LH434 service to somewhere in North America

Old Jun 29, 13, 1:27 pm
  #1  
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Angry LH434 service to somewhere in North America

Theoretically LH434 flies from MUC to ORD, but there have been three diversions inside of two weeks (DTW, MKE, YYZ)! Naturally the delays on the outbound LH435 get pretty bad in this case, as I found out on Monday night (three hours late). A week earlier a colleague had it worse. Two days ago LH decided to visit YYZ on the way to ORD.

I can't speak for the other diversions, but I was flying myself in to connect to LH435 on June 24th about the time the inbound LH434 would have been over Lake Michigan (my destination was KPWK, a short taxi ride from ORD). The weather in question was a nasty quall line, but fast moving and ATC was cooperative with our request to route to the north around it into KPWK. We had no problem choosing a safe route using a combination of XM satellite and on board radar. I doubt ORD approaches could have been limited for more than 15 minutes as it was a fast moving line. I heard a lot of ORD inbound holding and vectoring on the radio, but not many diversion requests.

Maybe SCORE is putting pressure on LH dispatch and crews to fly with insufficient fuel to handle lengthy holds? Or a new policy to divert rather than wait it out in a hold? At any rate, holding for an hour would equal an hour delay and would have been infinitely better as a passenger than three hours after the diversion to MKE. Anyone from LH here who knows anything? Three weather-related diversions inside of two weeks on LH434 is pretty bad considering thunderstorm activity is perfectly normal in this part of the country this time of year. I've flown LH434/435 a couple of times per year for the past 20 years or so and I've never seen anything like this. Sure, an occasional diversion, but three times in two weeks??? It looks like discount airline fuel loading to me.

I believe LH435 was the last transatlantic to depart that evening (better said early the next morning). Everyone else, including United, seemed to be getting out with maybe an hour or so delay.

I wrote a complaint to LH customer service and received a quick reply, but it was full of BS like claiming the delay was related to weather in Orlando (!) and that ATC "ordered" the diversion (!). I'm a CPL and aircraft owner with 33 years and over 2000 hours of experience, and I've experienced ATC "strongly recommending" a diversion only twice, both times due to low ceilings and visibility that had no chance of clearing. Normally with capacity temporarily limited due to thunderstorms they just assign the pilot a hold, with an expect further clearance (EFC) time. It's up to the pilot to decide whether to divert if he's unable (fuel) or unwilling to hold that long.
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Old Jun 29, 13, 1:50 pm
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I see why diversions are frustrating, but I fail to see (based on your post) that you have any first-hand knowledge about the actual reason for each of these diversions - and then you speculate around a bit and jump to the conclusion of "discount airline fuel loading".



And yes, the reply from customer services is mostly rubbish. Now if that was something new, I would appreciate your surprise about that. Then again...
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Old Jun 29, 13, 3:10 pm
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I'll trust the judgement of an LH Captain at any given point in time versus that of an upset passenger.
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Old Jun 29, 13, 5:30 pm
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Does OP have any facts or is this just a rant because he's upset?

If he's got facts, let's see them.

I would just as soon land safely at another airport than crash short of my scheduled destination.
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Old Jun 29, 13, 5:52 pm
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I've had to divert on flights from AUS-DFW before, a flight of maybe 200 miles, due to weather. Storms happen, ATC gets burdened, you divert. I'll defer to the Captain in these matters and curse Mother Nature, not the airline.
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Old Jun 29, 13, 8:17 pm
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Originally Posted by Rambuster View Post
I'll trust the judgement of an LH Captain at any given point in time versus that of an upset passenger.
Exactly. AF crash at YYZ when all the other flights diverted due to the severity of the storm is all the reason I need to err on the side of caution.
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Old Jun 30, 13, 1:03 am
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Originally Posted by Crampedin13A View Post
Exactly. AF crash at YYZ when all the other flights diverted due to the severity of the storm is all the reason I need to err on the side of caution.
Was that policy or judgement?

I know that some airlines including LH (one of the few aspects of LH, I really, really like) let the captains always lean on the safe side. But other such as SQ pace them through all kind of weather to meet the schedule.

While the captain is temporarily in charge they are of course not captain much longer of they do not implement management's policies. As bad as they are ...
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Old Jun 30, 13, 1:47 am
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I didn't see the OP's message as a criticism of the crew or captain, but rather a criticism of LH for (speculated) under-provisioning of fuel, (speculated) company policy to prefer diversion over holding, and an unlikely explanation from customer service.
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Old Jun 30, 13, 2:40 am
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Originally Posted by justageek View Post
I didn't see the OP's message as a criticism of the crew or captain
I don't either. Some of the responses generated are pompous beyond belief.

Originally Posted by justageek View Post
but rather a criticism of LH for (speculated) under-provisioning of fuel, (speculated) company policy to prefer diversion over holding, and an unlikely explanation from customer service.
I would further add that just about all of the speculation I can find in the OP is clearly marked as speculation.

So at a frequent flyer forum, apparently you're not allowed to tell a story about your diversion, ask what might have caused it, and include some speculative answers which are clearly labelled as such.

And here I was thinking the UA part of the board was uptight ...
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Old Jun 30, 13, 2:40 am
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That's another example of how any (perceived!) criticism of LH results in immediate bashing of the "offender" instead of discussing the matter at hand.

I think it's very interesting to understand why LH decided to divert even though most other airlines seemed to have decided to hold. I doubt it has to do with fuel savings because an additional takeoff and landing will most likely use much more fuel than could be safed by avoiding 15-30 minutes of hold time. Of course, if the fuel level had already been low at that time, it would have been SAFER to divert rather than risk an extension of the hold pattern.

We don't know why, and it would be interesting to discuss possible reasons, rather than criticizing the fact that the OP brings this question forward, or implying that one shouldn't mention how bad customer support responses are because that fact was already known.

HTB.
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Old Jun 30, 13, 2:59 am
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I am not defending LH in any way. Nonetheless, my point is: If you want a serious discussion of a matter, cut the "evil masterplan" speculation and the ranting -and provide a good basis for a discussion instead.

If that is "uptight", then I guess I am uptight.
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Old Jun 30, 13, 3:11 am
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The OP is speculating and the post has some emotional aspects. The other posts in reply are not pompous or dismissive...just responding with their own opinion. What is the problem? Since when are these replies "defending" LH and not allowing commentary?
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Old Jun 30, 13, 4:14 am
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I'm just looking for some feedback as to whether others here who fly LH more often than my once a month or so have noticed a similar increase in weather diversions. Ideal would be a clear statement from LH.

I think most of us are aware of how much weather related diversions and low fuel emergencies have increased the last few years in busy places like the northeast corridor as some carriers are flying with little more than legal fuel minimums. Years ago Pan Am had frequent Goose Bay diversions in their last few weeks of existence anytime things got busy around New York or the west winds over the Atlantic were stronger than forecast due to insufficient fuel loads to handle these situations.

I'm not criticizing the flight crew's judgment at all. They can only work within the policies of their employer.

Carrying extra fuel beyond legal minimums (which include diversion to an alternate after a missed approach at the original destination) is expensive, especially on a long flight. But it's something I'd expect from a customer-oriented national flag carrier and don't mind paying a few extra dollars on my ticket for. Pre-9/11 I had the opportunity to ride in the jumpseat on many flights, and remember seeing generous remaining fuel loads after landing on LH compared to some carriers. Of course this costs money, and in an era where airlines are starting to look at exactly how many bottles of wine and drink cans they load it is a very tempting way to save money.

Three diversions of the same flight in two weeks is pretty bad, and even LH admits that the first two were due to weather. This is Chicago, not Aspen!

I have no information about Thursday's diversion into YYZ, but it appears to also be weather related as they turned around and headed back east to YYZ with a fair amount of thunderstorm activity all along lower Lake Michigan and most probably significant holding required for any flight inbound to ORD.
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Old Jun 30, 13, 4:22 am
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The OP is reporting something strange that he has observed and wants a discussion. Of course he speculates about possible reasons. Of course he's frustrated. What's the point of replying if the reply only points out these facts, dismisses the complaint because "there are no facts", or "trusts the pilot any day". Great discussion I call it defending and bashing.

HTB.
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Old Jun 30, 13, 8:13 am
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Originally Posted by htb View Post
..What's the point of replying if the reply only points out these facts, dismisses the complaint because "there are no facts", or "trusts the pilot any day". Great discussion I call it defending and bashing..
They are by no means the same.

I blame LH for all kind of things but have very little grounds to doubt the pilots. Unlike the management which lies no matter what they say. And while tersely worded, the interjection is a valid one IMO.

Now for the knee jerk mantra on facts, I am 100% with you. If a pattern repeats, it is a statistical fact. But many FTers who are (or act) statistically challenged cannot see it as such and only take airline announcements and 'insider' propaganda as gospel. Not very helpful.
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