Wild experience on US 1711: CLT-->EWR

 
Old Jul 3, 14, 4:07 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1K, A3 Gold, VX Silver, Global Entry
Posts: 26
Wild experience on US 1711: CLT-->EWR

Hi all,

I'm usually over in the UA forum, but a friend of mine had quite an experience last night/this morning on US 1711 from CLT-EWR.

Would love folks' thoughts on what makes sense here. He's not looking for specific compensation for himself, but for all of the passengers.

The narrative:

The first part is just basic annoyance: my plane last night was supposed to leave at 6:10 pm and land at 8:10 am. We didn't board until after 10 pm due to weather. Sure, that's annoying. But ultimately, that's what Twitter users would call #firstworldproblems - it's not any one's fault and I should feel grateful that I have the ability to go on commercial airlines in the first place.

Nonetheless, the passengers were understandably frustrated when we got on the plane. Some had kids they needed to get to, etc. So it was already a tense environment.

But after all those delays, there was a mechanical issue. Now this plane had been sitting on the runway for about 5 hours. You'd think that they had time to check for mechanical issues. Well, either they didn't have time or they were simply negligent. Again, every person who flies often knows the frustrating experience of delays due to weather and mechanical issues. It's good that the airline is keeping us safe but we're already in a frustrated mood because let's face it: we're tired, we're crammed, etc. Again: it's a reason to be annoyed but it's certainly #firstworldproblems

But after all of this, due to the mechanical issues, they turned off the air conditioning on the plane. The flight attendants, bless their hearts, distributed water and they were trying to do what they can do to help. But there was no air conditioning on a crammed plane and we were stuck on the runway in North Carolina in absurd heat in the beginning of July. The pilot was impersonal and made no moves to think that maybe we ought to de-board. He kept assuring us that the problem would be fixed in a matter of minutes. So no one wanted to complain because no one wanted to speak up against the pilots assertions that we were fine. We weren't fine.

An older woman passed out. The passengers panicked. Children on the plane, who had spent hours waiting through the delays were panicked. One child went into what seemed to be an anxiety attack when the older woman passed out and passengers were screaming for medical assistance.

Still, the pilot assured us to sit back and enjoy the incredibly dangerous heat that he was now inflicting on us. Finally, I stood up and politely asked the flight attendant to get off the plane. She looked at me very compassionately and said, "okay." As we were getting off, the pilot told us that he could no longer fly the plane legally because he had been flying for too long and we would need to find another pilot.

That's good that he was doing his due diligence. But he certainly wasn't when he kept us on the plane in sweltering heat. I politely asked this pilot if he could speak to the supervisor about us all getting vouchers due to the heat that he subjected us to. He said he would love to help but he could not. Later, the supervisor, whose name I had told me that he had no idea about any air conditioning problems. So either the supervisor lied or the pilot was a complete jerk. The pilot, I should add, made sure to be unnecessarily escorted off the plane by Charlotte police.

So now we have an already crappy problem with the delays but due to negligence, an old woman fainting, several children terrified, one having an anxiety attack, and a plane full of people who were feeling sick with headaches due to the heat that this pilot had subjected us to.

When I got off the plane, I asked that we all receive vouchers. Not only was I refused but out of nowhere, the people behind the desk had the police come over to intimidate me claiming that I was causing a disturbance. I was standing amidst all of the passengers and we were all just standing there calmly stating that no one was causing a disturbance. But the officers would not stop. They continued to claim we were causing a disturbance. The supervisor and the people behind the desk refused to communicate with any of us, offer us water, or any thing.

I asked the supervisor about vouchers and he said there would be none. I asked him for his name and he walked away.

I called US Airways and spoke to someone who said they couldn't help. I asked to speak to their supervisor who said they couldn't help. I asked to speak to their supervisor and that person said they couldn't help. And that person was very insulting as he continued to read from what felt like a card, apologizing for the inconvenience. Weather delays are an inconvenience. Causing a woman to faint and children to be in panic and all of us to be stuck on a hot plane in North Carolina with no air conditioning in July was not an "inconvenience." It was dangerous and people were feeling sick. And rather than give us water, the people at the gate gave us an intimidating police presence.

Any way, this person on the phone who says that he's sorry for our "inconvenience" says that according to procedure we need to speak to the supervisor at the gate. But the supervisor at the gate would not talk to us. He seriously would not talk to us. Later, he did talk to me and tried to be very nice after I threatened to go to the press. Because he understood that the court of public opinion matters. But he told me that he was not aware of the pilot denying us air conditioning for over an hour. So either he was lying or the pilot did nothing to communicate his negligence and/or abuse, whatever term you'd like to use.

In any case, they told me on the phone that US Airways gives vouchers only if you make a case over email. Now I was ticked off.What about all of the people who don't have email or the people who just aren't informed that they have rights or the people who are illiterate or have dyslexia? And it's an Inbox. This is a convenient way to keep the entire process impersonal and also to intimidate those passengers who do not speak English (even if US Airways has translators to read the emails).

So I get off the phone from US Airways and speak to my fellow passengers. I have never seen a crowd of strangers so supportive of each other. With the exception of the flight attendants who had little control over this, US Airways failed to be humanizing but the passengers did not. I fear that in writing this, US Airways will punish the flight attendants. But they were not at fault. The pilot and the supervisor were. And the police presence was intimidating and bizarre. They offered us police intimidation but no water once we were waiting in the airport.

So I did what I do: I organized. Tons of passengers volunteered for my idea to take photos of them doing a three finger salute as a reference to the Hunger Games, as a sign of solidarity against authorities that shut down the voices of the people. US Airways believes it can shut down these voices but thanks to groups like change.or and social media in general, we can even that playing field.

Then we finally get on the plane again. And we're waiting and waiting and wondering what's happening. And passengers spot a fire truck and fuel all over the ground. We ended up finding out by overhearing the supervisor that 500 gallons of fuel had spilled right underneath our plane. And get this: they did not evacuate us right away. They kept us on the plane for over a half hour as we inhaled dangerous fumes. I got a headache. Who knows? We could have been killed? This was gross negligence and we were inhaling fumes that were very dangerous.

We then deboarded, were told that our bags would be sent to us (fortunately they got on to the new plane) and we landed at around 4:45 am. They didn't offer us hotels when we asked. They actually said no to this. They didn't offer us rides. They didn't offer us any thing.

I tweeted all of this to @USairways. They had full knowledge of every detail. And I got an email offering me a $75 dollar voucher, saying that they don't normally compensate due to weather conditions but they will make an exception. I am not sure what they aren't understanding. I told them about the woman who fainted, the child who had the panic attack, the pilot who was rude, the supervisor who was rude, the fact that we are on a plane in July in North Carolina, stuck there for over an hour without air conditioning. I told them that they did not follow procedures by evacuating us immediately when the spill of 500 gallons of fuel occurred. And yet, they offered a $75 voucher, acting like they were being generous by making an exception for me this one time about weather conditions. No one was ever complaining about the initial delays.

They could have killed someone. They could have hurt a lot of people. In fact, they may have. And they have given us no reasonable avenue for recourse.

Passengers and flight attendants and "the people" should not have to be oppressed by such policies and behaviors that threaten our very lives.

What would you recommend that I do? Start a petition? Put in a complaint to a government official? Turn this into a HuffPo piece? I have pictures of tons of passengers giving three finger salutes (with one lovely Asian woman giving a one finger salute of the middle finger) and I have mostly all of their email addresses.

What would you recommend?

And is this an example of a larger problem in our culture where consumers do not have rights or recourse, etc

I realize that it's amazing that we can fly in the first place. But this experience was over, and over, and over the top.
Moultrie is offline  
Old Jul 3, 14, 4:25 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Programs: AA EXP, Amex Plt, AA AC
Posts: 172
The email complaint system at US is one huge thing that I pray gets done away with, with this merger. Reply to your complaint email and ask that you be contacted my phone and somebody will eventually call you.
50ae is offline  
Old Jul 3, 14, 4:46 pm
  #3  
Moderator: American AAdvantage, Travel Safety/Security & Texas, FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: AUS / GRK
Programs: AA, HHonors, Hertz
Posts: 12,170
As this applies specifically to US Airways, I'll move this thread from the AA Consolidated forum to the pre-merger US forum.

Thanks.


/aztimm
aztimm is offline  
Old Jul 3, 14, 5:16 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: DFW
Programs: AA EP 3MM, UA Silver, Bonvoy LT TIT, Hyatt Gobalist, HH Silver, Caesars PLT
Posts: 7,115
I have no idea if they OP sent an email complaint since the post rivals a classic novel. But if an email was sent and it was nearly as long and rambling, I'd never expect a response.
aamilesslave is offline  
Old Jul 3, 14, 5:21 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: High Point, NC
Programs: None
Posts: 9,171
A pet peeve of mine is the use of "runway" any time a plane sits because of a delay and more than a few people do that. The runway is the strip of concrete/asphalt that planes use to take off or land and the controllers aren't going to let a plane block it for hours or even minutes. Planes with delays either wait in a "penalty box" - an area set aside so that planes with delays will be out of the way, somewhere out of the way on the ramp or at the gate. If maintence worked on the plane, it was almost certainly on the ramp or more likely at the gate - they wouldn't go to a penalty box, on a taxiway and absolutely not on the runway to work on it.

Pre-takeoff checks are done either taxiing to the runway or as the plane enters the runway for takeoff so it's not unusuall for a plane to wait out a delay somewhere out of the way only to realize there's a problem when it starts taxiing for takeoff or taking it's takeoff position on the runway.

It is entirely possible that when the air conditioning went off it was because maintenance needed it off to work on whatever the problem was.

So we're down to one thing that absolutely should not have happened, assuming that the rest of the story is accruate. Both government rules and therefore company policy say that the passengers should have the option of getting off the plane after no more than 3 hours. Likewise, the passengers should get periodic updates every 15 minutes. If neither of those happened the pilots screwed up big time.

Without knowing the reasons for the delays it's impossible to know if a voucher is due because of them although the last one appears to be for mechanical reasons but doesn't sound like it was that long by itself. But not being given an apportunity to deplane for over 5 hours is justification for a voucher. If the first, long delay was ATC, it's possible that it started out as being much shorter then was extended, possibly several times. If it approached the 3 hour limit, an extension could have put the pilot in the position of going back to the gate then starting the delay process all over again or waiting longer than 3 hours. That's a bad position to be in - get an hour extension to the delay at 2:45 then have a 3:35 delay when ready to leave the gate again or go at an anticipated 3:45 delay from original gate departure.

Anyway, without further information and assuming that the story is accurate something is due so use the website to lodge a complaint. Leave out the emotion and anything that can't be substantiated like the reason for turning off the air, the lengths of multiple delays, etc.

Jim
BoeingBoy is offline  
Old Jul 3, 14, 7:13 pm
  #6  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Durham, NC (RDU/GSO/CLT)
Programs: AA EXP/MM, DL PM, UA Gold, WN A-List, HH DIA, Hyatt Disc, IHG Spire/AMB, Marriott Titanium, Hertz PC
Posts: 31,583
You. Have. To. Post. The. Hunger Games. Picture!
CMK10 is offline  
Old Jul 3, 14, 10:00 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: WA, US
Programs: lots of little things
Posts: 694
Wild experience on US 1711: CLT-->EWR

I'm really interested in this hunger games salute too.

What on earth??
dc333 is offline  
Old Jul 3, 14, 10:32 pm
  #8  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 3,790
Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
You. Have. To. Post. The. Hunger Games. Picture!
Originally Posted by dc333 View Post
I'm really interested in this hunger games salute too.

What on earth??
I was thinking the exact same thing. Great minds think alike
airplanegod is offline  
Old Jul 3, 14, 10:38 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: SFO
Programs: WFBF
Posts: 963
Originally Posted by Moultrie View Post
But after all those delays, there was a mechanical issue. Now this plane had been sitting on the runway for about 5 hours. You'd think that they had time to check for mechanical issues. Well, either they didn't have time or they were simply negligent.
I don't know what the weather situation was like at CLT, though with a tropical storm bearing down on the east coast I imagine it wasn't good. So it's worth pointing out that "didn't have time" is more likely than you think.

Sometimes, weather just causes issues from visibility or wind that mean planes (or certain types of planes) can't take off/land. But sometimes it also moves up into "not safe to be outside" territory. When that happens, nobody goes out there: airside shuttles stop running, baggage handlers stop loading and unloading, fuel and catering crews stop servicing planes, and maintenance crews don't go out to the planes. Everybody comes inside and stays inside until the weather clears.

Which is annoying, but unsafe is unsafe. My departure time is not worth somebody else's life, so when I get ground-stopped at DCA a few times a year, I just get annoyed at the weather rather than the crews.
ubernostrum is offline  
Old Jul 3, 14, 11:05 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Programs: AA Gold
Posts: 351
Originally Posted by Moultrie View Post
What would you recommend that I do? Start a petition? Put in a complaint to a government official? Turn this into a HuffPo piece?
Nothing. Nobody will care. The story blows the facts out of proportion.
cactus47 is offline  
Old Jul 3, 14, 11:45 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: YVR, HNL
Programs: AS MVPG, UA peon, BA Bronze, HH Diamond, Fairmont Plat (RIP)
Posts: 6,395
Originally Posted by Moultrie View Post
Hi all,

I'm usually over in the UA forum, but a friend of mine had quite an experience last night/this morning on US 1711 from CLT-EWR.

Would love folks' thoughts on what makes sense here. He's not looking for specific compensation for himself, but for all of the passengers.

The narrative:

The first part is just basic annoyance: my plane last night was supposed to leave at 6:10 pm and land at 8:10 am. We didn't board until after 10 pm due to weather. Sure, that's annoying. But ultimately, that's what Twitter users would call #firstworldproblems - it's not any one's fault and I should feel grateful that I have the ability to go on commercial airlines in the first place.

Nonetheless, the passengers were understandably frustrated when we got on the plane. Some had kids they needed to get to, etc. So it was already a tense environment.

But after all those delays, there was a mechanical issue. Now this plane had been sitting on the runway for about 5 hours. You'd think that they had time to check for mechanical issues. Well, either they didn't have time or they were simply negligent. Again, every person who flies often knows the frustrating experience of delays due to weather and mechanical issues. It's good that the airline is keeping us safe but we're already in a frustrated mood because let's face it: we're tired, we're crammed, etc. Again: it's a reason to be annoyed but it's certainly #firstworldproblems.......

.......I told them about the woman who fainted, the child who had the panic attack, the pilot who was rude, the supervisor who was rude, the fact that we are on a plane in July in North Carolina, stuck there for over an hour without air conditioning. I told them that they did not follow procedures by evacuating us immediately when the spill of 500 gallons of fuel occurred. And yet, they offered a $75 voucher, acting like they were being generous by making an exception for me this one time about weather conditions. No one was ever complaining about the initial .....
Originally Posted by BoeingBoy View Post
A pet peeve of mine is the use of "runway" any time a plane sits because of a delay and more than a few people do that. The runway is the strip of concrete/asphalt that planes use to take off or land and the controllers aren't going to let a plane block it for hours or even minutes. Planes with delays either wait in a "penalty box" - an area set aside so that planes with delays will be out of the way, somewhere out of the way on the ramp or at the gate. If maintence worked on the plane, it was almost certainly on the ramp or more likely at the gate - they wouldn't go to a penalty box, on a taxiway and absolutely not on the runway to work on it.

Pre-takeoff checks are done either taxiing to the runway or as the plane enters the runway for takeoff so it's not unusuall for a plane to wait out a delay somewhere out of the way only to realize there's a problem when it starts taxiing for takeoff or taking it's takeoff position on the runway.

It is entirely possible that when the air conditioning went off it was because maintenance needed it off to work on whatever the problem was.

So we're down to one thing that absolutely should not have happened, assuming that the rest of the story is accruate. Both government rules and therefore company policy say that the passengers should have the option of getting off the plane after no more than 3 hours. Likewise, the passengers should get periodic updates every 15 minutes. If neither of those happened the pilots screwed up big time.

Without knowing the reasons for the delays it's impossible to know if a voucher is due because of them although the last one appears to be for mechanical reasons but doesn't sound like it was that long by itself. But not being given an apportunity to deplane for over 5 hours is justification for a voucher. If the first, long delay was ATC, it's possible that it started out as being much shorter then was extended, possibly several times. If it approached the 3 hour limit, an extension could have put the pilot in the position of going back to the gate then starting the delay process all over again or waiting longer than 3 hours. That's a bad position to be in - get an hour extension to the delay at 2:45 then have a 3:35 delay when ready to leave the gate again or go at an anticipated 3:45 delay from original gate departure.

Anyway, without further information and assuming that the story is accurate something is due so use the website to lodge a complaint. Leave out the emotion and anything that can't be substantiated like the reason for turning off the air, the lengths of multiple delays, etc.

Jim
(Bolding above mine) As I read it, and admittedly, it was a challenging read, they didn't board the plane until 4 hours past the scheduled departure time (scheduled dep 6:10pm; actually boarded after 10pm) and then sat 'on the runway' for an hour, which is why he is saying the plane had been sitting on the runway for 5 hours. I don't think the passengers were actually on the plane without opportunity to deplane for 5 hours. From what I gather, they were onboard for only an hour or so. But the plane itself had already been sitting at the gate for 4 hours before they were boarded. Unless I am reading it wrong.
Finkface is online now  
Old Jul 4, 14, 5:21 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: PHL
Programs: AA ExP, Marriott Amb, National EAEE, Hilton Diamond, SPG Plat, US CP (RIP)
Posts: 2,097
Originally Posted by cactus47 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moultrie
What would you recommend that I do? Start a petition? Put in a complaint to a government official? Turn this into a HuffPo piece?




Nothing. Nobody will care. The story blows the facts out of proportion.
And reading it makes me support the decision to call airport security. It appears friend of OP was instigating a civil disturbance.
Segments is online now  
Old Jul 4, 14, 6:15 am
  #13  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Netherlands
Programs: Platinum: KL Gold: A3 Rust: BA
Posts: 25,533
Originally Posted by Moultrie View Post
US 1711 from CLT-EWR.

my plane last night was supposed to leave at 6:10 pm and land at 8:10 am
Wow. Slow progress. Bicycle-powered plane?
irishguy28 is offline  
Old Jul 4, 14, 6:57 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: DCA
Posts: 7,058
There is some weirdness and strong anti-authority sentiment to this story to be sure, but one thing does jump out to me. If in fact a pax lost consciousness and calls for medical assistance were overridden, then that is a big issue.

In case no one else has looked up the stats, this flight did not get in until 4 AM, so the time frame for all of this is plausible.
arlflyer is offline  
Old Jul 4, 14, 8:14 am
  #15  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Frisco, TX
Programs: The Airline Run by Doug P
Posts: 22,092
I couldn't even finish reading the OP. Way too long and rambling. I lost interest about a 1/4 of the way through.
enviroian is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: