Alaska Pilot Q&A Thread

Old Feb 4, 2014, 8:19 pm
  #601  
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Originally Posted by ANC
Seems like a simple question. How much fuel is loaded for flights on what criteria. Reason I ask is we almost had to divert to JNU on a SEA-ANC because of head winds? We ended up not having to and the flight was almost 4 hours, I think Officially 3hr 44mins and I know typically that route takes 3 hours and maybe even 2.5. They knew before take off of the head winds because the pilot said there were 80 mph winds the whole way there. So why wouldnt they add even more extra fuel? Worried the winds would slow or cease and then we would arrive with too much fuel? Maybe the winds got even stronger enroute? It wasnt ever announced to the cabin. Its just one of the benefits of seat 1D, you know things before everybody else. Especially for that flight because one of the FAs didnt have an indoors/inside voice. How many extra minutes or hours of fuel is an aircraft supposed to be fueled with to account for aborted landings or holding patterns etc
Can't recall what the exact rule is (and if we still have insiders reading and posting here, we'll probably get the official, correct answer), but IIRC, the FAA minimums are fuel to get to the destination, plus fuel to get to the filed diversion airport, plus a reserve of (IIRC) 45 minutes. If headwinds are stronger than forecasted, you can end up running lower than planned--not low enough to unexpectedly become a glider, but low enough to consider diverting.

Two reasons they don't load more fuel than necessary:

-Avoid landing in an overweight situation (not common--would need to be pretty full on fuel and a short flight to hit this)
-Avoid wasting fuel (it takes fuel to carry fuel--every gallon of Jet-A weighs about six and a half pounds, and it takes a little bit of extra fuel to haul that 6.5 pounds around...and didn't AA quit serving olives in their salads to save a couple of pounds per flight? )

Captains are the ultimate authority on how much gas to put in the plane and can (and often do) request extra fuel beyond what the FAA and company requires. That said, IIRC, AS pilots do receive a bonus based on company-wide fuel efficiency, so most probably don't fill to excess (otherwise, every captain would put as much as possible in the plane without causing an overweight landing , since there are three useless things in aviation: altitude above you, runway behind you, and fuel still in the truck).
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Old Feb 4, 2014, 8:28 pm
  #602  
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Originally Posted by jackal

didn't AA quit serving olives in their salads to save a couple of pounds per flight? )

).
hmmm could be why AS is stingy or hit and miss with salt and pepper @:-)
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Old Feb 4, 2014, 10:47 pm
  #603  
 
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Originally Posted by jackal
...and didn't AA quit serving olives in their salads to save a couple of pounds per flight? ).
Classic Bob Crandall move. However, the olives were removed to drive down food costs, not fuel costs.

But your point is well received.

Slimline seats, less than full water tanks, removal of ovens, and other ways have been used to shed weight.
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Old Aug 12, 2018, 10:16 pm
  #604  
 
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This is a great thread, should be seen again.
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Old Apr 23, 2020, 12:45 pm
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As alaskacoho prepares for his retirement flight I thought I'd resurrect this thread. This was my favorite thread at the time. I always looked forward to alaskacoho's posts and perspectives. Maybe with some extra time on his hands we can entice him to participate in the Q&A again.
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Old Apr 23, 2020, 2:16 pm
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Originally Posted by johnp012001
As alaskacoho prepares for his retirement flight I thought I'd resurrect this thread. This was my favorite thread at the time. I always looked forward to alaskacoho's posts and perspectives. Maybe with some extra time on his hands we can entice him to participate in the Q&A again.
Agreed 100%! This was/is a fascinating thread for those of us who know a lot, but don't really know a lot.
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Old Nov 16, 2021, 9:31 pm
  #607  
 
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Descent into PDX?

Is there anything special/different about the descent into PDX on Alaska? I fly weekly, and Ive never had any issues with ear pressure until my first descent into PDX from AUS in August. My left ear pressure would not equalize for two days.

The excruciating ear pain made me not want to fly home but no issues with ascent. I bought some fancy earplugs that are supposed to help equalize pressure. Fast forward to today, and the descent into PDX again killed my ear, even with earplugs and gum and Valsalva.

Anyone know if the elevation drop is faster than most flights? Any way I can prepare for future flights here? Many thanks in advance!
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Old Nov 16, 2021, 9:41 pm
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Originally Posted by matxms
Is there anything special/different about the descent into PDX on Alaska? I fly weekly, and Ive never had any issues with ear pressure until my first descent into PDX from AUS in August. My left ear pressure would not equalize for two days.

The excruciating ear pain made me not want to fly home but no issues with ascent. I bought some fancy earplugs that are supposed to help equalize pressure. Fast forward to today, and the descent into PDX again killed my ear, even with earplugs and gum and Valsalva.

Anyone know if the elevation drop is faster than most flights? Any way I can prepare for future flights here? Many thanks in advance!
I'm based 1/2-time in PDX and fly many other places and have never noticed any difference landing there. I'm thinking your situation may just be a coincidence. I've had various ear-infection, pressure, etc. situations over the years and flying can be brutal. At the end of the day altitude is the same regardless of which airport you're coming/going from.
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Old Nov 17, 2021, 4:51 am
  #609  
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Originally Posted by matxms
Is there anything special/different about the descent into PDX on Alaska? I fly weekly, and Ive never had any issues with ear pressure until my first descent into PDX from AUS in August. My left ear pressure would not equalize for two days.

The excruciating ear pain made me not want to fly home but no issues with ascent. I bought some fancy earplugs that are supposed to help equalize pressure. Fast forward to today, and the descent into PDX again killed my ear, even with earplugs and gum and Valsalva.

Anyone know if the elevation drop is faster than most flights? Any way I can prepare for future flights here? Many thanks in advance!
I've never noticed anything particularly fast about the descent into PDX. I know a pilot who doesn't like landing in ONT because they have to stay high over the mountains and then drop a lot of speed and altitude fast after they get over the pass. You can look up and download descent profiles for individual flights at FlightAware if you want to compare.

I rarely even notice pressure equalization anymore unless I have a stuffy nose or a cold coming on. Is it possible you had some fluid in your sinuses due to a cold or allergies?
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Old Nov 17, 2021, 5:48 pm
  #610  
 
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Just poked around looking at the different approaches into PDX, they all seem to have standard 3 degree glideslopes. Now, that doesn't mean that the TRACON didn't leave them fast and high and required a "slam dunk" approach on that particular flight for some reason, but I wouldn't think it's normal.

There also wouldn't be a different way of flying for Alaska than other airlines. ATC is (generally) going to dictate how the approach is flown, and they don't really care which airline it is.
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