US Airways Cancels 530 Flights, Lets Passengers Sit On Tarmac 6 Hours With Overflowing Toilets, No Water

ABC 6 in Philadelphia is reporting that US Airways canceled 530 flights on Thursday, 130 of them out of the much maligned Philadelphia International Airport.

Burt Cole spent six hours on a plane on the tarmac to find out hours after that his flight was canceled. “On the runway for six hours, with only one engine going, so the air conditioner was only half working,” said Burt. “The toilet started overflowing. They were out of drinks on the airplane. This was U.S. Air. I hope they’re watching.”

But US Airways insists bad weather coming from the west was the culprit. According to the airline, the weather created a backlog keeping some passengers stranded on the tarmac for up to 6 hours.

If you’re flying US Airways this weekend you might want to make other plans just in case: “US Airways says it is trying its best to play catch up, but with the weekend approaching, passengers may find it difficult to find another flight.”

Frustration for Travelers at PHL [ABC 6] (Thanks, Dariush!)
(Photo:Meghann Marco)

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  1. MENDOZA!!!!! says:

    The only thing shocking me about this post is the fact that US Airways is only one of like ten companies still left flying the right half of the US.
    doomed. we’re all doomed

  2. TechnoDestructo says:

    Oh, when they start going out of business the healthier ones will wise up.

    And then the 2 or 3 survivors will raise their prices sky-high.

  3. dmolavi says:

    You’re welcome :) (link submitter here)…
    Unfortunately, I’m flying out of PHL this weekend, though not on USAir. But it looks like this backlog has had an airport-wide effect, and US is still canceling flights today: [www.phl.org]

  4. TWinter says:

    You know, this whole airline meltdown really shouldn’t surprise anyone.

    Air travel in the summers of 2000 and 2001 was very similar. Things cooled off after 9/11 because demand shrank, but we’ve built back to those high traffic levels again and it’s a mess again.

    We need more runways and gates at most big airports and we need high speed rail options to soak up some demand for those shorter regional flights.

  5. iMike says:

    The Philadelphia airport director was on Morning Edition this AM, and said among other things that when Southwest came in, his airport rose from dead last in customer satisfaction rankings to something above that. The primary carrier at PHL? US Air.

    Link to story (audio): [www.npr.org]

  6. dmolavi says:

    ah, i remember those summers fondly.
    +1 for high speed rail (i’m a railroad junky)

  7. dmolavi says:

    @iMike: Honestly, I’ve not had a problem at PHL, and I’ve been flying in and out of there for about a decade. ATL, on the other hand…whoa nellie…

  8. homerjay says:

    Yup, Amtrak is lookin’ mighty fine right about now.

  9. shiwsup says:

    1. Can anyone provide a good reason to keep a plan on a tarmac for over 1 hour?
    a. Why did they leave the terminal if they knew there were weather problems backing up the entire airport?
    b. Why did they not return to the terminal once they realized there were weather problems backing up the entire airport?

    2. Is the CEO going to resign now?

    JetBlue took serious heat for cancellations and delays that plague the industry, much more so with these older players.

  10. abz_zeus says:

    Here are another problems:
    USA see aviation as a strategic business and will not allow competition unless US owned (See Vigin America’s battle) so a BA flight can’t do UK/JFK then pick up passengers to do JFK/LA
    Chapter 11 – UNFAIR advantage. If an airline goes bust, it goes chapter 11, dumps debt/liabilities and emerges lean and mean and is the best position in the industry. Rest of the world, either trades out in administration OR creditors say liquidate to get as much as possible. no 2nd chances

  11. CapitalC says:

    I hate flying into Philly – every time I’ve been there they’ve either lost my bags or it’s taken over an hour for the baggage to arrive after we’ve landed. I have to go there again this weekend, I hope I don’t get caught-up in this crap storm.

  12. AndrewJayPollack says:

    I was in Philly yesterday trying to get home to Maine via Boston. Here’s the REAL scoop from someone who was there.

    1. There was rain around Philly, briefly, around 3pm. About an hour of heavy rain. I didn’t see any lightening or hear thunder.

    2. I arrived at the airport at 5 for my 6:15 flight, lines were long, many kiosks were closed. I used the kiosk to get a boarding pass, and saw the flight was “CANCELLED — Please see agent.”

    3. I saw the long lines, and have experience with this airline enough to know that they’re NOT going to get me home tonight. They are the worst airline I’ve ever flown on.

    4. I called Avis, walked over, and got a car.

    5. I drove home, arriving at 3am. MUCH sooner than had I stayed.

    I called US AIR from the car and by the time I reached NYC I had gotten an agent on the phone and arranged a refund.

    I Hate US AIR. I’ve flown hundreds of thousands of miles — was a “Platinum” flyer on delta for years. I never had the kinds of issues I have on every single trip I get stuck using this airline.

    Even the trip out was horrible. I had a reserved seat but it was given to someone else and I got stuck in the back row, then in the air — when passengers had no choice at all but to listen, they spent a full minute on the PA system giving a scripted pitch for their CREDIT CARD and even walked down the isle passing out brochures for it. It was given a higher priority than beverage service.

    Hell will freeze over before I willingly fly on US Airways again.

  13. beavis88 says:

    This is really kick ass news. I’m flying on US Airways on Monday, with a connection in Philly. Yay for me! Upon further reflection, I don’t think I’ll be bringing my golf clubs after all. They are beat up pieces of crap, but they’re *my* beat up pieces of crap.

  14. SodeDogg says:

    My first and last experiences with US Airways occurred in the last three weeks, all involving Philly (shocking, I know). Spent six hours delayed at O’Hare on a Thursday after two morning flights to PHL were scrubbed, then Monday’s return had us waiting in line for 90 minutes as just SIX US Airways e-ticket check-in machines were functioning in the entire airport. We made the 7:30 a.m. flight after a sprint through the terminal, only to sit on the tarmac for 45 minutes. Then yesterday’s cancellations meant a friend flying to Chicago was delayed for three hours, spent two more on the tarmac, only to return to the gate and finally be told that her day was wasted at the airport.

    What really grinds my gears is there is no method of compensation for a day wasted unsuccessfully trying to travel.

    I feel bad for anyone trying to fly out of Philly – it was never meant to handle as much traffic as it does.

  15. hustler says:

    I can’t wait to fly in january.

  16. Nick says:

    US Air was rated by consumer reports as the worst major airline in the country — last in delays, last in customer satisfaction, last in lost luggage. Save yourself some hassle and drive, or at least fly one of the top airlines if possible (JetBlue, Midwest, Southwest).

    BTW, in the ever-worsening game of airline consolidation, #2 ranked Midwest Air is about to be bought by craptastic AirTran. Air travel is only going to get worse.

  17. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @shiwsup: Good reason? Nope, already posted the same kind of questions on another thread here and got beat up by some airline shill…
    Only thing worse than airlines right now is the useless TSA.
    Let me off the fucking plane. NOW. Take off, or take us back to terminal. NOW. <–obviously could be construed as ‘terrorism’

  18. Jon Mason says:

    See this is why I hate the government (aswell as the airlines that do it). They impose so many rules and regulations, but anyone can see that this is crying out for a simple, commonsense law that says something like “Once a plane closes its door and prevents passengers from leaving, that plane must take off within two hours or return it’s passengers to the terminal unless there are ABSOLUTELY unpreventable conditions.” (ie – the terminal has been blown up, weather problems or flight delays would not count).”

    Why is it so hard just to pass simple legislation that actually does the things that government should do?

  19. “On the runway for six hours, with only one engine going, so the air conditioner was only half working,”

    There’s no such thing as a “half working” air conditioning pack on an airplane. The A/C packs are either on or off, and can run at full power on one idling engine.

    I’d take the rest of this person’s claims with a grain of salt. Overflowing toilets? Wander where he got that idea?

  20. CumaeanSibyl says:

    I’m really surprised there haven’t been more news stories about passengers freaking out in these situations — either from anger or from psychological issues. Panic attacks, anyone?

  21. jamar0303 says:

    @CaliforniaCajun: More than one A/C pack and only one was running? That’s the definition of half-working to some.

    I third the suggestion of high-speed rail. We need our own version of the Shinkansen running down both coastlines and maybe one running cross-country to ease the air load.

    And if nothing else, this shows why new airlines like Virgin America are sorely needed. How about more foreign carriers come in?

  22. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Yeah, I’d pay good money to fly Singapore Air from SFO to JFK. Either that or high-speed rail, even if it DOES take twice the time…..if the seats are anything like Amtrak, I wouldn’t mind sitting on a train for 15 hours. Cushy seats, plenty of legroom, good view, AC outlets, it’s like first class on an airplane.

  23. bilge says:

    @jamar0303: I don’t think more airlines will help things at all unless an attempt is made to reduce flight frequency. If airlines had a few widebody flights instead of many narrowbody flights, you’d have fewer planes to get into the air in a given time slot.

    The traveling public has shown, however, that they value frequent flights, so that’s what the airlines do. And that’s also why there’s so many multi-hour flights using “regional” jets.

  24. night_sky says:

    So from a non-flyer, what is the best airline to fly regardless of price? Excluding private jets/airplanes of course. BTW, I know this question is subjective but I am interested in hearing peoples choices.

  25. Alan Thomas says:

    The problem is that if you LIVE in the Philly area, you don’t have many choices but US Air for most flights. Oh, and they have the worst frequent-flyer program, too!

  26. Mr. Black says:

    I fly PHL to SFO a few times a year…United all the way, just stay away from US Air.

  27. bilge says:

    @Alan Thomas: I agree with the crappiness of US Airways’ FF program, but I’d disagree with not having a choice. I fly out of PHL 5-6 times a year and haven’t flown US Airways in years.

  28. Trai_Dep says:

    “The traveling public has shown, however, that they value frequent flights, so that’s what the airlines do. And that’s also why there’s so many multi-hour flights using “regional” jets.”

    Actually, it’s the regional jets that are the cause of the problem. They’re smaller but they hold the same slot that a 777 would use. And their growth coincides w/ the overbooked and unfriendly skies.

  29. bilge says:

    @trai_dep: And if frequencies were lower, there’d be fewer RJs.

  30. nardo218 says:

    @Alan Thomas: Oh, bull, I’ve only ever flown out of PHL and I’ve never taken US Air in ten years of flying.

  31. dandmb50 says:

    The reason they make people wait on the runway I think is because they don’t want to pay the fee to pull up to the docking system. I suspect they have to pay extra everytime they pull into the terminal. They are just so cheap it’s sickening.

    [IMG][i78.photobucket.com]]

    Daniel………….Toronto

  32. E-Bell says:

    Despite US Air’s problems in the rest of the country, they are absolutely AWESOME if you fly in and out of Reagan National (DCA).

    Why? Because all the powerful folks in D.C. use the US Air terminal – politicians, pundits, lobbyists, etc.

  33. Chairman-Meow says:

    One of the reasons why they allow you to wither out on the tarmac (Pilots call it the “penalty box”) is that gate handling is a game of musical chairs; as your plane departs the gate, another plane is scheduled to arrive at that gate.

    What happens during delays is that in order to keep some of the system flowing (and the music playing) is to keep you out in the penalty box so that the other other flights can arrive / depart normally.

    With the amount of flights coming & going at your average big city airports, idle gates are a rare occurrence. Also remember that gate xxx is operated by the host airline. This means only *their* aircraft can use the gate for traffic.

    However, there is no reason why the airport / airline cannot roll out a set of air-stairs to your aircraft and deplane you onto a bus for a ride back to the terminal. If they do this however, they will lose their “slot” for departure to the destination.

    The airline is quite happy letting you sit out on the tarmac because if they cancel the flight, the plane still needs to be a new location with or without passengers. Airlines hate to move an empty aircraft and/or find new crew to fly; empty aircraft means less $$$ for airline.

  34. bearymore says:

    I’m just back from a roundtrip to PHL from LAX. I took Delta and was relatively satisfied. The only problem was a 2 hour weather delay at the stopover in Cincinnati. However, they allowed the passengers to exit the plane and wait it out in the terminal.

    PHL, as an airport, is the pits. There was a half hour line to go through the TSA checkpoint. It didn’t help that the check point was undermanned. There was one person to read the x-ray machine and to manage the bins. Consequently, every time the bins got short, the line had to wait while the x-ray operator stopped and retrieved bins from one end of the line and took them to the other. Absolutely ridiculous.