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Old March 18th, 2010, 11:43 AM   #121
hkskyline
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New delay rule comes too late for Virgin fliers
17 March 2010

NEW YORK (AP) - A new federal rule that is supposed to prevent travelers from being stranded on airport tarmacs will be implemented too late to help Virgin America passengers marooned for 4 1/2 hours at a little-used New York airport.

Virgin America Flight 404 was forced to land at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh at about 5:30 p.m. Saturday after fierce winds made it impossible to land in New York City. The jet originated in Los Angeles and was bound for John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Once on the ground, the pilot and crew quickly found themselves in a pickle while they waited for permission to get back in the air.

Virgin doesn't normally operate out of Stewart, meaning it had no staff to bring the passengers food, unload their bags, or arrange ground transportation for the 90-mile drive to Kennedy.

Just getting people off the plane was a problem, airline spokeswoman Abby Lunardini said.

"There was nowhere for us to go to get to a gate," she said. The airline doesn't rent gates at Stewart and didn't seek immediate help from competitors who do.

As the hours ticked by, the airline periodically asked the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airport, to give small groups of passengers rides to the terminal, but fliers were told that if they left they couldn't return.

There was also confusion about who was allowed to go and who had to stay aboard, said passenger David Martin, the CEO of a social networking site called Kontain, who posted live video updates on the ordeal as the episode unfolded.

"We felt like we were stuck out there on the moon," he said.

Martin said he had fun anyway during the delay, mostly because he happened to be sitting next to "Dancing With the Stars" judge Carrie Ann Inaba.

"We had a fantastic time," he said. "I'm serious. We were just giggling and laughing. We talked abut the movie 'Alive' and how we'd have to eat each other to survive."

Still, one passenger had a panic attack, he said. Food ran short, and the crew resorted to rationing handfuls of potato chips and nuts. Some crew members snapped at passengers, Martin said.

A new Department of Transportation rule scheduled to go into effect in late April could mean fines of up to $27,500 per passenger if a plane is stuck on the tarmac for more than three hours, but it only applies if fliers aren't given the opportunity to disembark.

There are also exceptions for instances in which returning to the terminal would disrupt airport operations.

There is no fine for airlines that deplane passengers and then reboard them later when the weather clears.

It is unclear whether the situation at Stewart, in which some passengers got off, but others did not, would have qualified as a violation.

The Department of Transportation said it is investigating.

Of the 126 passengers on the plane, 20 opted to head for the terminal courtesy of Port Authority vehicles. Many hailed a taxi and were home in short order.

"Obviously, those people made the right decision," Lunardini said.

The rest remained aboard until about 10 p.m., when a ground crew from JetBlue, which flies regularly out of Stewart, came aboard, announced that the flight had been canceled and said they were there to arrange bus transportation to Kennedy.

A JetBlue spokeswoman said the airline was responding to a call from the Virgin America crew requesting assistance. Its workers also unloaded the passengers' bags.

Virgin America CEO David Cush phoned some passengers Sunday night, including Inaba and Martin, to apologize and all passengers have been offered refunds and credits toward a future flight, Lunardini said.

"Certainly we learned some lessons," she said.

Inaba posted on her Twitter page that the apology and refund had restored her faith in the airline.

The flight was one of eight diverted to Stewart because of bad weather.
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Old March 19th, 2010, 09:42 AM   #122
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Can someone please explain to me why they don't simply use stairs to plane and return to the lounge if none of the gates are available? And why exactly are planes boarded if they can't fly? I just don't understand.
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Old March 19th, 2010, 02:24 PM   #123
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The plane's code is "404"................ lol, reminds me windows error code 404
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Old March 19th, 2010, 06:24 PM   #124
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siamu maharaj View Post
Can someone please explain to me why they don't simply use stairs to plane and return to the lounge if none of the gates are available? And why exactly are planes boarded if they can't fly? I just don't understand.
If the airline doesn't operate at the airport, then it has no contract with the airport authority so everything from loading baggage to handling disembarking passengers would not be covered. That's why they had to appeal for help from another airline that has such a contract.
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Old April 19th, 2010, 05:57 PM   #125
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Plane Posturing Has a Price
26 April 2010
Forbes

In a fit of pique last December the Transportation Department issued a rule to punish airlines that keep passengers waiting on the runway for more than three hours. Carriers could have to pay fines of $4 million for a plane with 150 passengers and $8 million for a fully loaded 777. "That'll show 'em," crowed Congress and passenger rights groups.

Well, the airlines have made it clear that when the decree becomes effective at the end of April they will be quick to simply cancel those flights threatened by bad weather or congestion. You don't need a sophisticated cost-benefit analysis to arrive at that conclusion when you face an $8 million fine versus a revenue loss of $100,000. Carriers will just say, "Too bad; book another flight." And passengers will be more inconvenienced than ever. Only a minuscule fraction of flights (one out of every 7,000) ever reaches that three-hour deadline anyway.

Maybe transportation bureaucrats will come to their senses and mandate that passengers receive, say, a full refund or, perhaps, a 150% fare refund if the plane eventually does take off, instead of imposing these draconian, counterproductive fines. Given Washington's current weird mood, however, don't count on it.

Of course, if Washington were truly serious about clogged airports it would have modernized our air traffic control system years ago. Astonishingly, if we had the most up-to-date system ATC could handle more than twice the traffic it does today. Washington politicians should be paying big fines for their obstructionism on modernization, not the carriers.
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Old April 20th, 2010, 03:54 PM   #126
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The US should make a policy that only widebodies can fly between major airports (both serving 8m+ passengers). Give a 5 years deadline to the airlines. Between airports like JFK and LAX (basically 20m+) only 380+ seat airplanes should be allowed. No more narrowbody and crazy frequency BS. It'll bankrupt Southwest though.
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Old April 20th, 2010, 05:52 PM   #127
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Adding larger planes and reducing frequencies will greatly diminish the survivability of the already weak US aviation sector. Business travellers are big revenue earners and they crave frequency.
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Old July 13th, 2010, 05:10 PM   #128
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5 flights on tarmac more than 3 hours in May, month where airlines' on-time performance falls
9 July 2010

NEW YORK (AP) - There were five flights stuck on the tarmac for three hours or more in May, the first month under a new rule banning lengthy tarmac delays, the government said Thursday.

It will be several weeks to a month before any fines may be levied against the airlines for violations, as the Department of Transportation investigates. The maximum fine is $27,500 per passenger for airlines that do not return their planes to the terminal when they are delayed on the tarmac for three hours or more. There are exceptions for safety and security reasons.

Tarmac delays have fallen significantly since the government announced the new rule. While there were five flights stuck for more than three hours in May, that compares with 35 three-hour delays in May 2009. Tarmac delays also dropped in April compared with a year earlier.

United Airlines operated four of the five flights that were stuck this May. One of those United flights stayed on the tarmac for almost five hours. All four of the United flights were bound for Denver on May 26 when severe thunderstorms and hail swept through Colorado. Denver International Airport had 30-to-60-minute delays on average that day and limited use of runways.

United spokeswoman Jean Medina said all four of the flights were diverted to Colorado Springs where weather caused additional delays. She added that all the customers were given the chance to get off the planes.

Thunderstorms are one of the main causes of flight delays because they are difficult for airlines and airport officials to predict.

The fifth was a Delta Air Lines flight from Atlanta to Dallas-Fort Worth on May 28. That flight sat for two hours in Atlanta when the tarmac was closed for lightning. Delta spokesman Anthony Black said air traffic control denied the pilot's request to turn back to the gate, and the plane sat on the tarmac for another hour before it ultimately took off.

Overall the on-time performance of U.S. carriers declined in May from the same month a year ago. Flights were on-time 79.9 percent of the time in May, down from 85.3 percent in April and 80.5 percent in May 2009.

US Airways was the most successful major airline in getting travelers to their destinations on time, 85.3 percent of the time. Hawaiian and Alaska Airlines had the highest on-time rates overall in May.

Comair, which operates as Delta Connection, had the worst ranking in May with 67.1 percent of its flights arriving on-time.

Airlines also canceled more flights in May compared with the month or year before. Carriers canceled 1.2 percent of their scheduled domestic flights during the month, compared with 0.9 percent in May of last year and 0.7 percent this April.

Customers also appeared to be less satisfied with their air travel experiences during May. DOT received 801 complaints from customers about airline service in May, up 22 percent from a year ago.

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AP Airlines Writer Joshua Freed in Minneapolis contributed to this report.
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Old September 18th, 2010, 10:21 PM   #129
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Airlines late more often in July, passenger complaints climb from a year ago
14 September 2010

NEW YORK (AP) - U.S. airlines were late more often in July than a year earlier, but there were only 3 planes stuck for more than three hours, the government said Monday.

Although there were more late flights in July, the on-time rate for the country's biggest airlines in the first seven months of this year was the third best in 16 years.

The nation's largest airlines operated 76.7 percent of flights on time in July, down from 77.6 percent in July 2009. The on-time rate in July was better than the month before, as incidents of severe weather that delayed planes declined from June to July. The airlines canceled more flights than a year ago, but there were fewer cancellations in July than in June.

The best at getting customers to their destinations on-time was Hawaiian Airlines, which traditionally holds the top spot. Hawaiian was followed by Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, operated by parent company UAL Corp. The airline with the worst on-time rate was ExpressJet Airlines, which operates regional flights for United and Continental. Comair, Delta's regional unit, and Delta's main operations were only slightly better.

Passenger complaints to the DOT soared in July from a year ago, up 32.3 percent to 1,094. Some of the spike can be attributed to a recent option added to the DOT website that allows travelers to e-mail complaints about airlines. Most of the complaints in July were about problems with cancellations and delays. Gripes were down about 23 percent from June.

Airlines got more bags where they were supposed to go in July compared to a year earlier, but the mishandled baggage rate was up from June.

Only three planes were stuck on the tarmac for more than three hours in July, compared with 161 a year earlier. All three were American Eagle flights leaving Chicago's O'Hare on July 23, a day when a severe thunderstorm in the area kept many planes sitting on runways. All three flights went back to the gate and were canceled.

Three flights also were stuck for more than three hours in June, all on the same day -- June 18 -- at O'Hare when thunderstorms and strong winds battered the area. Weather accounts for a large portion of air traffic delays. In May, the first month a new DOT rule took effect threatening hefty fines for tarmac delays of three hours or more, DOT originally said that five planes were stuck on the tarmac for more than three hours. After an investigation DOT said four of the five flights -- all operated by United -- didn't count as violations because passengers were given a chance to get off the plane. That leaves one possible violation in May, a flight run by Delta.

DOT still hasn't said whether it will fine airlines that violated the three-hour limit. Although the government rarely imposes maximum fines, the rule calls for penalties as high as $27,500 per passenger.
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Old October 1st, 2010, 04:19 PM   #130
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Delta objects to new rules: DOT wants airlines to disclose fees, limit tarmac delays.
30 September 2010
The Atlanta Journal - Constitution

Delta Air Lines says several new measures proposed to improve passenger protections are unnecessary and would hurt carriers' flexibility and do more harm than good.

In comments filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Delta said new rules proposed by the agency "introduce inflexibility... that can harm consumers" and that the measures compromise the airline's ability to "distinguish itself from other carriers."

The proposed rules would require disclosures of certain fees, expand requirements aimed at limiting tarmac delays and increase compensation to passengers involuntarily bumped from flights, among other measures.

Atlanta-based Delta also said it already meets a number of the proposed federal requirements through current practices, including giving updates on flight status changes, providing a peanut-free zone when requested in advance, refunding fees when tickets are refunded and giving voucher compensation for baggage fees for bags lost or delayed 12 hours or more.

"Consumers do not need the government to decide for them what levels of service airlines should provide any more than they need the government to decide for them how much airlines should charge, or what schedules they should fly," Delta said in its DOT filing. Delta added that the proposed rules would increase airlines' costs.

The airline opposes proposals to require "full fare advertising," including government fees, saying they may confuse consumers. It also objected to a proposed requirement to display the full fare as well as the full fare plus baggage fees, saying unbundled pricing allows consumers to buy options they want.

The airline also said the DOT should modify its tarmac delay rule to require airlines to start returning to the gate three hours into a tarmac delay, rather than arrive at the gate at that time. Further, Delta said any increases in compensation for involuntarily bumped passengers should not be retroactive.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in June airline passengers "have rights and should be able to expect fair and reasonable treatment when they fly."
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Old October 3rd, 2010, 05:10 AM   #131
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LOL. What boloney. Showing the actual fare will confuse consumers!! Yeah, coz consumers feel right at home thinking that a flight costs $99, when it actually costs $499 coz of all the taxes, surcharges, etc.
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Old October 3rd, 2010, 01:00 PM   #132
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siamu maharaj View Post
The US should make a policy that only widebodies can fly between major airports (both serving 8m+ passengers). Give a 5 years deadline to the airlines. Between airports like JFK and LAX (basically 20m+) only 380+ seat airplanes should be allowed. No more narrowbody and crazy frequency BS. It'll bankrupt Southwest though.
Since when is it a good idea to regulate a free market?
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Old October 3rd, 2010, 03:07 PM   #133
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Well, airlines are going to resist bitterly since they need high frequencies to attract business passengers, especially the trunk routes.
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Old October 3rd, 2010, 04:13 PM   #134
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You can't force airlines to use wide body jets. The best is to both increase capacity (hopefully nextgen will do this) and also limit the flight congestion by regulating the number of flights per airline from an airport.

The airlines will themselves shift to wide body planes if the need so demands.
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Old October 3rd, 2010, 04:59 PM   #135
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Up the cost of slots and the airlines will obey.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 05:34 PM   #136
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Quote:
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Since when is it a good idea to regulate a free market?
Show me a country where everything is totally unregulated... If free markets don't work, you need regulation. Sometimes the invisible hand takes a break.

Secondly, American aviation is probably the best case you can present in favor of some sort of regulation.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 05:54 PM   #137
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Well, airlines are going to resist bitterly since they need high frequencies to attract business passengers, especially the trunk routes.
Of course they would! But this madness has to stop! I've this habit of just looking at flight information screens when I'm at airports and it totally drives me nuts when I see 3 flights from the same carrier leaving within 20 minutes to the same destination. I mean WTF! Just imagine the humongous cost savings of consolidating that into just 1 flight. As for attracting biz customers, yeah, for some time slots there'd be competition and some carriers will lose. But it'd be great for the customers. I mean fierce price competition for morning flight to LA from NYC for example. You just can't add more planes to get a part of the pie.

As for businessmen, I'm sure they'll adjust. I'm sure there's not a constant stream of narrowbodies flying every 15 minutes between pairs like London-NY, Sin-HK. Feel free to correct me though.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 06:25 PM   #138
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siamu maharaj View Post
Show me a country where everything is totally unregulated... If free markets don't work, you need regulation. Sometimes the invisible hand takes a break.

Secondly, American aviation is probably the best case you can present in favor of some sort of regulation.
What you are proposing would quite easily destroy smaller carriers or regional carriers.

And by the way, the route with a highest frequency (in terms of aircraft movement) in the world is Madrid-Barcelona and I have never heard anyone complaining about it. So it can't be that bad overseas.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 06:51 PM   #139
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Originally Posted by siamu maharaj View Post
Of course they would! But this madness has to stop! I've this habit of just looking at flight information screens when I'm at airports and it totally drives me nuts when I see 3 flights from the same carrier leaving within 20 minutes to the same destination. I mean WTF! Just imagine the humongous cost savings of consolidating that into just 1 flight. As for attracting biz customers, yeah, for some time slots there'd be competition and some carriers will lose. But it'd be great for the customers. I mean fierce price competition for morning flight to LA from NYC for example. You just can't add more planes to get a part of the pie.

As for businessmen, I'm sure they'll adjust. I'm sure there's not a constant stream of narrowbodies flying every 15 minutes between pairs like London-NY, Sin-HK. Feel free to correct me though.
Businessmen do not adjust. Business moves 24/7, and it has to flow unhindered as much as possible for the economy to properly function. London and New York actually has a lot of flights which could be consolidated into large jumbo jets. Sure, it will save landing charges, fuel costs, and labour, but airlines don't do it that way.
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Old October 7th, 2010, 02:43 AM   #140
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Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
Businessmen do not adjust. Business moves 24/7, and it has to flow unhindered as much as possible for the economy to properly function. London and New York actually has a lot of flights which could be consolidated into large jumbo jets. Sure, it will save landing charges, fuel costs, and labour, but airlines don't do it that way.
Most of the flgiths are wide-body, I never said they should use the largest possible plane. Put it this way, imagine using almost all narrow-bodies on LHR-JFK. I know some airlines use narrow-bodies for EWR-LHR, though.

Having said that, I shouldn't try to pass judgment on what on what businessmen want or not!
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