Mechanical, equipment change, crew timeout...

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Apr 14, 2018
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#1
We started UA4333 4/13 with a 5 minute mechanical, that turned into a 15 minute mechanical, that then went to an equipment and gate change. Finally boarded the replacement aircraft, eventually taxied, hung out in three tarmac for about 90 minutes, then about 3 1/2 hours after the original flight time, had to come back to the gate because crew timeout. And naturally there is no other plane or crew tonight, so, because all of a sudden this cancellation is allegedly a weather event, no assistance from UA (bottled water and snack food is not real assistance, IMHO) to help the 60 stranded passengers, the majority of whom are now scattered about the terminal, trying to get comfy and maybe catch a few ZZZs. Why is this still allowed to happen?
 

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jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
#4
I doubt if anyone wants to fly anywhere in a small plane through a tornado. What do you think that United could have done differently? Why were people sleeping at the airport instead of getting a hotel? Travellers need to be prepared for anything and shouldn't expect an airline to take care of them ... your tix provides you transportation between two points, safe transportation. Send United a polite, concise email outlining your experience, and request some miles or a voucher towards a future flight.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#5
There was a tornado watch issued for springfield area which was valid until 10 pm 4/13.

Air traffic control likely held the plane on the tarmac.

It was the crash in Buffalo that killed all passengers and crew that led to more scrutiny on pilot fatigue.

Believe me I understand the frustration with these smaller planes and long delays.
 

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#6
Are you sure there were no weather incidents in Springfield? I believe there were tornadoes last night.
I believe, as a matter of fact, there were weather incidents, though they weren't mentioned by airline personnel as a reason for any of the numerous and compounded delays. I guess that was kind of my point, in that at no time during did they mention weather. It was mechanical, mechanical, can't fix it, new equipment, board, sit and wait, taxi out to runways, sit and wait some more, crew time out, return to gate, deplane. Only back at the gate did anyone mention weather. I'm not saying canceling wasn't the right thing to do, just that UA could have done better at keeping us informed, instead of leading us through the other excuses first. Then perhaps better alternate arrangements could have been made, dinner had...etc.
 
#7
I doubt if anyone wants to fly anywhere in a small plane through a tornado. What do you think that United could have done differently? Why were people sleeping at the airport instead of getting a hotel? Travellers need to be prepared for anything and shouldn't expect an airline to take care of them ... your tix provides you transportation between two points, safe transportation. Send United a polite, concise email outlining your experience, and request some miles or a voucher towards a future flight.
Correct, who indeed wants to fly in tornado weather? United (not that I'm singling them out, I think they all play that game) could have kept us better informed. As to why people were sleeping at the airport instead of getting a hotel, speaking only for myself, I would have considered it a waste of time and money; by the time we were back in the terminal it's after midnight. Another 30 minutes phoning xyz hotels, another 30 to get there (hopefully it's close, hopefully it has a still running shuttle), another 30-60 to unwind and repair destination plans, to get maybe an hour of sleep before trekking back to the airport, through security, and to the gate by 5 for a posted 6 AM flight. Not even worth it if the airline had offered it at that hour. A couple or three hours earlier, yeah, probably, even on my own dime. Not looking to take take take, just looking to be treated... humanely?... might do an email, don't think it'll make a difference in SOP, so it's as likely that I won't.
 
Apr 14, 2018
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SW MO
#9
There was a tornado watch issued for springfield area which was valid until 10 pm 4/13.

Air traffic control likely held the plane on the tarmac.

It was the crash in Buffalo that killed all passengers and crew that led to more scrutiny on pilot fatigue.

Believe me I understand the frustration with these smaller planes and long delays.
Yep, we were on the tarmac "waiting our turn" (not waiting for weather to clear) till after 11:30 I think. Then the crew timed out.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
11,372
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
#10
The airlines want to get you home. They really did everything they could to get your flight out. The weather delay seems to be what caused the crew to time out- not their fault.

Staff also might not really know why flights are delayed so they can only tell you what they know. I’ve had my app tell me about flight delays and issues while I am sitting right at the gate waiting rooms board that the gate agents weren’t aware of.

What is it that you want the airline to do? This just seems to be a bad set of circumstances but it happens.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#11
The lack of communication is aggravating.

It is likely that the flight crew was not focusing on the weather patterns but the immediate issue at hand, the mechanical. And then once mechanical done ooops delay from ATC and time out. I suspect the crew also was not happy as the flight time pay is a significant portion of their compensation.

Sometimes pilots really do not know how long a repair will take or it can be worse than thought.

However I do think you should write and stress the communication issue.
 
#12
The lack of communication is aggravating.

It is likely that the flight crew was not focusing on the weather patterns but the immediate issue at hand, the mechanical. And then once mechanical done ooops delay from ATC and time out. I suspect the crew also was not happy as the flight time pay is a significant portion of their compensation.

Sometimes pilots really do not know how long a repair will take or it can be worse than thought.

However I do think you should write and stress the communication issue.
Yes, the lack of communication-- aggravating and frustrating. It's so basic.

The sad part (I think) is that the plane I was first to depart on got to IAH 39 minutes late that morning, due to mechanical. Then it seems to have just sat at the same gate for 10+ hours. But when we got in line to board 10 hours later, it still had 3 mechanicals before getting assigned new equipment. 1- interior light, 2- emergency lighting, 3- the ever popular we-know-there's-something-wrong-but-we-can't-find-the-issue which caused the equipment change. Why not give a known dud a thorough once-over while it's going to be idle for 10 hours anyway and make it well again?

I dunno. I'm not a huge traveler at this time in my life, and don't have a lot of experience, so maybe there are some [outdated?] rules or regs that prevent airlines from performing maintenance during scheduled downtime rather than on the fly (see what I did there?) a moment or two before next boarding. If so, that's just stupid. And possibly, really really inefficient. And again, just my opinion.
 
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#13
The airlines want to get you home. They really did everything they could to get your flight out. The weather delay seems to be what caused the crew to time out- not their fault.

Staff also might not really know why flights are delayed so they can only tell you what they know. I’ve had my app tell me about flight delays and issues while I am sitting right at the gate waiting rooms board that the gate agents weren’t aware of.

What is it that you want the airline to do? This just seems to be a bad set of circumstances but it happens.
Comments by sentence: Yes. I'm sure they did. Agree - agree (but tell us!!! Why does it have to be a state secret?)

Staff SHOULD know; they're the front line of communication with the customer... and they should be able to be. Me too, and that's the problem.

Communicate, with staff and customers. Bad set of circumstances, sure, but many of which, I think, could have been handled better by simply communicating (we the people, we just need to know shit).

BTW, aside from one person (and despite this thread possibly leading one to believe otherwise, that one person was not me), this was a most gracious group of people. I chatted with a non-English-speaking couple for 2 hours completely by Google Translate on my phone. Did my best to explain the delays, the cancellation, the new gate assignments, how to take the opportunity to book a hotel if they chose to book a hotel room (they didn't) ... Then later, we talked about our families, jobs, places we'd been to, etc., and then got them queued at the right gate in the morning. A young man lent his blanket to an older woman for the night. Quiet, respectful group of people. All in all, a great night for me, but that doesn't mitigate the sloppy customer service. Again, IMO.
 
Aug 29, 2015
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#15
Branson MO was under tornado Tornado warning conditions by 6pm. Last night's weather had strong thunderstorms and tornado warnings for all of southern MO, from something like 5pm until 1 am. There is no way they would have let the plane land in Springfield last night. Greene, Laclede, Texas, Phelps and Crawford Counties all had wind damage that I'm aware of through friends. We definitely had wind damage where I am, halfway between Springfield and StL.
 
Likes: jsn55
Sep 19, 2015
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#16
What is difficult is the endless we are delayed by 30 minutes -- and when there is a delay one should not stray far from the gate --- and that can be difficult if one has been on a connection and had minimal food, or skipped lunch because of working.

This happened to me recently at MCI -- Kansas City -- the plane was there, crew, but ATC in the New York region was not letting planes take off.

MCI has an odd set up for some of the terminals, there are separate sections of 10 gates, each with separate security --- there was one bar (drinks and potatoe chips) and one place selling premade sandwiches and they had almost sold out -- the plane should have left at 5 pm, but we had to wait over 2 hours ---- and it was too risky to go out through security as the line was long --- and no TSA precheck.

What a fine evening that was.... but this was out of the airlines control so I just read, nothing else I could do,
 
Jul 27, 2016
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#17
What is difficult is the endless we are delayed by 30 minutes -- and when there is a delay one should not stray far from the gate --- and that can be difficult if one has been on a connection and had minimal food, or skipped lunch because of working.

This happened to me recently at MCI -- Kansas City -- the plane was there, crew, but ATC in the New York region was not letting planes take off.

MCI has an odd set up for some of the terminals, there are separate sections of 10 gates, each with separate security --- there was one bar (drinks and potatoe chips) and one place selling premade sandwiches and they had almost sold out -- the plane should have left at 5 pm, but we had to wait over 2 hours ---- and it was too risky to go out through security as the line was long --- and no TSA precheck.

What a fine evening that was.... but this was out of the airlines control so I just read, nothing else I could do,
MCI was built just before the installation of metal detectors, and the layout is both unique and terrible.
 
#18
Branson MO was under tornado Tornado warning conditions by 6pm. Last night's weather had strong thunderstorms and tornado warnings for all of southern MO, from something like 5pm until 1 am. There is no way they would have let the plane land in Springfield last night. Greene, Laclede, Texas, Phelps and Crawford Counties all had wind damage that I'm aware of through friends. We definitely had wind damage where I am, halfway between Springfield and StL.
 
#19
So why not cancel while there is still time for the displaced customers to have a decent evening instead of FUBAR? The miniscule chance to complete the contact of carriage "only" 5 hours late vs. the 99% chance of a too late to do anything cancellation. Just pipe dreams, I know; I'm obviously looking for "decency to all" from whence it will never come.