Why can't the last flight of the day wait for connections and what constitutes 'Weather' and 'Air Traffic Control' issues?

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Oct 7, 2015
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#1
I have communicated with AA regarding challenges we faced throughout a long day of travel and missed connections but have not been given a satisfactory answer on two issues--why doesn't the last flight of the day wait for delayed connecting customers and what constitutes 'weather' and 'air traffic control' (which I thought I understood but now realize that they must have a much broader scope).

Our first flight of the day was delayed due to ice storms at CLT; I understand and laud that decision although we missed our connecting flight. We were rebooked on flight CLT-MIA AA959 but had scheduled a long lay-over so there should have been no problem connecting with our final connection AA2217 MIA-AUA. There were no delays indicated for AA959; however, ready to board at the designated gate D12—where equipment was waiting—a gate change to D14 was announced although there was NO equipment at that gate. We waited while a plane arrived, deplaned, was cleaned then finally started boarding. That delay resulted in us missing our connection to AA2217; we arrived a the departure gate having run from the E concourse to the D concourse but the plane had departed. Then we were told that the flight delay had been classified as "weather and air traffic control" so we were not entitled to any consideration by AA. As our CLT-MIA flight was at gate D12 with no delay indicated until boarding time, I have asked AA to explain how an equipment change became weather and ATC; I have not been provided with any details.

Additionally, as we were late leaving CLT, we requested that a cart be waiting in MIA due to the delay but it was not there so we asked an agent to alert the boarding gate. Although we arrived at the gate three minutes past departure time, the plane was gone. We were disappointed that the flight, although alerted by the arrival gate agent before the gate closing window, had not waited. I fully understand the issues of waiting for delayed connections on flights throughout the day but I don't understand how a less than fifteen minute wait for passengers could impact the last flight of the day. There are not flights out of Aruba at that hour (scheduled arrival 9:34 pm) so there was no issue with connections in Aruba and I would assume that crews are not scheduled so tightly that flight time limits would be an issue.

Thank you for additional enlightening!
Debi
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
11,991
12,233
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#2
The airlines can’t wait for connecting flights because if they aren’t out of the gate by the time the flight is scheduled to leave they can be fined by the airport, they risk the crew timing out, it costs money and overtime to keep gates open.....and the list goes on and on.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#3
I have communicated with AA regarding challenges we faced throughout a long day of travel and missed connections but have not been given a satisfactory answer on two issues--why doesn't the last flight of the day wait for delayed connecting customers and what constitutes 'weather' and 'air traffic control' (which I thought I understood but now realize that they must have a much broader scope).

Our first flight of the day was delayed due to ice storms at CLT; I understand and laud that decision although we missed our connecting flight. We were rebooked on flight CLT-MIA AA959 but had scheduled a long lay-over so there should have been no problem connecting with our final connection AA2217 MIA-AUA. There were no delays indicated for AA959; however, ready to board at the designated gate D12—where equipment was waiting—a gate change to D14 was announced although there was NO equipment at that gate. We waited while a plane arrived, deplaned, was cleaned then finally started boarding. That delay resulted in us missing our connection to AA2217; we arrived a the departure gate having run from the E concourse to the D concourse but the plane had departed. Then we were told that the flight delay had been classified as "weather and air traffic control" so we were not entitled to any consideration by AA. As our CLT-MIA flight was at gate D12 with no delay indicated until boarding time, I have asked AA to explain how an equipment change became weather and ATC; I have not been provided with any details.

Additionally, as we were late leaving CLT, we requested that a cart be waiting in MIA due to the delay but it was not there so we asked an agent to alert the boarding gate. Although we arrived at the gate three minutes past departure time, the plane was gone. We were disappointed that the flight, although alerted by the arrival gate agent before the gate closing window, had not waited. I fully understand the issues of waiting for delayed connections on flights throughout the day but I don't understand how a less than fifteen minute wait for passengers could impact the last flight of the day. There are not flights out of Aruba at that hour (scheduled arrival 9:34 pm) so there was no issue with connections in Aruba and I would assume that crews are not scheduled so tightly that flight time limits would be an issue.

Thank you for additional enlightening!
Debi
Some areas restrict the times that flights can come in, because the airplanes fly over residential areas; a plane does not just need a crew, there have to be people still working at the destination airport to off load the baggage, customs and immigration if international, air traffic control, someone to move the jet way --- so I think the costs are just too great -- and what Neil mentioned -- the crews have legal limits on how much rest time and flight time they have. Once a plane waits, even 10 minutes, they lose their slot for takeoff, and then have to wait to be worked into the line -- so waiting 10 minutes past departure time may not mean that arrival will be 10 minutes late -- Air Traffic Control may make the plane leave much later because the flight missed its take off. And if a plane waits in cold weather, de icing is needed -- there are so many variables.

the ice storm was certainly weather -- the equipment change may have happened because the original plane that was scheduled to be used was not able to land in time to be cleaned and all, because of the ice storm; or the plane at D-12 may have been scheduled to be used for another flight, but ATC would not let it leave, so it sat there and the D-14 plane was substituted. When weather is bad ATC will delay incoming flights, and ground others --

The plane that landed at D-14 may have been the assigned aircraft but it was not able to land in time, a different aircraft was at D-12 , easiest thing to do is move the incoming plane to D-14 -- so the gate change easily could have been from the weather or ATC.

I avoid taking a connection to the last flight of the day precisely for the problem listed -- the connection rarely waits -- I will take the non stop last flight out.

Thee winter weather can make a mess of flying and am sorry that you had the bad luck to be stuck in it
 
Oct 7, 2015
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#4
The airlines can’t wait for connecting flights because if they aren’t out of the gate by the time the flight is scheduled to leave they can be fined by the airport, they risk the crew timing out, it costs money and overtime to keep gates open.....and the list goes on and on.
Some areas restrict the times that flights can come in, because the airplanes fly over residential areas; a plane does not just need a crew, there have to be people still working at the destination airport to off load the baggage, customs and immigration if international, air traffic control, someone to move the jet way --- so I think the costs are just too great -- and what Neil mentioned -- the crews have legal limits on how much rest time and flight time they have. Once a plane waits, even 10 minutes, they lose their slot for takeoff, and then have to wait to be worked into the line -- so waiting 10 minutes past departure time may not mean that arrival will be 10 minutes late -- Air Traffic Control may make the plane leave much later because the flight missed its take off. And if a plane waits in cold weather, de icing is needed -- there are so many variables.

the ice storm was certainly weather -- the equipment change may have happened because the original plane that was scheduled to be used was not able to land in time to be cleaned and all, because of the ice storm; or the plane at D-12 may have been scheduled to be used for another flight, but ATC would not let it leave, so it sat there and the D-14 plane was substituted. When weather is bad ATC will delay incoming flights, and ground others --

The plane that landed at D-14 may have been the assigned aircraft but it was not able to land in time, a different aircraft was at D-12 , easiest thing to do is move the incoming plane to D-14 -- so the gate change easily could have been from the weather or ATC.

I avoid taking a connection to the last flight of the day precisely for the problem listed -- the connection rarely waits -- I will take the non stop last flight out.

Thee winter weather can make a mess of flying and am sorry that you had the bad luck to be stuck in it
Thank you for your response and your empathy. Weather was not an issue in CLT at departure time--the ice storm was well over when we arrived at CLT and it had warmed up in the hours (at least three) before our scheduled departure time. There were no delays posted for departing flights nor did we get a text alert notifying us of any delay for the CLT-MIA flight (although we had numerous updates on our FLO-CLT flight that morning). I feel that if it had been related to ATC or weather that we would have been so notified at the time but I guess, despite miles and miles of flying, I still remain an optimist!

I also appreciated the update from Neil; I gained insight on additional issues regarding holding connecting flights. I knew about crew limits but the insight on the takeoff slot restrictions was very informational. (Ironically, the very next day our rescheduled flight MIA-AUA waited for a delayed family of five???)

It is always a pleasure to gain new information and I always appreciate the efforts of "Team Elliott"; thank you for smoothing the rocky travel roads!
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
11,991
12,233
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#5
For your second flight that you had to change gates- that incoming flight might have been delayed due to weather where that one came from. There are so many variables that can occur due to incoming air traffic you never know what’s going on.

You did face a lot of entenuating circumstances.
Why not write to AA using our company contacts and ask for some miles for your inconvenience? The worst they can say is no and the best is they give you something.
 
Oct 7, 2015
9
1
3
61
#6
For your second flight that you had to change gates- that incoming flight might have been delayed due to weather where that one came from. There are so many variables that can occur due to incoming air traffic you never know what’s going on.

You did face a lot of entenuating circumstances.
Why not write to AA using our company contacts and ask for some miles for your inconvenience? The worst they can say is no and the best is they give you something.
Your suggestion is spot on and prior to posting, both my husband and I followed the Elliott Team recommendations and wrote AA, first using their automated form then contacting Mr. Bentel's office using the contacts on this site. We have also taken the appropriate steps to gain reimbursement for the essentials required by the two day delay of our bags and I do not anticipate any problem with that minimal claim.

Token miles were offered and, when I explained that we don't use them because they don't count toward status, AA offered a voucher to each of us in lieu of the miles in light of our difficulties; however, I still feel that delays on the CLT-MIA flight were airline related and that lodging should have been offered. And, the most recent response from Mr. Bentel's office has me even more perplexed, I quote: "The aircraft and the Flight Attendant were coming from Baltimore. They were both delayed due to weather in Charlotte. Gates are changed as needed to accommodate delays. The actual aircraft was not changed, however it did not arrive until 2:04 pm which is why the gate needed to be changed to another location. As they were uncertain the exact arrival time of the aircraft and which gate would be available they kept the passengers at the originally scheduled gate to prevent them from running all over the airport until the decision was made." Our boarding time was 4:55 which should have allowed more than sufficient time to turn the flight around for a 5:40 departure time; and it seems that AA is really stretching to use the much earlier weather as their mitigating factor.

I try to remain informed and read the newsletter regularly but this situation was outside of our long experience and I sincerely appreciate the information the team has provided; I also hope it will help others! Your efforts are invaluable!
 
Sep 19, 2015
1,767
3,024
113
47
#7
Your suggestion is spot on and prior to posting, both my husband and I followed the Elliott Team recommendations and wrote AA, first using their automated form then contacting Mr. Bentel's office using the contacts on this site. We have also taken the appropriate steps to gain reimbursement for the essentials required by the two day delay of our bags and I do not anticipate any problem with that minimal claim.

Token miles were offered and, when I explained that we don't use them because they don't count toward status, AA offered a voucher to each of us in lieu of the miles in light of our difficulties; however, I still feel that delays on the CLT-MIA flight were airline related and that lodging should have been offered. And, the most recent response from Mr. Bentel's office has me even more perplexed, I quote: "The aircraft and the Flight Attendant were coming from Baltimore. They were both delayed due to weather in Charlotte. Gates are changed as needed to accommodate delays. The actual aircraft was not changed, however it did not arrive until 2:04 pm which is why the gate needed to be changed to another location. As they were uncertain the exact arrival time of the aircraft and which gate would be available they kept the passengers at the originally scheduled gate to prevent them from running all over the airport until the decision was made." Our boarding time was 4:55 which should have allowed more than sufficient time to turn the flight around for a 5:40 departure time; and it seems that AA is really stretching to use the much earlier weather as their mitigating factor.

I try to remain informed and read the newsletter regularly but this situation was outside of our long experience and I sincerely appreciate the information the team has provided; I also hope it will help others! Your efforts are invaluable!
There may have been a lot of gate congestion given the delays. Think of the plane at D-12 have squatters rights, as the aircraft was still there -- it sounds like a mess with musical gates and planes, again not a surprise with the weather. So the assigned aircraft had no place to go once landing, and had to go to a different gate.

If there is terrible weather even for a part of the day the repercussions can last later in the day or even into the next day -- it is like dominoes.

And once airplanes start coming in late the schedule for the cleaning crew, the people refueling the planes have to improvise, and the delays continue.

It is unpleasant but the reality of the situation