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UA958 Jun 12 '15: MX @ ORD, Diverts to YYR for 2nd MX, Pax Housed @ Military Barracks

UA958 Jun 12 '15: MX @ ORD, Diverts to YYR for 2nd MX, Pax Housed @ Military Barracks

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Old Jun 15, 15, 8:57 am
  #106  
 
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Originally Posted by NewportGuy View Post
What struck me was how the crew took absolutely NO responsibility for the passengers at all. What happened to the captain being responsible for his passengers? They all ran off to the hotel like a bunch of cowards. Why couldn't even one crew member stay behind and help passengers? Another case of "not my job, man"?
Not sure I'd jump this far. It seems very possible that the pilots were informed that passengers would be fine in the barracks. They probably didn't learn about the heating system until later. To some extent, the crew is at the mercy of the corporation here as well, and were also hearing that a rescue plane would arrive in the morning. Not enough evidence to jump on the crew IMO.

Originally Posted by halls120 View Post
I agree that none of us have insight into what was facing the UA ops center. That said, on a recent AA flight, we ended up leaving 4 hours late due to a variety of mx issues. Between the pilot coming out twice to talk to us, and the CSRs, we were given updates every 20-25 minutes throughout the delay. Was that practical for the passengers stranded in Goose Bay? Maybe not, but the lack of communication here is clearly driving the anger of some passengers, and communication is easy, provided you put a priority on it. In this instance, UA didn't.
I would say they haven't made it a priority since the merger, although it's gotten slightly better over the years. In my experience, either the pilot communicates with passengers or no one does. And now I find myself frustrated in IRROPS and similar situations when the pilot doesn't provide lots of details, because I know they're not coming from the company.

Originally Posted by bse118 View Post
Well, now next time any of our travel goes awry we'll [hopefully] be able to say: "At least I'm not in a barracks at Goose Bay."

This really is a benchmark for failing at IROPS. The whole thing reeks of on-the-fly contingency planning. You'd think an airline of UA's scale would have recovery plans in place to work from.*

( * especially given their operational familiarity with certain eastern Canada airports )
I think this raises a good point, and a question for me. United uses Goose Bay often enough, especially for refueling 757's in the winter, that they should have plans. Is this SOP for Goose Bay? Put people up in the same military barracks? What are the food options in those cases?

I wouldn't expect them to have a lot of alternate options for lodging if this is SOP. And I don't expect them to feed people overnight. But breakfast in the morning maybe when they know the plane isn't there yet seems reasonable.
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Old Jun 15, 15, 9:05 am
  #107  
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Originally Posted by JBord View Post
In my experience, either the pilot communicates with passengers or no one does...

Is this SOP for Goose Bay? Put people up in the same military barracks? What are the food options in those cases?

I wouldn't expect them to have a lot of alternate options for lodging if this is SOP. And I don't expect them to feed people overnight. But breakfast in the morning maybe when they know the plane isn't there yet seems reasonable.
I don't expect anyone in this drama -- the original flight crew, the dispatch center, the dolt running the company Twitter account -- will be called to South Wacker for a stern lecture about how they've besmirched the regal image of United Airlines. Either nobody thinks they've done that much wrong, or nobody cares, starting with Smisek himself. The boxed freight can sit on the tarmac until it's rerouted.
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Old Jun 15, 15, 9:10 am
  #108  
 
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Originally Posted by DL2SXM View Post
How many remember the Delta 777 diversion to the Ascension Islands last year? Within 4 hours, Delta sent a replacement 777 to pick up the stranded passengers. So, within 4 hours of the diversion, late at night, Delta was able to scrounge up not only a plane but a flight crew to fly nearly 10 hours to pick up the stranded passengers and crew. The UA flight was 3 hours or so from any number of UA hubs. That UA couldn't or wouldn't revolve this matter more expeditiously is truly sad and pathetic. This isn't about the lack of accommodations at YYR folks, its about the ineptitude of United Airlines.
UA did the same thing with the Midway Island incident last year. UA can do it also. Why it wasn't done this time is the question, and UA not coming out and giving us details is part of the failure.

It's amazing how good they can be, but how bad they also can be.
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Old Jun 15, 15, 9:24 am
  #109  
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Sometimes UA does well
All too often though they just fail completely
Very often we hear about these total CF issues
Visually these optics are horrible, and it's why UA continues to be at the bottom
Yet how much longer will this leadership team be in charge?
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Old Jun 15, 15, 9:29 am
  #110  
 
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Originally Posted by LASUA1K View Post
UA did the same thing with the Midway Island incident last year. UA can do it also. Why it wasn't done this time is the question, and UA not coming out and giving us details is part of the failure.

It's amazing how good they can be, but how bad they also can be.
I think why a replacement aircraft wasn't available earlier is the real question and United's true failure in this situation. At least two subsequent flights to LHR were impacted and, in hindsight, United might have been better off cancelling a flight to get the aircraft and crew to respond faster.

Some of the other, minor complaints have legitimate explanations. The lack of communication on the ground? Well, there's no United staff or systems, so it's not completely unexpected. No access to baggage? There's no baggage handlers or sufficient equipment.

It's no real consolation, but at least the passengers and crew weren't kept on the plane. The ability to get people off the plane, clear them through customs, put them on a bus, feed them and give them a bed speaks to the people of Goose Bay.
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Old Jun 15, 15, 9:31 am
  #111  
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The story is still very much alive in the media this morning.

UA's strategy seems to be ignore it and hope it goes away.

Overall an exceptionally disappointing episode.
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Old Jun 15, 15, 9:32 am
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Originally Posted by Kmxu View Post
The cut, cut, and more cuts can explain what happened in this event. There were not enough spare aircraft, spare crews and spare funds to do a better job. The top of the UA management should take personal responsibility for this failure. Apologize for it and promise to do a better job next time.
What gets me is that they did not even need a "spare" aircraft. UA should have canceled another flight from EWR/JFK/IAD/ORD and sent the aircraft to Goose Bay as soon as they knew about the diversion to an airfield with minimal services. Instead it took United 18 hours to get a plane to an airport a few hours away from three hubs.
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Old Jun 15, 15, 9:34 am
  #113  
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Originally Posted by LASUA1K View Post
UA did the same thing with the Midway Island incident last year. UA can do it also. Why it wasn't done this time is the question, and UA not coming out and giving us details is part of the failure.

It's amazing how good they can be, but how bad they also can be.
That's what kills me. If the diversion is on another planet, it seems that UA will move with lightning speed to remedy the situation. However, 3 hours from 3 different hubs and they fail. I also have a problem with the plane being sent back to EWR. Maybe there is a completely logical reason why but most likely, there is not.
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Old Jun 15, 15, 9:40 am
  #114  
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Originally Posted by fly18725 View Post
The lack of communication on the ground? Well, there's no United staff or systems, so it's not completely unexpected.
With great respect, there were 8 or 10 United staff on the ground. They came with the plane. Presumably they were on the phone to dispatch. They are theoretically trained to be resourceful. That they disappeared to a hotel and comfy beds without communicating with the strandees, even to say they can't get a rise out of HQ and they're trying and they're sorry, speaks volumes about the state of the company. It simply feeds the standard narrative that the main mission of United Airlines is the safe transport in comfort of the employees of United Airlines. (They'd been on duty less than three hours when the diversion took place; they must have been exhausted.) Add the captain to the list of UA people who have some explaining to do.
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Old Jun 15, 15, 9:41 am
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Originally Posted by NewportGuy View Post
What struck me was how the crew took absolutely NO responsibility for the passengers at all. What happened to the captain being responsible for his passengers? They all ran off to the hotel like a bunch of cowards. Why couldn't even one crew member stay behind and help passengers? Another case of "not my job, man"?
+1

This whole thing would have played out differently had the crew stayed with the pax. Even if they could not help, it would have demonstrated that the well-being of the pax was still their top priority.

An army barracks in a small town in Canada is not an Alive scenario. But it is exceptional enough that I think one could legitimately question whether the captain should have decided that his/her responsibility for the well-being of the pax ended once they were off the plane.
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Old Jun 15, 15, 9:44 am
  #116  
 
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I have purposely waited till today to comment on this, hoping to see multiple sides of the story.

I think what amazes me though is that there has not been any positives coming from this (besides the safety of the pax). The rude response on Twitter, the lack of compassion for the passengers, how they handled the recovery, and the treatment of passengers like they are a box in a freight plane. To add to this, UA has been extremely quiet on this issue, and I think what is the worst is that they haven't come out to truly apologize and explain the situation and take ownership....haven't you ever heard of owning up to your mistakes UA.

UA should be ashamed of themselves for this. I personally am ashamed to have to tell people that I'm flying UA right now and "associating" myself with them. Too bad I can't just easily jump ship due to corporate contracts....
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Old Jun 15, 15, 9:44 am
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Originally Posted by phbl View Post
i think it would be "absolutely horrible" to be in a Syrian or Malaysian refugee camp right now, or to be in such distress in Central America such that 8-10 year old children are crossing the Rio Grande by themselves or with a coyote, or to be fleeing north in the Mediterranean on an overloaded boat.

or if the plane crashed. or if it did a crash landing on a glacier in the middle of nowhere and half the plane suffered causalities.

this situation certainly sucks and UA certainly inconvenienced pax and probably did a poor recovery and i can understand for the anxious how this can be stressful but this is not "absolutely horrible".

i'm certain the people in the barracks can wander around outside, get air, use their cellphones, not worry that around the corner someone may shoot them because of what god they worship etc etc etc.

maybe flyertalk is not for me. yeah they're missing their wedding or work and UA certainly owes these people something but come on......fwp.
This is an easily debunked logical fallacy, because there is always something worse than what *anyone* is experiencing. A Syrian refugee would not be allowed to consider their conditions "horrible" if conditions are even worse in Malaysia?
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Old Jun 15, 15, 9:49 am
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passenger from UA958 here.


first, i want to start by thanking the captain of this flight. we only found out later how severe the issue was. there was a deadheading FA in first that said other FAs were in tears thinking the plane was going down. what really matters in this story is that we had a super professional captain that landed a broken plane in Goose Bay. apparently, a rudder had jammed in the back. i was in J and it just felt like turbulence. but, in the back, apparently the vibration was severe. by the the time the co-pilot got back from checking it out, warnings were going off in the cockpit.

it really puts things into perspective. the final 20 minutes of that flight where the most silent of any plane i'd been on. we all had the map up just watching the path, altitude, and air speed. FAs ran through yelling "stow everything that's loose" - just made is nervous about a really rough landing. that said, we did come in a little hard (didn't dump fuel) and burned up the brakes stopping with a full load, but nobody was injured. THAT's the part that the media is missing in this story.

apart from the awesome crew, everything about united's handling of this flight was horrible. the folks in Goose Bay were awesome; that should be mentioned as well. but UAL was silent the entire ordeal.

the first bus off the plane took F and J to customs then the barracks (no luggage, of course). all of us were placed in barracks 306, which was one of them without heat. the thermostat in my room said 14 C, which is about 57 F. i didn't have a blanket at all, only 2 sheets (one for under me, one over me). it was a very unpleasant night. on top of that, they didn't coordinate the rooms very well. about an hour after settling in, i was awaken by a 21 year old girl yelling at her mom in the adjoining room. you can imagine sharing the bathroom in the morning was awkward.

the base did what they could and really did bend over backwards. there were buses swinging around to barracks every 15 mins to and from the mess hall. meals were passable; also not worth complaining about since it's nearly impossible for a town that small to plan on handling a full 767.

my real beef is with United on how they handled things. we had ZERO knowledge from them. our only updates came when people at the barracks would post new pieces of paper with an updated departure time.
we were told the night prior that a replacement 767 was coming in the morning that would continue straight to LHR. that plane never made it, as it was grounded for maintenance.

the second plane came around 5pm local time. we boarded and were told we're going back to EWR and NOT onto LHR. that plane then was delayed for further maintenance (crazy pattern, right?). funny thing is that ANOTHER UA plane had an emergency landing while we waited. it was medical though, but still ironic.

got to EWR around midnight local time. had to clear customs and claim our bags, despite using the same aircraft to go back to LHR.
re-check line was 2 hours. it was a mess. eventually agents gave up and said "just use your same seats as last night".

in the meantime, UA canceled flight 940 so that we could take the spot (now UA2063). some of those PAX rebooked onto our flight, which created havoc on board with duplicate seats. disaster.

they've offered a refund of that leg + 25k miles or $500 ecert.

crew = awesome; pilot is a hero
Goose Bay folks = really accommodating and so nice
canadian beer = passed the time a lot quicker
United = worst experience ever
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Old Jun 15, 15, 9:50 am
  #119  
 
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Originally Posted by BearX220 View Post
With great respect, there were 8 or 10 United staff on the ground. They came with the plane. Presumably they were on the phone to dispatch. They are theoretically trained to be resourceful. That they disappeared to a hotel and comfy beds without communicating with the strandees, even to say they can't get a rise out of HQ and they're trying and they're sorry, speaks volumes about the state of the company. It simply feeds the standard narrative that the main mission of United Airlines is the safe transport in comfort of the employees of United Airlines. (They'd been on duty less than three hours when the diversion took place; they must have been exhausted.) Add the captain to the list of UA people who have some explaining to do.
After reading nautical's post, which now seems to have disappeared, it seems like the big miss in communications was saying that the replacement flight would go onto LHR when it was actually going to EWR. Are you expecting members of the flight crew, who dealt with a significant incident themselves, to sit in the barracks, forgoing rest, to tell passengers what?

The screw up was in the execution of a recovery plan. Different communication protocols wouldn't have fixed that.
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Old Jun 15, 15, 9:51 am
  #120  
 
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Originally Posted by DLASflyer View Post
What gets me is that they did not even need a "spare" aircraft. UA should have canceled another flight from EWR/JFK/IAD/ORD and sent the aircraft to Goose Bay as soon as they knew about the diversion to an airfield with minimal services. Instead it took United 18 hours to get a plane to an airport a few hours away from three hubs.
So instead of ruining a few hundred people's day, they should have doubled that and ruined another couple hundred people's days? It would have played out better in the media and with PR, but delying these passengers (best case scenerio) 1/2 a day and then adding another couple of hundred people with a full day delay? Seems to me that really isn't as good as it sounds when you suggested it, when you look at the actual logistics of disruptions that it doesn't solve (it reduces some) while creating more.
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