Passenger Says Frontier Airlines Used Fake Weather Delay To Avoid Compensating Passengers

Scott says his flight from San Antonio to Denver was delayed last night because “the weather computer was not working,” but two hours later that excuse was replaced with a “weather-related delay” in Denver. The problem is, Denver was sunny and clear at the time.

I’m sitting in San Antonio airport because my flight has been delayed. It’s Frontier 1086 to Denver. The flight was on time, we boarded and taxied out on the runway. Unfortunately, the weather computer was not working. We deboarded and waited about 2 hours until we were informed that the delay was now “weather related” in Denver. Denver is 87 and sunny right now without any change in the forecast. The plan is to fly us to Denver at 10 PM arriving around midnight. Of course, there are no connecting flights until morning and because this “weather related”, we are on our own once we get there.

I realize that this is a common ploy by airlines. Do you or your readers have any advice?

Airlines love to blame anything they can on weather because it lets them avoid taking any responsibility for their passengers. They can also frequently invoke the weather excuse even if the actual airports involved are trouble-free, by claiming that their complicated network of hubs are dependent on one another to ensure flight arrivals. Unfortunately, there are no federal laws in place to require airlines to compensate passengers if they fail to get them to the destination on time (unless they’re bumped from an oversold flight).

So your options are limited. First, you can try being extra sweet and polite and see if you can charm your way into getting some help from someone, although you probably don’t need to bother doing this if the only person you can reach is the ticket agent. You can also try writing a formal complaint letter to the airline and ask for some form of compensation.

Finally, if you think you have a good argument that the airline was lying about the reason for the delay, you can file a complaint with the Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

Does anyone have any other ideas?

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. TuxthePenguin says:

    That being said, they’d have to fly over northern Texas which had HORRIBLE storms yesterday and last night… so maybe its not so clear cut?

    • Randell says:

      Silly person, didn’t you know the only two places that matter are where the OP IS, and where they are going. The world revolves around them.

    • BuyerOfGoods3 says:

      +1. OP thinks the weather in his arrival and departure city are the ONLY weather conditions happening in his flight path? Idiot.

    • harrier666 says:

      Me again! The Consumerist airline pilot. Thanks TuxthePengiun! You are correct sir/sirette! So often we cancel or delay flights based on weather and we get passengers with their fancy iphones coming up to us, thinking they can read weather better than pilots. They show us that it is clear at our destination. I point out that BRIGHT PRETTY RED squall line separating us from that destination and let them know that if they don’t mind flying upside down, lightning strikes, and potential loss of aircraft control we’ll go ahead and take off.

      Also, a weather delay on a beautiful day can also happen. It gets too hot, and we don’t have the runway length we need to take off, so we have to delay or cancel. That rarely happens with the larger aircraft at bigger airports, but the puddle jumpers deal with it fairly often.

      Anyway, there is more to weather than a smiley face on the iphone with the destination city name and the number 82F underneath it.

  2. andyg8180 says:

    We had that over Atlanta a couple weeks back. We were in the air for 45 minutes over atlanta because of wind sheers. We got on the ground and there was nothing because i guess some magic window opened up just as we were running low on fuel

    • chemmy says:

      We’ve been having a lot of pop-up thunderstorms here every single afternoon with tons of gusty wind. Can cause windshear and these storms pop up in a matter of minutes and disappear just as quickly. It’s entirely likely… Also possible that there was a line of other aircraft in front of you that further delayed you.

    • jjmcubed says:

      Please do a google search on wind shears. They are one, if not, the worst effect a pilot can encounter.

    • Nighthawke says:

      Wind shear is nothing to sneeze at. It can drop a widebody out of the sky in a blink of an eye. Something pilots do not want to encounter while on approach to land. More than a few have crashed with all hands lost due to shear.

      Google wind shear and you’ll understand why.

    • Nyall says:

      Maybe that magic window was necessity ?

    • harrier666 says:

      Because us pilots get off on holding for long lengths of time, stacked scant 100’s of feet apart from other aircraft, delaying our arrival to our nightly hotel or our trip home, just to torture passengers. We are up there giggling the entire time as we constantly pester ATC to let us in, watch our fuel with sweat beading up on our brows, and frantically calculate how long we have until we have to divert to the nearest acceptable airport.

      Give me a break. What purpose would it have served to do that on purpose? We HATE holding. Hate it. It’s heavy workload in a critical phase of flight. We don’t know if/when shear will clear up and the last thing we want to do is die. As the others have said, read up on wind shear. Pilots at my airline lost their lives in a time before we understood windshear as we do today. We train heavily every year for windshear, and it is one of the hardest things we do in the sim. And nothing, I mean NOTHING, is as terrifying as encountering real shear in the aircraft.

    • krista says:

      Wind shear is a weather phenomenon that doesn’t show up on non-meteorologist level equipment, and (as has been testified by real pilots) is NOT something you ever want to experience in an airplane. Sometimes even the best of equipment can’t readily detect it, and passengers can hit the ceiling unexpectedly even when flying at altitude. Wind shear is exactly why they suggest that you keep buckled up when you are not going to or from the bathroom. Wind shear near the ground could mean everyone on the plane dies, with or without the seat belt.

      But let’s say they were making up the “wind shear”. Why? Why would ANY airline pretend that they can’t land the plane? It’s costing them a considerable amount of money in fuel and personnel costs, screwing up all sorts of schedules (that plane and crew were probably supposed to be turned around in less than an hour to meet other obligations) and pissing off everyone on board. Even if they can claim Act of God, and not pay YOU anything for the trouble, they are already out a bunch of moola. Why would they do such a thing?

  3. Snockered says:

    Just because the weather is ok in your departure & arrival cities doesn’t mean a weather delay is impossible. Patrick Smith, who writes the Ask the Pilot column at Salon, wrote about it here: http://www.salon.com/technology/ask_the_pilot/2007/11/16/askthepilot254

    • partofme says:

      I really appreciate that link. It points out in simple terms how complicated these issues are. The big problem arises precisely because regular people don’t have access to all the information and can’t understand all the complexity that lies therein. How then, are consumers expected to protect themselves? The column points out that delays are handled in-house by employees on the airline’s payroll. Isn’t this system ripe for abuse? I understand that these are professionals, and I don’t like to call someone corrupt without evidence. However, in this case, it’s unclear how one would even go about obtaining such evidence.

      • nova3930 says:

        Its not ripe for abuse because airlines have a vested interest in keeping their planes in the air and not sitting on the ground. Every minute that a plane isn’t in the air, is a minute they’re paying massive amounts of overhead when the plane isn’t generating any revenue.

        • SonicPhoenix says:

          Clearly the airlines have a vested interest in keeping their plane in the air. However, if a plane has to be grounded for mechancal reasons or logistical reasons, it would seem that they also might have a vested interest in paying as little as possible in terms of compensation for delayed travellers. That is where this system is ripe for abuse.

          The ability to cry, “WEATHER!” and deny any compensation that might otherwise be forthcoming for mechanical or logistical reasons without any independant way of verifying the truthfulness of that claim seems prone to abuse.

      • johnva says:

        It’s probably a system where government regulators should be auditing their claims continually and punishing them for lying about it. I agree that there’s little you can do about as a consumer.

    • Etoiles says:

      I sat on a clear winter’s night at BWI for 7 1/2 hours waiting to board a flight to clear, warm-for-December Providence… because my plane was grounded in the Midwest due to storms out there.

      (If I’d known I’d be arriving 8 hours late, I’d probably have walked out the door and taken Amtrak. Ah well.)

    • enad58 says:

      From the Salon article –

      “If the passenger with the iPhone would be kind enough,” he began, “to use it to check the weather at our alternate airport, then calculate our revised fuel burn due to being rerouted, then call our dispatcher to arrange our amended release, then make a call to the nearest traffic control center to arrange a new slot time (among all the other aircraft carrying passengers with iPhones), we’ll then be more than happy to depart. Please ring your call button to advise the flight attendant and your fellow passengers when you deem it ready and responsible for this multimillion-dollar aircraft and its 84 passengers to safely leave.”

  4. SkokieGuy says:

    Many companies pull this scam.

    I shopped a UPS overnight package on Monday (guaranteed for Tuesday delivery by 10:30 am). When not delivered on time, I requested a refund. UPS told me a weather delay on Wednesday meant that they didn’t have to honor their guarantee.

    When I pointed out how the weather the day after guaranteed delivery was not a real relevant issue, the CSR supervisor said she would put in a ‘request’ for an adjustment. The CSR could not override the computer-generated excuse and neither could the supervisor.

    The call ended when I was told that I simply had to wait for my next bill and in 1 – 2 billing cycles the credit would show up ‘if’ approved.

    • vastrightwing says:

      This is going to be a great new excuse in my arsenal. So when I show up late to work or to meetings, it will now be a “weather delay”. Why? because it works for everything.

      Wife: Dear, why are you so late coming home after work?
      Me: Sweetie, it was a weather delay.
      Wife: Oh, but it’s nice and sunny here.
      Me: You just don’t know how the weather can change a few blocks away near the bars.

      • Bob says:

        That’s a good one:

        Boss: YOU’RE LATE AGAIN!
        You: Oh, it was a Weather Delay this morning.
        Boss: I didn’t have any trouble with the weather!
        You: Well it was raining cats and dogs right in between my house and work.
        Radio Weather news in Boss’ office: Condition as of this morning….partly cloudy….zero chance of precipitation today…
        You: I say it was raining cats and dogs just right as I was trying to get to work.
        Boss: That’s your story?
        You: And I am sticking to it!

        • krista says:

          Haha! The funny thing is, I actually got fired after something like that. We have torrential thunderstorms in the afternoons down here in Florida. I backed out of my driveway, and immediately stalled out. When I got out of the car, the water was way over my knees. I pushed the car back up the driveway, and called in to work, and my boss called me back 10 minutes later.
          Boss: “The police don’t seem to be havering any problem getting through”
          Me: “Yeah, well they have those big police cars with those high distributor caps, and the main road is at least 1-1/2 ft above my street.”
          Boss: “If you don’t come in, you’re fired”
          Me: “Well, I guess I’m fired then.”

  5. satoru says:

    People seem to have some weird impressions about the weather. Weather related delays can be due to weather at any point between your departure and your destination. The concept of “oh it’s sunny here/sunny there so there can’t be any weather related problems” is idiotic.

    Planes must fly in pre-defined ‘lanes’ between routes. You can’t just fly anywhere you want to. Is it sunny at your airport and your destination? Fine, but too bad there’s a gigantic tornado 1/2 way through which is causing your ‘weather’ related problem. And no you can’t just ‘fly around it’.

    Also airlines fly planes to locations on patterns. Say you have a flight from Chicago to LA. Clear skies all the way. The entire western sea board is clear. So why a ‘weather’ delay? Your flight was dependent on a NYC to Chicago plane which is grounded because NYC is getting pelted with hail. Again a ‘weather’ delay that at first glance seems impossible.

    I’m not saying that airlines might not fib such things. Sure they might. But there are legitimate weather related concerns that they must deal with, that may appear incongruous because your local weather appears fine. I think sometimes people think weather is heliocentric or something….

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      Yep. And no matter how many times you mention these things to people when these posts are made, it always seems to fall on deaf ears.

    • Geekybiker says:

      A weather delay in another part of the system causing the equipment to be late for my flight isn’t a weather delay anymore, its a logistics delay. Otherwise its easy to claim that weather anywhere in the nation somehow backed up your flight. Nope it improper planning and not building any padding into the schedule.

    • Commenter24 says:

      Actually airliners can and do fly around weather frequently. However, there are many variables and it can lead to delays. Further, your “lane” characterization is a bit simplistic.

    • guymandude says:

      “And no you can’t just ‘fly around it’.” Sorry… I’m going to have to call BullShit on this. Airlines fly around weather all the time.

      • harrier666 says:

        Oi, I need my own column here. Often, no, we CAN’T fly around it. Squall lines, for example, can stretch the length of the US north to south. We also don’t do in air refueling, in case you weren’t aware. It takes fuel to fly around a storm and we try to give them a respectable distance. That storm will kill you. I am amazed at how suicidal some passengers can be. I am more amazed that passengers with no relevant education think they know more than us pilots who not only have years of training, but experience that teaches us that storm is stronger than we are. Want to fly through it? Go get your license and have fun.

        It is FAR better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air, then in the air wishing you were on the ground.

  6. FatLynn says:

    He doesn’t give any info about his end destination and/or his reason for going (i.e. is it time-sensitive), but passengers in this position can ask to be rebooked for both segments on the following day, so they don’t have to stay in a hotel overnight.

    • webweazel says:

      That’s a very good reason to book flights with both legs with the SAME airline. If something goes kerflooey, they can rebook both legs extremely easily. That’s what we did recently. Both of our flights were with Delta. We were flying out on a Friday afternoon. Really bad weather in Atlanta caused delays everywhere. (Delta was REALLY GOOD in letting us know ahead of time about delays on the first flight.) Our first flight eventually ended up being scheduled to land AFTER our next leg was supposed to take off, the last one of the day, so if we took the original (now delayed) flight, we would have had to sleep in the airport or something. The phone number was jammed, so we went to the airport 15 minutes away, and the guy at the ticket counter rescheduled us for both flights the next day within a few minutes. Solved.

  7. Judah says:

    This lie is completely legal. Gotta love those loopholes paid for industry lobbyists.

  8. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Just because it is “clear” doesn’t mean there are not wind conditions that make it hard for a plane to land safely in. If you go straight up 20,000 feet from where you are right now, you can hit winds coming from all different directions, even if there is no wind on the ground.

    • Commenter24 says:

      Wind rarely affects commercial airliners. The planes have high crosswind capability and most of the airports have multiple runways to account for various wind directions.

      • RStormgull says:

        Chinook winds at DIA are a huge problem, even for commercial aircraft. Flying into Denver with malfunctioning weather equipment could be extremely dangerous.

        • s0s has a chewy nougat center says:

          This. I live in Denver, and I hate flying in and out because of our deranged, mountain-induced weather/wind/airflow patterns. Coming in from the west is the worst.

          Plus, I can’t count the times that I’ve been delayed coming in from the east because of major thunderstorm problems over the Plains. While it was sunny, dry, and in the 80s outside of my house.

          • harrier666 says:

            Mountain wave has destroyed at least one airliner, killing everyone on board in Denver. I guess some passengers would rather risk death to get there on time then listen to the people who have the training and education who don’t want to go.

            I once dealt with screaming passengers after our aircraft was struck my lightning coming in, during an unexpected microburst. They wanted to fly back out through it, even though they could see the melted wingtip from where we stood. Even if we had a healthy aircraft, we weren’t going back out, but damn did those passengers want to go.

            You know why there are so few fatal airline accidents in the US? Because people like the OP and some commenters on here AREN’T the ones making the go /no-go decision.

  9. Geekybiker says:

    This happened to me flying home on Christmas eve. When I arrived in Phoenix (warn and sunny) an earlier flight had been delayed. A few minutes before departure they canceled my flight, waited 10 minutes for people to disperse and then boarded the people who were on the earlier delayed flight on the plane I was supposed to be on. Plane pulled back from the gate and took off shortly after I should have. They called this a weather issue. Weather in my destination was clear and calm. Absolutely no way this was a weather issue.

  10. humphrmi says:

    I would trust the pilot to make this call, and not question him or her.

    The ground people, I’m a little more suspicious that shenanigans go on. But not the pilots.

  11. veronykah says:

    Just curious, why do people think the airline would intentionally strand an entire planeload of passengers? What advantage do they have in that situation? They’re going to have to get them where they are going eventually so how is this a conspiracy by the airlines to screw people over by lying about the weather?

    • bonzombiekitty says:

      It’s not about the airline intentionally stranding people, but lying about the reasons for a delay so they don’t have to pay out additional compensation. If they can blame a delay on the weather instead of, say, a mechanical issue, then they don’t have to worry about compensating passengers.

      The problem is that weather related delays can be hard to see. As mentioned before, conditions may be perfectly fine at your airport and your destination airport, but some weather system along the way is going to delay your flight. Also, it’s possible that a storm that rolled through your destination airport has backed up traffic so much that even though the weather is clear now, it’s going to take hours for there to be enough room for your flight.

      And then you have the question of when does it become a logistics problem instead of a weather problem.

      It’s not a cut and dry issue.

    • Rena says:

      Well you gotta eat sometime.

  12. Three-Toed Martian says:

    Wait…Is he sure it’s not related to the weather in San Antonio? I flew in last night, and there was a thunderstorm occurring with a torrential downpour. After getting my car, I couldn’t drive more than 25 miles an hour because the visibility was so poor (I would have waited at the airport until the worst passed, but needed to get my pooches by 8). This went on from 7pm-ish to at least 8:30. Sidenote: I’m now waiting for Southwest to deliver my luggage…they managed to miss bags for about 20 of us on a direct flight.

  13. johnva says:

    Another issue is when it’s BOTH a weather delay and a non-weather delay. For instance, once I was about to board a flight when they said that they were going to have to delay things for a couple of hours in order to swap out a part on the plane. That’s not a weather delay. Then, they said that we would be further delayed because the previous delay caused us to miss our takeoff slot. And by that time, bad weather was rolling in and there WAS an additional weather delay that caused them to cancel the flight for the night. And their position was that they owed us nothing for an overnight hotel because the weather delay was the reason for the cancellation. Was that true? Technically, yes. But their previous NON-weather delays were the whole reason the weather became a factor. Should they have compensated me in that case? Arguably, yes.

  14. Big Mama Pain says:

    Wow, I didn’t realize they didn’t have to compensate you if it was a weather delay. The only time I’ve flown into a weather delay where it looked like I wasn’t going to make my connection was with Delta, and they gave me a voucher for a later connecting flight before even taking off just in case. All I did was go to the desk before boarding and asked the attendant if it looked like we’d make my connection in time. She looked at the forecasts, ascertained that I probably wouldn’t and printed a voucher right there, no questions asked. It was awesome because when it turned out that the connecting flight was flat out canceled when I got there, I didn’t have to wait in the angry mob line because I already had been taken care of.

  15. SW says:

    Here are the details on Scott’s flight last night:

    http://flightaware.com/live/flight/RPA1086/history/20100629/0400Z/KSAT/KDEN

    As anyone can see from viewing the above link, there was thunderstorm activity on the radar in at least a couple spots in between point A and point B last night.

    What most of the flying public doesn’t necessarily understand is that weather can affect their flight even if the weather is not at their departure or arrival airport. Enroute weather, such as what’s depicted in the above link, can cause weather deviations. That’s exactly what it sounds like – the airplane deviates from its filed route of flight to avoid weather that they see on their onboard weather system (or weather that is described to them by the air traffic controller they are communicating with at the time). This time of year, the problem is thunderstorms. If you’ve ever been on an airplane that got too close to a thunderstorm, you understand why it’s recommended that pilots avoid them by at least fifty miles.

    Passengers can always get updated information about delays by going to this link: http://www.fly.faa.gov/flyfaa/usmap.jsp This is the site for the FAA’s Air Traffic Systems Command Center. The country’s large air traffic control facilities all have what is called a Traffic Management Unit, and the TMU workers are personnel who technically work for the command center – but their job is to work directly with their facility’s air traffic controllers to ensure orderly air traffic flow. They may determine that weather or other factors will impact an airport and issue a traffic management initiative to different air traffic control facilities to mitigate the problem. These are often seen as ground delay programs, or GDPs for short. More information on the different terms and definitions can be seen here: http://www.fly.faa.gov/FAQ/Acronyms/acronyms.jsp Additionally, since weather – particularly thunderstorms – can move quickly and create very dynamic situations (if there’s a tornado at Denver International, sorry, but nobody’s going to land there for a while), airplanes affected by weather may be put into holding patterns for a certain time, vectored or speed-controlled to meet certain time restrictions, or have their route of flight significantly changed to avoid weather that cannot be overflown. It’s inconvenient, but it’s what needs to be done to ensure that all traffic gets there in as timely a manner as possible, and MOST importantly, that it gets there safely.

    What exactly happened to Scott’s flight? Impossible to say from the data shown, but there are any number of reasons that weather could have caused delays without being immediately apparent to the average traveler.

    And I’m a Denver-based air traffic controller, so I’m not just speculating here.

  16. Pryde987 says:

    If you’re of a high status level with most full service carriers like AA, United, or Delta, your hotel will be compensated for weather delays. You’re also priority when it comes to rebooking and standby. It pays to be loyal– so long as you’re flying 50,000 miles or more in a year.

    • johnva says:

      Well, that’s usually only about 5-15% of frequent flyer program members (and presumably even less of the total number of passengers). So I guess it’s “great” that 2% or whatever of customers are entitled to good customer service from the airlines? (And furthermore, that’s not the issue so much as it’s the airline’s stretching of the “weather delay” excuse in order to circumvent federal regulations).

      • Pryde987 says:

        If you fly more often and generate greater revenue, you are entitled to better care. It’s pretty plain, simple, and it makes sense.

        • johnva says:

          Actually, everyone should be entitled to good service if by “good service” you mean the airline not lying about the reasons for flight delays in order to weasel out of providing compensation that they are required to provide. I agree that it makes sense to give your best customers some perks…but this isn’t just a perk so much as it’s basic business ethics on their part.

  17. SW says:

    Here are the details on Scott’s flight last night:

    http://flightaware.com/live/flight/RPA1086/history/20100629/0400Z/KSAT/KDEN

    As anyone can see from viewing the above link, there was thunderstorm activity on the radar in at least a couple spots in between point A and point B last night.

    What most of the flying public doesn’t necessarily understand is that weather can affect their flight even if the weather is not at their departure or arrival airport. Enroute weather, such as what’s depicted in the above link, can cause weather deviations. That’s exactly what it sounds like – the airplane deviates from its filed route of flight to avoid weather that they see on their onboard weather system (or weather that is described to them by the air traffic controller they are communicating with at the time). This time of year, the problem is thunderstorms. If you’ve ever been on an airplane that got too close to a thunderstorm, you understand why it’s recommended that pilots avoid them by at least fifty miles.

    Passengers can always get updated information about delays by going to this link: http://www.fly.faa.gov/flyfaa/usmap.jsp This is the site for the FAA’s Air Traffic Systems Command Center. The country’s large air traffic control facilities all have what is called a Traffic Management Unit, and the TMU workers are personnel who technically work for the command center – but their job is to work directly with their facility’s air traffic controllers to ensure orderly air traffic flow. They may determine that weather or other factors will impact an airport and issue a traffic management initiative to different air traffic control facilities to mitigate the problem. These are often seen as ground delay programs, or GDPs for short. More information on the different terms and definitions can be seen here: http://www.fly.faa.gov/FAQ/Acronyms/acronyms.jsp Additionally, since weather – particularly thunderstorms – can move quickly and create very dynamic situations (if there’s a tornado at Denver International, sorry, but nobody’s going to land there for a while), airplanes affected by weather may be put into holding patterns for a certain time, vectored or speed-controlled to meet certain time restrictions, or have their route of flight significantly changed to avoid weather that cannot be overflown. It’s inconvenient, but it’s what needs to be done to ensure that all traffic gets there in as timely a manner as possible, and MOST importantly, that it gets there safely.

    What exactly happened to Scott’s flight? Impossible to say from the data shown, but there are any number of reasons that weather could have caused delays without being immediately apparent to the average traveler.

    And I’m a Denver-based air traffic controller, so I’m not just speculating here.

  18. steve6534 says:

    Looks like there was weather near SAT a pocket of storms South of DEN -

    http://flightaware.com/live/flight/RPA1086/history/20100629/0400Z/KSAT/KDEN

  19. Blackadar says:

    The easiest way to tell if it’s really weather delayed is if other airlines are still flying to similar destinations. I’ve had the airlines try to use the weather excuse, but when I pointed out that other airlines were flying to and from the same area with no problems, they quickly backtracked and started issuing compensation to the passengers who were smart enough to ask for it.

    • harrier666 says:

      I won’t say airlines won’t play that game, but I’ve run into passengers that want to claim that because that Southwest 737 with Category I equipment was going into Seattle, we had to compensate them because we weren’t. Different aircraft, different equipment, and different certification levels means some airlines can go when others can not. If you are flying on an Embraer 120 to San Francisco and that 747 is flying in when you can’t? Don’t be surprised, and the airline won’t have to reimburse you.

      • BK88 says:

        I really hope you meant better than Category I equipment, since that is the minimum required for IFR flight. I hope your airline is not flying E120’s VFR!

  20. AntiNorm says:

    I had another airline try that on me once. When I sent them a ream of documentation proving beyond any shadow of a doubt that it wasn’t weather, they changed their excuse to “oh, it was an air traffic control delay. We still don’t have to compensate you.” Slick.

  21. golddog says:

    I can back Scott up. I’ve seen Frontier do this very thing (with Denver no less) although it was before the fines started.

  22. tipofmybrain says:

    For whatever it’s worth, I was flying STL -> DFW -> COS last night. They cancelled my Dallas to Colorado Springs leg for weather. Not to say your diagnosis of “convenient lie to avoid monetary liability” isn’t true, but there was apparently some sort of weather event in that part of the country.

  23. MissValentine says:

    Could it be that it was just weather? I flew from Denver to San Antonio last night also on Southwest 667 scheduled for 7:40pm. They pushed it back to 8:25, 8:45, then finally 9:10. When we got inboard they apologized for the delay and told us that the weather had forced them to re-route the previous flights through Houston and they had a bird strike. And I’m still in San Antonio and apparently there was thunder and lightening last night, not to mention a severe weather warning.

  24. moofie says:

    Shocking revelation:

    When flying between two points, weather between those two points can be relevant to the flight plan.

  25. pot_roast says:

    I had to deal with idiots like this at my airline job. “Um.. you guys are saying it’s a weather delay but I just got off the phone with my mom in Atlanta, and she said it’s sunny, so I want to be compensated..” blah blah blah.

    With this particular moron, I was lucky enough to be able to point at the TV monitor with CNN on..showing that ATL was canceling/delaying flights because of extremely high winds. Winds that knocked over trees and killed people. Sure, it was sunny, but there were a zillion mph winds.

  26. Fair&Balanced says:

    Look up your plane on flightaware.com
    You can check the radar for free and see where your plane is coming from and see if there are any weather problems there.

  27. ywgflyer says:

    As a few other people have said, weather delays can take the form of a large, impenetrable line of thunderstorms enroute. Some of these lines can be hundreds of miles long, and completely unbroken (or at least not broken enough to be navigable at all). You can either delay on the ground, or take it in the air, go 500 miles around the armageddon line of storms, blow through your alternate and 45min reserve, and require a tech stop (fuel stop) somewhere along the route, add three hours to the flight, and blow the airport curfew (or have the crew timex on their day, requiring either an extra crew, or a night stop for EVERYONE).

    Give those options, I’ll take the ground delay. Sometimes that’s just what has to happen.

    Also, just because your destination isn’t having the Apocalypse descend on it, doesn’t mean that the filed alternate is any good. Weather has to meet certain criteria (usually significantly higher than landing minima) to be able to be used as the alternate airport. Lots of times, the destination is relatively nice, but the alternate is in the toilet. Lots of airlines use Colorado Springs as an alternate for Denver, and there’s enough distance for the weather in COS to crap out, while it’s pretty nice in Denver. Now you need to use something else (further away), your gas goes up, passengers get bumped in favor of more fuel, and here comes the vicious circle of pissed-off customers, and airline employees collapsing on the couch after a day at work, bottle of Jack Daniels in their hands and some Johnny Cash playing.

    I’ll take the three hour ground delay. Much less painful to go stuff my face in the airport terminal while I wait for things to be a bit more manageable.

    [/airline pilot]