"Airport Restrictions"

Old Dec 3, 19, 2:40 pm
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"Airport Restrictions"

We flew Southwest SFO-LAX on Sunday night. Our flight was delayed for three hours due to "airport restrictions." They could not tell us what the restrictions were, and they told us that we could not wait the three hours in an airport lounge because they might change their minds and leave at any minute. And we would be left behind if they left early and we were not waiting at the gate. What are "airport restrictions," and is this normal in the event of delays on Southwest? I've never had this kind of situation before on any other airline.
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Old Dec 3, 19, 2:52 pm
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Was SFO socked in with heavy fog? If the fog clears they might decide to take the opportunity and depart with little advance notice.
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Old Dec 3, 19, 3:02 pm
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From KPIX News:

"SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A potent storm triggered major delays at San Francisco International early Sunday as thousands attempted to return back to the Bay Area from Thanksgiving celebrations.

The FAA reported delays of more than four hours for some SFO flights as storms continued to wreak havoc with travel not only in the Bay Area but also in the Midwest and along the East Coast.

SFO was suffering the brunt of the weather delays with both San Jose and Oakland reporting flights impacted by the storm back east.

A ground control delay was in effect for SFO because of high winds."

A departure time assigned under a ground delay program CAN be changed at any moment, both pushed further back or moved up.
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Old Dec 3, 19, 3:04 pm
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Guessing something with weather or some other ground issue restricting plane movement. Sometimes on tarmac, sometimes entire airport.
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Old Dec 3, 19, 3:04 pm
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Old Dec 3, 19, 3:08 pm
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Iím amazed the OP has never seen this with any other airline. Airport ground delays happen all the time for many reasons.

Any airline will push back ASAP if given the chance because the delay can be easily reimposed.
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Old Dec 3, 19, 3:57 pm
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OP has 2.5 MM on AA and has never seen ATC restrictions applied, especially in Northern California? Is the luckiest person around.

Absolutely routine for traffic management programs to be imposed and very much the norm for those to be lifted early if they can be. The second the carrier receives the clearance, the aircraft is loaded and you are off.

Up to you if you want to wander, but you do so at your own peril.
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Old Dec 3, 19, 4:01 pm
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OP can’t be serious re not having experienced this before.
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Old Dec 3, 19, 4:27 pm
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Par for the course with WN ops these days, surprised they didnít cancel every single West Coast flight for the entire week ďout of an abundance of cautionĒ.
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Old Dec 3, 19, 6:29 pm
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Originally Posted by Peoriaman1 View Post
Was SFO socked in with heavy fog? If the fog clears they might decide to take the opportunity and depart with little advance notice.
No, weather was clear. There had been some rain about 5 hours earlier, but it had cleared up by 8 pm. Also, usually with that kind of issue, they give the excuse of "weather" as a reason for the delay, so that they don't have to pay compensation.
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Old Dec 3, 19, 6:32 pm
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I have seen weather delays before, but they always call it "weather," never "airport restrictions, but we don't know anything else."
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Old Dec 3, 19, 6:52 pm
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Originally Posted by Hoc View Post
I have seen weather delays before, but they always call it "weather," never "airport restrictions, but we don't know anything else."
Look on the FAA website on any day when there is significant lousy weather in one or more areas and you will see a schematic map of the US showing those airports with restrictions - traffic management programs or even ground stops.
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Old Dec 3, 19, 11:53 pm
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One thing that doesn't quite add up is that there was a GDP at SFO. However, usually the "situation could change and be moved up or back" is limited to a GDP at your arrival airport, not the departure airport, and the OP was departing SFO. For departures at a GDP airport, the limiting factors are usually the arrival of the plane (predictable at least 45 minutes out, plus turnaround time, so he has at least an hour warning) and the conga line (doesn't affect boarding). So the explanation doesn't quite fit the situation. Did LAX maybe have a GDP as well?

Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
OP has 2.5 MM on AA and has never seen ATC restrictions applied, especially in Northern California? Is the luckiest person around.
.
Never had that level of status, so I'm just spitballing, but maybe AA allows you to use the Admirals lounge when you have a flight on a GDP because they will be able to notify you easily? Southwest, which doesn't have branded lounges, doesn't have that luxury.
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Old Dec 4, 19, 2:31 am
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Originally Posted by Hoc View Post
No, weather was clear. There had been some rain about 5 hours earlier, but it had cleared up by 8 pm. Also, usually with that kind of issue, they give the excuse of "weather" as a reason for the delay, so that they don't have to pay compensation.
Clear weather doesn't mean there aren't weather conditions affecting air travel. As noted by other folks, there was significant wind happening. That's generally enough to wreak havoc at many airports.

Aside from high winds, extreme temperatures that can happen during clear weather can result in disruptions to air travel. Being too hot or too cold can create problems for specific aircraft or even entire airports.
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Old Dec 4, 19, 6:03 am
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Originally Posted by dblumenhoff View Post
One thing that doesn't quite add up is that there was a GDP at SFO. However, usually the "situation could change and be moved up or back" is limited to a GDP at your arrival airport, not the departure airport, and the OP was departing SFO. For departures at a GDP airport, the limiting factors are usually the arrival of the plane (predictable at least 45 minutes out, plus turnaround time, so he has at least an hour warning) and the conga line (doesn't affect boarding). So the explanation doesn't quite fit the situation. Did LAX maybe have a GDP as well?



Never had that level of status, so I'm just spitballing, but maybe AA allows you to use the Admirals lounge when you have a flight on a GDP because they will be able to notify you easily? Southwest, which doesn't have branded lounges, doesn't have that luxury.
1. I would not read too much into the use of the term "airport restrictions." That is simply something the GA used to explain that the delay was not within WN's control. In fact, was more than likely an FAA delay, but that is irrelevant. It is entirely possible that there were delays at SFO, enroute, or at LAX or any combination of these. Again, irrelevant. Those delays also come and go and when there is a release, it is up to the carrier to board the aircraft and push.

2. It is not that carriers, whether AA or others, allow passengers to leave the gate area or not, it is that they advise that if the hold is released, the aircraft will board and depart. It is a personal judgment call and a matter of risk tolerance whether one really sits at a gate for 3 hours.
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