01/03 Newark-Shanghai FUBAR

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by HeathrowGuy, Jan 4, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. HeathrowGuy
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    Ok, yesterday's Newark-Shanghai experienced a major lavatory problem about 5.5 hours into flight. Captain indicated flight could not continue, and flug would return to Newark. Apparently, some pax who either couldn't wait or did not understand the import of the situation used the toilets anyway, prompting a diversion to Goose Bay. They were on the ground at Goose Bay for some time, then took off again for Newark. They landed at Newark around 4am, and told to remain on the jet while repairs were attempted and jet refueled. Crew of course timed out, and the plane wasn't immediate repairable, so the flight was cancelled around 7am this morning.

    CO has rebooked pax onto a special section heading to PVG at 8pm tonight (delayed due crew). They gave the pax a rather pathetic 10% off discount cert for the inconvenience. :rolleyes:
     
  2. Hartmann
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    Punishment for using the lavs when they shouldn't have.
     
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  3. Wandering Aramean
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    A bit hard to believe the cannot raise a crew any faster than 13 hour s. Aren't there reserve lines even for the bigger planes??

    I wonder if there were other considerations like flight plan filing or permissions from China for the new schedule/arrival time.
     
  4. HeathrowGuy
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    I have no idea, but needless to say my friend is no happy camper with Unitednental right now.
     
  5. HeathrowGuy
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    To add insult to injury, they tried to charge him a change fee for trying to switch to EWR-CO-PEK-CA-SHA getting him home 12 hours earlier instead of the 17 hours delayed reprotect extra section.
     
  6. Seacarl
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    If they were 5.5 hours into flight they were somewhere near Alaska. Why wouldn't they divert to ANC or SEA instead? If ANC doesn't have the servicing, SEA can certainly fix a 777. They'd be 4 hours closer to PVG when they were ready to go and it must be a significant fuel savings. I understand it when they are 1-2 hours into flight, but 5.5 hours into flight to return to origin seems ridiculous. Or are they still operating with the mentaility of an airline where everything is done in EWR & IAH.
     
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  7. ssullivan
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    I don't think that's the case. CO has diverted Asia flights with issues to airports other than EWR and IAH on quite a few occasions - including places like ANC.

    However, according to FlightAware, it looks like the flight was between Canada and Greenland when the problems happened, and there was some circling out there before the flight diverted. In that location, a return to EWR makes sense.
     
  8. Seacarl
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    Not a lot of places to service a 777 up there!

    I figured a great circle route to Asia would have had them closer to Alaska. Maybe the 5.5 hour figure represents the time from take-off to landing, and they were really more like 2.5 hours from EWR, and other points weren't much better/nearer.

    If they were 5.5 hours out, it is hard to imagine that there wouldn't have been an airport that could service the plane that was within 5.5 hours of fligtht time that would have left them substantially closer to PVG.
     
  9. ssullivan
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    The great circle route does take them closer to Alaska. However, that routing doesn't take into account variables that change daily, such as wind and weather patterns, which can make a route that's technically longer in mileage more desirable.

    5-6 hours of flight time out of EWR would have put them on this map at a point where there's really no good diversion option. And, we really don't have all the information that would have gone into the decision that the pilots and dispatchers had to make - we're simply presented here with evidence from online flight trackers and second-hand testimony from a passenger on the flight, as relayed by a friend who wasn't on board. Given that, it's pretty difficult to pass judgement on the diversion location as being a good or a bad one.
     
  10. Hartmann
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    Doesn't really go close to Alaska, they use the polar routes:

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Seacarl
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    Actually on that map, if they were 5.5 hours out of EWR, they were about 2 hours from ANC. However as someone else said, perhaps wind and weather indicated a different routing. Or maybe they weren't really 5.5 hours out.
     
  12. ssullivan
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    Here's the map of where they really were yesterday, from Flightaware.com. If you search for the flight on their site and zoom in, you'll see where they circled back. So, yesterday's actual track appears to be heading somewhat east of the optimal great circle routing (which, again, only looks at the shortest number of miles). It's also possible that the turn toward Greenland was done to get off the main route and to an area where they could circle and troubleshoot the issue before making a decision to continue or divert.

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. Hartmann
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    Looking at the FlightAware map and the filed flight plan, they went more eastward.
     
  14. MSPeconomist
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    I'm having a hard time understanding the combination of can not continue and returning the whole way back to EWR. I would think that if the situation were dire, an airport closer than the 5.5 hours back to EWR would have been found. It sounds to me like the goal was to return the aircraft to it's hub more than to protect the passengers from a bad situation. At almost the halfway point, perhaps the concern was the difficulty of getting the plane repaired in China more than anything else.
     
  15. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Any idea what alternatives they were given? Coffee pots?
     
  16. HeathrowGuy
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    No clue how the bathroom issues were handled. And to be sure, my friend and I have no gripes about the return to Newark -- it's easier to be taken care of at a station with UACO personnel than at a random Airport where non-UACO local staff would be overwhelmed. It's the service recovery itself that's the problem.
     
  17. Wandering Aramean
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    FWIW, the polar route nearly always starts quite a bit east of "perfect" to take advantage of the favorable tailwinds for the first few hours of flight. It makes a big difference.

    And, while it is often possible to fix a plane anywhere it can land that doesn't mean it is fastest, cheapest or easiest to do so. Not really much of a surprise that they try to get 'em back "home" when the opportunity is available. If the plane goes out of service like this one ended up doing then what are you going to do with 250 pax at ANC that you couldn't do better for them at EWR?
     
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  18. Flyer1976
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    Plus the Crew would have timed out once landing in ANC thereby stranding 250 pax... Everyone needs to take that into consideration, that having been said I am quite a bit surprised it took them a while to find reserves in EWR if that's the case but of course let's all armchair quarterback with whatever information we can find... Unless you look in FLIFO one won't know what actually transpired update by update.
     
  19. Seacarl
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    If we assume they are running one airline now, UA has over 30 flights/day between USA and points in Asia - and capable airplanes coming from places like ORD, SEA, SFO, NRT etc. If there are 1 or 2 lightly booked flights, they could make a technical stop in ANC and add pax, or a plane can be ferried. Lots of options. And the pax are halfway to PVG instead of back at EWR.

    I have the feeling, however, that they are still running it as 2 separate airlines to the extent that no one at CO dispatch considers that a UA aircraft could be a resource to complete the trip. And that CO considers just about any station other than EWR and IAH (maybe HNL & GUM) as "foreign" and to be avoided with a broken airplane.

    It will be nice when they start fully leveraging their network.
     
  20. rggale
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    Can't you do this :p
     
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  21. Flyer1976
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    Oh sure...when I'm not on vacation :p Since I won't be back in the USA till the 7th I'll ask a friend of mine at EWR OPs if she knows anything about this flight...
     
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  22. HeathrowGuy
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    One positive update - I have confirmed that the flight has been flagged in CO's system for compensation post-arrival.
     
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  23. genemk2

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    What are the CO rules for when a flight gets flagged for compensation? My IAD-DME flight was delayed by over 2 hrs for MX, and no post-flight email.
     
  24. Flyer1976
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    If it's been flagged then most people will receive at a minimum of 2,500 OnePass Miles or $200 ETC.
     
  25. HeathrowGuy
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    And as my friend awaits the extra section departure, he texts:

    "Back at the gate. They're giving us food/snacks. Thanks again. You're a real ambassador for Star Alliance. Let me know if I can send an email or make a call, so that someone can note this."
     
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