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How do they decide when to hold a plane for late connections?

How do they decide when to hold a plane for late connections?

Old Dec 23, 17, 6:57 pm
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How do they decide when to hold a plane for late connections?

There appears to be no consistency as to when a departure is delayed in order to wait for connecting passengers. I have missed connections by a matter of minutes, yet I have waited on the plane for over an hour for others. Just curious about the criteria.
Does anyone know?
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Old Dec 23, 17, 7:03 pm
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Originally Posted by mlbmlb View Post
There appears to be no consistency as to when a departure is delayed in order to wait for connecting passengers. I have missed connections by a matter of minutes, yet I have waited on the plane for over an hour for others. Just curious about the criteria.
Does anyone know?
Not sure this helps, but my experience too.

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Old Dec 23, 17, 7:07 pm
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I am not sure if AC or any other airline has an internal policy on holding flight, but I can think of the following considerations my self:

1. How many people (and their status, fares) will be affected. Having 50 passenger connecting is generally more important than only 1 passenger.

2. What's the load of the connecting flight. If the flight has space then it's better to wait for a bit.

3. What options are available to rebook passengers. If there are frequent flights with empty space, then probably no need to wait.

4. Is there any curfew restrictions at the airport. If yes then waiting for a few minute may result a delay of many hours, so probably not worth it.

The bottom line is, airlines try to maximize profits and minimize loss.
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Old Dec 23, 17, 7:10 pm
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When I was based in Saskatoon (YXE) would regularly fly through Calgary. It was fairly regular to see the YYC-YXE flight held for a few minutes for connecting passangers from London or Frankfurt.

I suspect that YXE was an outstation and could turn the aircraft quickly if needed was a consideration.
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Old Dec 23, 17, 7:17 pm
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One time flying DL to FAI via SLC and ANC, we were late taking off from SLC. I was worried about missing my ANC-FAI connection as it was the last plane of the night to FAI.
I fretted to the passenger sitting next to me, who was a pilot, about my fear of being stranded overnight in ANC.
He told me not to worry. they'd hold the plane.
Why I asked?
Because he was the pilot flying for that flight.

As I boarded that plane in ANC, over an hour late, everyone looked at me with daggers for eyes, as they wondered what made me so special that they had had to sit in that aircraft for over an hour just waiting for me.
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Old Dec 23, 17, 8:37 pm
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Originally Posted by songsc View Post
I am not sure if AC or any other airline has an internal policy on holding flight, but I can think of the following considerations my self:

1. How many people (and their status, fares) will be affected. Having 50 passenger connecting is generally more important than only 1 passenger.

2. What's the load of the connecting flight. If the flight has space then it's better to wait for a bit.

3. What options are available to rebook passengers. If there are frequent flights with empty space, then probably no need to wait.

4. Is there any curfew restrictions at the airport. If yes then waiting for a few minute may result a delay of many hours, so probably not worth it.

The bottom line is, airlines try to maximize profits and minimize loss.
5. Crew duty hours.

Originally Posted by wxman22 View Post
One time flying DL to FAI via SLC and ANC, we were late taking off from SLC. I was worried about missing my ANC-FAI connection as it was the last plane of the night to FAI.
I fretted to the passenger sitting next to me, who was a pilot, about my fear of being stranded overnight in ANC.
He told me not to worry. they'd hold the plane.
Why I asked?
Because he was the pilot flying for that flight.

As I boarded that plane in ANC, over an hour late, everyone looked at me with daggers for eyes, as they wondered what made me so special that they had had to sit in that aircraft for over an hour just waiting for me.
Haha I remember a late arriving xxx-YOW connecting to YYZ. They had a golf cart out for @drunk Cargo and I, with a concierge waiting and everything. We got to the next gate, and the GA said "slow down - the pilots aren't here yet".

We were the last passengers on board by at least 10 minutes. And then we sat and waited another 30 for the pilots.
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Old Dec 23, 17, 9:12 pm
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Might depend on airport and loads. If you are at YXE waiting a few mins may not have an impact, if you are at LHR and miss your spot itís often quite a wait for another. In my limited experience.
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Old Dec 23, 17, 9:15 pm
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Originally Posted by jc94 View Post
Might depend on airport and loads. If you are at YXE waiting a few mins may not have an impact, if you are at LHR and miss your spot itís often quite a wait for another. In my limited experience.
Also if there are alternatives available for connecting passengers.

Also if it's the last leg of the day and the plane will overnight at destination, so that there is no snowball effect.
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Old Dec 23, 17, 11:47 pm
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Originally Posted by Stranger View Post
Also if there are alternatives available for connecting passengers.

Also if it's the last leg of the day and the plane will overnight at destination, so that there is no snowball effect.
Is a hotel room the kind of alternative you were thinking about?

The latter is a rational reason, just not sure if it isn't overridden by things like "there are standby passengers we can fill this plane with and get on our way".
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Old Dec 23, 17, 11:51 pm
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interested in this topic as well. following
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Old Dec 24, 17, 12:18 am
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Originally Posted by robsaw View Post
Is a hotel room the kind of alternative you were thinking about?
Not at all.
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Old Dec 24, 17, 12:27 am
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After 2000 flights in the US and now at least 300 Air Canada flights, I see a huge contrast. In the US I almost always see flights held for connecting pax when the airline would otherwise have to pay for a hotel. (I am OFTEN inconvenienced by this). I can say that every time I have ever seen AC hold a flight it has just been 'dumb luck". Maintenance, boarding delay, waiting on crew, inbound plane was late, a late pax with checked bags already onboard, or deep cleaning. (one of those reasons may be a joke).

Even the concierges, running with Super Elites, are convinced they are nearly powerless besides 'trying to make it.' I did have one recent incident where the gate agent told a concierge she would give us ONE extra minute if she radioed the gate after we ran past a certain point.

My take is they are all doing their jobs, with clear boundaries to their work duties and what they can/cannot do.

I also suspect there is a deeper issue than AC wanting to be punctual.... Maybe crew rest times at the destination are kept as short as legally possible, or maybe pilot unions have negotiated a best efforts basis of keeping their rest time in tact.
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Last edited by expert7700; Dec 24, 17 at 12:32 am
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Old Dec 24, 17, 8:19 am
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The algorithm is very simple.
If my arriving flight is late, my connecting flight will not be held.
If I have a tight connection following the flight I am now seated on and awaiting departure,
then this flight will be delayed awaiting late arrivals until just past the time when it would have been
feasible for me to make the connection.
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Old Dec 24, 17, 7:14 pm
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One time going from YOW-YYZ-NRT, there was a cancellation on the YOW-YYZ portion. A 2MM colleague and I were put on a flight an hour earlier, while another colleague was put on a flight an hour later to YYZ.

The two of us boarded AC 001 and waited for our colleague, who then informed us he had just landed in YYZ domestic. Then the doors closed. Apparently there were around 10 misconnects coming from YOW. We needed this colleague for a meeting the next day in Tokyo, so we spoke with the SD. The SD went to the Captain, who came and spoke to us - he said as we are long time SE's and both MM, he would reopen the door for our colleague. Our colleague then boarded the flight , the doors closed again rights away and we stranded the other connecting PAX in YYZ.

I am still blown away to this day that the Captain would make the exception.
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Old Dec 24, 17, 7:46 pm
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Originally Posted by Plumber View Post
the doors closed again rights away and we stranded the other connecting PAX in YYZ.
That must be real sad for other connecting pax.

ssuming other passengers were running with your colleague, boarding the remaining passengers should take 20 seconds at most?
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