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AA’s policy for lightning and boarding - who decides?

AA’s policy for lightning and boarding - who decides?

Old Jul 18, 2021, 4:54 pm
  #1  
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AA’s policy for lightning and boarding - who decides?

I’m curious - if there’s lightning in a specific vicinity of the airport, who decides when it’s safe to board?

Specific scenario at MCO now:

AA 1716 to DFW.
Original departure: 4:10pm

Incoming equipment late. Arrived to gate at 4:31pm.

Boarding on hold through 5:50pm due to lightning to “keep everyone safe”.

AA 398 to DFW.
Original departure: 5:54pm

Incoming equipment arrived to gate on time at 4:51pm.

Just heard PA for final boarding for 398. On time.

I’m sure there’s a logical explanation why one AA flight is delayed due to lightning while another is not, but it escapes me.

Hoping someone has insight and can educate me.

Thanks in advance.
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Old Jul 18, 2021, 5:06 pm
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I think I found the answer:

One captain boarded taking the risk of passengers being stuck on the plane while waiting for the ramp to open to take care of baggage unloading / loading while the other prefers not to have everyone boarded until he believes they can get going quickly.
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Old Jul 18, 2021, 5:11 pm
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Originally Posted by tismfu
I’m sure there’s a logical explanation why one AA flight is delayed due to lightning while another is not, but it escapes me.
The issue is less to do with boarding the passengers as it is to do with ramp staff being exposed. The luggage, catering, fueling, sewage etc. is all on hold as the ground staff potentially at risk as they are exposed.

If the luggage, fueling etc. is complete and the hold closed, then the aircraft can potentially push back as soon as the weather abates a little. That's why they may have boarded the other flight. If they boarded you, you may have been stuck on the aircraft for an extended period of time.

I have been on a E145 in ORD when the ramp closed for lightning. We got stuck for a long time but also got to witness the danger of lightning on the ramp. A baggage cart got loose and started rolling out and someone went running after it. A lightning strike hit the ground about 10 feet from him and the plane. The supervisor ran out and started yelling at the guy to drop it and brought him back in. Fortunately no one got hurt and the cart didn't cause any injuries or damage.
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Old Jul 18, 2021, 5:15 pm
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I believe that the rule at ORD is no ramp operations if there is lightning within 10 miles of the airport. I don't think I would like to board if there was and I think that they probably try to pull the bridge back. I have sat on an aircraft which was all ready to go except that the tug wasn't allowed to operate.
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Old Jul 18, 2021, 6:49 pm
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Thank you, all, for the input.

The earlier flight is still at the gate, while ours is pushing back now despite having to return to the gate for catering and also to deplane two passengers who didn’t want to comply with mask wearing.

So, looks like my captain was “correct” in holding off on boarding.

Part of my confusion was seeing Spirit Airlines ramp teams directing a flight off a gate during one of the “ramp closures”. The other AA flight was out of my view, and when I heard “final call for boarding”, I wrongly assumed that meant baggage was already done.

Thanks again.
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Old Jul 18, 2021, 7:46 pm
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Originally Posted by tismfu
.....ours is pushing back now despite having to return to the gate for catering and also to deplane two passengers who didn’t want to comply with mask wearing.
Off topic but why is this still a thing? You have to wear your mask on a plane. Can't believe people still think you don't have to do this. Crazy!
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Old Jul 18, 2021, 7:58 pm
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My understanding is that the two passengers in question had a bit too much to drink before boarding. And it makes sense as I definitely heard them when they got on the plane. Not discussing masking but they were simply obnoxiously loud.

Later, when door reopened for catering delivery, FA notified captain about the lack of following instructions and the passengers were told they had to deplane.
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Old Jul 18, 2021, 8:28 pm
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Originally Posted by tismfu
Thank you, all, for the input.

The earlier flight is still at the gate, while ours is pushing back now despite having to return to the gate for catering and also to deplane two passengers who didn’t want to comply with mask wearing.

So, looks like my captain was “correct” in holding off on boarding.

Part of my confusion was seeing Spirit Airlines ramp teams directing a flight off a gate during one of the “ramp closures”. The other AA flight was out of my view, and when I heard “final call for boarding”, I wrongly assumed that meant baggage was already done.

Thanks again.
The confusing thing too, coming from a former airline person, is different companies have different guidelines. One may be no lightning within 5 miles of airport for 10 minutes, another may be 5 miles for 7 minutes, another may be 10 miles for 5 minutes. There is not a standard so to speak.

The crew that did not want to board passengers while the ramp was closed, in my experience, did so because as mentioned the plane wasn't going anywhere anyway, and they aren't getting paid for sitting there with pax on board and would probably rather eat their meals/nap/play games on phone versus having to babysit passengers for an unknown amount of time in excess of normal.
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Old Jul 19, 2021, 6:18 am
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Back when I was on ground crew (at ORF), the standard rule was the ramp had to clear when lightning was detected within 5 miles of the field, and remain clear for 20 minutes after the last strike. Strike finders were located at various locations around the airport.

That policy was set by airport management, not any airline.
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Old Jul 19, 2021, 6:44 am
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Originally Posted by JAXPax
The confusing thing too, coming from a former airline person, is different companies have different guidelines. One may be no lightning within 5 miles of airport for 10 minutes, another may be 5 miles for 7 minutes, another may be 10 miles for 5 minutes. There is not a standard so to speak.
Different Industry, Sam Concept: The various outdoor entertainment venues in Florida (theme parks, Kennedy Space Center) all seem to have different lightning protocols. Back when I worked for Disney, they would pull all outdoor staff inside but allow guests to endanger themselves. Personally, I think that's an insane policy.

My recommendation as a Florida is that if you're at Disney World and you see the popcorn vendors taking cover, take cover immediately. If Disney is halting the ability to make money, it means the weather is dangerous.

In my opinion, the venue that does it best is Kennedy Space Center. During dangerous thunderstorms, they play an announcement over the loudspeakers telling everyone (employees and guests) to take cover inside.
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Old Jul 19, 2021, 8:37 am
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Originally Posted by writerguyfl

If Disney is halting the ability to make money, it means the weather is dangerous.
That right there to me is quote of the week. My admin just asked me what I was laughing at. But you are so right.
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Old Jul 20, 2021, 4:21 am
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Originally Posted by airmotive
Back when I was on ground crew (at ORF), the standard rule was the ramp had to clear when lightning was detected within 5 miles of the field, and remain clear for 20 minutes after the last strike. Strike finders were located at various locations around the airport.

That policy was set by airport management, not any airline.
This is case at most airports I'm aware of. It's an airport thing. The airport manager (or designee) "closes" the airport. Anyone moving risks being fined by the airport operator. (ATC in US can't close an airport weirdly. They can delay IFR traffic in/out to point it's defacto closed, but not simply just close an airport)
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