Massive flight cancellations

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Mechcozmo, Dec 26, 2004.

  1. Mechcozmo macrumors 603

    Mechcozmo

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2004
  2. homerjward macrumors 68030

    homerjward

    Joined:
    May 11, 2004
    Location:
    fig tree
    #2
    damn, that's awful! and on christmas day, too...i bet someone's head will roll...
     
  3. iJon macrumors 604

    iJon

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    #3
    Man that's crazy. I just hope weather and computer permit me to make my flight from Chicago to Frankfurt in a couple of days. Nothing worse than missing a flight, especially one that doesn't leave so often.

    jon
     
  4. AnewMac macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2004
    Location:
    The Northern Plains of OK!
    #4
    Airlines tick me off. Why cant they just do their job and do it right? Granted the weather is hard to control, but do they not plan ahead? They just want toflop and look for their next government handout to bail them out.
     
  5. pivo6 macrumors 68000

    pivo6

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2002
    Location:
    Minnesota
    #5
    My aunt was flying from Amsterdam to Des Moines, IA with a Comair connecting flight from Cincinnati and was affected. At least they got her on a flight to O'Hare last night and then to Des Moines, IA this morning. I haven't talked to her yet, but I'm sure that she's tired and a little pissed off as well. This was probably the first time she's flown Delta. It may be the last.
     
  6. wdlove macrumors P6

    wdlove

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2002
    #6
    I heard about that, just so many cancellations due to weather in the Midwest that it caused malfunctions in the computer system. Can't imagine why they wouldn't have a better system in place. Withe the airlines it seems to be like a snowball rolling down hill. The problems just keep mounting.
     
  7. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
    Location:
    LaLaLand, CA
    #7
    I'm glad I flew out on Thanksgiving. There's no way I'd want to be out there on X-Mas or New Years. Sure, I know, it's the Holidays. Family is important. But I'd rather see them before and after the Holidays than not at all.
     
  8. Inspector Lee macrumors 6502a

    Inspector Lee

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2004
    Location:
    East Lansing, MI
    #8
    Flew from Orlando back to Michigan yesterday. There were people at my gate heading to Newport, VA on a flight before ours. From my seat at a nearby pub, I was able to watch all of them board, sit on the plan for 5 minutes and then all of them unboard because their airport closed right when they were ready to taxi. They had been delayed for 5 hours at the time and were informed they would not be able to leave until this AM.
     
  9. wdlove macrumors P6

    wdlove

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2002
    #9
    Logan Airport here in Boston just cleared the second runway today about noon. They have interviewed passengers that have been stuck for days. The airlines are hoping to be back to normal by Wednesday. It was mentioned that when the delays are weather related the airlines are obligated to put a passenger up at a hotel.
     
  10. 5300cs macrumors 68000

    5300cs

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2002
    Location:
    japan
    #10
    Situations like this always remind me of Planes, Trains & Automobiles. One of my favorite movies :D

    AnewMac It's not that easy. They have the FAA to deal with as well.
     
  11. jxyama macrumors 68040

    jxyama

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2003
    #11
    whew. made it out to seattle from michigan just in time... left christmas eve on a northwest direct flight - one good reason to pay a bit extra for the direct flight... less stress, less chances of things going wrong, etc. it was also fortunate that the big snow missed detroit. it was clear by last friday...

    the flight was delayed 3 hours anyway, but detroit had some bag checking problem after an hour or so after i checked in. just missed that too.

    i hope people get to where they need to soon, or find their luggage...
     
  12. puckhead193 macrumors G3

    puckhead193

    Joined:
    May 25, 2004
    Location:
    NY
    #12
    I think the airlines people don't have souls. I hope the company lost millions of dollars because of this. I hope now they will smarten up and use OS X in the future :p
     
  13. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2003
    Location:
    Penryn
    #13
    Yeah, they probably did and it will only hasten their bankruptcies. The airline industry is in a serious mess; unfunded pensions, high fuel prices, lots of competition from younger, leaner airlines like JetBlue and increased security costs. The next few years are going to see a major upheaval within the industry and it ain't gonna be pretty but it is long overdue.

    I can't blame the airline employees for calling in sick like they did, they're definitely overworked and underpaid unlike the executives of the airlines.

    Anyone who insists on flying during xmas is only asking for trouble.
     
  14. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #14
    The airlines created their own mess. Just like the car manufacturers. The consumer has been trained as to what something should cost. They are forever taught the people thinking flights should be cheap, regardless of the fuel prices. Security costs are paid for by special taxes on our tickets, so that doesn't fully wash.

    Hard to get the people to take a 10 to 40 percent paycut, when the execs have "golden parachutes". And add to that belt tightening for the airline exec means that they have to stay at a three star resort instead of a four star resort on their vacations - never mind their workers have to worry about how do they keep their house.

    Flew on Christmas Day last year. Lucky the weather held out. Probably won't fly on Christmas again though. America West canceled all but two flights from Dulles that day (they did this ahead of time), so the flights were crammed to the rafters. They "lost" the baggage (courtesy of Delta), failed to have the special meals on board. Just poor service all the way around.

    This compares to the excellent customer service from the Luxor on that trip. Had reserved a large Jacuzzi suite in the pyramid, they only had small ones available (rooms were under renovation). Sensing our big disappointment, and that the reservations had been made over six months prior, the desk manager that was checking us in upgraded us to a suite in one of the towers. We mentioned our lost luggage and the need to hear about it as soon as it arrived (we were hopeful), so that we could have dinner at one of the nicer spots in town where we had reservations.

    Later that afternoon, she called us to let us know that the baggage had not arrived. But she did have good news, we had reservations setup for us in the Luxor Steakhouse in their private dinning room, courtesy of the Luxor.

    Keep in mind we are not high-rollers. We had stayed at the Luxor two times before in the pyramid, on their budget rate. Total we probably gambled $1000 on the two previous trips between the two of us. It was customer service above and beyond.

    Airlines can't go that far. But they should be more in tune with customer service. Using weather as an excuse gets them out of some of the rules for delayed and canceled flights. They need to have plans in place to notify passengers ahead of time of cancelations and delays. In order for this to work, they need to be honest.

    For USAir. I understand the need to keep planes on schedule. But would it not have been better to tell people up front that there were baggage problems, that their baggage would most likely not be on their flight?

    For ComAir. Such a critical piece of their operations - a computer system - does not have a back-up?

    For some of the "no-frills" airlines I have flown on, do have the message that cheap flights do not mean that there is a lack of customer service. I remember back in the early days of Southwest Airlines, that Keller and his execs would have been out at the airport doing what they could to get the passengers on their way. For many of the major airlines now, the CEO's are faceless people hiding in their "bunkers" in the Hamptons, afraid of ruining their manicured nails.
     
  15. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    "Between the Hedges"
    #15
    Ouch puckhead193, I just lost my job at this major airline (busted back to baggage handling myself), and I would disagree with your characterization about them not having a soul. ;)

    There are many good and decent people just like all of you who work with the airlines, but we are overshadowed by the pricks in the 'minority' that are out there. In many cases the employees are just as much a victim of the airline's decisions as the passengers are, and are even more frustrated.

    The airlines are a very unique and crazy industry, and there are many, many reasons for the problems they face, none of which should shoulder all of the blame. The events of 9/11 only put a spotlight on the problems that were already there.

    The margin for error (profit?) in the airlines is razor thin. The RASM (revenue per average seat mile) and the CASM (cost per average seat mile) are so close that any variations can upset the balance. Throw in the rise in fuel prices and this major airline spent over $1 billion more this year over last year just in fuel costs alone! And yet ticket prices cannot be raised, because you will be under cut (or not matched) by the other airlines. Transferring most of the ticketing procedures to the internet saved the airlines lots of money, but cost them in the end because it made price comparisons so easy for the consumer. Most (not all) opt for the lowest price, don't you?

    Dealing with rising fuel costs, the FAA restrictions, TSA and Homeland Security Directives to name a few, will drive the industry crazy and into bankruptcy on its own. Airlines only make money if the plane is in the air, so they schedule them to turn too quick, and any disruption throws the schedule out of synch. Add to that the uncertainty of the weather and you have very volatile mix. Planning ahead is one thing, but having back to back to back hurricanes in Florida is something that nobody can prepare for, or overcome. This was devastating to the people in Florida/Alabama, and was disastrous for the airlines as well. Winter weather is a nightmare. Much of it can be offset, but storms like the one we just had in areas that aren't normally affected will paralyze the system. Delays for deicing, etc. are unfortunate, but necessary. I too, will be interested to hear the resolution to the Comair computer system meltdown. I would guess that there will be some heads that will roll over that one. Incidently, passengers don't always realize that while the weather is clear where they are, the weather in route or at their destination may preclude them leaving on time. ATC, air traffic control, delays are out of the range of the airlines in most cases.

    When it comes to technology, the airlines are woefully behind because of the capital investments needed. They will invest in areas that affect the customer the most (bang for the buck). The kiosks, etc. are an example. They are fairly state of the art, but the infrastructure is woefully lacking. You mention OSX, which obviously won't happen, but I know our airline is still running much of their system on old mainframes. Even when they upgrade(?) to Windows (we were using '95 and NT until the end of this year, and much of the system still is), much of the work is done in a window that accesses the mainframe. It is pathetic when you think about it. I have recommended that we save $$$$ by using Linux where possible, but I am laughed at. What do I know? I use a Mac at home. We are now moving to XP, but it is a nightmare for the techs to troubleshoot. Even switching to Firefox would be an improvement, but everyone is locked into IExplorer. It is taking them a while to understand the need for cutting edge technology. They don't have people who can sell them on the ROI, return on investment. So, I'm really not surprised by the Comair meltdown. These carriers are even further behind than the majors, even though they may be owned by the majors. Others have been hit and shut down by viruses and such, thought the media is kept out of it for the most part. Too much egg on the face, and too many questions. Airlines understand technology about as much as my wife. "What do you mean you need a new computer? That one still works doesn't it? You've only had it 8 years!"

    Too be sure, much of the woes are directly attributable to bad management and decision making (insert lining the pockets of execs). I have seen some really bonehead decisions made that cost millions. But bad employees contribute their part. It is true that front line agents (ticket and gate agents) can be rude and unresponsive in some cases and I'm sure everyone can give a story about lost bags, rude agents, etc. But I have witnessed the most gawdawful abuse given to them by passengers as well. When given the choice, I chose to go back to baggage handling instead of working with the "customers". I'm afraid I wouldn't just be rude back, I'd hurt somebody.

    The Low Cost Carriers are running the show right now, and the Legacy carriers are having to respond. It is brutal, and bloody right now and will be for a while. Only those who can adapt will survive. Several won't. Air travel is here to stay, but who the carriers will be is up for grabs. It is a cutthroat industry. The airlines are killing themselves in their efforts to gain one more customer.

    Just remember, the people that work for the airlines are struggling to understand them just as much as you are.

    BTW, thanks to everyone in the support you have shown in the loss of my job. :)

    Woof, Woof - Dawg
     
  16. jxyama macrumors 68040

    jxyama

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2003
    #16
    i think another problem is that airline is a very critical part of the american transportation system, it's really also an "utility," not just a "service." low fare airlines cannot be the only ones succeeding because people living in remote parts of the country also need access to reasonable air travel. since low fare airlines (can) operate only on profittable routes, if the demand is thin, that market won't be served. to a degree, we have to have large airlines that will subsidize unpopular or not so profittable routes because people need them. someone living in north dakota should not be told that they need drive to denver to get on a plane...

    it's a very complex industry.

    in japan, it's very well done. it's almost like a bus or a train - you can go to tokyo airport the day of your travel, no reservation, and still get on a plane to pretty much anywhere in japan if there are empty seats. all that in less than an hour, if you are willing to pay the price. (which is little steeper than the u.s... which says more about the low u.s. prices than anything actually, it's quite amazing how cheap airfares are in this country...) much of this owe to japan being a fairly small country, having only two hubs, tokyo and osaka, and the fact train system complements the plane industry very well. if you have the money and the route available, you fly, otherwise, train is more than capable of taking you where you need to go on reasonable time/fare...
     
  17. wdlove macrumors P6

    wdlove

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2002
    #17
    I think that the average airline worker like Dawg are doing there best for the traveling public each and every day. As mentioned it's management that's at fault. I don't envy them their job caught between investors, government, workers, and the public.
     
  18. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    "Between the Hedges"
    #18
    Here is a CNN article that illustrates my point about airlines and technology.


    Here is the story

    Incidentally, you will find this comment interesting...

    This was the "sasser" virus that infected the XP computers not only at the OCC and LCC, but infected numerous computers across the network multiple times as clean computers were reconnected to the network.


    So lets see... the government will do a terrific job at this just like they have with the TSA and security with the airlines?? Big brother gets his hand in the dough before the pie is even made now.

    Woof, Woof - Dawg
     
  19. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #19
    Good point. Some of the best airlines I have been on are those that seem to empower their employees to do what is right for the customer.

    I am sure that 'Dawg will correct me if I am wrong; but part of a carriers on-time performance is when the plane pushes from the gate, not when it leaves the ground. So you end up with time wasted sitting on an airplane. It is one indication of the lack of concern for the customer.

    The rules are such for the carriers that is worth their lying to their customers rather to admit their failures.

    I feel for airline workers. The unfortunate part is the carriers have looked upon the customer as cattle. Frequent Flyer miles helps keep customers coming back; but better customer service would do so much more. And might be cheaper. And in the end the customer would not show up expecting the worse causing grief for the employees.

    Deregulation of the industry has been a blessing and a curse. For a majority of flyers it has lowered fares. In smaller markets it has eliminated service, or raised fares to unaffordable levels.

    In the end the problems of the carriers is not just theirs alone. It is an indication of the problems of the workplace in the nation. We have a system of bloated upper management compensation that fuels the desire to please investors that ends up hurting the worker. I remember a time when layoffs would mean a stock going down, not up.
     
  20. bubbamac macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2003
    #20
    On time that is most commonly reported is measured when the door opens at the gate. There's also an on time departure time - when the door closes at the gate.

    Ground time, both taxiing in and out, is very expensive for the airlines, regardless of how the customers feel about it - and the airlines do care about how the customers care about it. Unfortunately, weather, as well as a host of other reasons, can collide in unfortunate ways to lead to long ground times. I simply don't have the time to go into it here.

    There are customers that customer service counts for - and the airlines do their best to identify and take care of those customers. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people don't put their money where there mouths are when it's time to put the credit card down and buy a ticket. Invariably, regardless of cost, people will buy the cheapest ticket, with no regard for who it's on. You get what you pay for, and there are enough cheapie airlines out there that the good airlines have to compete at unprofitable prices. What I'm saying here is that the customer is part of the problem. Not the whole part - but if the customer insists on paying less than what it costs to produce the product, well, they're not going to get very much - not for long.

    Think of it like buying a computer. Those of us here could have bought the first $399 Dell we ran across, but we recognized the value of a well-made computer. We bought Macs. In fact, we didn't even pay more, really, than a comparably equipped Dell - but we took the time to find out.
     
  21. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #21
    Well said Bubba'

    Sort of fits in with what I said about the airlines and other companies creating their own monsters. By taking and giving away the product when they felt they had to, they have created the impression that what they charge is the cost of the goods and services - with a profit in there too. For the consumer doesn't think that a company will "give away" something for nothing - that there is always profit in there.
     
  22. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    "Between the Hedges"
    #22
    Most airlines swing the pendulum back on forth on empowerment. When they emphasize cost reduction (like now), they hold a hard line on perks and such, and cut off things the customers have come to expect without any warning. (oversized/overweight bags, carry on of guitars, extra charges, etc.) The inconsistency between stations is amazing as they enforce policies. Then the pendulum swings, and employees are supposed to instantly shift gears and supply phenomenal customer service and do what is 'right'. It confuses the customer (and the employees). Then, to try and balance it, the require both... enforcement of strict policies with a smile and excellent customer service, sort of a smiling "screw you" attitude that doesn't go over very well.

    The other part of that equation is that customers are being trained by consumer radio talk shows and web sites to not only expect airlines to do what is right, but to do whatever the customer wants. Some of these media outlets show consumers how to lie and cheat airlines out of upgrades, etc. A customer who demands something is far less likely to get it than one who is courteous.


    On time performance is huge, because it is the perception of reliability and is the focus of the DOT. Rankings are reported religiously, and nobody wants to be blamed for delays.

    On time is actually measured in departures and arrivals. Leaving late can be made up in the air and arrival can be on time. However, the tighter the schedules get (because of costs), the more important departure times become. Atlanta will undergo a huge change in January of this year relating to this. The truth is that the measurement isn't when the door closes or when the plane pushes back, but when the pilot activates his ACARS. But yes, it does mean sitting on the tarmac for long periods of time, but much of that is not in the control of the airlines, but with ATC (air traffic control). ATC routes the planes and directs the traffic on the runways and in the air. Weather is the bane, but many factors can affect ATC, to no direct fault of the airline, other than the fact that they have scheduled too many flights for the 'window' of opportunity. Its like rush hour traffic.


    Airlines do cater to the frequent flyers, because they fly the most and pay premium $$$, but the climate is changing. Business travel is down due to cutting costs by other businesses, the internet and such. The leisure traveler is being targeted more and more.

    As far as treating them like cattle, that is what the customer has created (in airlines like Southwest), because of the demand for lower and lower prices. Customers swing the pendulum too, going from no frills flying at low cost, to demanding service again, at that same low cost. You can't have both, because you are not paying enough for the product. It is cheaper to fly than it is to drive somewhere in many/most cases!


    As much as I hate government interference, I absolutely agree. I never thought I would say it, but the government may have to step back in to the airlines. The cutthroat dealings have to stop, and I don't see the airlines being able to handle it themselves. There will be air travel, it is essential. So it is in nobody's best interest to see them fold. It is a mess, a huge mess.


    I have always felt this way about the airlines, that they paid too much attention to Wall Street and not enough to their employees and customers. If they took care of their employees, they would take care of the customer, who would in turn drive Wall Street.

    Woof, Woof - Dawg
     
  23. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    "Between the Hedges"
    #23
    Ground time and taxiing are incredibly expensive, it eats fuel, and the airline doesn't make money(?) unless the plane is in the air. As I said, some of those things are out of the control of the airline, ATC and weather being 2 big factors. There has to be a balance between on time departure and customer service. I saw a 727 loaded to go from Atlanta to LaGuardia one day sit fully loaded on the tarmac for 2 hours because of weather in NY, not in Atlanta, we finally brought it back to the gate and cancelled it. Just awful, but as long as people make decisions, people will make mistakes.


    Cost is driving everything now. The internet has made price comparisons so easy, and the competition is so fierce. Airlines are giving away their product in order to get a customer, but that customer is not loyal, but is price driven. It can't go on forever. We will lose several airlines this year. I understand that USAir, ATA and Independence are good candidates to fold completely this year. There will be mergers and consolidations. It is inevitable at this point. The airline industry will survive, but who the players are is up for grabs. The ones that can adjust and provide customer service at low cost will make it. But that business model is very costly right now to the employees.


    A good analogy. I pay more for a Mac because I get what I want, period. I am willing to pay a premium. Those who buy a cheap Dell or Gateway, and then complains about Windows, security, crashes, lost data, etc.... I have no patience for them. The same is true for someone who pays $99 for a ticket around the world and then complains that they don't get upgraded, a meal, a smile and perks, well, they need to get a grip.

    Woof, Woof - Dawg
     
  24. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #24
    Maybe this is a topic for a different thread, but what is a "fair" fare? I know that this differs from market to market. Major urban areas will see the best deals usually.

    Is it time for a system based on the miles flown? Then it would be customer service that drives the market?

    I am disappointed that many of the carriers I flew, regardless of price, have gone by the wayside or are about to. They were saddled with poor routes, and aggressive actions by the majors. It is hard for an airline with the right ideas to survive.
     
  25. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    "Between the Hedges"
    #25
    Fare structures right now are ridiculously complicated... based on markets, seasons, days in advance, and each aircraft has different fare structures for the number of seats they have, a certain number sold for one price and others sold for a different price. Customers can sit next to each other and pay widely different fares. It is counterproductive in the current industry and there are signs that this is changing too.

    The major or 'legacy' carriers are desperately trying to match the low cost carriers right now, and that is killing them. They claim to have the better customer service (which is debatable), but right now price is more important.


    Carriers like Southwest and JetBlue who have made huge gains over the past few years are starting to slow down and have reality check. JetBlue will start having to pay for their airplanes and maintenance soon. That will have a huge affect on their price structure. Southwest is abandoning some of their previous practices, and the distinctions will begin to blur more.

    Bullying tactics will continue. Imagine Walmart coming in to a town and undercutting everyone's cost and driving them out of business. That is what the legacy carriers used to do, then they would raise fares. Now they can't do that. But everyone tries to undercut, and nobody will match fare increases. It is crazy but they fly full airplanes and lose money on them. People don't understand that fares are about the same as they were in the late 70's. What else costs the same as 30 years ago?

    Woof, Woof - Dawg
     

Share This Page