Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > Airlines and Mileage Programs > United Airlines | MileagePlus
Reload this Page >

Gate Shortage at LAX Results in Remote Pad Parking and Passenger Disembarkment

Gate Shortage at LAX Results in Remote Pad Parking and Passenger Disembarkment

Old Oct 16, 12, 1:49 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: MLB
Posts: 445
Gate Shortage at LAX Results in Remote Pad Parking and Passenger Disembarkment

So I had a new experience that defies any excuse. Was on MCO-LAX tonight with a connection to LAX-SFO. Clear night, nice weather, no traffic, perfect night for an on-time flight. Left MCO on time, landed at LAX on time...except landed with no gate available at 9:30 PM. So we sat out there for over an hour waiting for a gate to clear...but no planes were moving...until they started towing planes from the gates...which were sitting empty and parked overnight at inactive gates. We finally parked and I ran to my SFO gate, walking up at 10:45 for a 10:45 departure...except the plane was already turning to head towards the taxiway. The gate agent claimed they waited as long as they could but didn't want to hold the flight for 4 people. The flight left early, at 10:42, according to the UA website. He also declined to help me and directed me to the customer service station. Stood in line for 20 minutes at the service desk while 3 agents tried to help people...and not a single one of them actually finished. Meanwhile a supervisor was standing around to reassure people that help was coming...but not actually helping anyone. At the 2 gates next to us, a total of 7 gate agents stood around doing nothing and/or goofing off while their gates were empty. Whenever a passenger tried to go over and ask for help, they waved the pax back to the service desk. Finally a 4th agent showed up and I finally got helped (don't know how long the other 35-40 people behind me - in the exact same predicament - had to wait). I asked him if this happened before and his response was "too often." I looked, and there were only 4 active gates in T7 with flights going out, depsite planes being parked at every one.

So at one of its main stations, UA had no gates open for an expected, on-time, transcontinental arrival because those gates were blocked by idle, empty planes that took over an hour to move, and yet felt no need to hold any of the flights, all the last flight of the day to their respective destinations, even for as little as 15 minutes. Meanwhile, dozens of gate agents stood around declining to help anyone while 3 people couldn't somehow figure out how to rebook anyone in under 20 minutes.

This whole thing is actually a little scary - if they don't even know how to logistically manage their gates and don't have employees willing to actually help customers, I don't even want to know what the other parts of the operation are doing - or not doing. This isn't just one bad night, one bad flight, one bad agent - it's indicative of a systemic culture of failure.

Last edited by FlyinHawaiian; Jun 18, 13 at 12:24 pm Reason: vague thread title
ssk1127 is offline  
Old Oct 16, 12, 2:06 am
  #2  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Benicia CA
Programs: Alaska MVP Gold 75K, AA 3.8MM, UA 1.1MM, enjoying the retired life
Posts: 31,762
Are you sleeping in the airport tonight, or did UA spring for a nice hotel? When are you flying out now?
tom911 is offline  
Old Oct 16, 12, 2:23 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: SEA
Programs: AS MVPG MR Platinum Prem
Posts: 239
Yes, please update on how if at all you are being accommodated as your experience is not unique transiting through LAX at night at least from my travels.

Every single flight (on-time or slightly early) I've had into LAX in the later evening has been delayed on the ground because there either was no gates available or too much "traffic in the alley", so I understand your frustration.

In my case LAX is home, so it is only an inconvenience, but I do feel the pain of the people that always have to run off the plane to make connections, knowing that there is not much help if they don't make it. Unfortunately LAX is a very poorly run operation on pretty much every front from check-in to club to gate and has went from being ok before to significantly worse since the merger.
hrdjeepzj is offline  
Old Oct 16, 12, 2:30 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Stellenbosch, South Africa
Programs: UA 1K, 1MM, Hertz Pres Circle
Posts: 104
Frustrating indeed. What you experienced is the "Continental mentality" side of the new United. Something similar was said to me by a United agent when I was in LAX last month. Personally, I have noticed a significant drop in quality service since the merger.

That comment from the agent came from this experience: I flew to Chicago from Kona via LAX. The flight was an hour late leaving KOA due to an equipment malfunction. There were a number of people on board needing to make the early Chicago connection.

Flight arrived at the Gate next to the Chicago flight about 5 minutes before that flight was to depart. A number of us hurried to the Chicago counter only to find out the flight was closed. We were instructed to go to the Service Counter to book a later flight. At the Service Counter I learned the next available confirmed flight would be 10am or 4 hours later. I was booked on standby for the 7 o'clock flight. I got the last seat on that flight. Despite my Premier Gold status, I sat way in the back of a 320 Airbus in a middle seat.

Welcome to the new United.
2stepbay is offline  
Old Oct 16, 12, 4:22 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Canada
Programs: UA 1K, Marriott Bonvoy PLAT, Priority Pass, Star Alliance Gold
Posts: 3,305
Next time try connecting in CLT!
Antonio8069 is offline  
Old Oct 16, 12, 4:58 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Dubai / NYC
Programs: EK-IO, UA-1K2MM, ETIHAD-GOLD, SPG-PLAT LIFETIME, JUMEIRAH SERIUS GOLD
Posts: 5,220
Who kept their job as station mgr @ LAX? The pmUA mgr who was used to running a large operation or the pmCO mgr who ran a mid size station? Just guess!!! I know the Dir of Cust Service who has a big job came from the UA side but all of a sudden after 10+ years as a top mgr @ LAX, this guys afraid of his own shadow. That tells me so much right there about how this operation is now run. I'm surprised CO didn't get rid of the UA NRT station mgr and promote someone from CO's New Orleans station into that job
chinatraderjmr is offline  
Old Oct 16, 12, 9:52 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 272
Originally Posted by ssk1127 View Post
...except landed with no gate available at 9:30 PM. So we sat out there for over an hour waiting for a gate to clear...but no planes were moving...until they started towing planes from the gates...which were sitting empty and parked overnight at inactive gates.

So at one of its main stations, UA had no gates open for an expected, on-time, transcontinental arrival because those gates were blocked by idle, empty planes that took over an hour to move, and yet felt no need to hold any of the flights, all the last flight of the day to their respective destinations, even for as little as 15 minutes.
I dunno. Sounds like Ops Normal to me.

Last flight of the night between two city pairs. Plane terminates at destination and spends the night. No crew legalities for that flight or the next day ???
I'd wait ... but then I'd get a call from a manager the next day wanting to know why I delayed the flight.
Same thing for CS. Except, the threat of sanctions would be more severe.
A heavy handed mgt insures that line employee won't risk doing the "right thing".
The almighty "On Time" rules.

We used to "take the hit" for delays, to take the pressure off the CS folks.
Very few pilots will do that now since the company used those stats against us in court.

Last edited by ualp; Oct 16, 12 at 10:03 am Reason: spelling
ualp is offline  
Old Oct 16, 12, 10:12 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: LAX
Programs: UA PG, Hyatt Plat, SPG, AAadvantage
Posts: 120
Originally Posted by ualp View Post
I dunno. Sounds like Ops Normal to me.

Last flight of the night between two city pairs. Plane terminates at destination and spends the night. No crew legalities for that flight or the next day ???
I'd wait ... but then I'd get a call from a manager the next day wanting to know why I delayed the flight.
Same thing for CS. Except, the threat of sanctions would be more severe.
A heavy handed mgt insures that line employee won't risk doing the "right thing".
The almighty "On Time" rules.

We used to "take the hit" for delays, to take the pressure off the CS folks.
Very few pilots will do that now since the company used those stats against us in court.
This is actually really sad to read. These are exactly the kind of decisions that the captain should be empowered to make. It's really a win-win. I've heard many a kettle say "I'm never flying them again since they stranded me when the last flight of the night left, and I only misconnected by 5 mins." Something like this can go a long way towards building a good customer relationship.
mallodi is offline  
Old Oct 16, 12, 10:13 am
  #9  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Between DCA and IAD
Programs: UA 1K MM; Hilton Diamond
Posts: 60,053
Had a similar experience but from the inside of LAX instead of the inside of a plane recently.

I arrived at my gate, over in T6, about the same time the FAs showed up. GA and FAs both were surprised there was a plane sitting at the gate already, since our plane was still in the air (it was about 20 minutes late).

As the time for our plane to land approached, the GA kept getting more and more flustered. "Where are they going to park it? There's a plane already here!" Eventually they announced that the plane at the gate was going to be towed away so our plane could pull up, but at that point, the inbound plane had been waiting on the tarmac for some time.

Of course, even though the plane eventually did push back, they had by the sent our plane over to T7 (no announcements--those of us grumbling in line and constantly checking our mobile phones discovered the gate change while the GA had disappeared and sent everyone hauling over to T7).

This gate screw-up cost us ~2.5 hours when all was said and done (we left well after the 11pm red-eye had already departed).
exerda is offline  
Old Oct 16, 12, 11:01 am
  #10  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Bay Area, CA
Programs: UA Plat 2MM; AS MVP Gold 75K
Posts: 34,994
Have seen similar such issues at LAX.

We've taken delays because the plane isn't there, at an empty gate, just to find out the plane has been at LAX for 4 hours, but hasn't been towed in.

But when GAs are focused on menial tasks like manually programming the signage (e.g., T6), or the ridiculous numbers of keystrokes it takes to do their jobs, it's no wonder that the big things get missed from time to time.

It's amazing to see how far LAX and other stations have fallen since SHARES. We used to regularly see 757s turn in 30 minutes with one (1) GA at PMUA. Now it takes 2-3 GAs a full hour to turn a 737. This is the sort of stuff that compounds into late pushbacks, waiting for gates, etc., and contributes to the problems the OP experienced.
channa is offline  
Old Oct 16, 12, 11:42 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 272
Originally Posted by mallodi View Post
This is actually really sad to read.
Yep!

Day to day it's the line employees, CS, Ramp, F/a, and Pilots, that keep the operation moving.
No different than most other businesses.

Heavy handed mgt and lack of empowerment stall the machine.
This has been a constant at UAL, a mgt that can't cede control and stay out of the way.
It seems to be moreso since the merger.

It's easy to just do it the way they want, then go home.
Any frontline employee with any time in this biz knows that often that won't cut it.
But who's willing to risk their job?
Unfortunately, you all suffer the consequences.
Sorry. That's just the way it is nowadays.

Give it a few years.
New CEO. New mgt team. Maybe it'll be different.
ualp is offline  
Old Oct 16, 12, 11:43 am
  #12  
Marriott Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Programs: AS MVP Gold, Hyatt Explorist
Posts: 2,036
Originally Posted by mallodi View Post
This is actually really sad to read. These are exactly the kind of decisions that the captain should be empowered to make. It's really a win-win. I've heard many a kettle say "I'm never flying them again since they stranded me when the last flight of the night left, and I only misconnected by 5 mins." Something like this can go a long way towards building a good customer relationship.
Build a good customer relationship? <insert wistful sigh> I think they care more about the operational bottom line in the belief that is how a business succeeds. <shrug>
SFOPhD is offline  
Old Oct 16, 12, 11:49 am
  #13  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: ORD/MDW
Programs: BA/AA/AS/B6/WN/ UA/HH/MR and more like 'em but most felicitously & importantly MUCCI
Posts: 19,115
Originally Posted by Antonio8069 View Post
Next time try connecting in CLT!
I do connect in CLT, more often this year than ever as I choose US over UA for price and operational reliability. And I've never experienced this sort of nonsense. These kinds of easily avoidable irrops are the kind that drive me out of my mind, and I expect them from UA. I will happily give up E+ and the #37 spot on the UG display to avoid this stuff.
BearX220 is offline  
Old Oct 16, 12, 12:01 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: MSP
Programs: DL PM, Amtrak & OAL peon, Blingy metal at most hotels, Colbert Lifetime Platinum
Posts: 4,496
Originally Posted by BearX220 View Post
I do connect in CLT, more often this year than ever as I choose US over UA for price and operational reliability. And I've never experienced this sort of nonsense. These kinds of easily avoidable irrops are the kind that drive me out of my mind, and I expect them from UA. I will happily give up E+ and the #37 spot on the UG display to avoid this stuff.
Ironically my best connecting treatment ever was at CLT two years back, UA to US.

LAX has always been kind of a two-bit operation in my anecdotal experience, and is now a hub that puts the new UA's issues into stark relief on a regular basis.
GoAmtrak is offline  
Old Oct 16, 12, 12:21 pm
  #15  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: ZOA, SFO, HKG
Programs: UA 1K 0.9MM, Marriott Gold, HHonors Gold, Hertz PC, SBux Gold, TSA Pre✓
Posts: 12,792
Originally Posted by 2stepbay View Post
Welcome to the new United.
Welcome to FT.

It has nothing to do with the "new" United.

1. It is UA's practice not to hold planes for delayed passengers (except for some special GSs). There was a reason why UA scored the best on-time departure for legacy airlines before merger.

2. Except for GSs, LAX is always known to be one of the worst hub in the system before the merger (another one is IAD).

3. It is pretty normal that arrival aircrafts have nowhere to park at LAX, as it is not a UA-only problem. Bottom line, LAX is too crowded and airlines keep adding flights like there are spaces.

Originally Posted by chinatraderjmr View Post
Who kept their job as station mgr @ LAX? The pmUA mgr who was used to running a large operation or the pmCO mgr who ran a mid size station?
Based on the pictures between T7-T8, the pmCO guy got the job (as I believe the pmUA is a female).
garykung is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: