Flight 659 (PHL-SFO) diverted due to lack of fuel... before take off
My partner was on US Airways flight 659 from PHL-SFO, non-stop yesterday. Upon boarding they were informed the flight would be diverted to Denver because of "lack of fuel." That raises a few questions...
1. Is this a common occurrence?
2. Will her dividend miles be based upon the non-stop SFO-PHL, or will it include the stop in Denver?
3. Generally, I cut the airlines a lot of slack but is this worth giving the 800 line a call to voice my displeasure?
BoeingBoy (retired pilot) can probably provide the best answer, but my guess is that the plane was full of passengers, bags and cargo and thus couldn't take on enough fuel to make it across the country. And they knew it from the get-go. Airplane capacity generally requires some tradeoffs. AFAIK, there are very few planes where you can completely fill the cabin, cube out the cargo bays with heavy bags and freight and still fill the fuel tanks to the top. And that's because there's a maximum takeoff weight that must not be exceeded, period. Yet full cabin, bags and fuel tanks would exceed that limit.
Another big factor this time of year is that jetstream winds tend to pick up velocity in the winter months, making it more difficult for A321s and A320s to make nonstop westbound transcons without stopping for fuel. Happens to jetBlue quite a bit in January-March (nothing but A320s and lotsa transcons).
Complaining would be a complete waste of time. It's not an uncommon occurence in the winter if you're on a westbound transcon on an A321 or A320. Miles will generally be awarded for the nonstop distance.
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My experience with this is as follows:
- The A320 is more likely than the 321 to divert. 659 is a 320.
- It doesn't happen often, but when it does I'd rather know in advance.
- The diversions usually only happen during heavy winter headwinds and have tended to result in delays of 45-60 minutes plus whatever delay the headwinds can cause.
- PHL-SFO, as one of the longest if not the longest nonstop in the US domestic system, is the most likely route I regularly fly to encounter this.
+1 to FWAAA. With out knowing more this is the most likely explanation.
+1...Pretty much nailed it.
Just minor clarifications - The jet stream generally is further south in the winter than summer (in the northern hemisphere, putting it more often along the transcon routes) and there are two weights that come into play (add max zero fuel wt or the maximum wt without fuel). As FWAAA alluded, if the plane is at/near MZFW you can't put on max fuel without exceeding MTOW.
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Sounds like everything was done according to the CoC that was agreed to prior to purchase:
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US Airways undertakes to use its best efforts to transport the customer and baggage with reasonable
dispatch. Times shown in websites, advertisements, timetables, or elsewhere are not guaranteed and
form no part of the Contract of Carriage. US Airways may substitute alternate carriers or aircraft,
change seat assignment, and may alter or omit stopping places shown on the ticket in case of necessity.
Schedules are subject to change without notice. US Airways is not responsible or liable for substituting
aircraft, changing seat assignments, making connections, failing to operate any flight according
to schedule, or changing the schedule of any flight. In the event of a Force Majeure Event, US Airways, without notice, may cancel, terminate, divert, postpone,
or delay any flight, right of carriage, or reservations (whether or not confirmed) without liability on
the part of US Airways. US Airways also reserves the right to determine if any departure or landing
should be made without liability on the part of US Airways. US Airways may reschedule the customer
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Originally Posted by seratonin7
When a diversion occurs, do they pull up to a US gate for fueling? Do they open the door? If no passengers get off, do the F/A do another safety briefing?
I wonder if they cater a snack basket for the second part of the trip?
I've only been on one flight that was diverted, LIS-EWR (on CO) became LIS-GLA-EWR due to volcanic activity in Iceland.
Yes, they did a safety briefing when we took off both times. Yes, they did a quick drink service and snacks on LIS-GLA, then the full meal on GLA-EWR.
We pulled up to a gate, I don't even know which. They opened the door to the plane, a gate agent came on to make announcements. They said we could stand, and walk around, but they suggested we not leave the plane, unless we had to.
And no, I didn't earn extra miles. Actually, I had been rerouted from MAD-PHL, and eventually got Original Routing Credit (US was doing a double mile promo on US-metal flights).