AA Cancelling Flights Pre-Storm

Old Mar 5, 18, 10:22 am
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AA Cancelling Flights Pre-Storm

Last Thursday, I was traveling MCI--Phl-SYR. I got a note the day before saying due to weather, I might want to change my travel plans. I checked the weather, and PHL and SYR were anticipating a storm late Thursday and then Friday. It so happens that SYR got a foot of snow and then PHL and the east coast had terrible rains/winds. I ended up going earlier and traveled MCI-CLT-SYR.

My question is about cancelling flights. Turned out the MCI-PHL flight had not problems. However, AA canceled all of their evening flights to SYR--WITHOUT SIGNIFICANT WEATHER. They were anticipating the weather on Friday. I almost did not change my flight as the weather looked fine--and it was. However, I would have been stuck in Philly for a couple of days as AA knew they were going to cancel the late night flights to upstate and central NY. I was grateful I changed my flight--which meant taking the first morning flight at 6am instead of 4pm from MCI. However, I would have liked it if AA had been clear about this happening.

Those in the know---how soon before does AA know that they will make a move like this? Even as of that Thursday afternoon, they hadn't cancelled the SYR flight--it only occurred about 1 hour beforehand. Again, this seems to be a systemwide decision. As a traveler, I wouldn't have known they were going to do this and just lucked out.
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Old Mar 5, 18, 10:33 am
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They tend to be VERY aggressive about cancelling flights. A few weeks back at O'Hare, they cancelled almost every flight after 3:00 pm because snow was forecast. Only a few inches in the forecast. Ended up getting nearly nothing, but all travel thrown into chaos. It's not uncommon to see this on American.

United is MUCH better and running flights during bad weather (but is a trash heap on airline).
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Old Mar 5, 18, 10:37 am
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There are a lot of variables that go into the cancellation decisions (crews, aircraft positioning during IRROPS, constantly changing weather models, etc.).

As all those PHL-SYR flights are operated by the regional carrier(s) on a mix of ERJ145/ERJ175 aircraft, they tend to drop those first in strongly predicted weather scenarios (like the crazy winds experienced all over the NE Fri/Sat). It's not ideal, but it's better than having people come to the airport and be stranded there. It's likely those flights were canceled before your original MCI-PHL flight left, in which case you would have had some other options.
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Old Mar 5, 18, 10:46 am
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Originally Posted by PHL View Post
There are a lot of variables that go into the cancellation decisions (crews, aircraft positioning during IRROPS, constantly changing weather models, etc.).

As all those PHL-SYR flights are operated by the regional carrier(s) on a mix of ERJ145/ERJ175 aircraft, they tend to drop those first in strongly predicted weather scenarios (like the crazy winds experienced all over the NE Fri/Sat). It's not ideal, but it's better than having people come to the airport and be stranded there. It's likely those flights were canceled before your original MCI-PHL flight left, in which case you would have had some other options.

No, that is not what happened. I tracked the flight. My AA PHL-SYR flight didn't cancel until early evening, only an hour or two before it was scheduled to depart.
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Old Mar 5, 18, 10:47 am
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Originally Posted by chicagoflyer1976 View Post
They tend to be VERY aggressive about cancelling flights. A few weeks back at O'Hare, they cancelled almost every flight after 3:00 pm because snow was forecast. Only a few inches in the forecast. Ended up getting nearly nothing, but all travel thrown into chaos. It's not uncommon to see this on American.

United is MUCH better and running flights during bad weather (but is a trash heap on airline).
It was interesting to watch this--Delta tried to keep up a full schedule to DTW, MSP, ATL--it did cancel JFK--but had options to offer. AA canceled everything--DCA, BOS, PHL, ORD and CLT (though CLT came back up fast!)
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Old Mar 5, 18, 11:01 am
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I was flying out of Republic Airport (Farmingdale, NY) on Friday, March 2 on a 30 seater, scheduled to depart 4:45 pm to Atlantic City, NJ [a Borgata Casino "deal"]. We took off 40 minutes late: the plane flew from Richmond, Va to drop off pax in AC and then flew to Republic. The gusts at t/o and landing were 60+ mph--terrible conditions, but at 8,000 ft the ride was smooth(?).
The pilot was experienced and felt he could fly under such conditions. So even small planes can fly in adverse weather...
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Old Mar 5, 18, 11:03 am
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I agree that it is annoying. AA canceled something like >75% of DCA on Friday, meanwhile Southwest (who is not known for great ops during weather) operated almost a full schedule. There were Delta shuttles operated by Republic that were flying while AA shuttles operated by Republic were canceled.
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Old Mar 5, 18, 11:13 am
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AA often proactively cancels flights in advance of impending storms. In the AA view, they can get back to normal more quickly if the planes and crews are in locations clear of the storm. Otherwise, they run the risk of having a couple of planes and crews in Syracuse that can get in, but can't get out (crews can't get to/from hotel, don't have adequate rest, etc). That in turn, has ripple effects throughout the system. So, from the AA approach, once the Syracuse airport is back to business, they can start up flights from Chicago and are back in business so that within a day or two, operations are back to normal which makes it easier to take care of disrupted passengers.

Whether that works better than the UA/DL approach, I can't say. We only hear anecdotes from those with bad experiences. As a friend of mine trying to fly to JFK on Friday commented, why did they cancel my flight and not the one before or after mine? She's unhappy (but was rebooked) but those on the half the flights that went to JFK are happy.
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Old Mar 5, 18, 11:14 am
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Originally Posted by wetrat0 View Post
I agree that it is annoying. AA canceled something like >75% of DCA on Friday, meanwhile Southwest (who is not known for great ops during weather) operated almost a full schedule. There were Delta shuttles operated by Republic that were flying while AA shuttles operated by Republic were canceled.
So, ultimately, this is my question----when does AA make this call and why not let the system know? It is especially confusing and nontransparent when other airlines are operating--your example at DCA with Southwest and mine with Delta at SYR.
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Old Mar 5, 18, 1:08 pm
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Originally Posted by C17PSGR View Post
Whether that works better than the UA/DL approach, I can't say. We only hear anecdotes from those with bad experiences. As a friend of mine trying to fly to JFK on Friday commented, why did they cancel my flight and not the one before or after mine? She's unhappy (but was rebooked) but those on the half the flights that went to JFK are happy.
I think AA is overly aggressive in cancelling its flights, but there's some downside to being overly aggressive in operating them as well. I have a friend who was booked into IAH the morning Hurricane Harvey made landfall and United insisted that everything was normal (no travel waiver or anything) right up to the point the flight had to divert to Dallas. If they'd cancelled the flight in advance, people could have been rebooked on alternative routings or made other plans versus being stranded in a place where United doesn't have a lot of options for them. (I'm sure other people were diverted more annoying places to get out of than DFW.)
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Old Mar 5, 18, 1:30 pm
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If the OP wants to suffer fewer weather-induced flight cancellations he should book itins exclusively with mainline flights. That's true with AA or DL.

As for weather cancellation patterns that are too aggressive, I'm sure old Ops staff have a hundred stories on both sides.
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Old Mar 5, 18, 1:50 pm
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Originally Posted by 3Cforme View Post
If the OP wants to suffer fewer weather-induced flight cancellations he should book itins exclusively with mainline flights. That's true with AA or DL.

As for weather cancellation patterns that are too aggressive, I'm sure old Ops staff have a hundred stories on both sides.
I think you are missing my point. My EXPERIENCE is that AA's decision to cancel flights in a given region must be made by some timeline. As a flyer, I would like to be aware that this is possible/going to happen. In the example I used, I thought it was bad weather in Philly that was going to be the issue--not a preemptive canceling of flights in Syracuse. If I had known the later, I make the easy decision to change my flight early and don't risk anything. It is one thing to think of weather in a local city as opposed to a regional pattern and preemptively making a decision.
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Old Mar 5, 18, 1:59 pm
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AA operations is typically very bad about disseminating scheduling information to their front end systems. This goes beyond weather events to include run-of-the-mill delays, etc
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Old Mar 5, 18, 2:00 pm
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Originally Posted by jpsj View Post
I think you are missing my point. My EXPERIENCE is that AA's decision to cancel flights in a given region must be made by some timeline. As a flyer, I would like to be aware that this is possible/going to happen. In the example I used, I thought it was bad weather in Philly that was going to be the issue--not a preemptive canceling of flights in Syracuse. If I had known the later, I make the easy decision to change my flight early and don't risk anything. It is one thing to think of weather in a local city as opposed to a regional pattern and preemptively making a decision.
Once AA starts issuing weather waivers (you'll see it on the website and you'll guess it might be happening from the weather in the news), it is certainly possible. When I'm traveling and waivers are available, I've learned from others here in the forum over the years, that I should keep a subscription to EF and look at alternative flights, including getting out early. If you can do it consistent with work, etc., rolling out early when there is a major impending weather issue and waivers are available is almost always a good decision.
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Old Mar 5, 18, 2:13 pm
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Originally Posted by C17PSGR View Post
Once AA starts issuing weather waivers (you'll see it on the website and you'll guess it might be happening from the weather in the news), it is certainly possible. When I'm traveling and waivers are available, I've learned from others here in the forum over the years, that I should keep a subscription to EF and look at alternative flights, including getting out early. If you can do it consistent with work, etc., rolling out early when there is a major impending weather issue and waivers are available is almost always a good decision.
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