Question 1: If you get on an airplane at JFK and sit in it for three hours, and your ticket says "Minneapolis" where are you after three hours?
2. Circling Minneapolis?
3. the tarmac at JFK waiting for the pilot to get clearance for take off???
Question 2: If you get on a SECOND plane, and sit in it for three hours, and your ticket says final destination Anchorage, where are you after three hours?
2. Somewhere near Alaska (like Russia) on the way to Anchorage?
3. the tarmac at JFK waiting for the pilot to get clearance for take off????
Yea well, I hope you guessed #3 both times.
Here's what I don't understand: what the hell are these operations managers thinking?
Northwest Airlines has a perfectly nice terminal at JFK. It doesn't have much in the way of food but you can find something to eat if you look hard enough. There are all the amenities of a place where people need to spend waiting time; places to sit; and places to shop if you need a change of pace from sitting and waiting; bathrooms; corridors to get a bit of exercise.
Why then does Northwest load up an entire plane load of passengers, taxi out to the runway and sit for THREE hours? Engines running, therefore burning EXTREMELY expensive aviation fuel? Aren't these guys in some sort of budget crisis?
We were told the weather west of New York meant all the planes had to be re-routed over, under, or around the storm. I get that, and I'm ok with waiting. I'm not much on flying through thunderstorms either.
What I don't get is why they can't get the flight plan, then load up the passengers and taxi out to the runway. EVEN if they need the gate space (and they do) they can load people onto what they call "people movers" (known fondly here in New York as "busses") and move them out to the plane. In fact, they moved us onto the plane for Departure #2 just exactly like that today.
Of course, they loaded us onto the bus and sent us out to the tarmac before they'd finished cleaning the plane so we provided the Full New York Subway Rush Hour experience (akin to The Girlfriend Experience in those hot-girl-wants-you newspaper ads) for all the people on that bus.
Why make two trips when you can load 75 people on to a bus that seats 10 (I'm NOT kidding) and has room for maybe 40 more to stand. Mind you, since they now charge for luggage, every single person is carrying a duffel bag or more of their duds around with them.
So here's the 48 hour tally:
Number of trips to JFK: 2
Number of trips from JFK to Alaska: 0
Number of trips from JFK home: 2
Number of hours spent on plane: 6
Mileage covered: 0
Number of people unhappy/New York: 1
Number of people unhappy /Alaska: Many many many more than 1
Every single person I dealt with at Northwest was kind and pleasant. This is clearly not a problem caused by the pilots or the cabin attendants, and certainly not by the gate agents or the lovely lady at the rebooking center. Obviously this is some guy in operations who hasn't quite figured out that passengers will put up with delays, and weather and all that stuff if you'll just leave us IN the damn terminal so we can use our computers, and our phones and make informed decisions.
As it was today, I very well could have ended up in Minneapolis having missed a connecting flight to Anchorage, had to pay for a hotel (the airline doesn't cover hotel bills for weather related delays or cancellations) and then try to stuff myself on a return flight to New York. Fortunately, the plane had to go back to the terminal for fuel and the captain called for the bus and they let us off.
This is the kind of stuff that makes me swear off traveling with Northwest Airlines ever again.
On the other hand, I don't claim to know a damn thing about the airline industry, or airport arrival and departure management. If what looks like nutso to me can be explained by someone who does understand, or knows more about the industry, feel free to clue me in. I have quite a bit of extra time to listen this weekend given I'm NOT where I want to be!
And in news from It Could Have Been Worse Department, take a look at this.**
**thanks for the heads up Amber!