Entries in Delays (4)


American Airlines Delays Leave Passengers Waiting

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- American Airlines passengers have seen many delays in recent weeks, including a four-hour delay when two flight attendants reportedly argued about a cell phone.

One flight attendant went so far as to announce on the public address system that all passengers had to turn off their cell phones, "including the other flight attendant," according to a local television report in Washington.

The dispute, according to a local television report, forced the captain to turn back from a runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and find a new crew before resuming the flight.

Delays Thursday at New York airports, however, were all labor-related.

American, whose parent company has filed for bankruptcy protection, was forced to delay nearly 40 percent of its flights, with most forced to be late or even cancelled by an "unprecedented and very significant" increase in maintenance issues.

ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz experienced the problem firsthand Thursday.

"We go out to the runway to take off and the pilot comes on and says, 'Sorry, we have a mechanical problem,'" she said. "The motor that starts the engine is not working [and] we have to go back."

ABC News has learned the FAA is concerned enough to have stepped up scrutiny of American during its bankruptcy. So far, there is no indication safety has been compromised, but federal monitors are making more ramp checks and fly-alongs with pilots to make sure.

Thursday's flights were punctual only 64 percent of the time, compared to the normal 82 percent for September.

In a statement to ABC News, American apologized to customers but blamed pilots for the delays.

"The recent disruptions are primarily due to the significant increase in maintenance write-ups by our pilots, many right at the time of departure," the statement read.

These "disruptions" led to 547 delays on Thursday. On a normal day, the airline sees about 100 delays.

The airline added that pilots are calling in sick 20 percent more than normal, which "impacts the availability of reserve pilots, which can ultimately lead to cancellations."

The pilots union said there is no sanctioned work action under way and disagreed with American's accounting of sick leave and crew cancellations.

"We have verified that pilot sick rates have not deviated from normal historical rates," said the Allied Pilots Association, which represents American Airline's 10,000 pilots. "We have likewise verified that crew cancellations remain at normal rates."

Instead, the union blamed the unreliability on mechanical problems within the airline, saying it "isn't surprising," given the large number of furloughed mechanics and closing of "one of its largest maintenance facilities."

The Wall Street Journal's travel editor, Scott McCartney, took the rare step of warning would-be passengers to fly another carrier.

"My advice is until things get straightened out with the operations, if you have a choice you ought to book another airline," McCartney said. "It's just not worth it."

The airline pre-cancelled 300 flights this week, hoping to re-accommodate passengers in advance. It also has reduced its schedule by one to two percent through October.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Drunk Pilot? Suspicion Delays Omaha Flight

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(OMAHA, Neb.) -- A Frontier Airlines flight from Omaha, Neb., to Milwaukee was delayed Thursday when the pilot was suspected of being drunk and kept from boarding the plane.

"Our police received information alleging that a Frontier crew member was impaired and, acting on that information, our police intercepted the employee before he boarded the flight," Chris Martin, director of operations for Omaha's Eppley Airfield, told ABC News.

"They spoke with him, and asked him a few questions, and determined there was reasonable suspicion that he was impaired and turned it over to Frontier Airlines staff," Martin said.

A hotel shuttle driver tipped off the police, Martin said.

The pilot, identified only as a man, was not arrested.

"We acted on it immediately, as soon as we were made aware of a potential situation," Martin said. "We never arrested him. We talked with him and turned him over to the local Frontier Airlines staff."

Flight 1894, a regional aircraft operated by Chautauqua Airlines, was scheduled to leave Omaha at 6 a.m., but did not leave until 8 a.m. because the airline needed to bring in another pilot, according to ABC News Omaha affiliate KETV.

The flight's 29 passengers did not have to wait on the tarmac, however. They were permitted back in the airport to wait.

Martin said Frontier has deemed the incident a "personnel matter."

Representatives of Frontier Airlines did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"I know they have advised the FAA, as have we, so I'm sure they will also do an investigation," Martin said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Snow Strikes Again: Travel Delays Mount

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(ATLANTA) -- A pair of nasty winter snowstorms is creating yet another travel nightmare, with airlines canceling nearly 2,000 flights across the country and icy roads making driving treacherous for countless travelers.

From Texas to the Carolinas, unusual amounts of snow and ice are bringing travel for some to a standstill.

The biggest impact is being felt in Atlanta, where six inches of snow caused Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport -- the world's busiest airport in terms of passengers -- to essentially shut down. The airport is technically open and the runways are operational but most of the flights in and out of Atlanta have been canceled.

Airlines had canceled 725 flights Sunday, 2,207 as of noon Monday and 327 and growing for Tuesday, according to flight tracking company FlightAware.

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines alone canceled 1,450 flights Monday, or about 25 percent of its regular schedule due to the snow, ice and freezing rain.

AirTran canceled all flights in and out of Atlanta, its largest hub, due to what it is calling a "historic winter storm."

"To put it in perspective, the city of Atlanta has six snow trucks. We're just not used this type of weather down here," said AirTran spokesman Christopher White.

Overall, the airline scrubbed 376 flights Monday -- about half of its operations, White said.

"The rest of our network is running beautiful," White said. "If you are flying from LaGuardia to Orlando, you're in great shape today."

AirTran decided to halt Atlanta operations because "the roads are just treacherous down here," White said, and the airline was concerned about the safety of its crew and passengers. The decision also helps it prepare to return to normal operations Tuesday.

While it took the airlines days to recover from a Christmas blizzard that paralyzed the New York area, the recovery should be quicker after this storm. The Christmas and New Year's rush is over and the start of January is traditionally the slowest time of the year for travel.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


Stranded Fliers Might Not Get Home Until Thursday

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Some airline passengers stranded in the northeast from this weekend's blizzard might have to wait until the end of the week to make it home.

Flights slowly started to return to the air Monday night, but the backlog created by the storm might take days to clear as airlines struggle during one of the busiest times of year to reposition airplanes and crew, and find seats on already-crowded planes for stranded passengers.

"You are trying to put them on planes that are already packed.  There isn't a lot of room to re-accommodate folks," said AirTran Airways spokesman Christopher White.  His airline is hoping to return to normal operations by late Wednesday or early Thursday.

Those with confirmed tickets for flights Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday typically get priority over passengers whose flights were canceled earlier in the week.

New York's three area airports re-started some operations Monday night.  A LaGuardia Airport spokesman said they planned to open a second runway Tuesday morning.

For airlines, the problem might not be whether planes can take off and land, but whether there will be enough staff at the airport to load baggage, take tickets and do security screenings of passengers.´╗┐

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio