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Somewhat surreal experience 18 Aug on AA 5216 (early departure + delay)

Somewhat surreal experience 18 Aug on AA 5216 (early departure + delay)

Old Aug 18, 19, 1:59 pm
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Somewhat surreal experience 18 Aug on AA 5216 (early departure + delay)

An interesting day at BDL. AA5216 boarded on time and pushed a little bit early. After sitting on the tarmac for about 20 minutes, the captain came on and said ATC had given us a much shorter route to DCA that would save us a half hour of flying time but that we now had too much fuel and would need to offload some fuel. Apart from the cabin becoming hotter, nothing happened for the next 40 minutes or so, as we sat on the tarmac. The captain then cam back on and said that as refueling would take significant time, we had to go back to the gate and deplane. Initially, we were told to stand in the jetway for valet tagged bags to be returned, but after about 10 minutes, a service rep came on and said that we should be able to reboard in 30 minutes or so, so retrieving bags was unnecessary.

I fly a lot and put up with a lot of delays, some warranted and some seemingly not. I certainly recognize that not everything here is in AAs control. I also recognize that what is likely ultimately to be a 2 to 2 1/2 hour delay is not unusual and is certainly better than what my wife and many others are experiencing at ORD today. That said, maybe Im missing something, but the lack of communication and the length of time it takes to make decisions (does it really take an hour to determine that offloading fuel requires going back to the gate and deplaning?) seems somewhere between bizarre and not competent. This is my fourth round trip on AA this year (Im a GS on United), and each trip has involved significant operational problems (sometimes admittedly connected with weather) that seem, at least in part, self-inflicted on AAs part. Guess Im sticking with UA. Ugh.
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Old Aug 18, 19, 2:06 pm
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So let me get this straight...something that was supposed to SAVE time now led to an even longer delay? Talk about irony!
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Old Aug 18, 19, 3:01 pm
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Meh. This is all about ATC and weather and has little or nothing to do with AA.

On a micro-hop such as BDL-DCA, it is easy to be overweight if the expected routing is cut short. The bad thing is that removing fuel can take time and possibly even more time if the fuel bowser is not immediately available.

Unfortunate, but chalk it up to any other weather / ATC delay.
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Old Aug 18, 19, 3:23 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Meh. This is all about ATC and weather and has little or nothing to do with AA.

On a micro-hop such as BDL-DCA, it is easy to be overweight if the expected routing is cut short. The bad thing is that removing fuel can take time and possibly even more time if the fuel bowser is not immediately available.

Unfortunate, but chalk it up to any other weather / ATC delay.
Educate me as to why having an extra 1/2 hour of fuel on board would make you overweight. I understand you would be flying unnecessary fuel to dca but would you be overweight?
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Old Aug 18, 19, 4:12 pm
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Originally Posted by abk View Post

Educate me as to why having an extra 1/2 hour of fuel on board would make you overweight. I understand you would be flying unnecessary fuel to dca but would you be overweight?
over maximum landing weight.
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Old Aug 18, 19, 4:39 pm
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Originally Posted by abk View Post

Educate me as to why having an extra 1/2 hour of fuel on board would make you overweight. I understand you would be flying unnecessary fuel to DCA but would you be overweight?
You expect to fly for XXX minutes and burn XXX pounds of fuel. If the flight gets shorter and you burn less fuel the plane is much heavier landing. This has to within the limits of the plane, requires a longer runway, potentially more wear on the brakes. If rain or inclement weather happens, then the runway distance is even longer and DCA isn't the place you want to chance runway distance.
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Old Aug 18, 19, 6:15 pm
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Why AA did what it did makes no sense to me!
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Old Aug 18, 19, 6:52 pm
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Originally Posted by allset2travel View Post
Why AA did what it did makes no sense to me!
That summarizes 95% of AA decision making. Other 5% is just copy delta.
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Old Aug 18, 19, 7:15 pm
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Originally Posted by allset2travel View Post
Why AA did what it did makes no sense to me!
This usually happens when there is a weather system affecting the route.

When the flight plan is computed, the route is planned around the weather. The routing often comes from ATC. ATC will require aircraft passing through the affected airspace to fly specific SWAP routings.

As the weather evolves, moves, builds, dissipates, the SWAP routes will change. Sometimes this changes you from a shorter route to a longer route and you have to go back for more fuel. Other times it takes you from a longer route to a shorter one and that may put you over your maximum landing weight at your destination so you have to go back to de-fuel.

Defueling is problematic. Once fuel is removed from an aircraft it can't be delivered to an aircraft belonging to another airline because the fuel vendor didn't have control of the fuel while it was in the airplane and can't ensure that it wasn't contaminated. It may be able to be used by the same airline depending on the requirements of their fueling program. In any case, you will need a truck designated for defueling so that the fuel removed from the airplane is treated properly. The last time I refueled (MIA) we waited almost an hour for the fueling vendor's defueling truck.

Even when you get a defueling truck, the defueling process is slow. You are relying on the aircraft's fuel pumps to push the fuel out but they don't move the volume nearly as quickly as the trucks themselves. On that last defueling I had, the defueling process took close to 45 minutes.
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Old Aug 18, 19, 8:32 pm
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Originally Posted by arc727 View Post
So let me get this straight...something that was supposed to SAVE time now led to an even longer delay? Talk about irony!
It isn't ironic, it's Parker-fication. Passenger delays are irrelevant versus a few thousand bucks of Jet A. Probably will find a way to blame the mechanics' union, too.
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Old Aug 18, 19, 9:31 pm
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Originally Posted by Gig103 View Post
It isn't ironic, it's Parker-fication. Passenger delays are irrelevant versus a few thousand bucks of Jet A. Probably will find a way to blame the mechanics' union, too.
So better to just ignore safety requirements and land overweight? Gotcha!
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Old Aug 18, 19, 10:05 pm
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Originally Posted by justhere View Post
So better to just ignore safety requirements and land overweight? Gotcha!
Decline the reroute, fly a route that burns the same fuel as the original flight plan....the dealy would have been zero minutes.
Gotcha!
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Old Aug 18, 19, 10:07 pm
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Originally Posted by justhere View Post
So better to just ignore safety requirements and land overweight? Gotcha!
No just tell ATC thanks, but no thanks.
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Old Aug 18, 19, 10:38 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Meh. This is all about ATC and weather and has little or nothing to do with AA....
No, it has everything to do with AA.
There are many ways to get "extra enroute burn" in those rare cases where you've found yourself overweight for landing.
Deny the shorter routing. Lower the landing gear "30 miles" out. Enter a holding pattern. Fly the enroute phase at a lower altitude.
And then there's always the least desirable plan of returning to the gate to de-fuel.

LarryJ has explained why de-fueling usually isn't the best decision.
As an ex AA Load Planner (weight-n-balance), the gear extension trick seemed the most common. It's best when your "slightly" over landing weight, which is usually the case.

As an ex DFW "Tower" Ops Agt, I hated the schedule where we had a 767-200ER ( looong time ago) sked at 18:30ish on DFW-SAN
When either the DFW-ORY or MAD 17:00ish flights went mechanical for ETOPS reasons (ok for flight, but no-go for extended overwater operations) the decision would be made to fly the SAN plane to Europe. This meant the temp "non-ETOPS" 767 would go to SAN instead. Two hours after the swap, the "new" ORY/MAD plane would've had the extra fuel added and on climb-out to Europe while the SAN flight was still on the gate defueling. It would eventually leave with twice the fuel needed to fly to SAN, but at least enough removed so that it could land.

As an AS passenger, I remember one E-175 departure from SEA where we taxied out not on the taxi way, but on the ramp. While holding brakes and the engines spooled up higher than normal taxi. It was clear to me that we were burning "extra" fuel. I had no clue if we were over take-off weight or landing weight. Being that this was on taxi out, my guess would be the former.

While it seems wasteful to do any type of "extra enroute burn", it is the lesser of 2 evils (de-fuel being the other option) when backed into that situation.
However, IMHO, the current AA seems to be more focused on the direct operating costs than trying to keep the operation running (ignoring the increased costs of an operation that's falling apart).
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Old Aug 19, 19, 12:04 am
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Fwiw, wouldn't fuel loads all be handled by PSA in this case?
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