Diverted International Flight Extended Ground Delay

JustinS

Well-Known Member
Sometimes when the wheels fall off the bus, you let the wheels fall off the bus and go from there.
So you’d wait until your passengers are having medical issues and calling 911? I’d consider the wheels fallen off the bus after diverting and having an unknown ETD to the intended destination myself.
 
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ChasenSFO

hen teaser
I coordinated this event from the SFO end, no super secret squirrel stuff going on or anything so I see no harm in being honest.

This made the news, but it happens a lot. The other day, China Eastern had a 6.5 hours from pushback to takeoff. Nothing we could do. Sat by the 10s with several other planes for 4+ hours but the wind was right down the 19s and they couldn't make a safe climb on those runways. Came back to the gate to refuel, but it was an IROPS day and we had no gates, they held 111 mins in my ramp JUST to refuel. And a few people got off, a few different times, bags had to be dug out then the plane re-closed each time. But the majority of pax stayed on board and tacked another 7 hours onto their ass-in-seat time to Shanghai. No police. No news story. When you know how long a delay is, great, plan. But when Murphy's law makes everything unpredictable and there are limited resources, there isn't much you can do without risking a cancellation sometimes.

In the case of Aeromexico, they do not fly to Oakland. Oakland has 2 international-capable gates and several Volaris and Norweigan flights per day with a tight gate schedule as is. Nevermind that Aeromexico was not the only international diversion to OAK at the time, and the other planes had angry pax, too, no doubt. AM662 diverted to OAK with no idea how long it would be, going back to the gate would probably be a cancellation due to all the complications of them having no staff in Oakland or a gate to park at once they knew it would be a lengthy hold. If they parked, they would need to tow off right after offload, and trust me, that would be it for the aircraft that day. Their company AM664 from MEX had diverted to SJC around the same time and that flight was released after several hours in SJC and so I'd imagine the pilots and company figured they'd just hang out since it worked for that flight. If these people didn't freak out, it would have been just about 3 hours on the ground but then off to SFO where most of the pax wanted to end up anyway AND the return flight to GDL would have still operated. But because these pax freaked out to the extent of having the cops called, they all sat in the plane another 2 hours on the ground, got dumped in Oakland with no Aeromexico staff to assist at all(info was getting to the airline VERY slowly, and to the airport even slower), and the GDL flight cancelled while SFO ended up losing another remote parking spot when this plane ferried in on a crappy diversion day which put us in a "hey, if ONE international flight returns to the gate, we have nowhere to put it and nowhere to tow anybody off to..." situation. Having been living it in real time, I can tell you some planes diverted to LAX were in the same situation and didn't make the news and that at the time, no one suggested the pilots were making a bad decision. Nor afterwards was there ANY talk of that anywhere but here, I guess.

Yes, the situation sucked. But save for the jerkoffs who got hauled away by the Alemeda County Sheriffs, all the pax got an extra 2 hours in the plane for this and a lot of people were totally screwed. This doesn't just happen here, people get trapped in planes waiting for gates on IROPS days in places like LAX, JFK, EWR, ect for 3+ hours. This was an unusual day, but really if the pax didn't get arrested, nobody would have written anything about this.

Call me crazy, but I'd rather sit tight for 3 hours and get where I want to go than sit in a plane for 5 hours while the FBI, Customs, and the Sheriff raid the airplane and then NOT get where I'm going.
 
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JustinS

Well-Known Member
I coordinated this event from the SFO end, no super secret squirrel stuff going on or anything so I see no harm in being honest.

This made the news, but it happens a lot. The other day, China Eastern had a 6.5 hours from pushback to takeoff. Nothing we could do. Sat by the 10s with several other planes for 4+ hours but the wind was right down the 19s and they couldn't make a safe climb on those runways. Came back to the gate to refuel, but it was an IROPS day and we had no gates, they held 111 mins in my ramp JUST to refuel. And a few people got off, a few different times, bags had to be dug out then the plane re-closed each time. But the majority of pax stayed on board and tacked another 7 hours onto their ass-in-seat time to Shanghai. No police. No news story. When you know how long a delay is, great, plan. But when Murphy's law makes everything unpredictable and there are limited resources, there isn't much you can do without risking a cancellation sometimes.

In the case of Aeromexico, they do not fly to Oakland. Oakland has 2 international-capable gates and several Volaris and Norweigan flights per day with a tight gate schedule as is. Nevermind that Aeromexico was not the only international diversion to OAK at the time, and the other planes had angry pax, too, no doubt. AM662 diverted to OAK with no idea how long it would be, going back to the gate would probably be a cancellation due to all the complications of them having no staff in Oakland or a gate to park at once they knew it would be a lengthy hold. If they parked, they would need to tow off right after offload, and trust me, that would be it for the aircraft that day. Their company AM664 from MEX had diverted to SJC around the same time and that flight was released after several hours in SJC and so I'd imagine the pilots and company figured they'd just hang out since it worked for that flight. If these people didn't freak out, it would have been just about 3 hours on the ground but then off to SFO where most of the pax wanted to end up anyway AND the return flight to GDL would have still operated. But because these pax freaked out to the extent of having the cops called, they all sat in the plane another 2 hours on the ground, got dumped in Oakland with no Aeromexico staff to assist at all(info was getting to the airline VERY slowly, and to the airport even slower), and the GDL flight cancelled while SFO ended up losing another remote parking spot when this plane ferried in on a crappy diversion day which put us in a "hey, if ONE international flight returns to the gate, we have nowhere to put it and nowhere to tow anybody off to..." situation. Having been living it in real time, I can tell you some planes diverted to LAX were in the same situation and didn't make the news and that at the time, no one suggested the pilots were making a bad decision. Nor afterwards was there ANY talk of that anywhere but here, I guess.

Yes, the situation sucked. But save for the jerkoffs who got hauled away by the Alemeda County Sheriffs, all the pax got an extra 2 hours in the plane for this and a lot of people were totally screwed. This doesn't just happen here, people get trapped in planes waiting for gates on IROPS days in places like LAX, JFK, EWR, ect for 3+ hours. This was an unusual day, but really if the pax didn't get arrested, nobody would have written anything about this.

Call me crazy, but I'd rather sit tight for 3 hours and get where I want to go than sit in a plane for 5 hours while the FBI, Customs, and the Sheriff raid the airplane and then NOT get where I'm going.
You'll never make everyone happy, but the biggest thing you can do is communicate with the passengers. I've been in these scenarios numerous times. Had passengers sitting on my plane once for 6 hours once for an hour long flight. Reason my passengers didn't go crazy is because I kept them up to date the entire time, AND gave an oppurtunity for egress at our diversion airport. On our diversion we did have people get off the plane and find their own way. The rest that stayed sat for a while longer and when we were about to leave I told them quite frankly what would happen. "We're going to pushback taxi out and wait for a slot to open up. One of two things will happen. We takeoff within an hour and make it to Detroit, OR we time out on our duty day and taxi back to the gate. Now is your last chance to deplane if you'd like otherwise we are closing up and going to try and make it to Detroit at this time." It was a crappy situation, but all I got was thanks and praise from the passengers for keeping an open line of communication being up front, honest, and putting forth our best effort. Had another nightmare like that happen in Newark once too. Same outcome. Delays were similar or in excess of this Aeromexico flight. So I've been there done that. Have the t-shirt for future wearing. I've also been on the receiving end of it as a passenger. The delays that have less upset passengers are the ones where the Captain talks to the passengers often and face to face. Lastly, you also need to know your limits and know when to throw in the towel. Sometimes we learn from bad experiences. I'm sure the flight crew learned something that day. I've definitely had my learning moments as well with these situations.
 
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