PDT at PHL--Nightmare-the Final Chapter

RealityCheck

Senior
Aug 20, 2002
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It seems to me a solution was presented from square 1, fly to HPN and grnd. trans. to ISP, I assume the Grd. trans. would be covered by US,right?

If there is no one else that flies PHL ISP or PHL LGA or PHL JFK(with your knowledge of airlines you might know if there is or not and might have proposed this alternate OA to the agents there)..if they didnt propose this and shd have, than they were remiss...otherwise solution nbr 1 would have been the answer.It does no good to summon and attempt to deal with authority at this point, the damage done by radio breakdown and cxltion of flight was done and the prompt timely thing to do would have been to either abide by the solution proposed by ATO, or ask about alt.svc to NYC area on OA eliminating the need to drive the 150-200 miles you probably had to do, and then write C/A a letter later.
 

Art at ISP

Veteran
Aug 20, 2002
2,457
418
Dix Hills NY
www.ffocus.org
As some of you know, I took my family on vacation last week. As a proud US1, I was looking forward to showing how great US customer service is despite the current situation. Although there were significant delays on the way out to SEA, they were attributed to weather. The return, however, is another story. The lack of PDT support at PHL struck again! Coupled with the ineptitude of staff in Terminal F,this experience, coupled with the changes to Preferred accrual and ticketing, might just be the end of the road between US and me.
US 138 Friday night was just fine..although there was a medical emergency on board we arrived early, and the flight crew did a fantastic job of taking care of the ill passenger and making sure the medics got to him before we deplaned. We now had a 3 hour layover in PHL--so we went to the club, caught a nap and around 8AM we went to the club in Terminal F. On the bus we saw the PDT DHC8-300 which made up the inbound 3307 arrive at gate F-16. Knowing the airplane was there should have made me feel at ease but NOOOOO...
Around 9:20 we went down to the gate. The agent was checking people in (full flight) and the crew went out to the plane to prepare. Around 10 min later, just as the agent was about to begin boarding, the captain came back and made a phone call to Maintenance. The "story" was there was a problem with a radio, and the agent would let us know in 10 minutes or so what the deal would be. By that time passengers were getting nervous. The gate agent called for help from a supervisor (stupidvisor turned out to be more like it). He immediately cancelled the flight and said the only choice would be to fly to HPN (White Plains) and take ground transportation to ISP..that would have been 2.5 hours on a bus or taxi (especially with holiday traffic). They also said the 2PM to ISP was oversold (turned out not to be the case).
With a 12 year old in tears (she is nervous to fly after 9/11) and finding the airplane broken, I went back to the club and asked my friend there to get me a supervisor. The only acceptable solution was going to be for me to rent a car and drive home. Believe it or not they could not find a single manager in the F terminal!! Finally someone got on the phone "claiming" to be a line manager who had no authority. She chose to argue with me, trying to tell me HPN is only 37 miles from ISP and why wouldn't I do that? (You have to go around NYC to get there by vehicle, and it's more like 75 or 80 miles). She then said she had no authority to do anything and that she couldn't care less if I was a US 1 or a nobody, there was nothing she could do.
Well at this point after being treated with total disrespect I asked the club to have my bags pulled, rented a car and drove home. You can rest assured that consumer affairs will be getting the bill for the car rental.
Now the point--the plane sat at the gate for 2 hours before this flight was due to leave...surely the inbound crew must have noticed a radio problem and could have arranged for maintenance--since PHL maintenance is slow and doesn't like working on PDT planes, it could have helped..or at least they would have had extra time to reroute people. But they chose to wait until the last minute and cause excess strain on passengers (the Hertz bus I rode to the rental facility was full of passengers from that flight).
Now I know there is a problem servicing PDT aircraft in PHL. If they can't fix that then don't fly PDT aircraft at PHL!!! Of course the return ISP-PHL cancelled (they ferried the aircraft to SBY I think to fix it.) This is just a further example of what I have been saying earlier on these boards.
If it were me alone I could roll with the punches, and deal with consumer affairs later--there is no excuse for having someone pretend to be a manager and then argue. This person was rude, disrespectful and could care less about the problem. But I had my family with me, including a child who hadn't slept much and a wife who was freaking out. She asked me how I could ever fly every week with an airline who treats its best customers like that....good question.
Anyway, I put this out here for 2 reasons..because perhaps my friends at US can explain some of this and also to give you a break from the labor vs. management stuff which is happening on the board.
Sorry to rant, but I thought this experience would be of interest to some..
 

Art at ISP

Veteran
Aug 20, 2002
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Dix Hills NY
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Reality Check,

There were only 19 seats on the HPN flight, and 50 passengers to be accommodated. There was no other offer made--Eagle to BOS and then to ISP would have worked.

HPN was unacceptable and unwise due to the excess driving time--it proved faster to drive directly from PHL. They would have been better off providing ground transportation directly from PHL--but the "supervisor" said he didn't have the authority. Something stinks there.....

I do appreciate your input--there is no excuse for the lack of support at PHL and for the ineptitude of staff at terminal F. There is also no excuse for being treated rudely and disrespectfully--regardless of whether I am a US 1 or a priceline customer.

Also let me be clear that I am not a whiner---I have been discussing the lack of support for PDT at PHL as well as the inadequacies of the Express staff as well as the lack of alternative service to ISP for quite a while with some knowledgeable people--this is just an illustration. For what it's worth this incident will probably make me drive to LGA....I really don't want to change carriers.

Thanks for your views and best of luck to you and your colleagues...
 

deelmakur

Advanced
Aug 26, 2002
203
0
HPN is probably 37 miles from Islip. In fact, the flight to White Plains turns in from offshore right over MacArthur. Only one problem. You'd have to swim Long Island Sound. Otherwise, it's 80 miles by car...not a whole lot different than drivng directly from PHL. Art, that Express operation at PHL has never run well, new terminal or not. If it has management, I never found it. What your experience really does is highlight the basic problem (not counting elites on cheap tickets). While PHL is an excellent O & D market, as a hub it sucks. On top of that, the Express division at PHL is a mess, and it's the ground operation which causes it. The planes they fly are ancient (there's your reliability), and a lot of the ground staff have difficulty with their basic communication skills. USAirways says they will turn the company around, and they point to the strength of the Philly hub, and the new, smaller RJ equipment that's coming. I guess it's the glass half full (or half empty) argument, but in practice, to me that translates to putting more people through a poorly performing airport, and into the hands of the worst ground operation in the system (Express). Certainly novel, Do yourself a favor and drive the extra 30 minutes to JFK. I suspect, like me, you've been putting up with a longer trip,using a connection because we got the better seat. That all ended in the wee hours of the morning one day last week, when they added a short paragraph to the DM rule book.
 

dash8ter

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Aug 20, 2002
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Folks, please remember that not all "Express" operations are created equal. Performance standards are up to the individual Express carrier handling the operation. In this case, it is Allegheny handling customer service for the commuters in PHL.
 

St. Leibowitz

Member
Aug 19, 2002
60
0
I have been operating out of the Taj Majal (F terminal) at PHL since it opened. There are some real issues there that are a source of frustration for crew and pax; mostly related to gate arrival. Some of the problems are due to lack of staffing and some to lack of motivation, but that does not excuse the fact that the pax are subjected to unnecessary inconvenience. I have spoken to my company about this, I have spoken to Allegheny supervisors about this and I often have provided my card with the Express Division address and phone # written on the back to pax who voice complaint.

As a practical matter, I have established my own procedure for dealing with the following issues which are typically encountered in varying combinations:

Stop astride the vehicle road, set the brake and establish a roadblock; landing/taxi lights shining through the terminal windows. Call op's and advise there is no reception crew. When advised by ramp control I am obstructing traffic, I politely reply that we have called op's and as soon as I have a crew to meet the aircraft, I can move. This happens about 75% of the time. Typical wait time is 3-5 minutes. While I am waiting, I check to see if the gate agent is in the loading bridge ready to dock.

Into the gate, I open the aircraft door, jump 4 1/2 feet to the ground, go up the jetway, poke my head through the door, surprise the gate folks with the announcement that we have arrived and politely insist someone drop what they are doing right now and come dock us. 80-85% frequency.

As the agent is driving the jetway, I peek out the door to check progress of the carry-ons. When we are docked I walk past the agent and tell the FA to release the pax. Then turn to the astonished and dismayed agent, apologize, and tell him/her that I am not going to allow my pax to miss their connections waiting at an open airplane door that they are prohibiting from exiting because the rampers, after 10 minutes, have not yet retrieved the carry-ons. 100%

Then, depending on the progress noted during my peek out the door, I go down to the back of the plane and throw bags. 25%

I have established this procedure over the course of the last 13 months and have found that it significantly reduces the delay in getting the pax on their way. but even with all this effort, it consistently takes 10-15 minutes from the time we arrive at the gate until the first pax steps out of the plane, and sometimes as much as 20 minutes before the last pax has retrieved their carry-on and bolted amidst a cloud of tire smoke and dust for their connection.

I am always polite to the ground/gate crew, but am very clear that this should not be happening. Some get miffed at me, some appreciate the help, and the beat goes on.
 
OP
R

RealityCheck

Senior
Aug 20, 2002
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----------------
On 9/2/2002 2:58:36 AM

Folks, please remember that not all "Express" operations are created equal. Performance standards are up to the individual Express carrier handling the operation. In this case, it is Allegheny handling customer service for the commuters in PHL.
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It's called guilty by association.[:p]
 

navyguy

Newbie
Aug 30, 2002
4
0
For Art in ISP: I have thoroughly enjoyed your posts, and I thank you for being a loyal U customer. Your recent flight experience sounds horrible, and I wouldn't blame you for seeking accomodation elsewhere. For what it's worth, however, I would say that I commute to work using express out of PHL, and have found the experience seamless and comfortable since Chatauqua took over the route, using ERJ aircraft. Before that Mesa had the route, and reliability was a problem, so perhaps aircraft type and/or operator are determinants. In any event I have found the folks at terminal F to be pretty much brave loyal trustworth etc. etc., with few exceptions. I hope the you-can't-do-that-I-don't-care-who-you-are 'manager' you encountered was an anomaly, and that you will stay with us through these tumultuous times.
 

Art at ISP

Veteran
Aug 20, 2002
2,457
418
Dix Hills NY
www.ffocus.org
Navyguy,

Thank you for your kind words. I completely agree with you that much of the problem has to do with the operator--in this case PDT. There are 3 main issues here, notwithstanding the fact that this affected my family on the ONLY occasion I travelled with them.

1. Poor support for PDT at PHL--as PHL is an ALG station, I think their mechanics don't want to or can't work on the Dash 8-300--there are apparently enough differences between series to make this a problem. From no parts to long delays to even get something looked at, which often results in situations like this, the problem needs attention. Also there are no spares available--the most I have seen are 2 -300's at PHL at any given time. I know that this aircraft was subsequently ferried to SBY for repair. The only reason that there was not more of a snowball effect (3344 the same day) was that on Saturdays they substitute a -100 for that flight. This is an outstation for PDT, so you have to ask the question--if you can't support the operation of -300's, why keep them? The simple answer is capacity--50 seats per flight and they still oversell for the most part.

2. Letting the plane sit for 2 hours and not cancelling the flight until 5 minutes before boarding--this aircraft operated 3307 inbound and I saw it at the gate around 8AM or slightly thereafter. In all likelyhood a radio problem would have been noticed by the previous crew and would have been squawked when they arrived. At the very least the flight crew for this aircraft should have been out to the plane long before 10 min before boarding (which was the case here). Having the extra time would have allowed for a more orderly reaccommodation and would have made life a little easier for the already overburdened agents.

3. Staff at PHL Concourse F--according to friends within this is an ongoing problem-you get what you pay for. The gate agent was the only one who had somewhat of a handle on things-she announced that they would have an update in 10 min...then the "stupidvisor" showed up and just cancelled the flight--around 90 seconds later. When the angry mob (and they were angry) started circling for the "kill", I just left the gate area and went upstairs. The lovely lady in the club did everything she could, and she was frustrated as well at the inability to reach someone in authority. When she finally reached someone who claimed to be a supervisor (line manager?) this person was rude and unconcerned. When I asked to speak to the station manager, her reply was, "There don't be a station manager here."

As you know I have always supported US and its affiliates, and especially the people. With the exception of Express at PHL, you are some of the most professional and helpful group in the industry--despite the current situation. This situation, however, just illustrates my frustration with a system that is so clearly broken yet no one will address it. I ask for jets and we all know the reason why we can't have them. I ask for service to a city other than PHL and the answer is the yields are too low and ISP is not an important station (reading between the lines).

Whether I remain a US customer or not, I want you all to know I have the utmost respect and admiration for those of you I have met and/or communicated with here on the boards. I will continue to be a member of this community either way and wish each and every one of you the very best. I have no ill will for you or the company (with few exceptions).

I am off to LGA tomorrow for my next trip--yes it's on US...
 

N628AU

Veteran
Aug 22, 2002
909
106
www.usaviation.com
Art,

One point I need to state here is that the supervisor did not cancel this flight. Only PDT dispatch in Salisbury has the authority to cancel a flight. This goes for any airline. The arrival of the supervisor was probably coincidental. It is quite possible the radio problem could have happened after the crew got off if that plane sat for two hours. Not the most likely scenario, but possible. Regardless, I hope you stick with us. The arrival of more RJs into the system may just lead to your wish of service to other cities from ISP. Thanks for being such a loyal customer over the years.
 

Art at ISP

Veteran
Aug 20, 2002
2,457
418
Dix Hills NY
www.ffocus.org
Here's an interesting fact--

I just checked the web site for future travel and I see that by Nov/Dec, PDT has been banished from ISP--all the flying has reverted to ALG, with many of the original flight numbers. I also see that the 9:15AM flight has changed back to 6AM so now many early connections can be made.

Is this just a capacity reduction or is something else in the works? Perhaps someone finally got the hint.....
 

en-51

Newbie
Aug 21, 2002
10
0
www.usaviation.com
----------------
On 9/3/2002 7:58:33 AM

Here's an interesting fact--

I just checked the web site for future travel and I see that by Nov/Dec, PDT has been banished from ISP--all the flying has reverted to ALG, with many of the original flight numbers. I also see that the 9:15AM flight has changed back to 6AM so now many early connections can be made.

Is this just a capacity reduction or is something else in the works? Perhaps someone finally got the hint.....


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No Art I would not say they are being banished...they are losing about 8 planes around november so they are being redeployed closer to their base in SBY.
Further evidence is their lack of presence for intra-florida flying about the same time Nov/dec schedule.

Funny because Nov is the start of legislature in florida and the lobbyist and politicians still fly U on these routes..
 

MarkMyWords

Veteran
Aug 20, 2002
1,900
1
Art,

I am so sorry to hear of the difficulties in your recent trip. I know it is very frustrating. I sincerely hope that your letter to Deborah Thompson will get ot the right people in PHL and the problem addressed. There is no excuse for rude customer service.

I also wanted to support what N628AU mentioned to you. No one in any station has the ability to cancel a flight. That is always a dispatch office decision. As for the mechanical itself, it sounds like the crew found the problem on their pre-flight check. According to the station reports, the switch for the radio could not be fixed in PHL so the aircraft was ferried to SBY. That is not all that uncommon. Even at Mainline we MTC Ferry airplanes even between PIT and CLT or PHL and PIT. Sometimes it is easier to take the plane to where the expertise is, rather then send the people and parts to where the plane is. I am not sure what was wrong with the radio but it sounds like it was more then just a pop out and pop in a new part. I do know that you can appreciate that we would never compromise your safety, even if it means the inconvenience of cancelling a flight.

The good news is that you don't have to worry about those pesky -300's any longer. Looks like with the Oct Schedule change they were removed from the PHL-ISP market. And so was PDT. Looks like Allegany will be flying all but 2 of the trips. Hopefully this will give them some flexibility in routing airplanes, much better then the -300 did. I frequently fly from PIT to DTW and PDT has pulled their -300's from this route too. I wonder if they are deploying them to different markets, or if they are getting rid of them all together.

Art, I sincerely hope you will continue to fly with us. Hopefully, in the long run, there will be changes made that will provide you with more choices when you fly US. Perhaps, when se start getting deliveries of the new SJ's, you will get flights to PIT, CLT and DCA. [:)]

Safe and Pleasant travels to you Art.
 

CSSUP

Member
Aug 20, 2002
58
0
[/quote]


No Art I would not say they are being banished...they are losing about 8 planes around november so they are being redeployed closer to their base in SBY.
Further evidence is their lack of presence for intra-florida flying about the same time Nov/dec schedule.

Funny because Nov is the start of legislature in florida and the lobbyist and politicians still fly U on these routes..
----------------
[/quote]
Unless it is a special session Florida legislature has always in the past started in March.
Mesa will be taking over all intra-Florida routes in Nov. From talk in TLH, Air Trans jets have been dominating the TLH intra Florida markets.