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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 11, 2019, 2:24 am
  #61  
 
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Originally Posted by sfozrhfco
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.
actually, they were spot on. There are crews on the ground in BOS that can be shuffled as they deadhead crews in from other locations to cover them. They could easily send a crew to BOS from ORD to work a BOS flight, as an example. It happens from time to time when things go awry on the east coast.
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Old Jan 11, 2019, 6:06 am
  #62  
 
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I do not blame the Captain for the emergency issue that brought the landing in Buffalo. That happens. But the Captain is the senior Alaska employee on site, and he, with his flight crew are the ONLY Alaska employees on site, period. So yes, he has a responsibility to deal with it, until some relief can be brought forward. There is no one else to do that. That's part of the job and always covered on our duties as an employee and a human being.

Regardless, employees are representing the company and they need to step up and deal with it - each one of them. It's not a great situation, but it is what it is. Pilot needs to communicate with Alaska's HQ staff and then communicate that. It may very well be for each to "call reservations, or please get a hotel for the night.....we are working on a contingency plan and we will post that info on our website and it will be available to reservations shortly. We have no services at this airport, and its late and we know we have a bad situation..." A captain, even in the most generic situations, includes taking charge and going down with the ship. Look, it sucks, period.

Flight rules on rest do not play into this at all. The flight was on the ground and that pilot was not going to fly outside of his period. But that does not prevent him from doing other things. Maybe the union agreement does not allow for it - and maybe that is a problem. But even union officials need to understand that the airline itself needs to put forth a good image.

Clearly this situation shows Alaska lacks any contingency plan for these issues. I don't know whether contract ground personnel are available in Buffalo that work for any company that Alaska does business with at any airport anywhere and how that might work to get an existing contractor to help cover, but there needs to be some plan because this issue is not that out of the ordinary. Further, the airport itself is also in the middle of this and should also try to lend a hand.

It is a mess, but at the end of the day, the Captain, First Officer, and Flight Attendants are the ONLY Alaska employees on site. Period. Crisis management says we step up and do someone else's job because the situation requires it.






Originally Posted by JacksonFlyer
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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Last edited by WebTraveler; Jan 11, 2019 at 6:12 am
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Old Jan 11, 2019, 8:00 am
  #63  
 
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Originally Posted by AS Flyer
There are crews on the ground in BOS that can be shuffled as they deadhead crews in from other locations to cover them. They could easily send a crew to BOS from ORD to work a BOS flight, as an example. It happens from time to time when things go awry on the east coast.
Either way, they have to fly other people into BOS and it is not like those people instantly appear if they are deadheading to the East Coast. The basic fact is that BOS is a very small station in the realm of things for AS and they are not going to have a lot of extra people hanging around nor should passengers expect there to be. If there were a problem in ORD, there are going to be a lot more people on the West Coast that could make it there in just a little more time that it would from Boston trying to locate and deadhead an entire crew on another carrier. It is not like just one flight attendant is missing--it would be a whole crew. They could also just cancel another flight from BOS and move people to other flights but anyway you slice it, the operational disruption is going to much greater than if it happened on the West Coast.
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Old Jan 11, 2019, 8:53 am
  #64  
 
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Originally Posted by AS Flyer
They could easily send a crew to BOS from ORD to work a BOS flight, as an example.
Alaska is at a disadvantage here as they only have bases on the west coast. In order to get a flight duty period (FDP) that would allow a deadhead to BOS and fly back to the west coast the crew's duty day would have to start no earlier than 6:00 AM (13hrs), possible 7:00 AM (14hrs), pacific time.

Originally Posted by WebTraveler
But the Captain is the senior Alaska employee on site, and he, with his flight crew are the ONLY Alaska employees on site, period. So yes, he has a responsibility to deal with it, until some relief can be brought forward.
Pilots can pass information on to the passengers but have no ability to answer anything but the most superficial questions or help the passengers with their reroute options. The airline will contract with an airline with staff at the airport to handle the customer service and ground handling duties. The crew will also likely be part of the recovery plan so they need to get into crew rest as quickly as possible to that they can start their next flight duty period sooner. In this case, the crew could have been reassigned to fly the BOS departure from which the recovery crew was appropriated.
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Old Jan 11, 2019, 11:25 am
  #65  
 
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Originally Posted by WebTraveler
Regardless, employees are representing the company and they need to step up and deal with it - each one of them. It's not a great situation, but it is what it is. Pilot needs to communicate with Alaska's HQ staff and then communicate that. It may very well be for each to "call reservations, or please get a hotel for the night.....we are working on a contingency plan and we will post that info on our website and it will be available to reservations shortly. We have no services at this airport, and its late and we know we have a bad situation..." A captain, even in the most generic situations, includes taking charge and going down with the ship. Look, it sucks, period.
I'm hopeful and pretty certain the crew did as much as they could with the resources they had available. We don't know if they made announcements or updates either on the plane or in the terminal. At some point there's nothing left for them to do, since they can't rebook people or do anything other than provide basic lip service.

Originally Posted by WebTraveler
Flight rules on rest do not play into this at all. The flight was on the ground and that pilot was not going to fly outside of his period. But that does not prevent him from doing other things.
Yes it does. The rest period starts when they get to the hotel. If you need a minimum of 10 hours of rest to be "legal," the airline needs the crew in the hotel ASAP. Their plane is already stuck there, so getting them to a hotel expeditiously is important.
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Old Jan 12, 2019, 8:35 am
  #66  
 
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I disagree. This is clearly a mess. There are passengers on that plane that Alaska lost forever on this ill-fated flight. It was not the flight itself that pushed them away, but the response by Alaska too it. The Captain and crew are the ONLY Alaska employees on site and they owe it - as company representatives - to make sure every passenger is settled and okay before departing, period. Customer service and the response to a crisis is more important than the crisis itself. Good employees rise above and deal with a company crisis and be a leader. That's how life works.

I disagree on the pilot and hours. Who cares? Maintenance staff and pilots flew the affected plane to a maintenance base after deeming it worthy to do so. The existing flight crew was likely tied up with the maintenance crew reviewing the entire issue while they initially probed.. The new aircraft flown in had different pilots. The original plane pilots and crew were done, pending internal and potentially FAA inquiry into the incident. That flight crew is not going back into the air until reviews and reports are filed and they are deemed fit for duty. Medical tests and the whole nine yards. That's standard after every incident. The airline and FAA need to be reasonably sure there was no pilot error or something else that led to this incident. In this case it's probably not going to take every long. The airline and potentially FAA will review the plane to see if maybe the cause is related to some pilot error, and when done they'll be returned to active duty.






Originally Posted by tusphotog
I'm hopeful and pretty certain the crew did as much as they could with the resources they had available. We don't know if they made announcements or updates either on the plane or in the terminal. At some point there's nothing left for them to do, since they can't rebook people or do anything other than provide basic lip service.

Yes it does. The rest period starts when they get to the hotel. If you need a minimum of 10 hours of rest to be "legal," the airline needs the crew in the hotel ASAP. Their plane is already stuck there, so getting them to a hotel expeditiously is important.
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Old Jan 12, 2019, 12:35 pm
  #67  
 
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Originally Posted by WebTraveler
I disagree. This is clearly a mess. There are passengers on that plane that Alaska lost forever on this ill-fated flight. It was not the flight itself that pushed them away, but the response by Alaska too it. The Captain and crew are the ONLY Alaska employees on site and they owe it - as company representatives - to make sure every passenger is settled and okay before departing, period. Customer service and the response to a crisis is more important than the crisis itself. Good employees rise above and deal with a company crisis and be a leader. That's how life works.

I disagree on the pilot and hours. Who cares? Maintenance staff and pilots flew the affected plane to a maintenance base after deeming it worthy to do so. The existing flight crew was likely tied up with the maintenance crew reviewing the entire issue while they initially probed.. The new aircraft flown in had different pilots. The original plane pilots and crew were done, pending internal and potentially FAA inquiry into the incident. That flight crew is not going back into the air until reviews and reports are filed and they are deemed fit for duty. Medical tests and the whole nine yards. That's standard after every incident. The airline and FAA need to be reasonably sure there was no pilot error or something else that led to this incident. In this case it's probably not going to take every long. The airline and potentially FAA will review the plane to see if maybe the cause is related to some pilot error, and when done they'll be returned to active duty.
While I understand your sentiment that employees should step up, it is important to remember that airlines are culturally and legally different than many other consumer facing businesses. Its not like a retail store or hotel where any customer-facing employee is similarly equipped to solve a problem. Airlines are more akin to a hospital where duties and responsibilities are heavily segregated based on training and licensing requirements. You would want a flight attendant to fix a plane or a hospital orderly to perform surgery.

I know Alaska could have done better, especially upon return to Boston. However, arguing the crew can and should have done more in Buffalo is pointless and reflects and an ignorance about how things work. If this is your expectation, you will always be disappointed.
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Old Jan 12, 2019, 6:26 pm
  #68  
 
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I call BS on your entire post. Airlines do not get a pass because they are airlines. Good employees step up and deal with it, period. That's how it works and how life works. The Captain owns the flight until he passes it off to ground personnel. Here in Buffalo there are zero.

These pilots are out of service until an inquiry is done as to the root cause of the issue and how they dealt with it flying wise. Further, they were with the maintenance crew probing and providing insight while the maintenance crew was figuring out whether it could be put back in the air for a flight to a maintenance base. So your whole silly thing about flight hours was just that - silly. It's irrelevant to these two pilots - they're not flying again until cleared. Same with flight crew. Need to know if something they did - intentionally or accidentally caused this, what they observed, how they found it, how they reacted to it, their medical conditions, etc. They're essentially quarantined.

I only expect people do the best that they can do - and at the same time act like human beings. It's also not that uncommon that an airline has to make a stop at an airport they don't service.




Originally Posted by fly18725
While I understand your sentiment that employees should step up, it is important to remember that airlines are culturally and legally different than many other consumer facing businesses. It’s not like a retail store or hotel where any customer-facing employee is similarly equipped to solve a problem. Airlines are more akin to a hospital where duties and responsibilities are heavily segregated based on training and licensing requirements. You would want a flight attendant to fix a plane or a hospital orderly to perform surgery.

I know Alaska could have done better, especially upon return to Boston. However, arguing the crew can and should have done more in Buffalo is pointless and reflects and an ignorance about how things work. If this is your expectation, you will always be disappointed.

Last edited by dayone; Jan 12, 2019 at 9:03 pm Reason: Redact personal attack.
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Old Jan 12, 2019, 8:02 pm
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Originally Posted by WebTraveler
I call BS on your entire post. Airlines do not get a pass because they are airlines. Good employees step up and deal with it, period. That's how it works and how life works. The Captain owns the flight until he passes it off to ground personnel. Here in Buffalo there are zero.

Further it's you that has no clue. These pilots are out of service until an inquiry is done as to the root cause of the issue and how they dealt with it flying wise. Further, they were with the maintenance crew probing and providing insight while the maintenance crew was figuring out whether it could be put back in the air for a flight to a maintenance base. So your whole silly thing about flight hours was just that - silly. It's irrelevant to these two pilots - they're not flying again until cleared. Same with flight crew. Need to know if something they did - intentionally or accidentally caused this, what they observed, how they found it, how they reacted to it, their medical conditions, etc. They're essentially quarantined.

I only expect people do the best that they can do - and at the same time act like human beings. It's also not that uncommon that an airline has to make a stop at an airport they don't service.
Your expectations regarding pilots are incorrect.
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Old Jan 12, 2019, 10:53 pm
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Originally Posted by WebTraveler
I call BS on your entire post. Airlines do not get a pass because they are airlines. Good employees step up and deal with it, period. That's how it works and how life works. The Captain owns the flight until he passes it off to ground personnel. Here in Buffalo there are zero.

These pilots are out of service until an inquiry is done as to the root cause of the issue and how they dealt with it flying wise. Further, they were with the maintenance crew probing and providing insight while the maintenance crew was figuring out whether it could be put back in the air for a flight to a maintenance base. So your whole silly thing about flight hours was just that - silly. It's irrelevant to these two pilots - they're not flying again until cleared. Same with flight crew. Need to know if something they did - intentionally or accidentally caused this, what they observed, how they found it, how they reacted to it, their medical conditions, etc. They're essentially quarantined.

I only expect people do the best that they can do - and at the same time act like human beings. It's also not that uncommon that an airline has to make a stop at an airport they don't service.
Did I miss something? Were these Pilots pulled from flying because of a mechanical issue that caused a diversion? Cause if so, that's one of the first times I've ever heard of such a thing, barring extenuating circumstances. This was a mechanical issue that required a diversion. There was no accident. Why would the pilots be pulled from flying?
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Old Jan 12, 2019, 11:34 pm
  #71  
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Originally Posted by s0ssos
And I would've said fine, I'm gone. I'll find my own way back.

And I'm sure many others on FT would have as well. But are 150 passengers so clueless that they feel obligated to spend the night in the airport?
The problem was not the passengers are clueless but that they were not given the complete and true status. At some point AS personnel knew they were flying a plane out - if they gave people a choice between (1) Stay for 5 hours to catch a flight back to BOS and wait 12 hours for the next flight or (2) Leave and call us in the morning or (3) Leave and you are on your own - they could have made an informed decision. And yes some would have left.

Instead (my guess) they were told: (a) to wait for further info, or (b) a plane is on its way, don't leave the airport, or (c) nothing. I doubt it was (c) as some would surely have bolted. I like to consider myself sophisticated but if the airline told me to sit tight while they attempt a repair, and then later that a rescue plan was on the way, I might well believe them and wait it out.
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Old Jan 13, 2019, 12:37 am
  #72  
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Originally Posted by WebTraveler
Good employees step up and deal with it, period. That's how it works and how life works. The Captain owns the flight until he passes it off to ground personnel. Here in Buffalo there are zero.
If that was the case, would they ever be able to open the aircraft doors? Surely someone is meeting the aircraft at the gate, though they may not have the authorization to deal with things like meals, hotels or reroutes.

Could "good employees" be prohibited from working outside their classification by language in a union contract? I know the MOU/contract I worked under, in local government, had a clause in there about not being allowed to perform duties assigned to other classifications. What does the Alaska contract say about this in regards to pilots? Could they be prohibited by contract from working outside their classification performing gate agent functions? I can see where things like issuing meal and hotel vouchers might fall well outside a pilot's classification, for instance. Is there any language in the contract that allows pilots to handle those responsibilities once off the aircraft (or flight attendants, for that matter)?
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Old Jan 13, 2019, 7:32 am
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Not open the door? If you recall there was a fire smell that started all of this in the first place. When they landed firefighters entered the plane. Further FAA rules require them to open the door when time on the round exceeds a certain time. And this plane was out of service.

Originally Posted by tom911
If that was the case, would they ever be able to open the aircraft doors? Surely someone is meeting the aircraft at the gate, though they may not have the authorization to deal with things like meals, hotels or reroutes.

Could "good employees" be prohibited from working outside their classification by language in a union contract? I know the MOU/contract I worked under, in local government, had a clause in there about not being allowed to perform duties assigned to other classifications. What does the Alaska contract say about this in regards to pilots? Could they be prohibited by contract from working outside their classification performing gate agent functions? I can see where things like issuing meal and hotel vouchers might fall well outside a pilot's classification, for instance. Is there any language in the contract that allows pilots to handle those responsibilities once off the aircraft (or flight attendants, for that matter)?

Last edited by dayone; Jan 13, 2019 at 2:07 pm Reason: Redact presonal attack.
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Old Jan 13, 2019, 7:34 am
  #74  
 
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Until the situation is reviewed they certainly are. Yes. It could be a quick review or a long review.

Originally Posted by AS Flyer
Did I miss something? Were these Pilots pulled from flying because of a mechanical issue that caused a diversion? Cause if so, that's one of the first times I've ever heard of such a thing, barring extenuating circumstances. This was a mechanical issue that required a diversion. There was no accident. Why would the pilots be pulled from flying?
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Old Jan 13, 2019, 7:36 am
  #75  
 
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My expectations are right on. This is why Alaska is taking a beating on social media and the news media. Guarantee you Alaska lost a bunch of customers for life over this. It is not the crisis itself that caused this - it is how a company responds to the crisis.

Originally Posted by fly18725

Your expectations regarding pilots are incorrect.

Last edited by dayone; Jan 13, 2019 at 2:07 pm Reason: Redact personal attack.
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