IH8B6 (Reply 34):
Likely not enough gas to do it. There is always the option to change the destination, while enroute to STL. But you are looking at additional burn. You can use your planned hold fuel, and even the alternate fuel that you had for DFW if STL weather is okay but given the distance it's unlikely there is enough fuel for that.

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? Why did TUL get slammed? It wouldn't appear to be my first choice but then again, I'm just a pax, not a pilot or planner.


777fan
DC-8 61/63/71 DC-9-30/50 MD-80/82/83 DC-10-10/30 MD-11 717 721/2 732/3/4/5/G/8/9 741/2/4 752 762/3 777 A306/319/20/33 AT
 
OPNLguy
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 6:41 am

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 27):
obviously int'l but the FAA doesn't say that you CAN"T carry more fuel if you think you may need it.

I asked for the clarification because I suspected (correctly so, it appears) that you were confusing "reserve" fuel with "arrival" fuel, and they are not the same. Domestic reserve is :45 of fuel, and international reserve is :30 plus 10% of trip time (ex. 10 hr flight = 600 minutes times .10 = 60 minutes added to the previous 30 minutes for a total of 90 minutes.) That number is less if you're using a planned redispatch and reclearance enroute. That's all reserve use, you never plan to use it, so it doesn't exist. Alternate fuel, holding fuel, and contingency fuel is another matter, which is probably what you thought you were refering to.

Additionally, you appear to have side-stepped the question of what happens when the weather that you planned and fueled for changes (gets worse). Then what?

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 27):
and to a point how many flight go to a particular city.

..more than to a point, I'd say. If a station says "no mas" to any more diversions to their station and I have no other places to put an aircraft, I'll put it at their already over-crowded station. When it comes it literally running out of fuel, it'll take a long time to do so burning APU fuel sitting on a taxiway/ramp awaiting a gate.

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 27):
I haven't seen the weather map at the time all of these flights started diverting but I can't believe that other cities that weren't being hit by weather were not available. How about AMA, LBB, ELP, ABQ for flights from the west? How about LIT, XNA, MEM for flight from the north? How many diversions went to those airports?

If you can see the radar shot I posted earlier, you can see that (ELP and MEM excepted, since they're off of the picture) that weather was fairly good at those places. ELP and MEM too. Now, what leads to you to assume that AMA, LBB, ELP, ABQ, LIT, XNA, and MEM didn't also see diversions? (I doubt ABQ saw any, since they'd been snowed/fogged in for the previous 2 days, and were out of Type-4 de-icing fluid.) Don't you think that AMA, LBB, ELP, ABQ, LIT, XNA, and MEM had similar demand versus supply issues with diversions versus their gates?

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 27):
But dispatchers and SOCC as AA calls it

Just to be clear, not everyone who works in SOC is a dispatcher. Only the flight's dispatcher shares operational control with the flight's PIC. If a SOC person tells the dispatcher to divert the flight to "X" and the dispatcher thinks "X" is unsafe compared to "Y", the dispatcher is obligated under the FARs (and common sense) to send it to "Y".

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 27):
The problems began when AA's stations dept (whatever they call it) was unable or unwilling to work to minimize customer inconvenience. Part of it was related to diverting to AUS which wasn't capable of properly handling a diversion - which means it probably wasn't a good alternate. But part of it was AA's stations people being unwilling or unequipped to handle what was thrown at them.

I don't think it was a matter of unwillingness, but inability, as you note. You simply can't expect AUS, or any smaller (than DFW) "outpost" station to suddenly take on 2X-3X+ their normal flight volume and handle it as efficiently as had they been staffed and equipped ("extra" jetways, ground equipment) for it. Staff AUS (or other small stations) with double/triple the amount of personnel/gates/ground equipment for the handful of days out of 365 where they see the atypical 7 or 8 hour weather/diversion event? OK, fine, but please don't complain about the big spike in ticket prices and PFCs.

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 27):
It doesn't really matter how badly you want to try and defend what happened, the world does not consider what happened to be acceptable and AA had best figure out how to handle IROPS or the entire industry will be slapped with mandatory laws to protect customers. If you don't think government hasn't done that kind of thing in response to poor customer service from airlines in the past, think again.

I wish I would have read your last paragraph first, as it would have saved me from wasting my time, but then again, maybe someone else can benefit from it. My comments were never intended as a "defense", only to educate and inform an industry outsider from the perspective of a long-time industry insider as to some of the behind-the-scenes issues. I'm by no means insensitive to the plight of the passengers here--dispatchers usually have worked at the station level at an earlier point in their careers, and I also had a friend stuck at DFW for 3 days because of this storm.

Yes, the government can attempt to make some goofy laws to attempt to control the uncontrollable. If they do (and it gets past the ATA), and they pass a 3-hour rule, the first ones we'll hear complaining are the ones that will be 3:15 late due to the rolling groundstop/EDCT scenario I mentioned earlier and go back to the gate and then run 4-5 hours late. You asked for it, we didn't...  Yeah sure

One other parting question. I have to presume that you don't work in this biz, and I don't know what biz you are in, but I'll assume it's the turbo-widget cleaning industry. Considering that I'm not in the turbo-widget cleaning industry myself, if I went off on a public board and expressed thoughts and opinions about how the turbo-widget cleaning industry was all messed up and didn't meet my expectations based on (only) my outsider's knowledge of the turbo-widget cleaning industry, and you had such knowledge as an insider, would your comments be a "defense" or an attempt to educate and inform?

It's sad that we, as a society, have become so distrustful of another's expertise (in a field not our own) that we seem to ignore such input and continue to hold on to our misconceptions and misbeliefs.
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
Ih8b6
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 6:53 am

Quoting 777fan (Reply 36):
How about OKC or SAT? Why did TUL get slammed? It wouldn't appear to be my first choice but then again, I'm just a pax, not a pilot or planner.

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, just facilites issues. I remember seeing some show divert to OKC and SAT. I know some wouldn't go to MLU because the long runway was and still is closed there but any other city you can think of throughout the South Central US probably had a divert there.
Over-moderation sucks
 
Logos
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 6:57 am

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 37):
It's sad that we, as a society, have become so distrustful of another's expertise (in a field not our own) that we seem to ignore such input and continue to hold on to our misconceptions and misbeliefs.

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 complexities involved are appreciated.

Like most complex industry systems, this one is developed to handle the middle 95-98% of its expected operations well. We're talking here about the other 2%. Are there things AA could learn from this that will help them the next time around? I'm sure there are and hopefully they will. Does that mean we need lawyers and/or government intervention? Surely not. If you're that ticked at AA, fly someone else next time.

Cheers,
Dave in Orlando
Too many types flown to list
 
worldtraveler
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 7:23 am

Quoting IH8B6 (Reply 34):
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), dispatcher's planned hold fuel, fuel to get from hold or present position to your destination and fuel to get to the farthest alternate.

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 - and weather like what happened Friday doesn't just pop up in a coupe hours. In the summer it is more likely but meteorologists can pretty accurately predict when there is a risk of tstorms. If you want to tell me that AA's MD80s can't carry that kind of extra fuel on top of full passenger loads and some cargo, then that's a different story but you can't tell me you can't do fuel planning to account for very possible weather situations.

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 37):
Alternate fuel, holding fuel, and contingency fuel is another matter, which is probably what you thought you were refering to.


Additionally, you appear to have side-stepped the question of what happens when the weather that you planned and fueled for changes (gets worse). Then what?

I understand the concept completely but I will repeat that no one said AA couldn't have put more fuel on than required - both domestic and int'l flights - n order to add an extra measure of operational reliability.

I didn't sidestep anything... I said you must have meteorologists continually updating dispatchers with where the storm is moving so alternates can be changed. DFW to most of the cities involved is a 45 minute flight time.... any meteorologist can tell you the likelylihood of severe weather in a city within the next hour.

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 37):
If a SOC person tells the dispatcher to divert the flight to "X" and the dispatcher thinks "X" is unsafe compared to "Y", the dispatcher is obligated under the FARs (and common sense) to send it to "Y".

I undersatnd the concept completely. I would ask why an SOC person other than a dispatcher is making a reputation as to where to divert. Meteorologists, maintenance andairport personnel, and others can provide input but it's ultimately the dispatcher and PIC's call - and they have to bear the consequences of the decisions they make - and question the info they are given.

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 37):
You simply can't expect AUS, or any smaller (than DFW) "outpost" station to suddenly take on 2X-3X+ their normal flight volume and handle it as efficiently as had they been staffed and equipped ("extra" jetways, ground equipment) for it.

But you also have to ask how a city like AUS can FAIL to unload the flights it was sent after 6-8 hours. It's questionable whether they should have been chosen as a diversion point to begin with but it's perfectly obvious they didn't do what they had to do to accommodate what they were sent.

As I mentioned, CAE got 6 diversions for DL on this past Friday and got all of them out in 2 hrs - including a mechanical - and most were in and out in an hour. DL doesn't staff its stations for diversions (I don't know of any airline that does) but they obviously managed to get the planes out... and we didn't read media stories about how DL handled their diversions.

Quoting ExFATboy (Reply 35):
and if the airlines and airports don't at least start to prevent the most extreme incidents, sooner or later the government will step in and impose regulations. Better that the airlines and airports deal with it themselves first.

BINGO!!!

It doesn't make any difference how many excuses people here want to make; if they don't deliver an acceptable level of customer service (and the customers ARE the ones that set the standards), the airlines will be forced to deliver - and it will be costly if it is mandated.
 
OPNLguy
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RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 7:49 am

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 40):
DFW to most of the cities involved is a 45 minute flight time.... any meteorologist can tell you the likelylihood of severe weather in a city within the next hour.

Can those met folks also tell you if the airports are suitable for the aircraft type, or are already swamped with diversions?

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 40):
I would ask why an SOC person other than a dispatcher is making a reputation as to where to divert.

Nobody said they were. You appeared under the impression that the dispatcher/SOC were the same thing--I was just clarifying that they were not.

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 40):
As I mentioned, CAE got 6 diversions for DL on this past Friday and got all of them out in 2 hrs - including a mechanical - and most were in and out in an hour. DL doesn't staff its stations for diversions (I don't know of any airline that does) but they obviously managed to get the planes out... and we didn't read media stories about how DL handled their diversions.

Did they have the exact same weather/operational conditions? If not, it's more apples vs. oranges....

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 40):
It doesn't make any difference how many excuses people here want to make; if they don't deliver an acceptable level of customer service (and the customers ARE the ones that set the standards), the airlines will be forced to deliver - and it will be costly if it is mandated.

Be careful of what you ask for, as ye may receive it, especially if the lawmakers have a similar poor a grasp of true operational realities. Nobody likes rush-hour freeway traffic jams, and they can make a law to prohibit them, but it doesn't mean it's a realistic law nor will it preclude future freeway traffic jams. But hey, if it makes someone feel they done something...  Yeah sure

Here's also hoping that the gummint doesn't also "solve problems" in the turbo-widget cleaning industry, or whatever one you have expertise in...
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
OPNLguy
Posts: 11191
Joined: Tue Jun 15, 1999 11:29 am

RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 8:00 am

Quoting 777fan (Reply 36):
Why did TUL get slammed?

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 "exception" amongst their flights, namely, the ZRH flight that diverted there. No Customs, crew timed-out, and additional complications. Had it been just another domestic flight from Podunk and not ZRH, I doubt anyone would have heard a word, other than it being just another airport with multiple diversions.

[Edited 2007-01-08 00:01:26]
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
AA767400
Posts: 1892
Joined: Tue Jan 23, 2001 2:04 am

RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 9:03 am

Quoting JayDavis (Reply 1):
That is just the stupidest thing I have ever read about AA, to make people wait on a plane that long................just uncalled for.

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 airline that is caught in this situation. So don't think for a second that AA is the only one getting stuck because of weather.

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 5):
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.

Amen!
"The low fares airline."
 
luv2fly
Posts: 11056
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 2:57 am

RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 9:19 am

Quoting AA767400 (Reply 43):
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 airline that is caught in this situation. So don't think for a second that AA is the only one getting stuck because of weather.

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.
You can cut the irony with a knife
 
SilentObserver
Posts: 40
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2005 4:45 pm

RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 9:23 am

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 back in Dec when it snowed and they have done it at least three other times in the last two years...

it's good because it keeps people off planes, but its bad because then nothing happends for 24-48hrs and you have one hell of a back log to try and clear out...
 
PSU.DTW.SCE
Posts: 6118
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2002 11:45 am

RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 10:05 am

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 issue was that the ramp area was not clear, the jet bridges inoperable, the roads & freeways to the airport were impassible, and thus no employees could make it to the airport.

NW continued to send aircraft to DTW that could land, but there was nowhere to deboard the aircraft, and no rampers/agents to offload the flights. That was a lack of coordination, however in that case it was a notable few flights that made a big buzz with the lengthy ground delays in DTW.
 
LawnDart
Posts: 861
Joined: Fri May 20, 2005 11:33 pm

RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 10:29 am

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 40):
If you want to tell me that AA's MD80s can't carry that kind of extra fuel on top of full passenger loads and some cargo, then that's a different story

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.

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 40):
I understand the concept completely but I will repeat that no one said AA couldn't have put more fuel on than required - both domestic and int'l flights - n order to add an extra measure of operational reliability.

If AA dispatchers are like any other airlines' dispatchers, than I'm sure there was a lot more fuel on those aircraft than would've been the case the day before. Dispatchers look at forecasts about 2-3 hours before departure, and then plan the flight accordingly. If the forecast calls for it, an alternate and additional fuel are planned for.

If a forecast is changed (when has that ever happened?!?), and there is enough time, the fuel truck can be called back and additional fuel added (hey, what's that noise? Oh, the passengers are whining because now the flight's going to be 20 minutes late).

Quoting WorldTraveler (Reply 40):
But you also have to ask how a city like AUS can FAIL to unload the flights it was sent after 6-8 hours. It's questionable whether they should have been chosen as a diversion point to begin with but it's perfectly obvious they didn't do what they had to do to accommodate what they were sent.

Because AUS has, what, 3-4 AA gates and 20 aircraft on the ground. Because AUS has, what...enough staff to handle 2-3 flights simultaneously (spell check on aisle 5...), and oh, by the way, those 2-3 flights are still operating to SJC and ORD and LAX. "I'm sorry sir, your flight has been delayed so we can push it off the gate, unload those poor inconvenienced passengers...push it off the gate and unload more inconvenienced passengers...push it off the gate and unload more inconvenienced passengers...push it off the gate and unload more inconvenienced passengers...push it off the gate and unload more inconvenienced passengers...push it off the gate and unload more inconvenienced passengers...push it off the gate and unload more inconvenienced passengers...push it off the gate and unload more inconvenienced passengers...

Hey, what's that noise? Oh, the passengers are whining because now the flight's going to be 5 hours late.

By the way...AUS was chosen because it has two nice slabs of concrete...

Don't blame AA completely...ATC gets a share, the oil company gets a share (just how many fuel trucks do you think there are at AUS?)...even God gets a share...how dare He interrupt my travel plans.

As reiterated before, dispatchers, pilots, flight attendants all want to get to where they're going. No one is intentionally screwing up your life because you guys are such fun to be around when the sh*t hits the fan.

But airlines have to economize whenever possible ($39)...but not to the point of endangering safety. Hey...how many people were killed on those diverted flights?

What's funny is, from this very enlightening thread, you can tell who the dispatchers are, and who are the whining passengers...  

[Edited 2007-01-08 02:36:25]
 
OPNLguy
Posts: 11191
Joined: Tue Jun 15, 1999 11:29 am

RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 10:49 am

Quoting LawnDart (Reply 47):
Hey, what's that noise? Oh, the passengers are whining because now the flight's going to be 5 hours late.

I'm sure there'd be one who then complain about how "crowded" the terminal was...

Quoting LawnDart (Reply 47):
As reiterated before, dispatchers, pilots, flight attendants all want to get to where they're going. No one is intentionally screwing up your life because you guys are such fun to be around when the sh*t hits the fan.

Aw, man, you depriving them of that "conspiracy theory" argument... (I have to go steal some more socks now, you now, one of those that always sem to be missing from the dryer...)

Quoting LawnDart (Reply 47):
What's funny is, from this very enlightening thread, you can tell who the dispatchers are, and who are the whining passengers...

...and isn't it funny how there's not a single AA dispatcher here (that I know of), just those from other airlines who recognize the situation for what it is--one of those 1%-2% occurences. No, wait, since we're all dispatchers, I guess that makes it an airline industry conspiracy....  Yeah sure
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
mrstl
Posts: 353
Joined: Fri Sep 09, 2005 9:58 am

RE: AA Reviews Flight Ops In Storms.

Mon Jan 08, 2007 10:59 am

Quoting 777fan (Reply 31):
I'm not familiar with STL's layout or ops but would surmise that it's status as an AA focus city (or former TWA hub, etc.), that it would be large enough and have adequate customs facilities to accomodate diversions of all types.

Any thoughts?!

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? Seems they probably could have handled some of the international diversions.