One trend that I am noticing is the tendancy of Airlines to Overuse Equipment/Staff.
Case in point, I recently flew from Dallas/Fort Worth to Edmonton.
Surprisingly, there are no direct flights between these 2 cities.
As a result, I had to take a flight from DFW to Houston and then transfer in Houston to make the flight to Edmonton.
Flight leaves at noon from DFW arriving at 1:15 pm in Houston and then the flight to Edmonton leaves at 4:30 pm arriving at 8:00 pm.
Sounds like it should be an easy connection.
However, the airline, (United in this case) is running their planes (and crews hard) hard.
The plane ( Brazilian made E75) that was going from Dallas to Houston had previously flown earlier in that day from Houston to McAllen to Houston before going to Dallas and then it was scheduled for Houston and then after that, it was scheduled to go to another city.
The plane (which was fairly new) was showing significant wear in the seats and quite a few of the overhead bins were not working. As a result, quite a few bags that were being carried had to be stored underneath.
The crews were also being run hard. One flight attendant mentioned that she had been working since 3:00 am and was physically exhausted by the time we boarded at noon. The plane was staffed with the minimum of crew legally required. (one FA per 50 passengers)
Upon leaving DFW, the plane was first delayed and then diverted from Houston due to thunderstorms. Despite having a fuel capacity to fly 4000 km, by the time we had travelled 1000 km, they were low on fuel and had to divert to Corpus Christie to refuel. That tells me that the plane was being operated with only a little over the legal minimum required.
Yes, I do understand that flying with completely full fuel tanks for a trip that does require it does waste fuel by carrying way more than required. However, they were cutting it a little too close.
By the time, we got back to Houston, I had maybe 10 minutes to run between the flights and just barely made it on board. My luggage (including several vital items including a CPAP) that I tried to carry on ended up being put in the baggage compartment because of the lack of overhead bin space and several out of use bins. Not only that, by the time, the crew got to Corpus, they were out of hours for the day. We did get a new pilot (who was travelling on the plane) but it was the same 2 fA going over their hours because of the unusual circumstances.
The flight to Edmonton (this time a Airbus A320) was also showing signs of wear. Looking on a flight tracker, the plane had gone from Houston to Minneapolis (Sunday night). On Monday morning, starting at 5:30 am) from Minneapolis to Houston to Tucson, Arizona, to Houston and was now going to Edmonton (all in just over 24 hours.)
When I got to Edmonton, there was a single person trying to handle all the baggage claims for all the airlines as she was the only one on duty. Not only was she handling the missing luggage, she was also acting as the gate assistant and when she got back from that was being flooded with a good 50 people with missing luggage claims.
Over a day later, my bag finally makes it to Edmonton. I phoned and asked if I could come and pick it up as it was Urgent. She said that it had to clear customs first it was not possible and then it will be delivered later that day. I waited for them to let me know when it was to be delivered and never got a call text or email.
I finally called them back later that day and they said it was now due to be delivered the next day. I asked what happened to this Urgent status. It turns out, they only have a SINGLE delivery driver for ALL the missing luggage.
Then, I just read that one of the more respected Airlines “WestJet” is trying to start ultra low cost flights (under a different name) by taking 2 of their 737s and fitting them with as many seats as possible (187 on a 737) and charging for every little item possible including luggage, online booking, meals, drinks, and if they can do it, air as well:D)
I am well aware of the safety aspects of an airplace and it crasing as I saw first hand the wreck of a cargo 707 crashing into my grandfather’s gravel pit when I was 5 years old. (killing all 5 crew members and the 75 cattle onboard).
At what point is the proper usage of equipment (and people) and what is abuse?