United's "Bad Weather" Excuse Isn't Very Believable

Jonathan wants to know how long an airline can blame a cancellation on bad weather, and whether there’s any way to get such a claim rejected when it’s used inappropriately. Is it legitimate, for example, to say tomorrow’s flight is canceled due to weather, when what you really mean is an isolated thunderstorm the day before—which evidently affected no other airlines in the area—triggered a domino effect in getting a certain plane to the right airport a full day later?

The cancellation seems legit—the plane simply won’t be there when it’s scheduled—but because United is calling it weather-related, they don’t have to compensate Jonathan or find him a seat on another carrier.

I bought tickets on United for my friend to fly from Boston (BOS) to Chicago (ORD) leaving last Friday and returning today. On the way out she was delayed nearly four hours due to mechanical and paperwork problems. At this point I was already expecting some form of compensation as a loyal United customer for years.

Yesterday United calls to say her returning flight has been canceled. She was supposed to leave at 8am to get a half day of work in, but apparently the next available United flight leaves at 1pm. That won’t work, I explain, and ask for the ticket to be endorsed to another carrier that can meet our schedule. The customer service rep responds that the cancellation is weather-related and therefore not eligible for endorsement.

This sounded pretty fishy – a flight canceled a day in advance due to weather? I first check other United flights in the morning and hers is the only one canceled. How could that be if there’s bad weather? The rep explains the weather’s earlier in the morning; the plane couldn’t make it to Chicago for her flight. Same problem – only the one flight in from Boston was canceled. In addition, flights on other major carriers were all still scheduled. So at this point it’s not weather in the early morning either.

I finally get a supervisor who explains that the bad weather was yesterday night, and United canceled a flight to Boston which would have positioned the plane to head to Chicago early today and finally back to Boston for our flight. To verify this new story I checked the FAA’s airport status site, which said there were only delays of up to 45 minutes in Boston because of thunderstorms. And again, other United flights and carriers were making it into Boston, albeit with substantial delays. Doesn’t sound like a forced cancellation to me.

United’s claim to weather isn’t the usual and understandable problem, then – storms between the endpoints during the flight. Nor is it even weather for the flight inbound, which is a bit of a stretch for me; if the skies are clear I feel it’s up to the airline to find a plane. If other carriers can fly the route, it’s not weather. United’s claim is bad weather the day before that seems to have selectively impacted them. No way does weather – which may not even have been cancellation-worthy – the day before, two flights before, justify this cancellation. I’ve heard stories of airlines stretching what counts as a weather-related delay / cancellation before, but this is a whopper.

Jonathan asks, “How would you suggest approaching an airline in future when they claim weather is a factor when you feel it isn’t? How would you frame a request to United for compensation? And what compensation do you feel it would be appropriate to ask for?”

Jonathan, you might want to try calling the FAA’s hotline to ask them if there’s any sort of regulation about this. You should also escalate this up to the executive level and demand some clarification about United’s official “weather cancellation” policy. Finally, you may want to try contacting the travel writer/advocate Christopher Elliott at www.elliott.org—this is the kind of topic he might know more about, or he might be able to ask an airline representative on your behalf.

Readers, any suggestions? Do any of you know whether there’s a statute of limitations on blaming weather for canceled flights?

(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. ianmac47 says:

    Lawsuit.

  2. Derv says:

    I do know that “wether” is a castrated ram….

    You could try getting in touch with a Forensic Meteorologist if you decide to sue the airline. See [en.wikipedia.org] It’s been done before, I’m working on digging up the link…

  3. jrlcopy says:

    Please keep us updated with the results

  4. heyimbobo says:

    That’s refreshing — I never new that United hired psychics to determine future events. Can they tell me where my bags will end up, or if they will be lost for that matter? Maybe they can guess the weight of my bags before I put them on the scale.

    Brilliant!!!

  5. Derv says:

    Here’s that link I was talking about: [www.elliott.org]

    And it looks like they fixed the typo, and consequently ruined my joke above. Oh well.

  6. yikz says:

    I sat and waited 3 hours for an airplane to arrive from Albany, NY, delayed due to weather.
    At this same time, Comair had a flight lined up and ready to fly back to Albany… sitting and waiting for 3 hours. So Comair had 2 planes tied up doing nothing. They could have used the plane that was going to a weather-delayed area somewhere else. So I enquired with an agent. The excuse they gave was that they didn’t have a crew. What about the crew that is currently stuck on the tarmac, waiting with the plane to go to Albany? They couldn’t answer that one. So, everyone sat and waited.
    I don’t see why they would keep a scheduled plane on the ground for 3+ hours when they could use it to go somewhere else. Yet the morons at Comair are apparently used to this, and can’t bother to get off their stools and do anything else.

  7. Sunflower1970 says:

    Similar situation happened to my husband and myself with Delta back in February. Going from Austin to Atlanta for a wedding the next day. We were to leave at 7am, but got a call at 3am saying our flight was cancelled due to ‘weather’ and we were to be booked on a flight the NEXT DAY. That wouldn’t do, since that was the day of the wedding. Delta’s phone customer service was horrid and would not help us out or try to find a flight later in the day. I don’t know if this really is an excuse for weather or not, but we came to find out that the crew for our plane had been delayed in another city supposedly due to weather, which made them come in to Austin later than expected thus cancelling our flight due to ‘weather.’ The flight before ours and all the flights after ours were all on time, though, and all flights were full. Ours was the only one cancelled. Luckily we showed up at the airport anyway, talked to a nice agent who was able to find us some flights on Continental into Atlanta that same day.

  8. nycaviation says:

    Chicago O’Hare is United’s main hub, so they should have had an extra plane around to operate this flight even if the schedule aircraft was stuck somewhere else.

  9. TropicalParadise says:

    Personally I think that there should be 24 hours of slack. Getting airplanes to airports and from airports and out on time when there are weather problems is a very complicated process. You don’t want to fly empty planes and you don’t want to keep customers angry and waiting for too long. However bad weather is nothing new, it’s not like a thunderstorm that happens is the first thunderstorm that ever happened in the history of the universe. There are weather reports and airlines should be prepared for this sort of thing.

  10. kepler11 says:

    “Weather” covers a lot of bad stuff, which airlines use to their advantage. It is hard to say without knowing exactly what were the considerations, and I fear that the airline gets the benefit of the doubt usually from a regulatory standpoint.

    The thing is that UA *could have* flown the plane in, empty in the middle of the night, but it probably chose to consolidate/rebook delayed passengers and fly that plane the next morning.

    It is common, though, for the east coast to be plagued by afternoon thunderstorms that affect operations for 12 hours later.

    I doubt you can get very far with this, but would be glad to hear about any interesting information from the result.

  11. nicemarmot617 says:

    I have had legitimate delays and cancellations due to weather, but I’ve also had airline reps lie to my face about the delay/cancellation being weather-related when it is obviously not. It doesn’t make any difference whether they’re lying or not because I just have to put up with it no matter what they say. Last time I made a really loud stink about them being lying douchebags and they transferred me to another airline, which, shockingly enough, did not seem to be affected by the “bad weather.”

  12. brennan_bm says:

    I think a lot of BS delays happen because of “weather”. This past Sunday my flight from Columbus to Philadelphia was delayed 4 hours due to bad weather in Philadelphia. I called my roommate and he told me that it had rained long ago and only for two hours. Flight was US Airways incase anyone wonders, and I have no interest in ever flying them again. My flight the Friday before from Phialdelphia to Columbus had been delayed an hour because the flight crew simply wasn’t there. Worst airline and definitely worst customer service. When I found out about my flight being delayed 4 hours I spoke to a CSR about my dissatisfaction who then grabbed my ticket and tried to refund my ticket without my consent.

  13. kepler11 says:

    the problem with the weather-related cancellation excuse is that every airline is differently configured/routed/prepared to handle the weather.

    If an airline’s schedule is highly linked and one small delay cascades down the line, it can legitimately blame the delay on weather because planes cannot get to where they’re needed next, etc.

    But at the same time, it could have configured its schedule to have leeway and recovery points. An airline that only flies from one point to another will not have the same problem — for example, international flights are almost never delayed by weather, because they are essentially depending on no other schedule to get the aircraft there, and can immediately fly out of it. The aircraft is typically already there, ready to go hours earlier, so you can see that it is possible to operate even when weather affects others. But to have an aircraft sitting around ready to go costs money, and in the current environment not many routes can afford that.

    This is how the airline industry operates — they need lots of connections to feed international operations, and on the east coast especially, that can lead to problems for people with tight schedules. You just have to learn to budget extra time and lower your expectations. It is flight, after all.

    There are legitimate weather delays, and then there are delays caused by weather, compounded by the schedule that an airline chooses to fly. You can often see which is which.

    Think in your own life — there are times when you are delayed and it makes no difference. But when you add on other constraints, like appointments you have to go to, deadlines you have to meet, the original problem could be said to be remotely causative, but it is your personal circumstances after the weather that turn what was previously no problem, into a big deal.

  14. Brontide says:

    I happen to know a researcher working on project with the FAA. Basically all major hubs are scheduled to more than 90% of their capacity in terms of takeoff and landings. Even a 15 knot wind will cut their capacity in half.

    We are working to create VERY high resolution weather forecasting for those airports where it will make a difference. Since this is still in the testing phase the project produces recommendations to prevent takeoffs that would just end up circling or diverted.

    It’s not mandated ( yet ), but it does help ease congestion even if it can sometime be very confusing to the passengers who don’t see the conditions at the other end of the trip.

  15. AndyHat says:

    There was an article in today’s New York Times that United is suing its pilots’ union “asking it to halt slowdowns that it said had led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights in the last 10 days.”

    Sounds like you’re not alone in having had problems with United this weekend.

  16. AndyHat says:

    There was an article in today’s New York Times reporting that United is suing its pilots’ union, “asking it to halt slowdowns that it said had led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights in the last 10 days.”

    So it sounds like you weren’t alone in having problems with United flights this weekend. And it seems rather likely they were just lying about the weather.

  17. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    @ianmac47: Class action law suit with punitive damages, a John Grisham novel with a catchy title and turtles.

  18. MomInTraining says:

    I recently dropped $60 to stay at a hotel in Atlanta because my flight was delayed due to weather. In reality, my flight was delayed for 20 minutes due to weather and another 30 due to the fact that Delta had a plane that was supposed to leave at 3:00 p.m. that was delayed due to engine repairs that left for Atlanta at nearly the same time my 7:00 p.m flight did. So our plane had to wait for that plane to take off and then Atlanta traffic control gave them our landing spot so we circled.

    I would have made my flight if we just had weather delays. But the fallout from the engine repairs added just enough to my delay to cause me to miss my flight.

    I think a class action suit is the way to go. There is no way individual flyers can afford the money and effort to really get the airlines for the lies about weather delays. Since the airlines are the ones who make the decisions with no checks from a government agency, there is no paper trail. If an attorney is out there who wants a class action suit, this one would be great. Even if I only got back $10, I would still love to see the airlines scared into doing the right thing.

  19. United’s being doing this for YEARS. When my 11 year old was but a mere babe, they pulled this one us in Chicago. We were waiting for a United shuttle to Quad Cities, and they canceled it and said weather. I looked out the window, not a cloud in the sky.

    Seems it WAS raining in Wisconsin, and they apparently wanted our plane for that run, since it has sold more tickets (it’s amazing what details you can pick up eavesdropping at the check-in desk).

    So I called the CSR line (since the line for help at the check-in desk was in the hundreds) and asked if they could rebook a flight on another airline, provide ground transportation (we’re talking under 350 miles) or SOMETHING. Nope, next flight’s in 18 hours, and we don’t owe you a thing. No hotel voucher, no food voucher, nothing. And nowhere in the airport sold diapers. We brought plenty, but apparently no one else did. I could have sold those things for $10 a piece, I tell ya… (yes, we did give ones out to those who needed them).

    So I asked one more question of the CSR on the phone – when was the last FAA weather advisory for Chicago? Tell me that, and I’ll not bother you anymore.

    She hung up.

    And we haven’t flown United ever since.

  20. coren says:

    I follow why they don’t want to put you on another flight earlier, but I don’t agree that OP’s flight is canceled due to weather. It’s canceled due to airlines not wanting to pony up the cost to get another plane there to fly the route – clearly planes can get in and out of the airport, so it’s just that they don’t have that specific plane – it’s not the only one they have, or even the only one of that model. So bring another one up, or foot the bill to get her elsewhere, United.

  21. misterfuss says:

    I used to work for United and customer service reps were “encouraged” to blame a delay or cancellation on weather to avoid paying compensation. Agents USED TO have discretion, but in the post 9/11 and post bankruptcy environment, supervisors usually had to authorize issuing vouchers. I would see that UAL would be able to rationalize every situation due to weather. An example that comes to mind is when bad weather at the beginning of the month causes flight crew duty hours to be exhausted by month end, so flights end up being cancelled due to weather (and not due to lack of flight crew.)

    The way United “charges” delays and cancellations is a bit screwy too. It points fingers at the offending department for delays of one minute or more. A “chargeable” delay is one that goes over the amount of “turn time.”

    At the beginning of the day, let’s assume you have enough airplanes and crew to complete the schedule. Now, assume one of the planes develops a problem and will be unable to fly a particular flight. If flights are full and the airline doesn’t want a cancellation, then they will re-route aircraft (within fleet ie B777 for B777 due to pilot qualifications) using a first in – first out methodology. (This is over-simplified, since other factors come in to play ie. downline connections.) So…now your flight is late, but as long as the airplane is “turned” within its turn time, no one gets “charged” for a delay. (The first flight may show a mechanical delay, but all of the other affected flights will show “late turn.”)

    Let’s assume this results in a 1 hour delay on your flight and just before your flight pushes back your pilot is notified of a change of local, or enroute, or destination weather and needs a revision to a flight plan. Perhaps this adds a few more minutes to the original delay. If it goes beyond the “turn time” the whole delay will have the appearance of having been a weather delay. Now when you arrive at your connection city and have missed your connection flight, the CSR sees that your flight was a weather related delay.

  22. MorrisseyTheCat says:

    United is the one airline that is so consistently bad that I cannot believe it is still around. All airlines by nature of the business have problems at times, and people take it online and it seems they are all just awful, when in fact most operate quite well often, considering all the variables they deal with. UNITED HOWEVER, including their apathetic CEO just cannot be turned around…the misery is far too ingrained. The last time I flew for them was about 8 years ago (when they weren’t NEAR as bad as they are now), and they had the headsets you could listen to, where one of the channels was the pilots talking to ground control. They let us listen to the headsets (there were radio stations too) while we were having an exceptionally long ground delay due to “weather.” Imagine my surprise when I heard the full conversation between the pilot and maintenance controller talking about what was REALLY going on…a MAINTENANCE issue on the aircraft. I pressed the call button and asked what was really going on, and what I just heard, and she had to go talk to him so he could fess up, because everyone in earshot got seriously mad, and passed the info back row by row. Why even LIE? Often times there really ARE weather issues other places that effect where you are, even if it seems perfect out there…everything has a chain reaction, and that is understandable…but to LIE, and apparently United is STILL doing so (but I am guessing they stopped the listening in feature) is appalling. Their CEO has since abused the employees so bad, those who are still there, just do not care, and as I said at this point is cannot get better for them.
    It has been said for a long time that one of the majors will “have to go, and United has made it obvious it will be them, and tied for 2nd to die is American and USAirways for similar reasons.

  23. timmus says:

    Crap, no wonder they took the ATC channel off the entertainment lineup.

  24. MorrisseyTheCat says:

    I KNEW they would! lol :O

  25. misterfuss says:

    I think they still have channel 9 available, but it is only so you can listen to FAA radio traffic and NOT the internal “company” radio traffic.

  26. msbluesky says:

    I think they just say “Weather” no matter what caused the problem – I think they may not even know why your flight was delayed or canceled or what not. “Weather” is their “escape clause,” because who can argue with Acts of Nature?

    I’ll give you an example from a recent “Trip from Hell” I endured two months ago, flying United.

    The trip getting TO my destination (Kona, Hawaii) was enough of a fiasco enough, involving all sorts of crazy chaotic things, airline screw-ups, 3 flights, and 17 hours of flying time.

    I was hoping my return would be (relatively) smooth sailing. I was flying United from Kona to Chicago (nonstop) and then from Chicago to my home city (RDU; also nonstop).

    The flight was supposed to leave Kona at 4:45 p.m. and arrive in Chicago at 5:35 a.m. and then I was going to catch a 8:30 a.m. flight to my home. I figured I was safe with a three hour connection time. . .

    Well. . . . we sat on the tarmac for FOUR HOURS in Kona. They would not let us off the plane*. Our 8 hour flight became a 12 hour flight. I was sitting in first class (had used miles to upgrade) and about 30 minutes after we were originally supposed to take off one of the pilots came out of the cockpit and asked if anyone in first class (it was a 777, so there were maybe 24 of us in first class) had a Nokia Cell phone charger. I’m not kidding.

    When a guy in the front row fished one out, the pilot thanked him and told us there in the front that there was some sort of “metal shrapnel” stuck in one of the engines – they had no idea what it was or what damage it had caused or how to fix it – and we may not be getting out of Kona that night. The Kona airport only has about 15 flights a day – and most of those are small inter-island shuttles. Only about 5 flights a day leave for the “Mainland” and are larger aircraft; in fact it’s the last airport in the USA where you deplane from or board a 777 by outdoor stairway/mobile ramp.

    Suffice to say there’s not really any sort of maintenance staff at Kona – and especially not folks trained on 777s – and the mechanic they called had no idea what was going on. So the pilot was going to deplane and take pictures on his Nokia cell phone, text them to United service folks in San Francisco, and verbally relay the “fix” to the baggage handlers/assorted maintenance workers they had somehow scrounged up. I’M NOT KIDDING.

    A woman in the row behind me starts freaking out about hearing the news, calls somebody on her cell phone, and begs them to call the FAA because “this isn’t legal for us to fly in a plane being fixed like this.” I tried not to look out the window because the men out there certainly weren’t giving anyone any confidence.

    Of course the folks in the back of the plane (economy, and this was a completely full 777) have no idea what’s going on other than we haven’t left yet. Finally one of the pilots gets on the loudspeaker, explains there’s a technical “glitch” and that we’re waiting for United in SFO to let us know how to fix it or what to do, and we will be on our way shortly….that “shortly” became 4 hours.

    So we land in Chicago at 9:30 AM – yes, I’ve missed my flight – and I find out from the “Computer terminals” (hello, where are the actual agents? seriously!) that I’ve been rebooked on a 11 pm flight. United wants me to wait 14 hours, after I just got off a 12 hour flight, to get on my next flight. . .this trip will have taken me 2 and a half days to get home. So I immediately call the United customer service number and finally get an agent who explains that he is so sorry, they can’t do anything for me because “It was a weather issue.”

    I literally go off on him. I know they say you’re not supposed to do something like that, and I didn’t say or do anything that would get me on the FAA “Watch List” or anything, but I was cranky, had just spent the last 12 hours on a plane, and wanted to get home. Not spend 14 hours in the Chicago O’Hare airport. “WEATHER?”

    Finally I got home. I guess my bitching (I said I was going to sue United for, among other things, physical harm AND was going to go to the media about the fact that they fixed planes via cell phone text messages – !?!) got to the agent, or else he just wanted me to shut up. I flew American to Dulles and Dulles to RDU (also on American) and got home at 4 p.m.

    Weather had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with why I missed my connection – it was purely a United maintenance issue. But did that stop them from trying to claim “weather” was the culprit? Absolutely not! Don’t believe them when they try to pull this on you.

  27. psychos says:

    Perhaps this was weather, but quite often it isn’t. The “weather” excuse is often used when the originating craft (perhaps anywhere along its previous journey to get to you, no matter how long ago) hit some sort of “rough weather.” This might even mean that the flight crew hit “weather” getting to the plane, even though the crew delivering the plane hit no such problems. Now, that, is NOT “weather” as far as I am concerned. I understand weather, I understand weather from some originating station down the line, but weather 12 hours ago when the same 767 or whatnot was waiting in line behind a dozen regional jets is not weather as far as I am concerned.

    The main problem is that we have too many stupid 50 – 90 passenger regional jets flying into overloaded airports, generally on a too frequent schedule. These seriously exacerbate real weather problems that might only cause minor delays. I’m quite happy with regional jets flying such routes as BOS-BGR, DFW-AUS, DTW-TOL, etc But it’s not so cool when you have 20 regional jets a day total flying ORD-DFW. Years ago, 747s might fly this route. Now, you can have a 50 seater flying the same route, except with much more frequency, and with several carriers doing exactly the same to add even more traffic to the mix (since both AA and UA have would obviously have a serious number of frequencies on this route.)

    Only real advice I have to be very aware of your carrier’s delay policies. I was flying NW BOS-DTW-TOL a couple weeks ago, and we had a 3+ hour delay out of BOS. I would have received absolutely no compensation, except I had beforehand familiarized myself with the NW delay policies, and went to the desk at the NW club in BOS where I was waiting for a flight. I very specifically asked “so my flight has been delayed over 3 hours due to what you said was a crew delay, am I eligible for a service recovery packet?” (Note the specific “service recovery packet” here, which is specific to Northwest, and which I only knew about by doing a little bit of research before this flight.) The agent said that I indeed was, and ruffled through their compensation vouchers stating “let me find one for you with a food thingy in it.” She ended up giving me 2 voucher packs to be nice, each with a $25 coupon off a future NW flight (I used DL miles for this flight as I’m sure she saw before looking for vouchers), a $10 food in-airport food voucher, and a voucher for a free drink aboard a NW flight. (This agent definitely went above and beyond though; I certainly wasn’t due two of these vouchers instead of just one, and I think she gave me the 6+ hour domestic/3+ hour international vouchers instead of a single 3+ hour domestic voucher with no food voucher included.)

  28. psychos says:

    @misterfuss:

    UA indeed still has channel 9 available. It is occasionally turned off due to “pilot discretion,” but more often just the pilot not turning it on for no real reason, which most likely could be attributed to forgetfulness to mind to something that’s not important for passenger safety. Most times, nicely asking a flight attendant something along the lines of “could you please ask the captain to turn on channel 9 if he or she doesn’t mind once we’re over 10000 feet? I really enjoy listening to ATC when I’m flying on United” will get channel 9 turned back on if it’s off. I don’t fly UA all that much, but the few times that I’ve found channel 9 (which is awesome, by the way) turned off, a nicely worded request conveyed through a flight attendant has got it turned back on.

  29. miburo says:

    Stuck in Berlin right now.

    Monday’s flight was canceled due to weather… however after everyone started calling their family / work that they would be late many found out the weather was perfect. This included a man with a brother that lived very close to the airport.

    Currently researching what happened to the flight to atleast really know why i went through this hell (right now a luftansa strike has destroyed airport traffic in germany… which started monday)

  30. cleek says:

    last week? yeah, all kinds of bad things happening with air travel last week.

    i wrote about our ordeal here. long story short: three canceled flights, two delays of more than three hours. forced to waste a night because the next flight wasn’t until the next morning. trip from Montreal to Raleigh NC ends up going through Miami. lost luggage.

  31. nicemarmot617 says:

    @kepler11: It is not the customer’s problem that airlines are incompetent at scheduling their own flights. Unless there is bad weather on MY FLIGHT ROUTE, I don’t want to hear about bad weather so they don’t have to compensate me for their bad scheduling. It’s not as though these big airlines don’t have lots of planes; they do. They’d just rather force rippling delays all over the country than spend the money to get their passengers where they’re going on time.

  32. chocxtc says:

    @heyimbobo: Add to that they can guess the cost of fuel so we know how much they plan to raise fees and predict all future delays at least 24 hours in advance so we do not have to spend 8 hours at the airport waiting!!

  33. chocxtc says:

    @misterfuss: Excellent explanation

  34. chocxtc says:

    All of this makes me want to state the same thing I have in previous posts, we NEED a passenger bill of rights. I understand that airlines are businesses and need to make money among other things, but we also pay for a service “get me from point A to point B safely and according to your schedule.” When the airlines do not do this they should be held accountable. If they were I bet their service would improve rapidly since they do not want to spend additional money for things that in most cases could be avoided. This is one of the few industries that seems to get carte blanche when it comes to self-regulation

  35. .
    UNITED AIRLINES has actually lied to me about this several times in the past year. The best way to catch them at this lie is to inquire at the Gate and then call Customer Service a couple of times. You’ll get different answers. CALL THEM ON IT at the airport and you’ll usually be compensated OR AT LEAST pleasantly re-booked.

    LET’S CATCH THEM IN THE ACT: Let’s see how many ‘weather-related’ delays they report in the last week of the month or the last week of the year, when they’ve exhausted their crews and have to cancel a ton of flights. December 2007 is the prefect example of this.
    .
    DOES THEIR GOVERNMENT MONOPOLY and LAWSUIT IMMUNITY entitle UNITED AIRLINES to commit fraud? Apparently they think so.
    .

  36. nycaviation says:

    @Cranky Customer:
    What monopoly and lawsuit immunity are you talking about?

  37. misterfuss says:

    @msbluesky:

    Hi there,

    I don’t know if this will help explain why this one showed up as weather but here goes:

    United’s delay codes have several groups, such as customer service, maintenance, ramp service, cabin cleaning, pilot crew, flight attendant crew, and weather. I believe from your explanation that your aircraft possibly ingested a piece of F.O.D. (foreign object debris.) A maintenance delay was probably not used since that reflects negatively on the maintenance department. The delay was probably “charged” to being “Damaged Environmentally (DE.)” I believe that the DE delay comes in the weather grouping and the CSR saw that when they accessed this information.

    Ridiculous, yes.

  38. lefonceobscure says:

    I work for a company that is subcontracted by a major airline to provide web support. We offer full refunds even due to weather-related cancellations. Of course, I didn’t know always know this, and used to tell people otherwise. The fact is, many of these people are poorly trained, and you should ask to speak to a supervisor, if you want anything accomplished. Supervisors can make exceptions; but usually the don’t want to do so. The trick is to prolong the call until one of you says uncle. Most of us get paid per call; and once someone has me on the phone for more than 30 minutes, I tend to give them whatever they want to get them off the phone.

  39. .
    Well, today’s headlines about the recent pilot “sick-out” at UNITED AIRLINES certainly explains why they’re had to cancel so many flights lately ‘on account of weather.’
    .

  40. @: um, i just gotta comment on this one… why couldn’t they use the crew waiting to go one place to go another? well, crews usually work more than one flight in a row, so if they switched for the one flight they’d have to switch for the whole schedule. that wouldn’t work for a few very good reasons – 1) crews have time limits on how long they can work, and unless their schedules coincided perfectly you could end up with a timed out crew, at which point they can’t legally work anyway 2) crews are based out of particular cities. unless those two crews were based out of the same city and again, were working at the same time, you could end up with two crews stranded in cities they don’t live in, which may not be your problem, but would become your problem when that crew doesn’t show up the next morning for the flight out of the city they were supposed to be in. the same goes for planes, which even when completely identical models are not always running on the same maintenance schedule.