I agree. The decision is made whether or not to walk down that jetway in the first place. Anyone who is capable of living on their own outside a mental institution understands that weather can delay travel. I think the airline has an obligation to the rest of us to make the passenger pay for all our delay expenses.
There is precedent. I know of one case where a man lost a judgement in court and was ordered to pay a shipping company fifty five thousand dollars per hour
for the time he delayed movement of a ship. (can't tell the rest of the story)
Perhaps we as crew, do not do a very good job of explaining, but on a snowy day returning to the gate can have huge impact on the operation. We might have to be deiced again (hundreds of dollars) we might lose our slot. With relatively short turnaround times at all our stations, that means that this airframe will be late for the rest of its scheduled flights today. That is not just this hundred passengers who get delayed but a thousand or more downline.
No, the plane leaves the gate, the captain is in command. You have surrendered your fate to the captain (and the rules he operates by) for the duration of this flight. If it gets to be a problem then banning cell phones as carryons is a possible solution.
edit: Had some further thoughts. In my years of dealing with this stuff I've seen all kinds of responses. Weather delays, and even maintenance delays are often really fluid situations.
Take MX, for example. We have a fault in some system. Mechanic has to come out, look at the symptoms we saw, discuss it with us, maybe call his supervisor and discuss it. It turns out it can be A, B, or C. He has to run some tests, or swap a box. It will take some time. How long? Not sure, because (1) He's never done this task before (2) Don't know if they have the spare box in stock. Eventually the cause will be known. Only then can they begin to refer to the MEL and see if we can go, or if it can be put in a condition where we can go, or whether or not the weather or other conditions relating to this one flight will determine whether or not we can go.
Weather delays are usually even harder to predict. As I said, if we return to the gate we get out of the departure line. If we do that we take our chances that (1) the weather will improve (2) the weather will deteriorate (3) someone will skid off the runway closing the aiport) (4) the weather will affect our destination (5) we will run out of duty time (6) et cetera
And people want to know WHAT WILL happen. Sorry, that is not knowable at all times. If I had such a crystal ball I'd be in the stock market, not aviation.
Sometimes even management wants to know exactly when
we will depart. Most of them know better.
At the risk of "profiling" I'd have to say midwest farmers were the most understanding about weather delays. Hell, most of them have lost a whole year's work to weather at one time or another.
Personally I like to keep the passenges informed, and by that I'm talking about meaningful information. Problem is, they might not understand anything I tell them about weather and might not want to hear that we have a "pack trip" and we are trying to figure out if we can go. I say that and they think in terms of me trying to get up the courage to take a defective plane into the air.
So you tell me, what do I tell you?
[Edited 2006-01-02 17:41:29]
[Edited 2006-01-02 17:44:11]
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.