Holding for connects

Old Feb 10, 10, 8:58 pm
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Holding for connects

I have a friend that was scheduled to fly YX from MSN to RSW with a connection in MKE on Tuesday of this week. Her flight ended up cancelling out of MSN due to weather, which was totally understandable due to the snowstorm in Wisconsin. She was then rebooked out of MSN for this mornings flight to RSW. Upon arrival at the gate in MSN, she is told that the they are having trouble with the power on the aircraft and the flight will probably be delayed. After a brief period the aircraft was fixed and the flight left MSN. The aircraft landed in MKE at approx 0700 which should've been enough time for her to make the 0710 flight to RSW. You would think that wouldn't be a problem, now wouldn't you? She then proceeded to wait 20 minutes on the aircraft until a gate agent pulled the jetway up to the aircraft. Upon arrival at the RSW gate, she was told that the fight had already left. I won't go into any further details, but suffice it to say, the situation got worse and she is back in MSN, waiting to try one last time tomorrow. Now, let me start out by saying, I understand the difficulty of deciding to hold or not hold for connects. I worked for more than 20 years at the original Midwest Express/Airlines and had been involved in many of those decisions. There are a lot of variables that have to be considered when deciding to hold or not hold and you make some good decisions and some bad. In this case, there is absolutely not one good reason to not wait for the 4 passengers on this flight. Apparently, from what I have been told by folks that still work as CSR's and Flight Attendants, that all Republic cares about is having the flight depart on-time. The statement was also made this morning that Republic routinely rebooks 200 passengers or more a day out of MKE due to misconnects. This tells me one thing. Republic does not have a clue on how to run a branded operation.
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Old Feb 10, 10, 9:20 pm
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Original Midwest didn't have to provided its ontime performance numbers to the DOT because of its size. Now that Midwest is apart of the Republic Airways Holdings family RAH now has to report its ontime numbers to the DOT. Republic also has to maintain a certain ontime performance for its entire operation (all companies) as part of its contracted flying.

Yes Republic cares about the ontime performance and it is drilled into all of us. I can remember the only MidWest trip I ever worked was before we purchased them. On every leg the GA held every flight one for over 35 minutes for someone not even checked in. Those days are gone and don't expect it anymore. Why is it a bad thing that an airline strives to have ontime every time?
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Old Feb 11, 10, 1:54 am
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Originally Posted by truths88 View Post
In this case, there is absolutely not one good reason to not wait for the 4 passengers on this flight.
What about the 95 other passengers on the flight?

What about the 99 passengers on the return leg who would be in danger of missing their connection?

What about the rest of the days flights scheduled for that aircraft?

Sometimes when we are the one adversely affected it is hard to see the airline's big picture. Weather conditions in many parts of the country are bad this week, flights are delayed, sometimes plans just go to heck in a bucket.
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Old Feb 11, 10, 4:36 am
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Originally Posted by truths88 View Post
Apparently, from what I have been told by folks that still work as CSR's and Flight Attendants, that all Republic cares about is having the flight depart on-time. The statement was also made this morning that Republic routinely rebooks 200 passengers or more a day out of MKE due to misconnects. This tells me one thing. Republic does not have a clue on how to run a branded operation.
Oh please. Not another former Midwest employee casting about for reasons to bash Republic.

Welcome to the present day when all airlines send their planes off on-time ( what a novel idea)
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Old Feb 11, 10, 5:58 am
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I can offer person experience that there is not a blanket "never hold for connects" policy. Since December

My MKE-GRR flight, according to the gate agent, was held for LAS connects
My MKE-FNT flight, according to the F/A, was held waiting for LAX connects.
The morning MKE-LAX flight (at a gate adjacent to my flight) was held for connects from MSN according to the gate agent.
My FNT-MKE delayed flight had connects for MSP which was held fo rhte.

The assumption in the story of your friend's misfortune is that your friend missed her connection because Republic willfully decided to not hold the plane for just a couple of minutes to catch those passengers. That could easily not be the case.

If the mechancial delay out of MSN was estimated to be longer, there might have been a decision not to hold based on the MSN flight getting to Milwaukee much later. And because MSN-MKE is so short, if it ended up launching earlier than expected, it might have been missed.

Perhaps more likely, the word was that MSN's mechanical delay was resolved and would be minima at mostl, and there wasn't a hold order because there shouldn't have beeen a problem. The mechanical issue in MSN might well have been reported at 5:15 or earlier, and when it was diagnosed and resolved pretty quickly, the assumption was probably that Madison was okay. But paperwork on the mx issue might have delayed their actual departure some, then (accordingly to Midwest's FLIFO) it took a full 45 minutes to go MSN-MKE, and then (according to the passenger report) it was 20 minutes to get a jetway. All those individual episodes of "sluggishness" combine to make a missed connection out of what should have been doable.

Missed connections due to sluggishness that should have been "good" are hardly uncommon. It's not a matter of willfully decising not to hold -- it's a matter of recgonizing the need to hold. And on a day like yesterday when the east coast flights are all cancelled or delayed, there is plenty of chaos going around. The MSN-MKE flight shows arriving at D46, which is not normal for an ERJ, and suggests that they were having a hard time with where to put all the planes -- probably the reason for the long delay.

The long time for a jetway and subsequent missed connections were Midwest's screw up...without a doubt. But I really think the reason for the missed connection is something other than "Midwest doesn't hold flights". I have four personal experiences since December saying they...at least sometimes...still do.

Bummer about your friend not getting a different RSW flight yesterday. Were all airlines full, or would they not put her on another carrier? Was she a revenue passenger? How did she get back to MSN?

Last edited by knope2001; Feb 11, 10 at 6:05 am
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Old Feb 11, 10, 6:27 am
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I overheard a couple of gate agents at MKE talking about how they can't hold flights like they use to. I have to say that a couple of Frontier flights that I was on we waited in DEN for connecting flights but no more than 10 minutes each time. I didn't see any new people board the aircraft so I assume they missed their connection. DEN is a much larger hub and they can accommodate people that miss their connections easily. MKE is a different story and I understand the gate agent's frustration there. I would think that YX could have rebooked your friend on a Delta flight to RSW.
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Old Feb 11, 10, 7:52 am
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Frankly, I'm glad that Republic is starting to focus on improving the on-time performance of its MKE operation. This is something Midwest has struggled with over the years.

As others have mentioned, you can't simply focus on the few passengers who may mis-connect. The majority of passengers on Midwest are O&D and are also affected a great deal by Republic's decision to hold flights. I've had numerous flights delayed an hour or more because Midwest decided to accommodate a handful of passengers. Usually these situations occurred with the last flights of the day, but it became a major irritation when time after time you had flight scheduled to leave between 9:30 pm and 9:45 pm actually departing at 11:00 pm or later.
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Old Feb 11, 10, 8:02 am
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Originally Posted by BlueHorseShoe2000 View Post
Frankly, I'm glad that Republic is starting to focus on improving the on-time performance of its MKE operation. This is something Midwest has struggled with over the years.

As others have mentioned, you can't simply focus on the few passengers who may mis-connect. The majority of passengers on Midwest are O&D and are also affected a great deal by Republic's decision to hold flights. I've had numerous flights delayed an hour or more because Midwest decided to accommodate a handful of passengers. Usually these situations occurred with the last flights of the day, but it became a major irritation when time after time you had flight scheduled to leave between 9:30 pm and 9:45 pm actually departing at 11:00 pm or later.
Great points, Blue. As a traveler based at MKE, I am usually on a nonstop flight and actually prefer that they don't hold for late connects. What a spoiled brat I am.
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Old Feb 11, 10, 8:04 am
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I don't think this is unique to Republic/Midwest. Perhaps we all became accustomed to the "personalized" , "small-town" experience that was the old Midwest.

It is very frustrating when it appears that CSRs and gate agents are not empowered to make these decisions. Often on the old Northwest I have seen them (dispatch, CSRs. gate or a combo. of all three) delay the last flight of the day, 30-45 minutes to await connecting passengers.

It would also seem not unreasonable to hold a flight 10-15 minutes to wait for a connecting pax. when the result would be a 24 hour wait for the next flight.
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Old Feb 11, 10, 9:53 am
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Originally Posted by hazelrah View Post
It is very frustrating when it appears that CSRs and gate agents are not empowered to make these decisions.
Unfortunately that would be chaos if it was up to the CSR to hold or not. They take the blame for the delay (not operational control) if they go out on their own.

What CSR's can do...and some do when they have the time...is be aware of where their missing passengers are coming from. They can check flight information to see what the inbound flight status is, call ops or the arrival gate to see if that flight has parked and/or deplaned, etc. This can help the CSR make a better informed decision on exactly when to go with what they have or keep paging. Gate agents working an inbound can also, when they are aware, call the departing gate to let them know they have a runner.

Missed connections are always an issue, and the decision to hold or not hold is a very imperfect one which usually looks clearer in hindsight.


Originally Posted by bluehorseshoe
Frankly, I'm glad that Republic is starting to focus on improving the on-time performance of its MKE operation. This is something Midwest has struggled with over the years.
Midwest seems to have had something of a culture for years which translated into late boarding, slow aircraft turns, and generally sluggish operations. I know that this kind of stuff was tracked and focused on again and again over the years, but even in recent times it wasn't uncommon to make the first pre-boarding call for a mainline flight less than 20 minutes before scheduled departure when there was no external reason for the delay. These days it's not uncommon to hear missing passenger pages 15 minutes or more before scheduled departure, especially in the morning block. That's not a bad thing, but I'm sure it's a change for many long-time agents who are expected to have everybody on board earlier than they used to.
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Old Feb 11, 10, 10:50 am
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Originally Posted by knope2001 View Post
Midwest seems to have had something of a culture for years which translated into late boarding, slow aircraft turns, and generally sluggish operations. I know that this kind of stuff was tracked and focused on again and again over the years, but even in recent times it wasn't uncommon to make the first pre-boarding call for a mainline flight less than 20 minutes before scheduled departure when there was no external reason for the delay. These days it's not uncommon to hear missing passenger pages 15 minutes or more before scheduled departure, especially in the morning block. That's not a bad thing, but I'm sure it's a change for many long-time agents who are expected to have everybody on board earlier than they used to.
Spot on, knope. I have switched a lot of my flying to AirTran, and I'm always surprised by the earlier boarding. It's not that AirTran is boarding any earlier than anyone else (they're not)...I guess I always just got used to the later boarding procedures. I'm now getting to the airport earlier than I used to to account for this.

Regardless of the carrier, it's always nice to have an on-time departure. When you factor in all of the circumstances that have to come together behind the scenes to have a flight actually depart on time, it's amazing that *any* flight actually makes it to the destination on time, let alone get there early, which has happened to me quite a bit recently.
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Old Feb 11, 10, 4:40 pm
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Originally Posted by truths88 View Post
The statement was also made this morning that Republic routinely rebooks 200 passengers or more a day out of MKE due to misconnects. This tells me one thing.
This is a false statement. On a normal day they may INVOL or FIM less than 5 pax due to issues. The number is of course higher when weather/mx related issues arise.

The MSN gate agent should have been aware of the circumstances with the mx problem and with the gate situation in MKE. One call to Milwaukee to find out if there were issues with the gate would have allowed the gate agent a better understanding of how to accommodate the passenger. Since the flight was originally delayed with a mx issue and there are no other flights to RSW on Midwest from MKE, the agent should have rerouted her on another airline, given there was space open.

Is Madison a Midwest station or is it outsourced? I thought it was handled by someone other than Midwest. Miscommunication could have played a role as well.

An airline can't hold a plane for connecting passengers that may be delayed, who knows how long they may be delayed for, therefore potentially timing out pilots and delaying the rest of the flights the aircraft has to make during the day. The issue should be addressed at the departing station if the agents are made aware of a problem that may delay the flight. It seems MSN didn't want to address the issue and wanted MKE to handle the problem.
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Old Feb 11, 10, 7:19 pm
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Originally Posted by hazelrah View Post
I

It is very frustrating when it appears that CSRs and gate agents are not empowered to make these decisions. O
You're so funny!! Let CSRs rule the airspace. Ha Ha!
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Old Feb 11, 10, 7:36 pm
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Originally Posted by flyYX View Post
I overheard a couple of gate agents at MKE talking about how they can't hold flights like they use to.
Gate agents do not "hold" flights. Gate agents receive "connect shells" from OPS via a printout. Ops are in charge, not gate agents. Do you really think that persons earning less than $10 are "empowered" to control US airspace?

Yes, gate agents may be dismayed that "they" can't hold, but it is certainly never their decision. In this new era of YX/F9, there is a much tighter level of accountability on the part of GAs. And if you listen to their radios, it is Go Go GO!
Be nice to them. They are at their wits end
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Old Feb 11, 10, 7:49 pm
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Originally Posted by YX/AP View Post
Gate agents do not "hold" flights. Gate agents receive "connect shells" from OPS via a printout. Ops are in charge, not gate agents. Do you really think that persons earning less than $10 are "empowered" to control US airspace?

Yes, gate agents may be dismayed that "they" can't hold, but it is certainly never their decision. In this new era of YX/F9, there is a much tighter level of accountability on the part of GAs. And if you listen to their radios, it is Go Go GO!
Be nice to them. They are at their wits end
I didn't mean to imply that gate agents ran the whole show including Ops. I think the gate agent's frustration was dealing with more people that missed their connection especially if the plane is still there at the gate but boarding is over and the door is closed.
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