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Airline fine may send flight cancellations soaring

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WASHINGTON — The government's $900,000 fine Monday against an American Airlines affiliate for holding hundreds of passengers on board a small jet for hours on an airport tarmac may serve as a deterrent to future such incidents. But industry analysts warned that may come with the price of more canceled flights. Even before the fine against American Eagle Airlines, airlines had cancelled more flights to avoid pushing up against the new three-hour limit on tarmac delays the Department of… (www.thenewstribune.com) Daha Fazlası...

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piper300
Tom Werner 0
When will they fine the FAA and the airport operators? They are the source of the delays. Do people really think the airline create these delays on purpose? The FAA and airport operator DO purposely(maybe needfully) create these delays.
davysims
David Sims 0
Would you care to explain how you think the airport operator creates delays. As an airport operator (albeit a smaller commercial airport), I am curious.
piper300
Tom Werner 0
First let me say that I have the utmost respect for the small airport operator. Few, if any, businesses must work so hard with so many entities, for so little.
Your large airport, however, markets tirelessly for the carriers to come to their place. The more the merrier.
But when things go bad and they cannot handle this traffic, or they don't have the equipement(i.e. deicers etc) delays are inevitable. Often the operator will contact the FAA to limit traffic. All very logical steps. The FAA will impose delays, often major delays. As a retired Air Traffic Controller I have seen expected delays delays(EDCTs) of 10 hrs and more. Little or no information is given to the crews or the airline about these delays. Or how to avoid future delays. They only know that if they deplane, and miss their "slot", the delays multiply.
So when the delays occur, it is suddenly the carrier fault. No one seems to look at the system that creates these delays. It is simpler to blame to carrier, because that is who the passenger believes who is at fault and it could never be the politicians fault... I understand the carriers over schedule and this contributes. But if the carriers had advance information, they could reschedule flights and crews to minimize these. Delay information is rarely available more that 1/2 hour befiore flight time.The plane is already loading.
preacher1
preacher1 0
Tom, I will agree with what you say, but a big part of it is the Airlines fault for their scheduling and it just overwhelms the facility because they get more than they wanted.Hence it is left up to ATC to untangle the mess. Flying a corporate 757 most of my career it makes no difference whether you are a single corporate or multiple arrival/departure from the Airlines, EVERYBODY gets delayed and ATC is generally so busy, nobody gets a notification as to WHY. Sad part of it is, whether private or public, everybody has a reason to go to that point. If notification as to why was available, especially on the super long ones, plans might could be changed
davysims
David Sims 0
Thank you for the feedback. The reason I asked, is there has been some "non aviation" types asking on various forums why the Bradley Airport did not step in and tow those Jet Blue aircraft to a gate and handle the passengers, and I was wondering if you were looking for the same answer (which by the way is because most airports usually don't own the equipment or have the trained staff, and if they did the airlines would probably not allow them to use it).

Now from the airport standpoint, a lot of times delays are hard to plan in advance of, or to know when they will end. Sometimes we have had a flight take off from MSP and had a ready airfield for them, but in the 40 minutes it takes for the flight to arrive, unexpectedly heavy preciption happens, or a plow breaks down, or any number of other factors that are unpredictable. We try very hard to be proactive in most cases, but sometimes we are forced to be reactive, and that causes delays and diversions.

As for the big news on delays recently, the Bradley Int'l incident, there were several factors that came into play to create the log jam. 1. Boston had a runway closed, reducing capacity. 2. JFK and Newark both lost their ILS systems due to the ice and snow. 3. Many airlines selected Boston as their alternate, unaware #1. 4. When these flights had to divert to BOS, they found themselves over CT and MA with no where else to go, so they all headed to BDL. 5. BDL itself was feeling the impacts of the storm system, with multiple power outages and trouble clearing snow. There were other internal factors that created further chaos at BDL, but the basics are all of these factors resulted in an airport being forced to take an overload of diversions while at the same time dealing with power outages and a blizzard itself.
piper300
Tom Werner 0
I agree 100% with you. But in the end, the carriers are fined, yet I see nothng in what you say thatw as their fault.
Best of luck to you. I get to BDL alot. Beautiful facility.
davysims
David Sims 0
Just an FYI, I am not at BDL, but MCW. Look me up if you are ever in the area.
ITnav
Dave Purscell 0
MCW is very nice as well. Used to fly through there regularly when I lived at SPW. Now I'm just up the road at OWA.

Thank you for all that you do, David. Community airports truly are the backbone of aviation but they rarely get the recognition that they deserve.
davysims
David Sims 0
We already saw the results of this legislation last winter. During one storm in MSP, Delta cancelled all flights for two days.
crk112
crk112 0
I don't know about you but I'd much rather the airline cancel my flight... Obviously given the choice I'd rather spend 15 hours in the terminal.
dzurn
Darryl Zurn 0
The FAA seems to have given the airlines no alternative but to cancel flights. The FAA also seems to be pandering to vocal critics of the airlines who demand action, even though the system has been developed over decades to handle the ups and downs (sorry) of flights through major hubs. There's so much going on every day, and one little delay can cause major blockages "downstream".

It's like fining the bus company during a snowstorm if it can't run because the roads aren't plowed: Nothing the bus company can do without cleared roads, so what's their alternative?

It'd be nice for the FAA to WORK with airlines to get what everyone really wants, which is fast convenient transportation without major glitches.
pink77W
joseph karl 0
I love airlines. But 3hrs is crazy. $900,000 fine is crazy too. I think the
Govt. Is n control of ATC and when a plane can
Take off!!!
pkiser
Paul Kiser 0
I would suggest that any airline that feels they need to cancel flights rather than use good common sense should, in fact, cancel all their flights, sell their airplanes and get out of the business. Our problem in America is not government regulations, it is stupid business people. When making sure that the CEO gets his bonus and that the pilot gets an 'on time' departure by leaving the gate is cause to lock up the passengers inside an aluminum tube for hours rather than return to the gate, it's pretty easy to see where the blame lies. A pilot is not a God and his first concern should be to the safety to his/her passengers. That safety extends to kidnapping them and holding them against their will in order to avoid getting dinged for 'on time' departure by returning to the gate. Stupid business does not equal 'evil' government. I'm really starting to believe that pilots should be charged with criminal acts when they put money and stats ahead of customer service.
ITnav
Dave Purscell 0
Wow. Strong opinion... which you are certainly entitled to have. And there are certainly situations mentioned above where those market forces may have contributed to the situation.

Of course it had absolutely nothing at all to do with what happened at BDL. Those planes never made it to a gate. They were stranded on the tarmac because there was no place to go. The evil pilot on the jetBlue airplane even called 911 to try and remedy the situation.

It was an emergency. They landed more aircraft at BDL then there was space to accomidate them. For my part, I believe what happend was at least marginally better than running out of gas while in flight and dropping to the ground in a non-burning aluminum tube...in the middle of a blizzard.

But that's just me.
pkiser
Paul Kiser 0
I'll agree with you that if the pilot made all the attempts you described and the ground crew and airport authority refused to act, then the fault lies there. However, there are more ways to get a passenger off a plane than via the Jetway. I would expect that you know as well as I that in many cases the airlines pull off of the Jetway to make an 'on time' departure when they know they won't be receiving immediate clearance for takeoff.

At BDL you said it was an emergency. That's important to remember. Everyone, the pilot, the ground crew, and the airport authority had a responsibility to respond to that emergency and someone failed. The government is not to blame for their failure.

Everyone wants to come up with single examples and excuses of why they shouldn't be held responsible for trapping passengers on a plane, but ready to blame the government for their woes. Most planes have multiple exits and if no one can figure out a way to get the passengers off, then open the d*&% doors and blow the slides. It only has to happen once and I can guarantee you airlines, ground crews, and the airport authority will find a better solution. I think jetBlue has some experience in this area.
ITnav
Dave Purscell 0
You are correct that it is everyone's responsiblity to respond to an emergency. And yet it is only the airlines that are being held financially responsible. At most commercial airports, the airport authority IS the government (or some quasi nebulous varition thereof).

There is more than one way to get passengers off a jet. Why didn't they bring an air-stair and bus the people to the terminal. It's been done before. I wasn't there, but I have been told that the TSA was concerned about a security breach. Ooops... Last I checked the TSA was the government.

When did all of these ontime pushback and wait situations start anyway? Oh yeah, it was when the passengers made a big stink about delays and demanded the government should fix that. Talk about unintended consequences.

NOBODY wanted people to be on those planes for 7+ hours. Certainly not the air crews. Forget the overblock! It stinks in here. Certainly not the ground crews or the airport authority. Certainly not dispatch. Those planes couldn't leave without fuel and they can't fuel without either a jetway or airstair present.

My only point is that there is plenty of blame to go around. This kind of stuff shouldn't happen -- PERIOD! But it did...and it does...and I seriously doubt that sending a $900K bill to the airline is going to fix the problem.

BTW... That $27K/pax doesn't go to the passengers that were treated like crap. It goes to the general fund where it will get wasted on "potato breeding research" and other incredibly valuable programs.
pkiser
Paul Kiser 0
If you expect me to back up anything TSA does, forget it. TSA was a stupid response to a problem that was solved on September 12, 2001. Never will a group of passengers allow themselves to be taken over with guys with boxcutters. The win for the terrorist was when TSA was put into place.

Government is not always right, but usually when government gets it wrong their is a private contractor that has screwed the government, so it is private business that is committing fraud.

If we could get business to voluntarily be ethical all the time and always put the customer first and not the investor or executive, we would need government to create a level playing field. Unfortunately, business is driven by greed, and despite what Michael Douglas' character on Wall Street, greed is never good.

When an airline has a passenger inside their airplane, all rights are stripped away from that person. The passenger can't argue, debate, or even ask questions. My flying experiences have been that most flight crews want the passenger to sit down, shut up for the entire flight. I have been on flights where a pilot hits a little chop 20 mins. into the flight then forget to remove the seat belt restriction for the rest of the flight. The flight starts with a set of absurd restrictions (a passengers iPod nano can bring down this flight,) and doesn't end until every shred of humanity is stripped away.

Airlines feign that they are the victims. They are given every power in the world to abuse a passenger and no one can challenge them, so how dare the government fine them!

Between the airline, TSA, and FAA someone forgot that the passenger is a human being and I'm tired of hearing all the excuses of why the airline is not responsible for what happens on its plane.
ITnav
Dave Purscell 0
You sure seem to love the government. That is a lot of trust in an organization that is made up of the same kind of greedy people that make up every other organization on earth.

I love what our government was originally designed to be...free of the influence of bribes and pandering. Not by assuming that everyone is above reproach, but with the checks and balances in place because we know that virtually no one is.

It sounds like you've certainly had some tough flights. Over the past 50 years I can honestly say that I have never once met a pilot whose first and almost singular focus wasn't to serve his customers and deliver them safely to their destinations as efficiently and effectively as possible.

That's quite a goal. To attempt to please 175 different people as best you can: The drunks headed to Spring Break and the mother with 2 young children across the aisle. I'm not sure I could do as good a job.

Are there pilots out there who place other things above those noble goals? I don't doubt that. The NTSB statistics have numerous stories to that effect. I am just saying that I have never flown with one.

You and I can certainly agree on one thing. All passengers are human beings and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. When last I checked, most of the flight crews were as well.
pkiser
Paul Kiser 0
That is one of the greatest compliments you could give me. Yes, I love the United States of America and we have the greatest government in the history of the world. Are politicians greedy? Some are, but WE elect them and if there is anyone to blame for the quality of the politicians it is the people who elect them. But our government is made up of more than just politicians. Civil servants are the bulk of our government and most civil servants work hard for us because they are one of us. When a civil servant screws their customer they are screwing themselves.

Is our government perfect. No, but I will put our government up against any government now or in the past and it will win hands down. What we have done in 235 years is stunning and almost all the great things we have today are as a direct or indirect result of our government. Could Google, Microsoft, or Apple be where they are today without the Internet? Who built the Internet? Government. Could an airline exist without an airport to land at? Who built the airport? Government. Could our stores have the greatest variety of products in the world without the Interstate Highway system? Who built that highway system? Government. Conservatives want to make America better by killing the government. How smart does killing the source of our future, both private and public jobs seem when it is government that makes it all possible.

Business and business alone put us in this Recession. Conservatives have wanted government to stay out of the affairs of business and in the 1990's they made the SEC look the other way by passing a law that said that Derivatives Trading would not be regulated. What happened? Private business, the very group that conservatives want to take over the government went mad with greed even when they knew it was unsustainable. At the same time the banks started making loans that they knew could not be repaid.

Our government has not significantly changed. Bribes and pandering have ALWAYS been a problem and will continue to be a problem. Human greed is never going to be removed from government or business. Fortunately, we have checks and balances in place with our ability to vote to remove the politician..not so for business. Again, we have the quality of politicians that we elect.

Back to airlines. I won't fly United anymore because their employees are consistently rude and arrogant. I don't blame them, it was business management that cultivated the culture of employee abuse and that in turn caused the employees to be abusive. Now any new employee at United is trained by an abusive employee on how to treat customers. Unfortunately, United is not the only one growing abusive employees.

I am sure every pilot will say that his/her concern for the passenger safety is the top priority. It just so happens that everything that the pilot does for the safety of his/her passengers, also saves his/her butt. If the plane goes down, so does the pilot, so safety is not an altruistic goal of a pilot.

So what distinguishes the pilot's concern for passengers? Customer service. Once, only once have I seen a pilot come out of the cockpit, face the passengers and apologize for the delay...and the reason was headwinds which were not his fault. How many pilots can say they talked to the passengers directly? How many pilots are grateful their is a locked door between them and those horrible, awful, dirty, disgusting passengers.

Maybe that Mom with 2 children has a husband is deployed in Afghanistan and she has to travel alone in order to let her children be with family for Christmas?
hohumm
Donald Colucci 0
When this happens, does the airline blame the cancellations on Air Traffic Controllers?? I had a recent situation with US Airways whereby flights from Philadelphia to Newburgh, NY were cancelled for 2 days. I was called 2 hours before my flight (from Newburgh to Philadelphia) and told it was cancelled. After multiple E-mails to US Airways they blamed it on Air Traffic to avoid compensating me but never specifically said it was the Air Traffic Controllers who initiated the cancellation.
1988532
It amazes me that airline passengers seem to think that an airline benefits in some way by holding passengers on their super expensive capital equipment ($80M airplane) with a super expensive crew when the airlines' interests are exactly the same as the passenger, to get you where you want to go as quickly as possible and reuse their plane for another load of passengers who are waiting for that plane. I have to think that most people watching this forum are pilots. How do you IFR pilots feel when you are sitting watching the Hobbs run at full speed as you wait for IFR clearance to take off? How would you like it if the government said that if we keep you waiting too long for your clearance, we are going to fine you $27,500 per passenger? BTW, I am not an airline pilot and I have no affiliation with any airline other than as an occasional passenger.
preacher1
preacher1 0
James, you are probably true and correct in what you say, but it is a pain and sheer frustration if you are one of the PAX in this mess. What is even worse is that the crew will not even give you an update as to what is going on. Most freq. fliers will have some patience if they are not left in the dark, as they have probably been there before.
1988532
If you are a pilot waiting for an IFR clearance you know that the tower does not tell you why you are waiting and sometimes they don't even tell you how long it will take. It is, after all, almost always, weather related. They don't know.
preacher1
preacher1 0
ain't no easy answers, but you and me both know a paying PAX thinks they own the thing and DEMAND answers, even if you can't tell them anything. I never have seen much IFR clearance delay unless it was some out of the ordinary routing and/or real short notice between filing/opening a plan. Standard routings and scheduled flight times never really seemed to be a problem for me.
1988532
Luckily, as you say, this is a rare problem. But as a passenger, I would rather sweat it out and try to get where I am going rather than play all kinds of games thinking some other airline is going to be able to do better than the one I am on. I think in the end, we will suffer as passengers when airlines are no longer willing to take the risk to try to get you where you are going if the time limit will cause them to be fined. I would rather try to work with the airline to get me where I want to go and not delay my flight by hours or days.
xmacfly
ALLEN McLEAN 0
Cancelations have become a matter of operational convenience. It will get worse.
SmokingKoala
in europe we used to look up to the u.s.a. as THE country of the future. the situation described in the item is sketching more or less a 3rd world country. what a sad end of a once great nation .... :(
madtrader
madtrader 0
I experienced my first flight cancellation two weeks ago (KATL to KEWR). At first I was shocked, then I realized it was because of rules like this and that this was going to become more common. We just have to roll with the changing times.
preacher1
preacher1 0
We did not get cancelled but about 6mos ago, we were enroute to CLT. Plane problem on connection and we got diverted to US Air. All still fine, as for our meeting there was an evening meet&greet reception and a meeting the next morning. The reception was most important. Now, I realize Thunderstorms are not of the airlines doing, but apparently, right after we boarded and got out on the taxiway lined up for departure, they threw in a ground stop for KCLT. It lasted about 45 minutes but with the rebooking and then this, we got into KCLT way to late to get onto our final destination in time for that reception. Had we been allowed to disembark, we probably would have just cancelled the remainder of the trip and came back home. I know everybody has got at least 1 war story similar to this, but that's mine.
dangenaw
Dan Genaw 0
Ground stops are unpredictable. It's sucks, but it's true. Whenever I fly into ORD, whenever I get clearance, CD always says to call them when we are pushing back for a flow control time. Sometimes it's no big deal, 10-15 minutes. Other times it can be an hour. And it's never a set time. One hour could turn into two, or one hour could turn into 20 minutes. You just never know.
madtrader
madtrader 0
Since you guys shared further, I'll add a bit more about this cancellation. This flight from KATL to KEWR was a connecting flight that we thought we might miss due to several problems with our previous flight (including unexpected inop APU requiring a call for a power cart that took a while to arrive, then a taxi back to the gate from the runway when it was discovered a panel was left open). I also managed to be seated next to a nice fellow that required a belt extender and a good chunk of what would be 'my' space. Anyway, we got to KATL fine and it turned out that the flight to KEWR was on the same physical plane, so any lateness helped us. After de-boarding and waiting in the terminal a while they started the boarding process and had us about 90% done when they cancelled the flight. This resulted in a mad dash to the counters to book the next available flight as people got off. We were in about the 3rd to last row without much hope of getting a good spot in the line. As luck would have it, no-one seemed to consider the electronic kiosks in the terminal and we were able to rebook on the next available flight immediately while most waited in line. We arrived in KEWR fine, having missed our free shuttle to the hotel and having to take a $70 taxi instead. This was between two big airports, so there should have been plenty of flights to rebook on had it been necessary. I don't know what would have happened had it been a flight to a much smaller destination, later in the day. I'm starting to look more closely at those more expensive direct flights now (luckily KMEM still has many).
pdixonj
pdixonj 0
Finally, someone who actually pays attention and uses the electronic kiosks. I can't tell you how many times I've walked through the concourses on a day of bad weather and flight cancellations and watched people mindlessly standing in long lines at the customer service counters, only to find few if any people using the kiosks. Technology is your best friend when your flight plans go haywire...they'll save you time and ease your nerves (as well as your feet).
ddesfosse
ddesfosse 0
The REAL petition: http://wh.gov/jCZ
ddesfosse
ddesfosse 0
Sorry for the double post, folks. I either missed, or there wasn't, a confirmation that my post, well, posted. ;)
ddesfosse
ddesfosse 0
Oh, boy. And I also didn't catch that I was posting to the wrong thread. If the mods would like to delete my posts from this thread, I'd appreciate it.... Thanks!
w7psk
Ricky Scott 0
So what should be done. The Airlines have already demonstrated that they Don't care. The Government had delayed action because they promised it wouldn't happen again.

How would you like to be stuck on an airplane for up to 8 hours because the Airline cant be bothered to get you proper facilities. Its cheaper for them to just leave you out on the tarmac.
preacher1
preacher1 0
There is no easy answer and right now there seems to be a total separation of the crews/departments that are handling one leaving the gate and those responsible for getting them in the air. When they leave the gate, then the terminal is done with them and it's somebody else's problem. If there is a local weather problem or a ground stop elsewhere, that seems not to be the terminal's problem as the flight has left. It is at that point someone is going to have to say, "THIS IS AN AIRLINE PROBLEM" and handle accordingly. Right now, it's quick and easy to cancel flights and this dumps on the PAX and reservations folks so what the hell.
mpradel
Marcus Pradel 0
@Wayne has the point down. Airlines can't control the weather, they have 2 options: cancel the flight or try to wing it. But when a groundstop happens elsewhere, the action should be to return to the gate, the airport-terminal operators just aren't interested in facilitating that.. But it's the airline's problem/fault?

There's no good solution for this problem.

I've spent hours sitting in a plane on the ramp waiting for the 'right' gate to be come available.
mhlansdell00
Mark Lansdell 0
As usual, you're on point, Wayne. I think the big fines will make it clearly an airline problem. You may not like the solution. I listened to a recording from the pilot of one of the American Eagle planes. He was begging for a gate. The news channel only played one side of the conversation, so I don't know what he was told except no. No one seemed upset that there were no working lavs. Not working on the ground means not working en route.
These planes were diverted from New York and so the question how do you cancel a flight in progress. I understand the bureaucracy you described between terminal ops. and flight crews. Add to that the fact that these weren't American operated planes and crews. They were lease operated, so even more distant from the American ground folks. Ahh the wonderful world of union opwerations.
dangenaw
Dan Genaw 0
It's really not "cheaper" for an airline to keep you out on the tarmac. If you're sitting out there, the airline is burning extra fuel (not cheap) and paying overblock to the crew (not cheap). If you were scheduled in and no gate is available, then the plane sitting at your gate is also costing the airline money.

But, the big one, when you're an unexpected arrival (either a return to gate or a diversion) then there usually just is no gate. As soon as you leave a gate, someone else pulls in. In order to get you back to the gate right away, they have to make someone else late. That could cause a cascade effect and make a whole bunch of people late, causing the them to miss connections, and make the airline rebook them costing the airline even more money.

But, I get it. It's just easier to vilify airlines rather then trying to understand them.
ddesfosse
ddesfosse 0
The REAL petition: http://wh.gov/jCZ

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