B6 and CO better than AA, UA during storms

 
Old Feb 20, 06, 11:10 pm
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B6 and CO vs. AA, UA during storms

Probably the "during storms" could be easily removed from the title, but this specific article is a post-mortem on how various airlines handled the recent storms in the Northeast. It's by the WSJ's Scott McCartney, and I believe that you need to either pick up a copy of Tuesday's paper or have an online subscription to read it; in any case, the link is here. Some highlights:
[...]When storms disrupt travel, some airlines are more aggressive than others. Just as some travelers prefer to wait out storms in comfort and certainty while others fight to get there as quickly as possible, airlines make the same choices and fly different courses in storm situations.

[...]

AMR Corp.'s American and UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, for example, prefer to batten down early to keep planes and crews out of the storm's path and minimize both customer inconvenience and financial loss. "We would rather cancel early rather than wait and have passengers trapped at the airport," said American spokesman John Hotard.

The risk: Losing or angering customers who could have made it home if storms aren't as bad as predicted, or show up later than forecast.

JetBlue and Continental Airlines, in contrast, try to fly as much as they safely can as long as they can, figuring that's best for customers and their bottom line. But if they guess wrong about the weather, they risk having planes divert to other airports and end up stuck for hours or even days.

[...]

On Saturday, Feb. 11, as the storm hit Washington and moved toward New York, United canceled 39% of its scheduled flights into and out of the three main New York airports (La Guardia, Kennedy and Newark, N.J.). American canceled 28% of its New York schedule, according to flight records compiled by FlightStats, the aviation data unit of Conducive Technology Corp.

Continental, however, flew 90% of its schedule and JetBlue flew 97% of its New York flights, according to FlightStats data. "We believe customers want to get where they're going even if it's very late, so we fly as much as we can," said JetBlue spokesman Bryan Baldwin.

On Sunday, Feb. 12, American flew only 13 flights into or out of New York; United just four, according to FlightStats. JetBlue had 60 arrivals and departures; Continental 52. And on Monday, JetBlue and Continental both operated more than 80% of their schedule -- better than American and United.
The best quote, however is this one:
One JetBlue flight from the Dominican Republic diverted to Washington, where, while sitting on a taxiway awaiting takeoff clearance, the airline delivered 30 pizzas to tired, hungry passengers.
Can anyone see AA doing this now?

BTW, the article is a good read.

Last edited by hillrider; Feb 23, 06 at 5:49 pm Reason: removed value judgment from title, but apparently didn't affect the tread's title :(
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Old Feb 20, 06, 11:36 pm
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There are three recent threads on FlyerTalk right now related to this issue.

One is on the TravelBuzz forum; can't find it right now, but it deals with the issue of how "aggressive" airlines should be in attempting to maintain their schedules during storms versus throwing in the towel.

The other two are in the JetBlue forum:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=525916
and
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=526431

I would urge folks to read those last two threads in the JetBlue forum before concluding that JetBlue handled the recent storms better than AA. From what I can tell, B6 @ JFK was an unmitigated disaster.
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Old Feb 20, 06, 11:58 pm
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Thanks for the article. I just had the personal experience over the storm weekend.

I was flying back to NYC. All flights were canceled on United or AA first right when I was checking-in in the morning. DL, NW, CO and JetBlue didn't cancel all of the flights until later. Finally, got on the CO flight to Newark at 3 am while all other flights to NY area were canceled. The flight was eventually diverted to ORD. Later it was cancelled and all passengers were given meal and hotel vochers. I have never flown CO and was very impressed how the entire situation was handled.

Honestly, I can't imagine AA doing it.
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Old Feb 21, 06, 12:15 am
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Originally Posted by hillrider
The best quote, however is this one
One JetBlue flight from the Dominican Republic diverted to Washington, where, while sitting on a taxiway awaiting takeoff clearance, the airline delivered 30 pizzas to tired, hungry passengers.
Can anyone see AA doing this now?
So that explains where all the pizzas went!
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Old Feb 21, 06, 8:29 am
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IMO, it was a bit of a under-thought-out article by McCartney. Percentage of flights operated is far from a measure of success in bad weather conditions. I am fully aware that he made an anecdotal attempt to temper his slant, but the article still felt like a 9th-grade essay for why B6 and CO are better than AA and UA.

If we were to pretend that percentage of flights operated is a good measure of success, you couldn't compare the likes of B6 with network carriers anyway. Most of B6's pax are locals (traveling on one-segment itineraries). By operating the most flights possible, B6 can be assured that they are doing their best to get people home. It is not the same for AA, UA, CO, et al. Hub-and-spoke airlines get themselves in a lot of trouble if they try to fly all of their pax and a bunch them end up stuck in a connecting city with thousands of other pax and no hotels available.
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Old Feb 21, 06, 8:30 am
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Originally Posted by ilovetofly
Thanks for the article. I just had the personal experience over the storm weekend.

I was flying back to NYC. All flights were canceled on United or AA first right when I was checking-in in the morning. DL, NW, CO and JetBlue didn't cancel all of the flights until later. Finally, got on the CO flight to Newark at 3 am while all other flights to NY area were canceled. The flight was eventually diverted to ORD. Later it was cancelled and all passengers were given meal and hotel vochers. I have never flown CO and was very impressed how the entire situation was handled.

Honestly, I can't imagine AA doing it.
So, the whole point of this thread is that some of you guys are mad AA didn't choose to "try" to get you into a bad weather situation in order to divert and order you pizza and/or a hotel room in a city you didn't want to be in?

Let's look at it another way: the bulk of Jet Blue and Continental's flying is out of JFK and EWR. If they don't attempt to get in and out of there than there goes 90% of their money. Don't think they were trying to make it there to get the passengers in on time.
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Old Feb 21, 06, 8:59 am
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AA was most definately in the right here.

I am going to hear jetBlue's Dave Barger speak at HBS tonight. I intend to ask him about their policy w/r/t to weather cancelations.
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Old Feb 21, 06, 11:12 am
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Thank freaking god for AA's policy, this reinforces my respect for them tremendously. I had a similar situation with them last year around this time, major NYC snowstorm, me scheduled to leave LAX. They canceled a lot of flights, but the ones they didn't cancel left OK and on time, everyone knew where they stood, they did a good job of calling me and updating me starting the day before. As a result there were not thousands of AA passengers standing at LAX even though they'd canceled about 15 flights. People inconvenienced, but not chaos.

The idea of leaving people stranded in planes on the ground for 8 hours is so utterly out of line that I would never fly that airline again and would want to sue. Remember that flight (NWA?) where the passengers revolted? Even in a blizzard, you get a ladder out there, find another gate, something. I can't believe in this day and age people still do this. I would have gotten myself arrested opening the door and sliding down the inflatable raft and walking to the belt parkway to get a car service.
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Old Feb 21, 06, 11:40 am
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Given the location of AA and UA's hubs vs. B6 and CO's, this lay person would expect summer and winter storms -- given continental weather extremes more than coastal ones -- to more suddenly disturb AA and UA passenger flights than B6 and CO flights. And as B6 at least seems to still be point-to-point service more than anything, I'd expect B6 passengers would get stuck at either their origin or destination and not smack dab in the middle of their trip as often as AA and UA passengers. I certainly find that more convenient than being stuck mid-itinerary at a connection city. That said, I personally find AA and UA to be less likely -- than say DL -- to delay and delay and delay and then suddenly cancel. Of course everyone's mileage may vary.
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Old Feb 21, 06, 12:02 pm
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One JetBlue flight from the Dominican Republic diverted to Washington, where, while sitting on a taxiway awaiting takeoff clearance, the airline delivered 30 pizzas to tired, hungry passengers.
JetBlue's passengers are always tired and hungry as their flights are all in the middle of the night.
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Old Feb 21, 06, 12:52 pm
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AA's policy of cancelling flights early and helping you make other arrangements is certainly better than Delta's delay, delay, delay, cancell policy (one reason among other's that I quit Delta).
I was at DFW Sunday night waiting for the flight to TUL. There was a lady at the gate loudly complaining about the flight being late to anyone who would listen and saying how every other airline was better than AA and that the only reason she was on the flight was that she bought her tickets on cheaptickets.com and the AA tickets were $5 cheaper! This despite the GA explaining that only one runway was open at TUL due to ice, so we would not board and take off till they knew we would be able to land. I remarked that I was sure AA would like to be able to control the weather, but that they just hadn't been able to figure that out yet.
When they called for F to board, she gave me a glare. I think she was in group 6.
Funny thing was that when we got to TUL, there were still 2 UA flights, 2 WN flights, and 1 DL flight that were delayed and hadn't arrived yet too. I'm sure she didn't notice that.
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Old Feb 21, 06, 1:12 pm
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I didn't view this article as negative toward AA or US; just highlighting the difference.

Should someone be disappointed that AA cancelled their flight from Florida to NYC 24 hours in advance while the B6 flight took off? I suppose it depends on whether AA was able to reach the person in advance (they always call me on my cell with flight changes like this) rather than before they get to the airport, whether the B6 flight actually made it to NYC rather than being diverted to some other place and stranding the pax there, and whether the B6 pax is able to get home from the NYC airport and is not stuck in LGA.

You can't please everyone and AA has dealt with enough storms to know that (a) you don't want the cost and adverse publicity of having hundreds of pax' sitting in the airport with cancelled flights and (b) having your planes in the wrong place when the storms over.
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Old Feb 21, 06, 3:26 pm
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Originally Posted by RachelG
This despite the GA explaining that only one runway was open at TUL due to ice,
Do they really need more than one runway at TUL???
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Old Feb 21, 06, 3:32 pm
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I guess whether you agree with the thread title or not depends on how aggressive you want your airline to be flying in bad weather. That is obviously personal and will vary from flyer to flyer. I prefer my airline to be cautious flying in bad weather, therefore, I would have titled this thread (had I started it) "AA and UA better than B6, CO during storms."
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Old Feb 21, 06, 4:27 pm
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Originally Posted by RachelG
the only reason she was on the flight was that she bought her tickets on cheaptickets.com and the AA tickets were $5 cheaper!
So these people that AA blames the service cutbacks on actually do exist! I think this is the first confirmed/reported sighting we've seen here.
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