DCA preposterousness

Old Jun 21, 16, 10:11 pm
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DCA preposterousness

Well, the storms came in during the afternoon and evening, and result was a complete mockery of AAs ability to juggle issues while insulating customers. At least 6 gate changes (so far) for 2239 dca to ord, including 3 WITHIN ABOUT 5 minutes. Watchimg the crowd run from gate to gate would have been funny had I not been one of them. Man. I get the issues w equipment and crews but this is just preposterous. Getting unruly at the gate. This kind of situation is inexcusable. Yea, weather happens. Cancel. Free us tonight and rebook us.
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Old Jun 21, 16, 10:31 pm
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Then just call and rebook. It's what I did at CLT last month in a similar situation before the flight was officially cancelled.

My CLT-RIC flight was due to depart originally at 10.45pm, then it was 1.15am and that came and went. There was a GA but no crew so pretty clear we weren't going anywhere for a while. I called and rebooked for the first flight the next morning.
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Old Jun 21, 16, 10:40 pm
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Originally Posted by Fraser View Post
Then just call and rebook. It's what I did at CLT last month in a similar situation before the flight was officially cancelled.

My CLT-RIC flight was due to depart originally at 10.45pm, then it was 1.15am and that came and went. There was a GA but no crew so pretty clear we weren't going anywhere for a while. I called and rebooked for the first flight the next morning.
Yea, protected but doesnt really address the issue. The good news is the updated boarding time is 11:28. Of course, that announcment came through at 11:36. Handy! Crew is on the way! Plane is here! Dont go away you may lose your seat!! Gate 36, no gate 42, no gate 45, no back to gate 42. Wait, did we say gate 42? Typo, meant gate 45!!!
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Old Jun 22, 16, 2:39 am
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Originally Posted by masonp123 View Post
Well, the storms came in during the afternoon and evening, and result was a complete mockery of AAs ability to juggle issues while insulating customers. At least 6 gate changes (so far) for 2239 dca to ord, including 3 WITHIN ABOUT 5 minutes. Watchimg the crowd run from gate to gate would have been funny had I not been one of them. Man. I get the issues w equipment and crews but this is just preposterous. Getting unruly at the gate. This kind of situation is inexcusable. Yea, weather happens. Cancel. Free us tonight and rebook us.
If you had been on a (delayed) flight arriving tonight into DCA. And the pilot came on the PA and said, "Folks, we are going to wait here on the tarmac until our originally designated gate opens up." And during that whole time you look out the window during your wait and see aircraft pushing back from other gates, freeing them up for another aircraft to pull in. But you still had to wait for your specific gate to open up because American didn't want the outgoing passengers at that gate to switch gates. How would you have reacted?
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Old Jun 22, 16, 6:23 am
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The storms were pretty gnarly all afternoon. Sucks, but, as they say, it happens.
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Old Jun 22, 16, 7:06 am
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Originally Posted by masonp123 View Post
Yea, protected but doesnt really address the issue. The good news is the updated boarding time is 11:28. Of course, that announcment came through at 11:36. Handy! Crew is on the way! Plane is here! Dont go away you may lose your seat!! Gate 36, no gate 42, no gate 45, no back to gate 42. Wait, did we say gate 42? Typo, meant gate 45!!!
Hey, at least you didn't have to switch terminals for any of those gate changes.
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Old Jun 22, 16, 7:30 am
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AA runs a pretty aggressive operation - 18 gates and 253 flights. I'd bet probably at least 175 of those flights are aircraft that require a jetbridge.

As I mentioned in another thread, we had some nasty weather in the DC area yesterday. F0 tornado up in Howard County and substantial rain with cloud to ground lightning in several waves yesterday afternoon.

I turned on LiveATC last night to hear the DC tower trying to sort through the mess. Problems included:

1) waves of aircraft that were in hold patterns and awaiting openings to land,

2) a main runway that was configured for north departures and landings but had a tailwind (anywhere from 190 degrees to 250 degrees) with winds up to 10 knots. This caused several aircraft to waive off and to go around as well as a few aircraft that were unable to depart owing to aircraft configurations and weight issues (one AA A321 could not take off with more than 2 kts tailwind).

3) holds and ground stops. LGA and BOS apparently had flow controls in effect which caused aircraft to be stacked up in hold boxes or unable to push from their gates. Also, for a while all westbound departures were stopped owing to a cell that had pushed over the Blue Ridge and was approaching the IAD area around 9:00 pm.

4) Heavy helicopter traffic including two Medevac flights that were given priority and aircraft kept held or well away from their movements.

This created a huge mess for DCA aircraft on the ground. Planes in hold boxes. Planes stopped on runways. Planes unable to access a gate. One E190 had to sit on the Rwy 19 hold box for probably 30 minutes owing to the fact that gate 45 (its assigned gate) was used for another aircraft. Another jet (I think a 737) sat forever on the run-up end of Runway 22 waiting for a gate.

At one point, owing to wind shifts and flows, you had departures off three runways in the span of five minutes - a AA flight to PHX using Rwy 19, flights off of Rwy 1, and flights (a Dash8 to CRW) off of 33.

ATC certainly earned their pay last night...

Last edited by IADCAflyer; Jun 22, 16 at 11:24 am
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Old Jun 22, 16, 9:40 am
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Yeah, I would seriously give DCA a pass on yesterday afternoon/evening...I have lived here for 7 years and can count on one hand the number of times I'm seen storms like that.

Now at MCO, my home airport growing up, well that weather would be every single summer afternoon...
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Old Jun 22, 16, 10:41 am
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DCA ground agents are particularly terrible when there are delays. They rarely give helpful information and routinely insist that they know nothing which I've come to realize is normally true, though no one seems to try very hard to get information. Calling in to the executive platinum line has also become fruitless, they mostly can't help or don't want to lift a finger. I've found that going to the Admirals Club is my only hope, the agents there will usually try to find out what is happening and that usually requires them to pick up a phone and call someone in operations, which can often take many minutes.
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Old Jun 22, 16, 3:03 pm
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Originally Posted by arlflyer View Post
Yeah, I would seriously give DCA a pass on yesterday afternoon/evening...I have lived here for 7 years and can count on one hand the number of times I'm seen storms like that.

Now at MCO, my home airport growing up, well that weather would be every single summer afternoon...
Are you sure you're living in the DC area?
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Old Jun 22, 16, 3:31 pm
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Originally Posted by iadisgreat View Post
Are you sure you're living in the DC area?
In reference to the storms? Yes, it's very rare that we get storms with rainfall rates of 3 to 4 inches/hour and tornadoes spinning off. Despite all the hype, most of the big midwest storms burn out before they get here.
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Old Jun 22, 16, 3:40 pm
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Originally Posted by arlflyer View Post
In reference to the storms? Yes, it's very rare that we get storms with rainfall rates of 3 to 4 inches/hour and tornadoes spinning off. Despite all the hype, most of the big midwest storms burn out before they get here.
These storms are not rare from my lifelong experience living in the area. Every year there are tornados on the ground in Waldorf/LaPlata along with significant storm related rainfall throughout the summer.

Flooding at the Cleveland Park metro? Maybe unusual, but then again, there is a reason there have been sandbags along the grates at street level going on years.
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Old Jun 22, 16, 4:12 pm
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Originally Posted by arlflyer View Post
Now at MCO, my home airport growing up, well that weather would be every single summer afternoon...
Indeed. It's pretty well established at this point that you don't book afternoon departures from MCO in the summertime if at all avoidable. With that said, the operation is pretty efficient at pausing for thunderstorms and getting going again quickly afterward, the biggest problem is the overly saturated East Coast airspace system. Even once the storms are long gone, East Coast bound flights generally incur much longer delays trying to get placed on the jet routes to/from the northeast/mid-Atlantic.
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Old Jun 22, 16, 4:55 pm
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Originally Posted by arlflyer View Post
Yeah, I would seriously give DCA a pass on yesterday afternoon/evening...I have lived here for 7 years and can count on one hand the number of times I'm seen storms like that.
Ya I agree. I was on DCA-PHX which ended up spending almost an hour and a half on the runway. At one point the storms were so bad I couldn't see across the river
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Old Jun 22, 16, 5:21 pm
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This. But I don't believe it is an AA issue, but rather, a DCA issue (at least re the desk agents).

Originally Posted by tntflyer View Post
DCA ground agents are particularly terrible when there are delays. They rarely give helpful information and routinely insist that they know nothing which I've come to realize is normally true, though no one seems to try very hard to get information. Calling in to the executive platinum line has also become fruitless, they mostly can't help or don't want to lift a finger. I've found that going to the Admirals Club is my only hope, the agents there will usually try to find out what is happening and that usually requires them to pick up a phone and call someone in operations, which can often take many minutes.
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