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Alaska Airlines flight diversion leads to a 30-hour nightmare for passengers

Alaska Airlines flight diversion leads to a 30-hour nightmare for passengers

Old Jan 9, 2019, 6:42 am
  #46  
 
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I get it. Alaska has no operations whatsoever in Buffalo. And domestic partnerships are all gone. The one who failed immensely is the pilot. Sorry, but this man should have been the last to leave the airport, it was his ship, and his dart of town was sad. Captain was thrown into the wolves and lacked any resources whatsoever to do anything. Captain should have simply told people to grab a hotel room for the night and wait for further instructions that would be posted on the website and reservations call center.

Flying everyone back to Boston did nothing to solve anything. Should have just loaded up that same plane and took them to LAX. period
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Old Jan 9, 2019, 6:44 am
  #47  
 
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Originally Posted by Often1
Poor ;leadership and management.

"What do we do if we have an aircraft full of passengers stuck somewhere we don't have a presence?" Seems to be something a carrier providing TCON service ought to have a contingency for.
Flight needed to get down ASAP, get it. Too bad it couldn't fly to Newark, PHL, or JFK, where Alaska has someone.
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Old Jan 9, 2019, 6:46 am
  #48  
 
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Originally Posted by williwaw
Not exactly apples to apples, but I can buy an 11:45am flight tomorrow from BUF-LAX for $271....
and this may have been the best ticket to get home. By the time you add up hotel costs, etc, might as well have done what you suggested.

Alaska call center should be working this too. Get them somewhere - anywhere - on any carrier close to home....
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Old Jan 9, 2019, 6:57 am
  #49  
 
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Just another reason to dump the junky Airbus planes!
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Old Jan 9, 2019, 8:54 am
  #50  
 
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Originally Posted by bmvaughn
Just another reason to dump the junky Airbus planes!
or maybe pay a little more attention to maintenance I would rather be an on A320/A321 any day of the weak over a 737.
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Old Jan 9, 2019, 10:19 am
  #51  
 
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Originally Posted by WebTraveler
I get it. Alaska has no operations whatsoever in Buffalo. And domestic partnerships are all gone. The one who failed immensely is the pilot. Sorry, but this man should have been the last to leave the airport, it was his ship, and his dart of town was sad. Captain was thrown into the wolves and lacked any resources whatsoever to do anything. Captain should have simply told people to grab a hotel room for the night and wait for further instructions that would be posted on the website and reservations call center.

Flying everyone back to Boston did nothing to solve anything. Should have just loaded up that same plane and took them to LAX. period
Crew rest is federally regulated and contractually mandated. If the pilots and flight attendants stayed in the airport, it is possible that the passengers would have been stuck in BUF for even longer.

Returning to BOS was inconvenient but provided everyone with more options. There are additional crews and aircraft that could be used to operate a flight to LAX. There is also AS (contracted) staff that should be able to help. It's also possible that there were BOS-originating passengers that would prefer to cancel their trip and go home.

Originally Posted by WebTraveler
and this may have been the best ticket to get home. By the time you add up hotel costs, etc, might as well have done what you suggested.

Alaska call center should be working this too. Get them somewhere - anywhere - on any carrier close to home....
There were no departures from BUF between the arrival of the flight and the departure of the new aircraft to BOS. I'm sure AS was looking at reaccomodations, but it is hard when there's no flights.

The only option would be to rebook passengers on another flight the next day. It's unlikely that'd get them to LAX any faster than re-routing through BOS (excluding the 90 minute ground delay, which was inexcusible).
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Old Jan 9, 2019, 12:24 pm
  #52  
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Originally Posted by fly18725
There are additional crews and aircraft that could be used to operate a flight to LAX.
Brings up an interesting issue. I know Alaska got rid of their JFK pilot base, so assuming they don't have one at BOS with even with less volume there. Could it be the only way to get a new flight BOS-LAX to accommodate the stranded passengers would be to cancel a flight from BOS to somewhere else? Just not sure Alaska is going to have spare planes or extra crew available at BOS.
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Old Jan 9, 2019, 12:53 pm
  #53  
 
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Originally Posted by tom911
Brings up an interesting issue. I know Alaska got rid of their JFK pilot base, so assuming they don't have one at BOS with even with less volume there. Could it be the only way to get a new flight BOS-LAX to accommodate the stranded passengers would be to cancel a flight from BOS to somewhere else? Just not sure Alaska is going to have spare planes or extra crew available at BOS.
I am purely speculating, but at a station like BOS, EWR or JFK I suspect there are enough crews on layover - many with more than minimum rest - that you could do some shuffling until other crews are rested or deadheaded in.
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Old Jan 9, 2019, 9:26 pm
  #54  
 
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What's really hard is when you have no staff to communicate to passengers what the heck is up. None. No one. This is why the pilot needs to take charge, since no one else will.
The same flight crew didn't fly back to Boston as far as I can tell.
It's a no win situation all around.

Originally Posted by fly18725
Crew rest is federally regulated and contractually mandated. If the pilots and flight attendants stayed in the airport, it is possible that the passengers would have been stuck in BUF for even longer.

Returning to BOS was inconvenient but provided everyone with more options. There are additional crews and aircraft that could be used to operate a flight to LAX. There is also AS (contracted) staff that should be able to help. It's also possible that there were BOS-originating passengers that would prefer to cancel their trip and go home.



There were no departures from BUF between the arrival of the flight and the departure of the new aircraft to BOS. I'm sure AS was looking at reaccomodations, but it is hard when there's no flights.

The only option would be to rebook passengers on another flight the next day. It's unlikely that'd get them to LAX any faster than re-routing through BOS (excluding the 90 minute ground delay, which was inexcusible).
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Old Jan 10, 2019, 9:32 am
  #55  
 
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Originally Posted by WebTraveler
What's really hard is when you have no staff to communicate to passengers what the heck is up. None. No one. This is why the pilot needs to take charge, since no one else will.
The same flight crew didn't fly back to Boston as far as I can tell.
It's a no win situation all around.
You seem to be throwing the Captain under the proverbial bus. When the front door is closed the Captain is in charge, when the door is open and the plane unloaded, he/she is just another Alaska employee. He/she has nothing to do with scheduling, gate assignments, catering, etc. Want to have some fun? Ask a an Alaska flight scheduler and an Alaska pilot who really is in charge of a flight. The argument that ensues is amusing. The plane had to go to BUF. The flight crew unloaded the galley of everything to give to the passengers. From what I read, they stuck around long enough to know that there was a "plan" in place (plane on the way). As others noted, there are regulations for rest time and it is my guess (and only a guess) is that crew had to fly the "damaged" plane to the stated West Coast maintenance facility. Could he/she have said "go and get hotels folks and send the receipts in"? Sure, but he/she most likely would have a reprimand as that was not his/her job (on the ground, off the plane they are "just" employees) AND who was going to re-clear those folks back through security when the replacement plane came? Would the Captain force TSA to open things up at 1 AM?

There are a lot of things that Alaska did not do well in this incident and a lot I hope they learn from. I would not want to be in this position, but I would not blame the Captain or the crew. I am sure they were not happy as well. Still waiting to hear what compensation the passengers will get for all of this.
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Old Jan 10, 2019, 11:30 am
  #56  
 
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Originally Posted by JacksonFlyer
There are a lot of things that Alaska did not do well in this incident and a lot I hope they learn from. I would not want to be in this position, but I would not blame the Captain or the crew. I am sure they were not happy as well. Still waiting to hear what compensation the passengers will get for all of this.
Definitely not the crew's fault and I really have a feeling that AS management left them to flap in the wind. What we don't know from the article is if the pilots made any sort of announcement. It's also a bit surprising that the Buffalo airport didn't have some sort of contingency plan in place. Ops, airport PD and the FD are there 24/7. You'd think someone would have come by and at least provided some water or something.

That being said, the recovery in BOS is 100% on management at Angle Lake and the Station Manager. This is what happens when everyone is so focused on metrics and numbers. Contract or not, customer service from GAs is out the door and nobody is willing to think outside the box or willing to make it right for fear of ruining the numbers.
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Old Jan 10, 2019, 11:39 am
  #57  
 
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Originally Posted by tusphotog
Definitely not the crew's fault and I really have a feeling that AS management left them to flap in the wind.
I agree with the second part, but particularly in a non-AS station like BUF after an unscheduled emergency landing, the crew are the only AS employees onsite. They absolutely represent AS in such a situation, whether or not that's their daily responsibility.
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Old Jan 10, 2019, 12:08 pm
  #58  
 
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Originally Posted by fly18725
I am purely speculating, but at a station like BOS, EWR or JFK I suspect there are enough crews on layover - many with more than minimum rest - that you could do some shuffling until other crews are rested or deadheaded in.
I would say that speculation is completely wrong. You realize they only have 7 flights a day to Boston all of which just go to the East Coast and return right back to the West Coast? If they have any flight crew in a small East Coast station those people would be scheduled to leave on an existing flight. They would have to fly people in from the West Coast or use the existing crew after they have gotten adequate rest. Either way does not provide any quick solutions--which is the danger of having your nearest crew base all the way across the country.
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Old Jan 10, 2019, 10:06 pm
  #59  
 
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Originally Posted by tom911
Brings up an interesting issue. I know Alaska got rid of their JFK pilot base, so assuming they don't have one at BOS with even with less volume there. Could it be the only way to get a new flight BOS-LAX to accommodate the stranded passengers would be to cancel a flight from BOS to somewhere else? Just not sure Alaska is going to have spare planes or extra crew available at BOS.
As an ex AA Ops Agent, my speculation is that crew duty limits played heavily into decisions that FT Armchair Analysts are calling "odd".
From my veiwpoint, AS did s decent job here, given the fact that their options "out east" are limited.
The diverted flight landed in BUF, an off-line station. This is going to hurt. But passenger safety is #1 . Thumbs down to all who suggested they should've landed at a "better" (on-line) airport.
In a reasonable amount of time, AS had decided to take a hit and cancel the BNA-SFO flight, the SFO-BNA plane becoming the rescue plane.
Given daily crew duty limits, neither the original crew nor the rescue plane's crew are going to be able to fly BUF-LAX that night.
By the time AS could get either crew into a BUF hotel, the required rest period means that the BUF-LAX continuation won't depart until (let's guess) Noon the next day.
Thus the decision was made to fly the rescue plane from BUF to some on-line, eastern airport where there is another crew asleep in their hotel beds, and legal (actually scheduled) to fly an early morning departure.
Of course this requires yet another hit to the resting crew's scheduled flight. And maybe an additional mid-morning departure, until the diversion or rescue crew can fly the last (of a potential chain of) delayed departures. Such crew/aircraft "move ups" are common in airline ops. FT Airline Analysts can like or hate this, it is a fact of life in the industry.
Of the eastern airports with a "resting" crew that can take over the rescue on an early departure to LAX, all other things being equal, BOS would be the best choice. Some pax will elect to go home for the night / defer to a later flight / cancel as a "trip in vain" /etc.

Operating the BUF to LAX with a "noon" departure the next day presents its own operation challenges.
Despite AS' dwindling domestic airline partnerships, they no doubt still have "emergency" agreements in place for handling their planes/passengers at off-line airports. Every airline, no matter how big or small, needs such agreements so they are commonplace. But given the late hour, did the contracted airline still have agents on duty at BUF to handle hotel arrangements ? Then the departure the next day ... AS can say "we'll be ready to leave at noon" and the contracting airline can say "we have 3 departures around then, we'll start handling your passengers at 1:30 pm your plane must be off our gate by 2:05pm". Or we can fly back to BOS tonight and hope pray everything goes as planned, thus we have a BOS-LAX departure at 7:00am.
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Old Jan 11, 2019, 12:21 am
  #60  
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@Steve64— thx for a very objective explanation of some of the less-than-obvious considerations

it’s very easy for people who are a couple hundred or a couple thousand miles, and half a day or more, removed from the real-time situation to point fingers and critique the decisions that AS staff made in real time

and this is especially true of FTers — who, once again, are NOT representative of the vast majority of the flying public
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