Northwest Promises To Fix Cancellation Problem

Northwest’s CEO has promised to fix their awful cancellation problem, and has apologized to to the thousands of passengers his company has stranded and/or inconvenienced. Northwest blames pilot absenteeism as the reason for the canceled flights.
From USAToday:

On Tuesday, Steenland outlined the steps being taken to address the cancellation problem, and said he hopes those steps will prevent a recurrence of the cancellation problem in late August.

Those steps, some of which had been previously announced, include:

Fewer flights. Reducing Northwest’s domestic August flight schedule 4% to increase the supply of “reserve” pilots who can fill in on flights late in the month.

Recalling pilots. All furloughed Northwest pilots who want to return should have now received a date to report back for re-training, the airline says. Re-training will take several months to complete.

New pilots. Northwest says it will hire an undetermined number of pilots once the furloughed pilots are back at work.

New scheduling procedures. Talking with Air Line Pilots Association leaders about ways to modify the scheduling process to address their concerns about pilot workload, excessive numbers of days away from home and other issues.

Northwest’s canceled flights in June and July have cost it $25 million in lost revenue. The outlines steps look like a good start, but if it were us we’d wait to see how they work out before we’d risk flying Northwest.

Northwest promises to fix cancellation problems [USAToday]


PREVIOUSLY: Northwest Airlines Canceles 240 Flights, Acts All Mysterious About It
Travel Tip: Avoid Northwest Airlines at End of Month

Northwest Airlines Loves Canceling Flights


Edit Your Comment

  1. philipbarrett says:

    So they waited until now to start retraining furloughed pilots then blamed the pilots for the lack of pilots?

    Did I miss something?

  2. Northwest blames pilot absenteeism as the reason for the canceled flights.

    They waited until the point at which they’d pissed off thousands, ruined countless vacations, business trips, family reunions, etc. before deciding to recall furloughed pilots and to maybe, you know, buy a few new pilots?

    American business, baby. We’ve wanted it too cheap for too long, and now look what we’ve got – artificially propped up companies with horrible service at roughly the same prices we were paying a few years ago. All this, despite the cost of fuel going way, way up.

    Anyone else feel like paying the real price of an airline ticket and getting a little sanity back in the air?

  3. philipbarrett says:

    My job frequently demands last minute travel so I’m often paying the real price, still get no sanity though.

  4. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Lack of pilots caused by lack of pay, perhaps?
    Why not outsource the pilots to China as well?

  5. Major-General says:

    Given its Northwest, fixing the cancellation problem is easy: just make sure that the call centers all have conflicting information.

    Wait, that’s how they’re run when they’re not cancelling every flight they can think of.

  6. Melt says:

    I was on an NWA flight two weeks ago, sitting across from the flight attendant while we were landing. We chatted for a bit and she basically said that no one should fly NWA at the end of the month. It would seem that the shortage of pilots and an increased schedule means that most pilots hit their 90 hour per month limit well before month-end. That basically means that the “pilot absenteeism” that NWA speaks about is caused by the pilots not being allowed to fly by federal regulations. Good work NWA! Increase your schedule, decrease the number of pilots, and place the blame. Bravo!

  7. Chairman-Meow says:

    Why do I have a gut feeling the Northwest’s CEO will soon be “spending more time with his family” after there next annual meeting ?

    Another thing to notice is that a lot of those CEOs who worship the bottom line over service are starting to fall from grace. Maybe the boards are starting to realize that maximum profit over all else is not a good long-term strategy.

    One can only hope.

  8. Pelagius says:

    Jesus Christ! Will someone hire me to run their airline? Because the whole concept of not scheduling flights you don’t have pilots for seemed pretty clear to me from the outset of this “crisis”.

  9. mermaidshoes says:

    bummer. i flew northwest all the time to go home when i was in college (i only graduated 2 years ago), and i never, ever had a significantly delayed flight or any other issues whatsoever. i also had no problems when using some frequent flyer miles for a free northwest flight last december. airlines have recently taken a nosedive recently.

    on a semi-related note, flight attendants are total useless bitches and should be eliminated–maybe then they’d have the money to hire more pilots. i had two run-ins with ’em this weekend. first flight, a nasty attendant rudely told the larger passenger next to me (who was having trouble with her seatbelt) that she was too big for the seatbelt and would have to get an extension. damn. i mean, the lady was large, but there’s no need to be an asshole about it (the flight attendant herself wasn’t exactly svelte, either). second flight, a bitchy attendant made a big fuss because i switched seats with a kid without her permission (the rest of the kid’s family was in the row next to my original seat, and i moved to the kid’s seat so they all could be together). what’s it to her if we swap? god forbid a family be united or anything. i’d pay like $50 extra per flight to not have to deal with some attendant blocking the aisle with the drink cart and nagging me to put my seatback in the upright position… waitress in the sky indeed. i’ve done customer service and i do understand that it makes you hate all humanity with a vicious passion, but if you can’t fake a pleasant face (and TONE) at least some of the time, consider another job.

  10. Wally says:

    I don’t see this as being a very productive press release for Northwest. Firstly, they have publicized a flaw that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. Secondly, they have blamed the pilots for the problem, rather than assigning the blame where it belongs: to their deficient administrative infrastructure.

  11. mgh1090 says:

    NWA experience – Portland to Detroit

    Posted to NWA flight comment request

    Inflight beverage service was minimal, staff took 1 hour to respond to a help call light (to ask for a glass of water while the fasten seat belt light was on), fasten seat belt light seemed to be used to keep passengers out of service staff’s way, staff seemed more concerned about their privacy than serving customers (reading behind a closed curtain), head of flight staff’s wonderful accent did not make up for the clear message of KEEP OUT of business-first class (very off putting message), this is the worst service I or my wife (both of us fly often on business) have ever seen. My 12 year old son even complained about the service and talked about how bad it was. We were going to avoid NWA in the future and then….

    I just checked in online and found that we were all seated in separate seats spread across 8 rows. I then found that I could buy my way into the same row, which I did at a cost of $30. NWA has obviously found another twist on “yield management” split customers up and make them pay to sit together. Your software should have seated us together, as do other airlines booking software. I am totally disgusted with NWA. (Not to mention reading about your canceling flights in the Detroit papers, due to limited pilot hours per month, which also appears to me to be conscious “yield management”). I will not be flying NWA again and posting these comments to travel blogs and newspaper travel writers. I know NWA has just come out of Chapter 11, but proving that service is dead will not do anything but kill your business.


    Mike Hoffman

  12. iHATE-AOL says:

    I have not used Northwest because of simple reason: they are BAD. I just flew with them, but I had to cancel my return flight. It was 2 hour and half long phone ordeal. 3 Northwest representative told me three different “cancellation”, ” changing” ” re-purchase” fees. More over, they were going to charge me so much money (3 times as much) for my return ticket. So, I asked for a refund and purchased NEW ticket. I have yet to discover how much is my refund. Oh no, they are not giving me refund, but CREDIT only. But they still can’t tell me how much is my CREDITS. DO not USE Northwest, if you need to change/cancel/reschedule your flight, they are not helpful and just steals your money.

    Thank you for contacting Northwest’s Passenger Refunds Department.

    In your most recent correspondence you wrote about your dissatisfaction
    with a decision we made regarding your refund request. On behalf of
    Northwest Airlines, I regret your continued disappointment. Since you
    made the effort to write to us again, you clearly feel strongly about
    these issues. Let me underscore that we take our customers comments very

    Our aim is to be fair to all customers. With that goal in mind, we have
    developed uniform guidelines applying our tariffs and fare restrictions.
    Unfortunately, we are unable to make an exception to these guidelines.

    Thank you for choosing Northwest Airlines. We value your patronage and
    consider it a privilege to serve your travel needs.


    Joan B.
    Online Refunds
    Passenger Refund Department


    > Thank you for contacting Northwest’s Passenger Refunds Department.
    > Your ticket is non-refundable and non-transferrable as stated in my
    > correspondence.
    > Your request for a refund has been reviewed. We offer a variety of
    > in all markets to meet the varied needs of our customers. Many of our

    > fares contain restrictions such as non-refundable and
    > even when an unforeseeable situation prevents the ticket from being
    > as planned. Therefore, we are unable to offer a refund.
    > However, these tickets may be used towards future travel on
    > Northwest/KLM Airlines within applicable guidelines and restrictions.

    > Please check with your travel agent or call our Reservations
    > at 1-800-225-2525 for details.
    > Thank you for choosing Northwest Airlines. We value your patronage and

    > consider it a privilege to serve your travel needs.
    > Sincerely,
    > Joan B.
    > Online Refunds
    > Passenger Refund Department