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Bad weather disruption - UK/AMS/NW Europe - 10 & 11 December 2017

Bad weather disruption - UK/AMS/NW Europe - 10 & 11 December 2017

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Old Dec 11, 17, 6:49 pm   -   Wikipost
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BA current newsflash here / London Cancellation list for Tuesday here
Rebooking policy for operating flights on Monday and Tuesday here / EC261 main thread here
ba.com/helpme one stop shop on BA.com giving lots of advice and pointers to where to claim expenses.
For EC261, delay/cancellation compensation is not payable for this event but BA is still liable for the Regulation's ďRight to careĒ provisions. Refreshments can be claimed after 2 hours of delay departing (3 hours for flights longer than LHR-Rome, 4 hours for longhaul), £200 guideline for hotels - OK to book your own and charge back. £50 guideline for taxis. Meals, drinks and communication costs are also covered. Keep / photo receipts. If on a Buy on Board aircraft, use Avios to buy items - it will be faster to refund. For missing baggage, it's OK to claim essential items, such as clothing, toiletries. Keep / photo the receipts.
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Old Dec 14, 17, 10:06 am
  #571  
 
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Originally Posted by simons1 View Post


Is it true that all airlines had flights cancelled?

I may be wrong but I thought I read up thread that the count was BA over 150, other airlines less than 10. Also I thought I read that all 6 EK flights got away albeit with delays of 2/3 hours.
OK. I won't be like some people who throw words out there without checking whether they are factually correct, so I will take back 'all airlines.' But I did check that LX, LH, KL, TP, AA did cancel. LX canceled more than half of its flights, and LH canceled almost half of its. All other operated with substantial delays.

Again, de-icing takes time (and requires space which LHR lacks), and reduced traffic alone would have ensured some cancellations.

Some people would not accept anything less than being prepared for anything at any time no matter what the costs are. I would not be surprised if someone suggested that airlines should design an all weather airplane as a reasonable measure. We had suggestions here that BA should keep a spare airplane/crew at outstations because it is reasonable to expect that a plane will break down/a member of crew will fall ill. Whether any of these suggestions pass the test of reasonableness is a different question.
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Old Dec 14, 17, 10:30 am
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Originally Posted by simons1 View Post


I understand the argument. Several days a year ATC will reduce the flow rate for weather reasons. That usually results in a handful of cancellations, mainly to domestic and Europe locations where flights can be combined.

That didn't happen here. So that may mean one of two things.

1. Conditions at the airfield were such that movement of aircraft was impeded in turn requiring cancellations beyond those mandated by ATC. That to me is a HAL issue and outside BA control.
I thought that the reason HAL (not ATC) asked for reduced flights into LHR was because the airport was out of stands due to crowds due to delays in deicing which was due initially to weather. One of the reasons that the cost for the propose third runway is so high is that LHR really needs more land/space to operate beyond just having an extra runway.

I think it's clear there's no obvious answer here. At a minimum the following factors contributed to Sunday and Monday's issues:
  • Freezing rain caused a delay in initial deicing which got progressively more delayed as conditions worsened
  • BA did not have sufficient deicing capacity (whether that's because of constraints at LHR or their own fault is not clear)
  • Heathrow is too small in terms of land, stands, terminals, and runways, and runs close to 100% capacity every day
  • BA's IT, phone, and airport capacity to manage and rebook customers during IRROPS is really shockingly poor
The last point I think comes down to BA having some of the most rigid rules in the industry, which makes it difficult for staff to help until the problem has turned into a crisis. By comparison AA seems incredibly flexible. Not that they never have problems, but they seem very quick to rebook people at even a hint of bad weather, and just in general seem to give their employees a lot more power to make changes. It also helps that they seem to have a lot more staff that can modify tickets (e.g. pretty much every agent working at the desk at their lounges, and at every gate).
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Old Dec 14, 17, 10:49 am
  #573  
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Originally Posted by Andriyko View Post
Some people would not accept anything less than being prepared for anything at any time no matter what the costs are. I would not be surprised if someone suggested that airlines should design an all weather airplane as a reasonable measure. We had suggestions here that BA should keep a spare airplane/crew at outstations because it is reasonable to expect that a plane will break down/a member of crew will fall ill. Whether any of these suggestions pass the test of reasonableness is a different question.

I agree with what you are saying. I think we used to tolerate the 'risk of inconvenience while travelling' better somehow, and almost expected it, but it appears that perfection is demanded at lower and lower fares. I guess it is the effect of competition combined with the mentality created by the EU261 that anything that may remotely be the airline's fault could be compensated (thus it is in passengers' interest to apportion blame to the airline whenever possible).

That's all fine, but we sometimes forget that everything has costs, including deicing equipment, personnel, facility, larger airports so that they don't jam up with aircraft, etc etc. Eventually comes the point, if everything was done perfectly, and we don't incur more than 10 minutes' delay (or none at all) due to snow and/or ice, ever, then probably the fares will have gone up enormously to take all the costs into account. It might even result in cuts in some other areas while the demand for lower fares persist.

Given how long it takes to deice each aircraft, in order to avoid extensive delays, you'd need a lot of equipment when you have a lot of flights. For something that might happen 5 times a year at LHR (if that). You'd also need a lot of extra people with airside security clearance more or less on permanent standby so that they can be called out any time at 3-hours notice for example. That's in addition to having a couple of more runways, placed far enough apart so that the airport can clear the snow while continuing with take-offs and landings. The costs may be prohibitive for not a huge benefit in terms of the number of days per year that are affected.

Then, it could end up pricing the flights well above what a lot of people can afford. I am not sure if that is the right thing to do. In fact those extreme schedule-keeping measures advocated could end up pricing out some of the very people who are advocating it, which would be rather unfortunate.

It's one of those balancing acts between commercial viability and reasonable preparation and achieving perfect or near-perfect reliability.

I've been affected by a lot of winter weather-related disruptions (too many times to keep track of), although not this one. I would of course like to see things work much more smoothly, and I am by and large rather cost-insensitive but I am really not sure a huge amount of contingency that could end up with people being priced out of flying is actually the right way to go when it comes to convenience issues rather than safety issues (flight disruptions in this circumstance is largely a convenience and commercial issue rather than safety issues).
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Old Dec 14, 17, 10:54 am
  #574  
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Originally Posted by snaxmuppet View Post
Because it has ice on it! The conditions were fine for flying... just not with an icy aircraft. So it isn't the weather stopping the aircraft flying is it... it is the fact that the aircraft hadn't been de-iced.

I suppose you could say it is the fact that BA was not prepared for the weather... but then the argument is the same because why would an airline at Heathrow not expect de-icing events to occur in December when the forcast was for near or below zero temps.

Either way it was BA's lack of planning and investment that stopped the flights... the weather was just incidental.
Good luck with that argument, youíll need it. And if you get over that hurdle you then have to deal with the reasonableness test.
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Old Dec 14, 17, 11:35 am
  #575  
 
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I notice Air Canada got all their flights out, in most cases with less than a 2 hour delay. Perhaps BA should be run by some Canadians in the winter who don't panic at the sight of 3 flakes of snow?

Surely BA should be asking what's the cost of a few more de-icing trucks vs the cost of hotels, rebookings, overtime for staff, loss of business from flights not run and 261, plus general loss of goodwill. That can't be cheap either, especially when they do it every year.
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Old Dec 14, 17, 12:14 pm
  #576  
 
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Originally Posted by snaxmuppet View Post
but the fact that the temps were so low would have suggested that they should be prepared for deicing... they were not.
Yes they were, in fact I think it was the first or second press release (public statement?) on the day which states words to the effect of 'we were unable to pro actively de ice aircraft overnight in preparation for the days flying because of heavy rain.'

So they were prepared for de icing, as I think all airlines and airports are in the Winter, however prevented from doing so because of heavy rain.
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Old Dec 14, 17, 12:17 pm
  #577  
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Originally Posted by Andriyko View Post
The conditions were not fine as airplanes cannot fly with ice on the wings.
The conditions were fine for an airplane to fly. Many did! But you had to de-ice first and that was the issue. You might as well say that there was no fuel so the conditions were not right. An airplane that is fueled and de-iced can fly in most conditions nowadays. It was the responsibility of BA to ensure they had fuel and that their planes were de-iced. It was not the weather that caused the delays.

I am not sure why you are so sure that the reason for the cancellations and delays was the lack of de-icing machines. People here assume that (because they always think the worst of BA), but one big reason could have been the lack of space at LHR for de-icing. I don't know what reasonable measures you would want for BA to take to fix that. And, regarding reasonableness. Sure, we, as passengers, believe that a reasonable number of de-icing machines is infinite - as many as it takes for the airline to keep to the schedule. However, a reasonable judge may accept that delays and cancellations are a necessary evil for LHR where de-icing is required only a few days a year and where it is simply unreasonable to keep a large number of de-icing machines. BA was not the only airline that experienced delays and cancellations. All airlines did. Some canceled half of their flights out of/to LHR. Had it been a BA only issue I'd have accepted that BA was not doing everything reasonable to avoid delays and cancellations. But it seems that all airlines decided that it was reasonable to cancel/substantially delay some flights than invest a large amount of money into de-icing machines,
The reason there was such a lack of space at LHR was that aircraft could not get de-iced and so could not vacate their stand. This knocked on to aircraft waiting on the ground.

I do accept that there is an argument to support the idea that BA need not invest in de-icing as much as say, JFK or ORD, where the snow runs into feet each year and temps regularly into the -20s. But if they don't provide the level of service that is legally required then they much pay the compensation. It might be the better business option to do that and that might be why there is a shortage of de-icing equipment to handle such cold spell. However, none of that alters the basic issue... the aircraft could have flown, many didn't because of a lack of de-icing causing a blackage at LHR for all... BA should pay up.

I agree with your line of thinking, but we need to also take into account what is reasonable and what is not. Fueling planes and dealing with technical issues is something that airlines do every day, and no reasonable person would assert that it is extraordinary that BA found itself with no fuel at LHR (although I hope the revised EU Reg would limit compensation for delays and cancellations due to technical reasons if they were caused by the airline's negligence only). But what level of preparedness and readiness for icy conditions is required for LHR is a question.
It is a good question and not an easy one to answer. What is desirable for the passenger may not be realistic nor good financially for the airlines. However, while the EC261 exists then the rules for compensation should be honoured and perhaps it might make the airlines sit up and think a bit harder about it. It seems little was done after the last big snow event... was the deliberate or negligent management? Who knows
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Old Dec 14, 17, 12:17 pm
  #578  
 
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Is there any way to find out how much de-icing machines BA had available?

I remember being stuck on a plane at heathrow for over 4 hours waiting to be deiced back in 2002
If I remember correctly the pilot said there were only around 6 machines available and it was a 1 hour round trip for them to get filled up again.
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Old Dec 14, 17, 12:17 pm
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Originally Posted by snaxmuppet View Post
But that notwithstanding, the fact that there were 10s of aircraft waiting hours to get de-iced is clear evidence of a lack of BA planning.
I wasn't at Heathrow on Sunday, however with a queue of 45 aircraft (I think someone reported) I would bet (a helluva a lot) it wasn't purely BA aircraft sitting waiting for de-icing.
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Old Dec 14, 17, 12:27 pm
  #580  
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Originally Posted by LTN Phobia View Post
I agree with what you are saying. I think we used to tolerate the 'risk of inconvenience while travelling' better somehow, and almost expected it, but it appears that perfection is demanded at lower and lower fares. I guess it is the effect of competition combined with the mentality created by the EU261 that anything that may remotely be the airline's fault could be compensated (thus it is in passengers' interest to apportion blame to the airline whenever possible).

That's all fine, but we sometimes forget that everything has costs, including deicing equipment, personnel, facility, larger airports so that they don't jam up with aircraft, etc etc. Eventually comes the point, if everything was done perfectly, and we don't incur more than 10 minutes' delay (or none at all) due to snow and/or ice, ever, then probably the fares will have gone up enormously to take all the costs into account. It might even result in cuts in some other areas while the demand for lower fares persist.

Given how long it takes to deice each aircraft, in order to avoid extensive delays, you'd need a lot of equipment when you have a lot of flights. For something that might happen 5 times a year at LHR (if that). You'd also need a lot of extra people with airside security clearance more or less on permanent standby so that they can be called out any time at 3-hours notice for example. That's in addition to having a couple of more runways, placed far enough apart so that the airport can clear the snow while continuing with take-offs and landings. The costs may be prohibitive for not a huge benefit in terms of the number of days per year that are affected.

Then, it could end up pricing the flights well above what a lot of people can afford. I am not sure if that is the right thing to do. In fact those extreme schedule-keeping measures advocated could end up pricing out some of the very people who are advocating it, which would be rather unfortunate.

It's one of those balancing acts between commercial viability and reasonable preparation and achieving perfect or near-perfect reliability.

I've been affected by a lot of winter weather-related disruptions (too many times to keep track of), although not this one. I would of course like to see things work much more smoothly, and I am by and large rather cost-insensitive but I am really not sure a huge amount of contingency that could end up with people being priced out of flying is actually the right way to go when it comes to convenience issues rather than safety issues (flight disruptions in this circumstance is largely a convenience and commercial issue rather than safety issues).
I actually agree with this post. It is very much a balancing act and one that requires careful assessment by the management team. however, I am making my claim not on whether I agree that it is an acceptable business decision to have a limited de-icing capability at LHR or not. My claim is based purely on whether I am entitled to compensation under the current rules. I believe my cancellation was not weather related and so I believe I am entitled to compensation.
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Old Dec 14, 17, 12:42 pm
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Originally Posted by snaxmuppet View Post
I actually agree with this post. It is very much a balancing act and one that requires careful assessment by the management team. however, I am making my claim not on whether I agree that it is an acceptable business decision to have a limited de-icing capability at LHR or not. My claim is based purely on whether I am entitled to compensation under the current rules. I believe my cancellation was not weather related and so I believe I am entitled to compensation.
​​​​​​​Are you able to set out your claim, establishing the evidential and legal basis?
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Old Dec 14, 17, 12:58 pm
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I donít dispute that you may find a way technically to convince a court that compensation may be due here. However, I think this is a clear example of where the spirit of EC261 hasnít been met. It was established to penalise airlines for delays caused by matters within their control. To say this wasnít weather related seems somewhat disingenuous.

​​​​​​​This is is a good example of increasing compensation culture in the world.
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Old Dec 14, 17, 1:13 pm
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Originally Posted by snaxmuppet View Post
I actually agree with this post. It is very much a balancing act and one that requires careful assessment by the management team. however, I am making my claim not on whether I agree that it is an acceptable business decision to have a limited de-icing capability at LHR or not. My claim is based purely on whether I am entitled to compensation under the current rules. I believe my cancellation was not weather related and so I believe I am entitled to compensation.
Ignore this argument at your peril. Do not assume this is a black and white case, it isnít. The level of de-icing capability will certainly form part of an airlineís defence in such a claim. You must look at all the circumstances of the situation you found yourself in to establish your entitlement to compensation under EC261. Whilst the onus is on the airline to prove the reason for the delay/cancellation you must be ready to rebut their defence. The airline will argue that in all the circumstances of the situation all reasonable measures had been taken.
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Old Dec 14, 17, 2:19 pm
  #584  
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Originally Posted by Corpt View Post
I donít dispute that you may find a way technically to convince a court that compensation may be due here. However, I think this is a clear example of where the spirit of EC261 hasnít been met. It was established to penalise airlines for delays caused by matters within their control. To say this wasnít weather related seems somewhat disingenuous.

This is is a good example of increasing compensation culture in the world.
I didn't say it wasn't weather related... I said weather wasn't the primary cause of my cancellation according to the definition as per EC261. I didn't make up the rules! however, once they are in place then they should be complied with IMO

Can I
set out your claim, establishing the evidential and legal basis?
well... only as well as any non-legal eagle. If I do my research thoroughly then I can't see any reason I couldn't put my case forward clearly.

I haven't yet started to investigate or research. I don't pretend to know the answers now. I may investigate further and decide that I don't have a case and drop it. Right now, with what I know and with my interpretation of what I have read here and elsewhere, I feel I have a pretty good case so I will press on.
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Old Dec 14, 17, 2:27 pm
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Being caught up in Irrops is a frustrating - indeed frequently lousy - experience but it will always happen and sometimes you just have to get on with it, especially when weather related. Seeking compensation seems a little over the top.
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