Another Phl Nightmare

Art at ISP

Veteran
Aug 20, 2002
2,462
419
Dix Hills NY
Most of you know me--I am relatively easy going and I usually roll with the punches. Last evening, however, I had an experience which truly made me want to scream. As some of you are my friends here, I thought it worthwhile to post, and ask for your comments---and since I realize weather played a part in this tale, I have no issue with that part, but the rest????...please read on.

I was scheduled on 4223 ROC-PHL, connecting to 3700 PHL-ISP. I arrived very early at the airport since colleagues were leaving 2 and a half hours earlier heading back to the west coast (they actually got home before I did). The agent at the ticket counter told me PHL had problems all day, and offered me the 2:45 on CO Connection which connected in Albany (I declined because I am not real confident in B-1900's right now).

I expected about a 30-45 minute delay on the first flight, since the inbound AC was late out of RIC. We finally departed right about 1 hour behind schedule, which if we got into PHL quickly would have worked since they were projecting a 30 minute delay on my connection.

When we landed at PHL, it was about 5:35PM. It took almost 15 minutes to get from a 27R arrival to terminal F, with many stops due to ramp congestion. At around 5:50 we pulled up to the gate and shut the engines. We sat there for 8-10 minutes before an agent showed up to move the jet bridge, and we began to deplane. However there was no carryon luggage--about 30 passengers waited in the jetway for ALMOST ANOTHER 15 minutes before they brought the carryons up!!

I ran to my connecting gate, and SAW the airplane as the tug was disconnected, and just beginning to start the engines. I was getting mad--and asked the agent for the "off" time of the flight--she told me the computer couldn't tell her that, and she had no way of finding out (great training). I asked for a supervisor, who told me it showed off at 5:47 (30 minutes before). As I knew this to be impossible, I thanked her and proceeded to the club for one of the new $11 wraps and a cocktail.

The club crew was great--they told me the status of the inbound making up the flight and every time something changed Elizabeth came back to tell me what was going on. At about 7:30, plenty of time for a 7:44 departure, I went down to F3, and there was no airplane. It showed up at around 7:38. They deplaned, and I fully expected to see a quick turn and a flight to ISP where the crew would be finished for the day and the aircraft would RON. NOT TO BE!!!

The crew, with ONE LEG remaining, decides they need to take a break, and they delay the flight for "crew rest"!! Now I know the A/C had taken a significant maintenance delay earlier, and they had plenty of down time. They just disappeared, not caring that they were inconveniencing over 20 people booked on the flight, and they did not come back for 45 minutes!!!!!!! No apologies, no explanations to the passengers, and they wouldn't allow us to board for 10 to 12 minutes more!

Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think this rest period is an FAA regulation, more so a union one, and it bothers me that the crew could be so indifferent to the passengers (and the agents I might add, who could not believe they did this).

The bottom line is that I got home almost 4 hours after I was originally supposed to, for reasons PRIMARILY related to operational errors and arrogance. In the past 12-14 flights I have taken, NOT ONE has operated within 30 minutes of schedule!!

I had a very long conversation with a friend in consumer affairs today who documented everything I relayed (including potential false reporting in FLIFO). She said this is a normal occurrance at Express. She also told me that the flight record for the connection showed 30 minutes for crew rest and 19 minutes for a "mechanical" problem, which is total fiction.

Please do not take this as a rant, my friends, as most of you know me better. But if MarkMyWords or anyone has any additional information, I'd appreciate hearing from you--this was an avoidable and unacceptable situation, and could very well contribute to my being forced to look elsewhere (or back to LGA, which is really inconvenient).

For those of you on the front lines, you know how I feel about you--thank you for all you do. Unfortunately yesterday was one of those days, but it seems like EVERY day in PHL is one of those days. I am getting to the point where I am going to practice A P A A C (Avoid Philly At All Costs).
 
:( Art, So sorry to hear of your totally frustrating day trying to get home. I do not know the exact circumstances of this occurance but I can tell you that express crews regularly work 10-14 hours a day without a break. They may have been scheduled one and "lost" it due to a variety of reasons, many of which you encounter as a frequent flier. Many days the crews do not even get to step off of the airplane for 8 hours. If there is a maintenance delay we many times will not leave the aircraft due to the hope that repairs will be made quickly and sometimes that does not happen as quickly as we would all like.
It comes down to stretching the manpower to the max until the manpower says, "I have to eat." "I have to use a real restroom."
As a crew member, I can tell you that I bid away from Philly trips to lower my stress level. I am just so sorry that our passengers have to cope with it.
By the way, thank you for your positive comments when warranted. It is certainly appreciated. :rolleyes:
 
Art,

Check your PMs.....you'll find most of the info you want....

2clippedwings' comments are also valid. It is getting to be a real bear out
there on all sides of the industry, pax and employees alike.
 
I understand your annoyance at the gate delays and the amount time between when the plane landed to when you actually stepped into the terminal, but how is it PHL's problemy that US employees decided to take a break. Something similar could happen in PIT or CLT. Were the employees based out of PHL. I mean no question what they did was wrong but i wouldn't blaim PHL for that.
 
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usairways85 said:
I understand your annoyance at the gate delays and the amount time between when the plane landed to when you actually stepped into the terminal, but how is it PHL's problemy that US employees decided to take a break. Something similar could happen in PIT or CLT. Were the employees based out of PHL. I mean no question what they did was wrong but i wouldn't blaim PHL for that.
US85,

I am not blaming PHL for the crew break situation, which I have learned was even more unwarranted than previously thought. I am blaming PHL for the operational issues such as inept agents and the excessive delays in getting to the gate, moving the jetway in place, and getting the carryons. This seems indemic to PHL.

There are other issues, like false reporting of on/off times and delay codes, which are also system wide, put prevail at PHL.

This experience was just a number of things which cumulatively crossed the line of my threshold of pain-the fact that management considers this acceptable is beyond me.
 
Quit your kvetching art, you sound like some old LI yenta.

You are NOT that flight crew, you DO NOT KNOW what they'd been through that day, where they had been or where they had sat (if they even had it's very likely they weren't even with the aircraft during its mntc issue that you were told).
In my time here I've seen nor heard or been a part of a crew taking a break such as that unless it was absolutely warranted, let alone to 'screw' anyone.
But I have found the ground/gate personel at PHL to be very underhanded and selfserving, I wouldn't trust anything any of them say about the status/condition of a flight. I have also regularly seen them flat out lie to pax while I was standing right there, they often don't know the truth of the matter with unusual/irregular ops so they make things up.
Clipped is absolutely correct about us express crews frequently having 10-14 hour duty days and not having an opportunity to leave the aircraft for upwards of 8 hours. So keep your speculation about what the crew was doing to yourself.
As for the FLIFO information, I have seen more often than not, stations changing the delay codes to suit their purposes and not reflect the actual delay codes furnished by the flight crews to ops during the outbound times call.
So don't even begin to think that you can dictate terms or standards of performance to other people, it is not your place to do so.
If U ops disturbs you so much (because you always seem to be griping about something), go fly somebody else.
Everyone is getting so very sick of these new pax 'entitlement' attitudes that have re-emerged from the previously amicable ones where people did what they were told and complied with the regs while onboard.
 
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av8or said:
Quit your kvetching art, you sound like some old LI yenta.

You are NOT that flight crew, you DO NOT KNOW what they'd been through that day, where they had been or where they had sat (if they even had it's very likely they weren't even with the aircraft during its mntc issue that you were told).
In my time here I've seen nor heard or been a part of a crew taking a break such as that unless it was absolutely warranted, let alone to 'screw' anyone.
But I have found the ground/gate personel at PHL to be very underhanded and selfserving, I wouldn't trust anything any of them say about the status/condition of a flight. I have also regularly seen them flat out lie to pax while I was standing right there, they often don't know the truth of the matter with unusual/irregular ops so they make things up.
Clipped is absolutely correct about us express crews frequently having 10-14 hour duty days and not having an opportunity to leave the aircraft for upwards of 8 hours. So keep your speculation about what the crew was doing to yourself.
As for the FLIFO information, I have seen more often than not, stations changing the delay codes to suit their purposes and not reflect the actual delay codes furnished by the flight crews to ops during the outbound times call.
So don't even begin to think that you can dictate terms or standards of performance to other people, it is not your place to do so.
If U ops disturbs you so much (because you always seem to be griping about something), go fly somebody else.
Everyone is getting so very sick of these new pax 'entitlement' attitudes that have re-emerged from the previously amicable ones where people did what they were told and complied with the regs while onboard.
Actually, I have more information than you think. All I will say is that this particular captain had a bug in the wrong place that night due to events which occurred previously in the day, and that this particular break was unwarranted. I am not some "kvetch" as you put it. If you DID read here regularly, you'd know that the vast majority of my posts are positive, and that I am one of the most vocal supporters of the employee group here--not just on this board but to CCY and Consumer Affairs. I have stated here and to corporate REPEATEDLY that it is the front line employees which keep me totally loyal. This incident was indeed an aberration, and as the last straw in a bad day, something had to be said. This is a free forum after all.

Before you go off on some personal attack (which my answer is NOT by the way), get your facts. I did. Neither I nor MOST of the other US1's I know have any sense of entitlement. The fact is we spend almost as much time on the line as you do, if not more in some cases. I am much better informed than the average passenger (in fact my reliable sources are better than Chip's -just kidding), and as a pilot, I am also familiar with operational issues and FAR's. The information I have on this issue does NOT come from agents. Suffice to say that I know much more than I am going to state.

I agree with you about agents at Term F lying and making things up. I know more about operations than most of them do. I know first hand about this, which is why I looked further into it--I NEVER take a PHL term F agent's word for anything.

The bottom line here is I DO realize what most crews go through on a daily basis, and I am intimately familiar with PHL. I also know much more about the specifics of this particular flight, and stand by my position. I respect your right to respond and your comments, but resent your tone and namecalling. I can only say I am grateful there are not more people with your attitude at US. The rest of you know how I feel about you.
 
usairways85 said:
...I mean no question what they did was wrong but i wouldn't blaim PHL for that.
What they did was not wrong.

Art mentioned that he was wary of the BE1900, and rightfuly so. How do yo think he would feel about flying on ANY airplane where the crew had gone for hours without a break or without food? At some point it becomes a flight safety matter and has nothing at all to do with union rules. In reality, it is FAR that pilots deem themselves physically fit for duty at the controls. Proper rest and nutrition are essential to be 100% on mission. American Airlines recently proved that point tragically at Cali and Little Rock.

The circumstance should, and could, have been handled better. When the announcement was made that the crew was "taking a break," it should have been also made clear why the break was necessary for safety.
 
Art,
I appologize for snapping at you I did not mean it to be a personal attack, just an outpouring of built up frustration with the entire airline/pax situation lately.
I wasn't saying you were a kvetch, but asking you to cease the kvetching, capisce :huh: ?
Even with your extensive time in back, you have to admit that I/we see a much wider derth of pax than you do, and in excess of a daily basis this undesireable attitude the pax are aquiring (not ironically, the worst of them are on HPN, LGA, and ISP legs {usually going to or coming from PHL}). Not to say that ALL pax are acting as such, but many, nay most are, and it's a growing problem.
I'm aware of the support you have dolled out towards us in the past and I am appreciative of any help we can get against the mgmt hordes that are ruining this company and it's employee's lives.
I'm also aware of your 'source', who supposedly as a dispatch supervisor should know better than to be sharing company operational information with pax or the public.
Art please don't discount the fact that there is an inherent us vs. them mentality between dispatch/sched/mntc/mgmt, and the flight crews. Any info you receive from these personel should be taken with a grain of salt, and may be tainted by a personal grudge. Even though they may know some of the 'facts' they are not actually on the line and know the pressures and idosynchrasies of life as a flight crew. They get to leave their work and return to their homes/families every night and general work a relatively stable/fixed schedule unlike us flight crews.

As for this captain taking their 'break' like I said, I have never seen/heard/participated in any unnecesary acts like that. In fact there have been many many instances of things that should have been done that might have affected the on time performance (but not the safety) of a flight that we didn't so as not to inconvenience the pax.

Thanks for helping to keep us gainfully employed (at least for the time being).
 
Art,

While I can't speak to the PHL situation (thank goodness I never fly into there), I can speak to the meal break issue.

Our contract states that the Company realizes our need for proper nourishment during the day. Therefore they give us at least a 45 minute break every 6 hours of duty commencing with the first flight. Although this 45 minutes does not include the 20 minutes we are required to be onboard the aircraft prior to departure for boarding. So actually, we only have about 25 minutes.

Normally, we are scheduled for a longer break than that. However weather, maintenance, or other unforseen circumstances sometimes shortens that down considerably. In those cases, we try and work with our dispatcher to arrange for a crew meal somwhere down the line. Most often, they will provide a meal voucher, the same as what a regular passneger gets when their flight is late or canceled. The problem with a voucher is, you have to go inside and get food. It may not take 45 minutes, but it may depending on where everyone goes to get something to eat.

I don't think any crewmember out there tries to intentiionally delay a flight. But as station people can attest, "A well-fed crew is a happy crew" :up:
 
The Beech crew (Air Midwest, I assume) had probably been on the aircraft all day.
Many Express aircraft are scheduled for 20 minute turns. For example, 1000 arrival, 1020 departure. We are all familiar with the delays going in and out of PHL, so any aircraft going in there a few times a day will have its schedule backed up. Again, these are 14-16 hour days Express crews work, with 10 days off and and pay around 20 grand a year. There is no lavatory on these aircraft and certainly no food or drinks... I'm sure this crew would not inconvienience our customers if it wasnt neccessary. Now, as far as PHL Terminal F goes, I can't speak for them, that operation is an embarrasment and a true reflection of low wages in a high-cost city.
Art, I'm sorry you had a negative experience on a US Airways ticket. You are a valued customer to the employees, please let management know of all of your experiences, good and bad, and please continue to share them with us.
 
Art -

Sorry I didn't get back to you, but I am glad that you were able to get the information that you needed.

Please accpet our apologies for all of the service failures that you encountered on your trip, and they were just that, service failures.

ATC failed to get the aircraft to the gate in a reasonable amount of time. This is a huge problem wiht PHL due to the lay of the land, but the Air Traffic Controllers really don't try to help out the situation either.

The Gate Agent failed to be in place and ready for the flights arrival. Given that they sat out there for an additional 15 minutes, there should have been someone there and ready.

The Ramp Agents failed to get the customers carry on bags to the jetway in a reasonable amount of time. Again, with the additional 15 minutes that the airplane was on the ground before the gate should have provided ample time to have people in place for the arrival.

USAirways marketing failed because we continue to plan for "normal" operations when all we have is abnormal days. We continue to over schedule peak banks in PHL and wonder why we can't connect customers in 30 minutes. Connection times in PHL need to be readdressed and the contineuous flow hub design given serious consideration.

With regards to the FLIFO information, the original agent was probably correct that she was unable to provide you with accurate FLIFO information at that time. Since express airplanes are not equipped with ACARS, you would not get accurate out/off times until the aircraft was in the air and called them back to operations. What the Supervisor was quoting you was probably the last time the FLIFO was updated with an estimated departure time. So once again, the express dispatcher failed to keep the FLIFO information accurate and updated if it was outdated by 30 minutes and the Supervisor was giving out inaccurate information to make the Customer happy and go away, versus explaining why he couldn't give out accurate information at that moment and offer to get the information for him, when it was available.

As for the crew and the lunch break.....I think that DashFlyer spoke to that very well. None of us reall know what kind of day that crew had and what their needs were. We can all speculate as to when and if there was time for a break somewhere earlier or later, but the bottom line is that it happened. The crew felt they needed a break to eat. It may be possilbe that where ever the aircraft was broken previously, that it was one of those creeping delays that ended up being lengthy. Perhaps they were on a very short overnight and wouldn't have a lot of time to get something to eat on the overnight. There could be any number of reasons for the need to take a delay. The reason it was coded as a crew rest delay is because there is no delay code for crew needs to eat. LOL A crew delay says that you are waiting for a crew from one flight to connect to another, a crew rest delay is probably the more accurate coding for this delay. Another area of failure was the crew not taking the time to first apologize for the delay and second for not trying to explain what happened. I am sure Art would be very sympathetic to their plight if they would have come on the PA and explained what happened. Not providing information or accurate explanations is inexcusable and Art has a right to be ticked off. On nealy every level we failed to provide him with what he pays us for and to most of the employees involved it was no big deal. I am sorry, but to a customer, Time is valuable and we wasted 4 hours of his time and filled it with our own blunders. As employees, take the time to step back from a situation and put yourself in the customers shoes. How would you feel or react in his place? I would be pretty pissed off too!

Now, where did we get it right?

The check-in agent in ROC got it right when he offered Art options due to the delays in PHL. Knowing that there were operational problems and ATC delays he showed a concern for his making his connection home and offered alternatives. Bravo!

The USAirways club representative that provided updated information when it was available and sought Art out to give him that information. Bravo!

Av8or -

I am sorry my friend but your view of the Customer as the enemy or a burden is down right diplorable! These people pay our salaries and they are allowed to have "entitlement" issues. We failed this customer on so many levels we should be thankful that he is coming back. He was entitled to have a jetway driver there and ready when the plane got to the gate. He was entitled to the timely retrieval of his carry on bags at the gate. He was entitled to accurate and timely information when he requested it. He is entitled to an apology for his delay and a valid reason why. HE PAID FOR ALL THESE THINGS! For you to belittle his experience just shows how out of touch you are as a crew member. Perhaps you should open that door and speak with the people that pay your salary a little more often. Get a real prospective on things.
 
MarkMyWords said it best for most of the employees. Thank you for taking the time to state it so well.

Art, please accept my apologies, too. Any regular reader of this board knows you are one of the employees greatest cheerleaders. Your posts frequently make my day and give the little boost I need to make it through another day.

Frankly, I don't know what to make of all this. It's a story we hear far too often from our most valued customers. How and why is management getting it so wrong? What more can we frontliners do to get Dave's attention? I realize there's fires that need putting out but it seems to me the most urgent one is burning the customers.

Dea
 
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To All My Friends,

Thank you for your words of support and apology, although to be honest, no apology is necessary. I did not post this story to gripe or kvetch, or to espouse a feeling of "entitlement". I merely wished to point out a series of operational errors which added up to create a nightmare.

We have all spoken before about "perception". I am sure I am not the only passenger who was inconvenienced or annoyed with the operational failures in PHL on Thursday (or any other day for that matter). The problem is that many of the others in my position are not as well informed nor are they as understanding as I am. I allude more specifically to the "priceline" flier, who is the first to yell scream rant and rave when something like this happens. I have personally interceded on agents' behalfs on a number of these occasions. There is too much at stake here, and I agree with those who say that the company is doing nothing to IMPROVE the customer experience.

Regarding the break issues, I am the last person to deny the crew a break, but having been informed of the particular crew's experiences prior to that flight, it turns out they had multiple breaks during the day, including 2 long ones. Had they been scheduled to do a turnaround I might even be more sympathetic but this was the last leg--the a/c was to RON at ISP. As I said before, the captain definitely had an attitude of "I'll show them" when he deplaned and told the agent in a surly manner that they were taking a break. Therein is the problem.

Regarding my new friend Av8or, he did apologize for jumping the gun--he is not as customer negative as he appeared, so please cut him some slack. I think we're ALL just frustrated here.

I have made my comments known to corporate through a couple of channels, and will continue to do so. I remain one of the most loyal fans and promoters of the fine front line employees at this company, and ALWAYS tell management that YOU are the reason I stay. PHL Terminal F is an aberration, but one which can no longer be ignored.

Having said all this, I depart on another PHL connecting itinerary this afternoon--let's see how this one goes.

Thanks for all the comments and support.
 
MarkMyWords said:
Art -

Sorry I didn't get back to you, but I am glad that you were able to get the information that you needed.
*snipped for bandwidth*

Av8or -

I am sorry my friend but your view of the Customer as the enemy or a burden is down right diplorable! These people pay our salaries and they are allowed to have "entitlement" issues. We failed this customer on so many levels we should be thankful that he is coming back. He was entitled to have a jetway driver there and ready when the plane got to the gate. He was entitled to the timely retrieval of his carry on bags at the gate. He was entitled to accurate and timely information when he requested it. He is entitled to an apology for his delay and a valid reason why. HE PAID FOR ALL THESE THINGS! For you to belittle his experience just shows how out of touch you are as a crew member. Perhaps you should open that door and speak with the people that pay your salary a little more often. Get a real prospective on things.
Try re-reading my post, I don't view the customer as the enemy or burden as evidenced by my closing statement in my last message.
Nor do I believe that Art or any other pax doesn't deserve timely service (including parking, bag retreival, etc) I was speaking to general attitudes of the pax as of late. They're uncooperative, disrespectful, have no regard for the rules/regulations of being onboard.
There was a time shortly after 9/11 that all the pax were compliant and pleasant and afforded us the respect and authority that we deserved, but no longer. The old "i paid for this ticket i'm going to do whatever i want" attitude is back, worse even than before. And of course the company won't back up crewmembers. I remember hearing stories of the company appologizing to pax and cowtowing to their wishes when they were not complying with crewmember instructions.
Being in express we're doubly damned because we fly 'those planes' so derided by the ignorant public and jackass' in the media. So the attitudes surface more frequently/vehemently on our flights than on mainline flights.
When I'm deadheading on flights I do my best to answer peoples questions, or enlighten them to the facts of express flying and aircraft. Anyone that knows me personally knows that I'm generally a pleasant/affable person willing to help others occasionally at my expense.
 
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