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AA 833 LAX - PHX (9/12) delayed 90 minutes due to no flight crew

AA 833 LAX - PHX (9/12) delayed 90 minutes due to no flight crew

Old Sep 13, 2021, 5:50 pm
  #1  
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AA 833 LAX - PHX (9/12) delayed 90 minutes due to no flight crew

The wife and I were due to fly on yesterday's AA 833 from LAX to PHX (scheduled departure time was 5.20 pm) on our way home from visiting family. This was a bit of a points run so we were actually flying SMF - LAX - PHX - LAS. We were at the gate just at T-35 to find boarding well under way (Group 6 was already on the screen). Expecting an on-time departure things suddenly went badly wrong. We were in 2A and 2B so could overhear the galley conversations without difficulty. In short, there was no flight crew for the plane and no one knew where they were or what time they would arrive.

We had a choice of AA537 (6.15 pm departure) or AA2785 (8.15 pm departure) to LAS so asked the GA to rebook us onto the former. He decided we didn't have enough time to get from T4 to T5 so instead asked if we wanted to be rebooked on the later direct flight. We said yes, so he moved us to that flight - but declined to assign seats or print BPs. He said that because we had status we could have that done at the lounge. We then walked to T5 where we arrived to hear "Last call" for the earlier flight, so could have made that after all.

We went into the T5 lounge (which I think is nicer than the T4 Admirals Club) and tried to get seats assigned and confirmed into First for our flight back to Las Vegas. Fortunately we had an absolute gem of an agent who managed to get everything squared away for us, although she couldn't understand why the GA hadn't done all of this at the podium when we offloaded ourselves from the PHX flight. We ended up having the ticket re-issued with us confirmed in Y but on the upgrade list as DSR3 because we were originally in paid F. We got an SMS confirmation at T-55 minutes that we were back in F although on opposite sides of the row. The passengers in the two aisle seats refused point-blank to swap with either of us (which I always find strange, but each to their own) but for a short flight it didn't really matter.

Our original flight ended up arriving in PHX exactly 90 minutes behind schedule. We would have missed our connection and would probably have had to overnight it in PHX.

I am not entirely sure why we were allowed to board with no Captain and FO available? The FA did say that they are allowed to board once they have been assigned, even if they are not at the gate. They weren't on a delayed inbound flight but no-one seemed to know where they were.
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Old Sep 13, 2021, 6:01 pm
  #2  
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Originally Posted by Geordie405
In short, there was no flight crew for the plane and no one knew where they were or what time they would arrive.
I find it very odd they would board a plane without a flight crew.
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Old Sep 13, 2021, 6:33 pm
  #3  
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Originally Posted by enviroian
I find it very odd they would board a plane without a flight crew.
It's happened to me several times before, although it's always been one flight crew member, so not a big deal since the one crew member can get most of the work done besides the briefings.
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Old Sep 13, 2021, 6:43 pm
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Originally Posted by enviroian
I find it very odd they would board a plane without a flight crew.
Not necessarily. There's no regulation that prohibits this provided a minimum number of FAs are onboard. In some cases, it can be a good decision to board without the pilots if the pilots are getting close to timing out or are called in from reserve with an unknown time of arrival to the airport. That being said, if they knew it would be a 90 minute wait ahead of time then it's probably not a great decision by the GA.

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Old Sep 13, 2021, 7:06 pm
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Originally Posted by FlyerBeek
Not necessarily. There's no regulation that prohibits this provided a minimum number of FAs are onboard. In some cases, it can be a good decision to board without the pilots if the pilots are getting close to timing out or are called in from reserve with an unknown time of arrival to the airport. That being said, if they knew it would be a 90 minute wait ahead of time then it's probably not a great decision by the GA.

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I must just be an outlier then as Ive had more times than I care to remember when the gate agent would hold back boarding until all crew members arrived.
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Old Sep 13, 2021, 7:12 pm
  #6  
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Originally Posted by S80
It's happened to me several times before, although it's always been one flight crew member, so not a big deal since the one crew member can get most of the work done besides the briefings.
Originally Posted by enviroian
I must just be an outlier then as Ive had more times than I care to remember when the gate agent would hold back boarding until all crew members arrived.
I wouldn't say you're an outlier, more often than not in my experience boarding is delayed until the crew member arrives, but it does happen (and often to no clue where the remaining crew even is).
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Old Sep 14, 2021, 8:10 am
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Originally Posted by enviroian
I find it very odd they would board a plane without a flight crew.
Happend to me twice in recent months AA probably grabbed the crew at the last minute to fliy a more profitable trip.
They figure there's always another flight to PHX, never miind the next half dozen may be full and their
poor planning creates hundreds of problems. Their only obligation is to get you to destination
some way, some time, some how - and it may well be at your inconvenience and extra expense.
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Old Sep 14, 2021, 8:41 am
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Originally Posted by Woofbite
Happend to me twice in recent months AA probably grabbed the crew at the last minute to fliy a more profitable trip.
They figure there's always another flight to PHX, never miind the next half dozen may be full and their
poor planning creates hundreds of problems.
That's really not how it works. You're giving AA far too much credit if you think they could pull that off and assign crews based on flight profitability.

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Old Sep 14, 2021, 8:52 am
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Originally Posted by FlyerBeek
That's really not how it works. You're giving AA far too much credit if you think they could pull that off and assign crews based on flight profitability.

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Lol yeah, people think they cancel flights because it's lightly booked but then don't think about the plane still needs to operate another leg at the downline station anyway so that doesn't happen. So yeah, there is absolutely 0% chance the re-assigned a crew to a "more profitable" route especially because that trip would have to be in line with the crews rest schedule, sequence, type rating, etc. It's just not possible. They probably thought that they'd be able to reassign a crew from elsewhere and it didn't work out.
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Old Sep 14, 2021, 10:44 am
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Originally Posted by Geordie405
The passengers in the two aisle seats refused point-blank to swap with either of us (which I always find strange, but each to their own) but for a short flight it didn't really matter.
The absolute audacity of a passenger electing to retain their seat.
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Old Sep 14, 2021, 11:40 am
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Originally Posted by Woofbite
Happend to me twice in recent months AA probably grabbed the crew at the last minute to fliy a more profitable trip.
Originally Posted by FlyerBeek
That's really not how it works. You're giving AA far too much credit if you think they could pull that off and assign crews based on flight profitability.
FlyerBeek speaks the truth!

Don't overestimate AA's analytical prowess and ability to maximize (or even generate) profitability.
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Old Sep 15, 2021, 8:59 am
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Originally Posted by enviroian
I must just be an outlier then as Ive had more times than I care to remember when the gate agent would hold back boarding until all crew members arrived.
Doubtful. Either the announcements were unclear or you made some logical but not accurate assumptions There is a difference between flight crew and cabin crew. In those situations you probably misunderstood or the pilots were significantly delayed. FAA only requires all flight attendants to be present (in case an evacuation is needed, or other emergency).
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Old Sep 15, 2021, 12:58 pm
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Originally Posted by neo_781
FAA only requires all flight attendants to be present (in case an evacuation is needed, or other emergency).
Small correction: FAA only requires a designated minimum number of F/A crew be on board for passengers to be on board.
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Old Sep 15, 2021, 5:43 pm
  #14  
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Originally Posted by FlyerBeek
That's really not how it works. You're giving AA far too much credit if you think they could pull that off and assign crews based on flight profitability.

-FlyerBeek
They could definitely do it based on which will cause the least amount of problems. IE two flights, pull a crew from one flight, putting them on another where the overnight is just over FAA regs, and delay the other flight which can be delayed several hours before the morning flight has to be delayed so the crew has their legal rest. Obviously way more complicated than that during the day, where you have to account for pax and crew connections, but definitely a feasible possibility.

Originally Posted by wpcoe
Small correction: FAA only requires a designated minimum number of F/A crew be on board for passengers to be on board.
Had this situation before, waiting on several FA's, but we started boarding after the first one arrived since that met minimum crew. Also seen a situation where they pulled an airport reserve crew, and swapped them out once the regular crew arrived (much to the dismay of the reserve, who didn't want to get off given the island destination).
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