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Beware of A320 "non-stop" transcons - added fuel stop makes it a 27 hour odyssey

Beware of A320 "non-stop" transcons - added fuel stop makes it a 27 hour odyssey

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Old Jan 8, 17, 6:18 pm
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Beware of A320 "non-stop" transcons - added fuel stop makes it a 27 hour odyssey

My daughter was booked BOS-SFO on 1/7 which was cancelled, so she was rebooked to #471 BOS-SJC (non-stop) on 1/7. So begins the fun....

1. The A320 on this route does not have the range for a transcon against strong winter winds, so a "fuel stop" was added to the flight with no notice until boarding (this route required a stop 3 days in a row - 1/6, 1/7 and again today 1/8)

2. At the DEN fuel stop there was a mechanical delay...

3. ...which meant the crew timed out and pax were stuck at DEN at 3am. All of this after boarding 11 hours earlier in BOS and spending lots of time on the plane on the ground in BOS then DEN (it was snowing in BOS so they get slack for the ground delay there).

All the above is unfortunate, but I get things happen. But then, all the remaining unpleasantness is entirely under B6's control:

4.Not getting a replacement crew, but simply waiting for the same crew that had timed out to become legal again...resulting in a total of about 18 hours on the ground in DEN including sorting out the mechanical.

5. Not letting pax know this...so the announced likely departure time cascaded from 9am to 11am to 4pm.

6. Refusing to get any checked luggage off the plane so if pax took other flights it would be without their bags.

7.Telling pax "all hotels are sold out so we will not make accommodations or give you hotel vouchers." (apparently some pax were told they could find their own and get reimbursed, but my daughter did not know this). Of course, when I checked this am airport hotels had empty rooms but they were scattered around many airport hotels, so I conclude the DEN B6 staff didn't want to deal with the hassle of dealing with so many properties.

8. Not providing blankets or pillows when asked....or even giving a voucher to buy a sweatshirt when asked. so my daughter (whose other clothing was in checked baggage they would not retrieve) was freezing

9. Giving one meal voucher only ($20) for the 12+ hr ground delay following the 11 hours or so on board (other pax got more, apparently, so no consistency)

10. Not sending departure time or gate updates via text or email as promised, and also not listing the continuing flight on airport screens or even at the departure gate....therefore the flight was even further delayed for passengers who didn't hear the single gate change announcement

Worst service recovery I have seen in a long time. At least the deadpan "we apologize for any inconvenience" announcement by the gate agent before departure made her laugh.

Last edited by outer marker; Jan 8, 17 at 6:52 pm
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Old Jan 9, 17, 4:26 pm
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This is a constant problem for A320 flights in the winter. Here's JFK-OAK, for instance:http://flightaware.com/live/flight/J...118Z/KJFK/KABQ

In my experience they update the flight status to "diverted" about 2 hours prior to departure. Given the nonchalance of people working at most B6 outstations (and hubs too for that matter), not surprised to hear OP's story. I personally switch to an A321 transcon immediately after a diversion posts (i.e. from A320 JFK-OAK to A321 JFK-SFO); I've never seen an A321 require a fuel stop.

Many of these A320 flights have low load factors and still have to make a fuel stop. I suspect this occurs on the older A320s with less powerful engines, but would love to hear from the experts on this. All of the A321s were delivered in the past 3 years so have the newer engines.
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Old Jan 9, 17, 4:48 pm
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Originally Posted by Chantier View Post
Many of these A320 flights have low load factors and still have to make a fuel stop. I suspect this occurs on the older A320s with less powerful engines, but would love to hear from the experts on this. All of the A321s were delivered in the past 3 years so have the newer engines.
The A320 was not originally designed as a transcon range aircraft. It was more of a replacement for older Boeing 727's (mid-con range). So, for the older A320s, transcon is a stretch. The newer ones should be able to make it most of the time, but not always.

When the A320neo comes out, it will make transcons much more reliable. The newer A321s and the A321neo are much more reliable transcon aircraft. However, I must say that Boeing 757s NEVER had this problem. Too bad that Boeing never thought of updating the 757 -- they have lost a ton of sales to Airbus.
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Old Jan 9, 17, 4:49 pm
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More explanation: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/jetbl...ng-refuel.html

Makes sense that IFR weather at the destination would also be a contributing factor. Bay area weather has been atrocious for the past few days.
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Old Jan 9, 17, 4:59 pm
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Originally Posted by formeraa View Post

When the A320neo comes out, it will make transcons much more reliable. The newer A321s and the A321neo are much more reliable transcon aircraft. However, I must say that Boeing 757s NEVER had this problem. Too bad that Boeing never thought of updating the 757 -- they have lost a ton of sales to Airbus.
That's because unfortunately Boeing became too self absorbed for their own good.
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Old Jan 9, 17, 5:11 pm
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With that long of a delay, make sure your daughter ends up with a ton of JetBlue credit deposited in her travelbank for future JetBlue flights. Something good out of the whole situation
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Old Jan 9, 17, 5:30 pm
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edit: nvm
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Old Jan 9, 17, 6:38 pm
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JetBlue definitely dropped the ball here and this was a very poor showing. I hope someone at jetBlue is reading this thread.

The lessons here are
1. Never trust those out stations, (but I have to say my experiences with JetBlue's staffs at Denver were okay...). Denver has more flights, but at most cases, airlines hire third party contractors and these agents are either part time workers or work for multiple airlines (they just change uniforms).

2. Travel insurance is a must these days, and in this case, I will just use apps, like various hotel apps or "Hotel Tonight" and just get a room. Even if JetBlue does not reimburse you, you can at least ask your travel insurance to help out. Plus you don't need to wait in line for vouchers, even if B6 provides it.

I find JetBlue to be a less than realistic (or honest) these days. There is a mechanical in Denver and it is clear that you are going to have to use the same crews for the flight. They know the rules about their hours. They should be able to give passengers a realistic departure time. I doubt that they can fly in a fresh crew from their Long Beach base within a few hours in the middle of the night.

For me, I just want accurate information and honesty, so jetBlue definitely performs badly.

About baggage, I understand why jetBlue can't unload individuals bags, so in this case, as long as jetBlue promises to deliver the baggage to the pax's final destination within 36 hours, I am fine to go with another flight.

We have to remember that JetBlue is a LCC and unless you are Mosaic, you are pretty much on your own. They can't rebook you on another airline.

Carfield
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Old Jan 9, 17, 6:50 pm
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B6 went from 162 --> 156 --> 150 seats in an attempt to reduce weight (increase range) and ultimately to go from 4 required FA to 3 @ 1/50 seats.

B6 though lacking ovens and other legacy galley equipment was always "heavy" as a result of IFE hardware and above average loads.

Their move to go back to 162 seats will only increase tech stops on their legacy 320's WB in the winter.
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Old Jan 9, 17, 9:47 pm
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BOS-SJC tonight just diverted to SLC for the same reason. Adding a nice delay to my SJC-BOS redeye. It already had a 1h mechanical delay leaving Boston which probably added to the fuel issue. But bad weather en route was probably the main culprit.
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Old Jan 10, 17, 5:53 am
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Originally Posted by Chantier View Post
Many of these A320 flights have low load factors and still have to make a fuel stop. I suspect this occurs on the older A320s with less powerful engines, but would love to hear from the experts on this. All of the A321s were delivered in the past 3 years so have the newer engines.
The keyword here is the MTOW (Maximum Takeoff Weight).
To explain it simple, the A320 family has different options.
Some of these include additional tanks and some have a higher or a lower MTOW.
Most of the older A320s have a lower MTOW than some of these new shiny A320-200(Sl).

Back in the days at Spanair (JK) they had the first heavy A321-200 (which were scrapped later due to their condition) with some additional fuel tanks and flew from the canaries to Norway, the baltics etc. and the scheduled flight time was sometimes up to 7:05h or so which was a really long route, especially considering back in the days the Atari didn't had the shiny Sharkys...
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Old Jan 10, 17, 10:31 am
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BOS-SJC has now required a fuel stop for 4 days in a row. Given that this isn't an isolated event, I would have expected Jet Blue to be more prepared.

What I find unforgivable is the lack of timely, accurate information presented to the passengers. If the flight needs to be diverted for fuel, tell people that on the website and on the text/email notifications rather than just at the gate before boarding. I did notice on subsequent days, the diverted flight plan showed up on flightaware well before any mention of the divert on jetblue's platforms. Does anyone know if there are any regulations about timely reporting of known diversions?

Once there was the divert and crew timed out, if JetBlue can't get a new crew I wish they would just tell passengers that so they can make decisions accordingly - rather than the creeping incrementally later incorrect departure times. And post the correct departure time on airport monitors and at the gate.

I also heard from a JetBlue supervisor that sysops did authorize hotel vouchers, but since the DEN staff couldn't accommodate all passengers in a couple of hotels they didn't give them out. The supervisor asked me, "what would you have done?" I suggested they should ask which pax wanted hotels vs. an extra $150 travel bank credit, and accommodate those that wanted hotels, even if they are scattered around all the DEN airport hotels. And give pillows/blankets to the rest.
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Old Jan 10, 17, 5:22 pm
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BOS-SJC is a mess, and I had no clue until my SJC-BOS flight was delayed several hours waiting on that plane to arrive. I only had a few hours in Boston before turning around to fly back so I was watching it very closely to figure out if I'd be able to get my work done or not.

Once I saw it had diverted to SLC, I investigated more and found this thread along with others (this has been going on for years it seems). Seeing that over half of the BOS-SJC flights in the past week have diverted really ticked me off. I typically fly Delta and the sole reason I booked this flight was to get a direct flight into Boston early and minimize chances of delays and misconnects.

One thing I did notice was that as soon as the flight diverted, they updated the arrival time into SJC (and my departure time from SJC) to account for that fuel stop. Unfortunately it took longer in SLC than expected and got into SJC later, pushing the departure back from 12:45am to 1:15am. I think the plane was on the ground at 12:30am in SJC, but the SJC-BOS got pushed back even later and eventually canceled. I'm assuming the crew timed out, but I'm not sure.

Luckily I made the decision to reschedule my travel (incuring change fees and fare differences on my return Delta flight) before I went to the airport. The 10:15pm SJC-BOS kept getting delayed in 30 minute increments as the evening went on. When I woke up I had a few more notifications that it had been delayed until 2am and then ultimately canceled.

Jet Blue has put themselves in a bad position here giving a HIGH likelihood of major delays on a regular basis. On occasional delay is understandable but when it's common and somewhat expected, Jet Blue needs to change something about this.

I wrote in to them to share my thoughts and complaints, so hopefully I get an actual response back. I also took at look at other routes like BOS-OAK/SJC/LGB/LAX/SAN and can see that there are recent diversions there too.

Last edited by roknroll; Jan 10, 17 at 5:28 pm
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Old Jan 10, 17, 5:38 pm
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Just read this thread as I was about to pull the trigger on a FLL-SFO A320 flight in Feb (JBU277 1930 Dep)....looks like only 2 days this month the aircraft actually made it to SFO without diverting - looking at Flightaware, most ended up in PHX or ABQ.

This is making me seriously consider booking with American from MIA instead (albeit with poorer legroom and worse service in Coach but at least I'd get there without a significant risk of diversion).

Any thoughts on this or of any experience on this route? Thanks.

-Mikee-
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Old Jan 11, 17, 12:38 am
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Originally Posted by outer marker View Post
My daughter was booked BOS-SFO on 1/7 which was cancelled, so she was rebooked to #471 BOS-SJC (non-stop) on 1/7. So begins the fun....

1. The A320 on this route does not have the range for a transcon against strong winter winds, so a "fuel stop" was added to the flight with no notice until boarding (this route required a stop 3 days in a row - 1/6, 1/7 and again today 1/8)

2. At the DEN fuel stop there was a mechanical delay...

3. ...which meant the crew timed out and pax were stuck at DEN at 3am. All of this after boarding 11 hours earlier in BOS and spending lots of time on the plane on the ground in BOS then DEN (it was snowing in BOS so they get slack for the ground delay there).

All the above is unfortunate, but I get things happen. But then, all the remaining unpleasantness is entirely under B6's control:

4.Not getting a replacement crew, but simply waiting for the same crew that had timed out to become legal again...resulting in a total of about 18 hours on the ground in DEN including sorting out the mechanical.

5. Not letting pax know this...so the announced likely departure time cascaded from 9am to 11am to 4pm.

6. Refusing to get any checked luggage off the plane so if pax took other flights it would be without their bags.

7.Telling pax "all hotels are sold out so we will not make accommodations or give you hotel vouchers." (apparently some pax were told they could find their own and get reimbursed, but my daughter did not know this). Of course, when I checked this am airport hotels had empty rooms but they were scattered around many airport hotels, so I conclude the DEN B6 staff didn't want to deal with the hassle of dealing with so many properties.

8. Not providing blankets or pillows when asked....or even giving a voucher to buy a sweatshirt when asked. so my daughter (whose other clothing was in checked baggage they would not retrieve) was freezing

9. Giving one meal voucher only ($20) for the 12+ hr ground delay following the 11 hours or so on board (other pax got more, apparently, so no consistency)

10. Not sending departure time or gate updates via text or email as promised, and also not listing the continuing flight on airport screens or even at the departure gate....therefore the flight was even further delayed for passengers who didn't hear the single gate change announcement

Worst service recovery I have seen in a long time. At least the deadpan "we apologize for any inconvenience" announcement by the gate agent before departure made her laugh.
The only difference between your daughter's trip and my BOS-SFO trip home from college was when it happened to me, about half the passengers stuck overnight in Denver came down with food poisoning (maybe the end of airline meals is a good thing ). That was the one and only time I ever flew Continental, and don't ask me what the aircraft was because it was long time ago.

Wait, I just remembered another difference. Before we diverted to Denver for the mechanical, we had an emergency fuel stop somewhere at a closed airport in the midwest - Omaha, maybe - and sat there for 3 hours while the airline called somebody in from home to refuel the plane.

After that I made all my transcons NW SFO-MSP-BOS, or vice versa, and never had another delay. I still miss NW...
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