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

Bad Start to early departure from BOS: delay to tow overnighted a/c to gate.

Bad Start to early departure from BOS: delay to tow overnighted a/c to gate.

Reply

Old Jul 20, 18, 7:05 pm
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 428
Originally Posted by JAaronT View Post
I've had it happen 3-4 times this year. 2 or 3 of those the planes subsequently went mechanical. I think they were all 753s.
Huh, and here I thought my SFO 753 tow-delay followed by 2 hour mechanical was a rare one-off. I was ticked because the MX issue was reported on the incoming the night prior (per the captain). I complained to customer care at the time telling them they created their own delay off a known issue and got an ETC >$100 but I forget the exact amount.
prometa is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 20, 18, 8:23 pm
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Cleveland, OH, USA
Programs: HHonors Diamond; United 1K (domestic). Hertz Presidents Circle
Posts: 1,583
A few years ago I was trying to get get home on an early flight from an outstation (CLT I think) on a UAex carrier and the announcement was made that they were trying to find the plane and as soon as it was found we should be boarding shortly.

Approaching the podium with a "I really must not be awake enough yet... I thought I just heard you say the plane was missing" Gate agent told me that it had RONed in a hangar, someone had been sent to tow it over quite a while ago... the plane was no longer in the hangar, it wasn't at the gate but should have been by now, they we're "pretty sure" it was still somewhere at the airport but person sent to get it wasn't answering radio calls.

One of the more surreal conversations I've had [seems crazy to think that a jet, even a regional jet, could be "lost" -- but I guess at a busy enough airport...] but it did eventually show up about 30 minutes later.
lincolnjkc is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 21, 18, 10:02 am
  #18  
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 2,785
Originally Posted by docbert View Post
If you have this problem at SFO, it's normally because the plane was undergoing maintenance overnight, and that maintenance ran late.

Or at least, that's what it's been every time I've had it happen.
Had it happen at SFO in December - the plane was there but parked on the wrong side of the runways. Since they were running at reduced capacity due to weather, they apparently weren't giving UA a break in traffic to tow it across the runways to the gate. We ended up getting a different aircraft that was an inbound that they redirected to our gate to unload. It ended up being a few hours of delay and running back and forth between a few gates. Being LAX based, normally avoid flying through SFO, but I needed a few UA miles late in the year so I flew UA through SFO instead of taking a nonstop on AS.
chrisl137 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 21, 18, 12:45 pm
  #19  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Traveling the World
Posts: 5,123
Originally Posted by JAaronT View Post
This happens consistently at SFO. They know well in advance their plans and have been doing this for eons. If there’s a shortage of ground equipment, buy more ground equipment or plan your schedule for the ground equipment you have. To add insult to injury, I often find these planes have mechanical problems after being towed. What were they doing all night that they couldn’t run basic checks.
So is this what HOLD means on the Flight Status page where the plane has been sitting at SFO since the early morning arrival of UA 955 from TLV waiting for UA 954 in the evening leaving from Terminal 3 vs International Terminal?

So Unied had over 12 hours to plan the tow to the gate and they have to call AAA to get a Tow Truck to tow their plane to the gate. Notice how plan and plane are just one letter off. LOL.
danielonn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 21, 18, 1:05 pm
  #20  
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 347
Originally Posted by flyerCO View Post
Make the passengers push it.
Haha. I need to pass through BOS more often though, as both my wife and I recently picked up an 800 United dollars voucher for taking another flight two hours later, with 600 already spent on an unbelievable open-jaw round-trip two thirds around the globe.
vanillabean is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 21, 18, 7:49 pm
  #21  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Jomtien (Pattaya) Thailand
Programs: UA Gold
Posts: 434
I had a similar incident in IAH a couple years ago when flying IAH-NRT. The plane had arrived from S.America early morning, several hours before the 1030a-ish departure for NRT. The plane did not arrive at the gate until after scheduled departure time, and then the cleaners boarded. Even the crew (both pilots and F/As) were at the gate before scheduled departure time, so obviously nobody bothered to update them either. We ended up departing almost two hours late, and I missed my NRT-BKK connection. Ended up on a bus across to HND for a post-midnight departure, since the next day's NRT-BKK flights had no seats. Ugh.
1984SW is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 21, 18, 10:14 pm
  #22  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,239
One last point from me (OP): I found it galling to get a text from the airline saying the flight was delayed due to air traffic control.
Yahtzee is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 21, 18, 10:25 pm
  #23  
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Programs: UA 1K; *G, AA Plat
Posts: 1,662
Originally Posted by Yahtzee View Post
One last point from me (OP): I found it galling to get a text from the airline saying the flight was delayed due to air traffic control.
Wouldn’t it be considered ATC if UA requested to move it’s tow truck, but were told to wait due to ground congestion on the runways and taxiways? This happens at SFO on a weekly basis...ground cogestion on runways and taxiways isn’t United’s fault...

Galling or not, it quite possibly could be true.
laxmillenial is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 22, 18, 4:40 pm
  #24  
Hilton Contributor BadgeMarriott Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: TOA
Programs: HH Diamond, Marriott LTPP/Platinum Premier, Hyatt Lame-ist, UA !K
Posts: 3,079
Originally Posted by laxmillenial View Post
Wouldnít it be considered ATC if UA requested to move itís tow truck, but were told to wait due to ground congestion on the runways and taxiways? This happens at SFO on a weekly basis...ground cogestion on runways and taxiways isnít Unitedís fault...

Galling or not, it quite possibly could be true.
Perhaps. But it is also telling of UA ground crews (and cleaning crews) who don't seem to have done any overnight pre-planning at airports such as SFO or even LAX. I've been on too many RON planes out of dodge where _nothing_ was done to prepare the A/C from the night before - and smelled and looked awful. If the flight line is going to be challenging to get across, stage and position aircraft appropriately.

David
DELee is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 22, 18, 6:18 pm
  #25  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: USA
Programs: UA 1K, Marriott Platinum, IHG Gold Elite
Posts: 465
Originally Posted by DELee View Post
Perhaps. But it is also telling of UA ground crews (and cleaning crews) who don't seem to have done any overnight pre-planning at airports such as SFO or even LAX. I've been on too many RON planes out of dodge where _nothing_ was done to prepare the A/C from the night before - and smelled and looked awful. If the flight line is going to be challenging to get across, stage and position aircraft appropriately.
They can't stage or position it if ground control won't let them. Prep yes but moving it? No.
ExplorerWannabe is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 22, 18, 6:49 pm
  #26  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Cleveland, OH, USA
Programs: HHonors Diamond; United 1K (domestic). Hertz Presidents Circle
Posts: 1,583
Originally Posted by ExplorerWannabe View Post
They can't stage or position it if ground control won't let them. Prep yes but moving it? No.
There's a certain level of predictability and unpredictability at play.

If some freak weather event shifts traffic patterns to make staging/pre-positioning impossible that's one thing, in general traffic demands are close enough to constant at any given time of day/day of week to know how long it "should" take. If you know you need X number of aircraft at the terminal to start the morning (STAR flights {Start the Airline Right} anyone?) and you know that there's going to be congestion between A and B, it's only logical that you try moving the aircraft before A.

No different than leaving home early to avoid/cope with rush hour traffic.
DELee likes this.
lincolnjkc is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 22, 18, 6:58 pm
  #27  
Hilton Contributor BadgeMarriott Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: TOA
Programs: HH Diamond, Marriott LTPP/Platinum Premier, Hyatt Lame-ist, UA !K
Posts: 3,079
Originally Posted by ExplorerWannabe View Post
They can't stage or position it if ground control won't let them. Prep yes but moving it? No.
They're towing planes around between 1 am and 6 am before things get dicey at SFO. Position am planes at the open gates for "cleaning" after MX and pull and park on the west side before the Hawaii and East Coast banks of flights arrive. Also, both FAA ATC as well as UA Ops usually have an idea hours in advance if SFO's am is going to go pear shaped due to WX (at least) as well as volume/flow control issues given what and when FAA posts.

David
DELee is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 22, 18, 7:51 pm
  #28  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: San Francisco/Sydney
Programs: UA 1K/MM, TK Elite, DL Gold, Hilton Diamond, Marriott Platinum, IHG Gold, Hertz PC, Avis First
Posts: 6,576
Originally Posted by DELee View Post
They're towing planes around between 1 am and 6 am before things get dicey at SFO.
Exactly, and the 99% of the time things go right nobody notices.

The 1% of the time something goes wrong - be that maintenance running late, tug breaks down, someone doesn't do their job right, or who knows whatever else - then suddenly people start complaining that they should be planning better.
docbert is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 22, 18, 7:55 pm
  #29  
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1K, SPG Gold, Marriott Gold, Hilton Silver
Posts: 4,549
Originally Posted by docbert View Post
Exactly, and the 99% of the time things go right nobody notices.

The 1% of the time something goes wrong - be that maintenance running late, tug breaks down, someone doesn't do their job right, or who knows whatever else - then suddenly people start complaining that they should be planning better.
1% failure rate is awful. And when I experience it 3 times in a row, yeah, I think their planning is bad. They probably have it nailed for the median case, but the appearance is that everything falls apart when there's any hiccup. That's poor planning.
JAaronT is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 22, 18, 10:00 pm
  #30  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: BOS<>NYC<>BKK
Programs: UA GS/3.99MM; AA1MM; Amtrak S+; MAR LT PP; PC Plat; HIL DIA; HYA GLOB
Posts: 3,631
Originally Posted by Yahtzee View Post
Flying United for the first time in years this morning (hopefully).

Checked on Flight Aware this morning; happy to see flight is on time and inbound aircraft arrived last night.

Sitting here at the gate at T-30 and hear this announcement: “We are sorry for the delay. The plane was parked on the tarmac overnight and needs to be towed over. We’re waiting for a tow truck.”

What? Did someone forget to bring the plane over?

Still no sign of it.

Not impressed.
I had a long chat with a BOS UA manager about this recently. They are very aware of the problem. Key is that they don't have enough gates, especially for planes 757 and larger. That will be solved starting in August, when AA moves to B1 (the former US-side of B), and WN moves to where AA is now. UA will give up three of the low 20's gates, that can handle only small aircraft (Airbus, 737), and get three on the current AA side that can handle larger planes. He also noted that up to eight aircraft need to be towed to parking overnight, and MassPort assigns spots differently each night, all far away from B. Most importantly, ATC will not allow planes to begin their tow from parking until the plane at the gate is off and away; UA of course would like to start the tow so it arrives "just in time" to pull in as the prior outbound is pushed. UA is talking to the FAA about how to improve this process.
wxguy is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread