Service Troubles Ahead?

Old Mar 27, 19, 10:24 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 727
Service Troubles Ahead?

During the dark days of the Horizon pilot shortage Oakland seemed like the canary in the bad service coal mine. Oakland flights were quick to be cancelled, equipment was used on other routes and the Q400 flights to OAK continued for 500+ mile flights. Oakland was among the last locations to be served by the E75s. Unfortunately the Oakland canary is starting to cough again. The past week the same PDX to OAK flight has experienced service problems twice (flight 2563). An equipment change from an E75 to a Q400 on 3/22 and an outright last minute cancellation on 3/27. This raises some questions:

1. Are there other signs of heightened service problems throughout the Alaska system?
2. Are there no spare planes at PDX - a major hub (either E75 or Q400 - we know AS will use either on that route)?
3. My re-route was to San Francisco - requiring a hefty Uber ride to the Oakland Airport to get my car. I called MVP Gold reservations to ask how to get my cab fare back. I was given a phone number but also told Customer Care no longer accepts emails - all requests must be made by phone. Does that sound right?

I'm hoping I just experienced some concentrated bad luck.
bofc is offline  
Old Mar 28, 19, 2:19 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: British Columbia
Programs: AS MVPG75K, UA PP, Marriott Bonvoy Titanium
Posts: 3,212
Originally Posted by bofc View Post
During the dark days of the Horizon pilot shortage Oakland seemed like the canary in the bad service coal mine. Oakland flights were quick to be cancelled, equipment was used on other routes and the Q400 flights to OAK continued for 500+ mile flights. Oakland was among the last locations to be served by the E75s. Unfortunately the Oakland canary is starting to cough again. The past week the same PDX to OAK flight has experienced service problems twice (flight 2563). An equipment change from an E75 to a Q400 on 3/22 and an outright last minute cancellation on 3/27. This raises some questions:

1. Are there other signs of heightened service problems throughout the Alaska system?
2. Are there no spare planes at PDX - a major hub (either E75 or Q400 - we know AS will use either on that route)?
3. My re-route was to San Francisco - requiring a hefty Uber ride to the Oakland Airport to get my car. I called MVP Gold reservations to ask how to get my cab fare back. I was given a phone number but also told Customer Care no longer accepts emails - all requests must be made by phone. Does that sound right?

I'm hoping I just experienced some concentrated bad luck.
Mileage Plan and customer care are one and the same. Try sending an email to [email protected]. When you send the email you will get an auto reply with a reference number like the following...

Email requests are processed in the order received. Please allow 5-7 business days for an agent to respond to your Mileage Planô questions. We appreciate your patience and look forward to serving you. If you are requesting partner mileage credit please ensure you included your Mileage Plan number, receipt with rental agreement/ hotel folio/ ticket number and itinerary and any boarding passes you may have. The acceptable file format are: jpg, gif, png, tif, bmp, pdf. Please allow 7 -12 business days for Partner credit requests to be posted to your account.

Should you need to contact us before we've responded, please reply to this email to retain the subject line containing your reference number (# ####### ). This will keep all messages together in the same file.

We truly appreciate you taking the time to write.

Alaska Airlines Customer Care
Phone: 1-800-654-5669

7:00 am - 7:00 pm (PT), Monday-Friday
8:00 am - 5:00 pm (PT), Saturdays

----------

​​​​When they reply, the email will come from [email protected] The reference number will be in the subject line and a simple "reply" will keep everything together.

James in Kelowna
Flying for Fun is offline  
Old Mar 28, 19, 2:51 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Seattle, WA
Programs: Alaska 75K - MM, defender of shoes on the carpeted bulkhead 4ever, AA LT PLT, Hyatt, BonWhut?
Posts: 7,036
Originally Posted by bofc View Post
During the dark days of the Horizon pilot shortage Oakland seemed like the canary in the bad service coal mine. Oakland flights were quick to be cancelled, equipment was used on other routes and the Q400 flights to OAK continued for 500+ mile flights. Oakland was among the last locations to be served by the E75s. Unfortunately the Oakland canary is starting to cough again. The past week the same PDX to OAK flight has experienced service problems twice (flight 2563). An equipment change from an E75 to a Q400 on 3/22 and an outright last minute cancellation on 3/27. This raises some questions:

1. Are there other signs of heightened service problems throughout the Alaska system?
2. Are there no spare planes at PDX - a major hub (either E75 or Q400 - we know AS will use either on that route)?
3. My re-route was to San Francisco - requiring a hefty Uber ride to the Oakland Airport to get my car. I called MVP Gold reservations to ask how to get my cab fare back. I was given a phone number but also told Customer Care no longer accepts emails - all requests must be made by phone. Does that sound right?

I'm hoping I just experienced some concentrated bad luck.
itís not just the E75s that are delayed. Iíve been on 737 flights with hours long delays to the point of considering Buying SW back up tickets if I absolutely need to be home by a certain time.
lalala is offline  
Old Mar 28, 19, 9:35 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: SEA
Programs: AS MVP Gold
Posts: 1,277
Originally Posted by bofc View Post
During the dark days of the Horizon pilot shortage Oakland seemed like the canary in the bad service coal mine. Oakland flights were quick to be cancelled, equipment was used on other routes and the Q400 flights to OAK continued for 500+ mile flights. Oakland was among the last locations to be served by the E75s. Unfortunately the Oakland canary is starting to cough again. The past week the same PDX to OAK flight has experienced service problems twice (flight 2563). An equipment change from an E75 to a Q400 on 3/22 and an outright last minute cancellation on 3/27. This raises some questions:

1. Are there other signs of heightened service problems throughout the Alaska system?
2. Are there no spare planes at PDX - a major hub (either E75 or Q400 - we know AS will use either on that route)?
3. My re-route was to San Francisco - requiring a hefty Uber ride to the Oakland Airport to get my car. I called MVP Gold reservations to ask how to get my cab fare back. I was given a phone number but also told Customer Care no longer accepts emails - all requests must be made by phone. Does that sound right?

I'm hoping I just experienced some concentrated bad luck.
Seriously? OK, first, Oakland is not the center of the universe. Second equipment changes and cancellations happen across the network almost every day on AS, QX and every other airline on earth. QX generally does has 2-3 Q400 spares as well as spare crews but that doesn't mean they will decide to use them at a location that has some (albeit inconvenient) alternatives. I don't think this is foreshadowing some major service downturn in Alaska or Horizon.
jsguyrus is offline  
Old Mar 28, 19, 2:22 pm
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 727
Yes seriously. The exact same flight taking a hit twice in 6 days (on a schedule with just twice daily service)? Does that happen "across the network almost every day" on every other airline on earth? I don't think so. Good to know about the equipment back ups. But if the spares were either already needed elsewhere or they chose not use them (resulting in the return OAK to PDX flight getting cancelled too) it suggests something not good about AS/QX and confirms my testing of whether something is up. Thanks for the helpful note on how to reach customer service.
bofc is offline  
Old Mar 28, 19, 5:36 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: SEA
Programs: AS MVP Gold
Posts: 1,277
Originally Posted by bofc View Post
Yes seriously. The exact same flight taking a hit twice in 6 days (on a schedule with just twice daily service)? Does that happen "across the network almost every day" on every other airline on earth? I don't think so. Good to know about the equipment back ups. But if the spares were either already needed elsewhere or they chose not use them (resulting in the return OAK to PDX flight getting cancelled too) it suggests something not good about AS/QX and confirms my testing of whether something is up. Thanks for the helpful note on how to reach customer service.
Yes cancellation and swaps happen across the network every day on every airline. My guess is they hold spare aircraft for places with no other good options like eastern WA or MT. In your situation you have a co-terminal airport so you have options. Obviously it is a coincidence that there was two problems in a week, to think otherwise would mean that AS in intentionally trying to upset their Oakland operations and passengers...just because they can.
jsguyrus is offline  
Old Mar 28, 19, 6:23 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: PDX
Programs: AS MVP
Posts: 557
Originally Posted by bofc View Post
The past week the same PDX to OAK flight has experienced service problems twice (flight 2563). An equipment change from an E75 to a Q400 on 3/22 and an outright last minute cancellation on 3/27. .
Also equipment swap on 3/23 from E75 to Q400 on 2563 (I was on it). This resulted in moved seats between check-in and boarding and more than one family that got split up.
czpdx is offline  
Old Mar 28, 19, 10:01 pm
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 727
Thanks. For those keeping score at home, that's three service problems on the same Oakland flight in the last six days. So half the time it didn't operate as scheduled (or at all). This is not normal operations for an airline in the first world. I'm not buying that they hold out the spares for other routes since they obviously used one twice in the last week when they swapped out equipment. I don't think they are deliberately TRYING to mess with Oakland passengers. I just think they view that route as a convenient doormat to take the brunt of service problems along the system. Which can either mean nothing or (as I said in the first post) the Oakland service canary is coughing and we'll see if it's the start of more problems across the system down the road.
ucdtim17 likes this.
bofc is offline  
Old Mar 28, 19, 10:19 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: SFO
Programs: AS more so than UA these days
Posts: 1,581
Interesting data points, but hardly proof of a system wide issue. If anything, it sounds like more of a QX problem this week (which yes, makes it a problem for AS), as OAK sees far more of those aircraft than either SFO or SJC.
NoLaGent is offline  
Old Mar 29, 19, 5:15 pm
  #10  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Programs: HH Gold, AA Gold
Posts: 10,031
Originally Posted by bofc View Post
Yes seriously. The exact same flight taking a hit twice in 6 days (on a schedule with just twice daily service)? Does that happen "across the network almost every day" on every other airline on earth? .
Actually, yes, it does. In fact, it is more likely to happen to the same flight because every schedule that AS publishes has "hidden" crew and/or aircraft issues. It may be a delay early in the day because of weather at the origin airport, perhaps maintenance checks are not getting done on time, perhaps crew get in late the night before and must have minimum rest. In any case, some flights in a particular schedule are just going to have poor on-time records due to a confluence of events. This happens at ALL airlines.
formeraa is offline  
Old Mar 30, 19, 12:47 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: PacNW
Programs: AS MVPG, Marriott Gold, Hilton Gold
Posts: 2
Another equipment swap from OAK-PDX on 3/28 (the 8:40 pm departure). I really wish this flight departed earlier!
charliesmom is offline  
Old Mar 30, 19, 5:58 pm
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 727
So you're saying "ALL AIRLINES" have specific flights that don't operate as scheduled half the time? Sorry - not buying it. Again, we're not talking about flights being late - of course that happens. We're talking about the flight being cancelled (when weather is not a factor) or a significant equipment change at the last minute (E75 to Q400). And with every few posts there are more examples offered by others of issues with this same route. Unclear what a "hidden crew and/or aircraft issue" means - for anyone flying PDX - OAK last week apparently it means "pound sand".
bofc is offline  
Old Mar 31, 19, 10:35 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Programs: Alaska Airlines MVP Gold 75K
Posts: 475
bofc, I fly SEA OAK weekly and have for several years. You are not imagining things. Oakland is AS's red-headed stepchild but I don't think the issues there portend bigger issues system-wide. I think AS has made the decision to routinely sacrifice service on certain routes to keep other more important routes functioning during irregular operations rather than to let trouble stay localized.
IStream is offline  
Old Mar 31, 19, 11:35 am
  #14  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: SEA, but up and down the coast a lot
Programs: OneSky Alliance Elite+ with Zirconium and oak leaf cluster, Braniff Unobtainium
Posts: 17,489
Originally Posted by IStream View Post
bofc, I fly SEA OAK weekly and have for several years. You are not imagining things. Oakland is AS's red-headed stepchild but I don't think the issues there portend bigger issues system-wide. I think AS has made the decision to routinely sacrifice service on certain routes to keep other more important routes functioning during irregular operations rather than to let trouble stay localized.
Fair, but you know what?

WN service SEA-LAS is down to 1x/2x. In fact, I had to take a schedule change to the ONE nonstop on a Sunday (or take 6 hours flying a two hour flight with a two hour layover in OAK). And that is with less than 5% of the fleet impacted with 737MAX problems. LAS is a de facto hub for WN and they are barely serving it from SEA.

The airlines do what they think makes money. OAK isn’t a winning proposition for a lot of airlines other than WN.

(This is actually a pretty big stumbling block for wanting me to redirect some of my AS $ to WN. But oh well. Apparently there aren’t enough people like me.)
eponymous_coward is offline  
Old Apr 1, 19, 8:52 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Programs: Alaska Airlines MVP Gold 75K
Posts: 475
I don't disagree but I also don't think AS has done what it takes to make money at OAK. As a savvy business adviser once told me, if you ignore your potential customers, they'll be sure to ignore you. I think AS could claw back share from WN at OAK but I don't think they have the stomach for it. This is especially true after the one-two punch of the financial burden of the VS acquisition and the fact that it got them a big presence at SFO which, ironically, they don't seem to be fully capitalizing on. IMHO, AS is in the slow motion process of screwing up their Bay Area business.
JPat likes this.
IStream is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: