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...I got to the airport.

Damn, damn, damn. We were meant to be back on Jersey at one of my oldest friend's wedding this weekend. Unfortunately two air traffic control system crashes (one in the UK and one in Brussels) have put paid to all that...

In the time it took to drive from Putney to Gatwick they cancelled all the rest of the flights to Jersey for the rest of the day, with no seats left on any plane I could rebook us on until after we were due to fly back to the UK. I couldn't even get on a flight with another airline, and the boat was full, too...

I know the situation was bad for the airline, but I did expect something a bit better in the way of customer service - a larger aircraft on tomorrow morning's flights perhaps, or at least someone a bit more helpful and polite on the end of the phone. At least the hire car company and the hotel in Jersey were a lot more helpful - but then they were the people who were realy customer facing, not someone in a call centre the other end of the country...

So I have to miss the wedding, and seeing old friends I haven't seen for years. It was really difficult apologising to my friend, telling him that we wouldn't be there. And I won't get to see my family, either...

Well, at least marypcb is safely home from her trip to California. And Guru Express are on their way with a delivery Indian...

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
hawkida
May. 17th, 2002 01:58 pm (UTC)
Your frustration and anger are totally justified. I want to express sympathy and all I can come up with is platitudes I delete repeatedly. I'm sorry.
sbisson
May. 17th, 2002 02:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks. Food is making life easier... and they gave us even more free bits than usual - poppadums, beer and naan bread...

Perhaps it's not so bad after all...
(Deleted comment)
wag_9393
May. 17th, 2002 03:37 pm (UTC)
It's not really as simple as whether Jersey can accept bigger aircraft, it is a scheduling thing. Ops control of airlines is a messy business at the best of times. I spent 5 years as Chief DBA for an Schedules Planning and Ops Control system and I would have been teaboy level in an Ops room.

Airlines have to keep their aircraft in the air as much as possible to make anything resembling a profit. Most airlines run on a schedule where they know which physical aircraft is doing which flight 3 days out (on short haul) sometimes longer on long-haul. They don't keep a load of aircraft in the wings to cater for breakdowns ( IMSMR a 747 has to fly 18hrs a day to make a profit). Maintenance for aircraft is scheduled in well in advance (some checks are booked months in advance - in theory years in advance). One of the criteria for some of the checks is number of touchdowns, so suddenly sticking a larger aircraft on a shorter journey for a day may mess the schedule for maintenance, meaning the aircraft can't fly because it has passed its touchdown limit - but also can't get into the engineering shed because it wasn't expected that week.

Also its not just the aircraft that have to be taken into consideration, aircrew is another messy place. Crew management is a separate issue and whilst there are standby crews available, they are checked out on specific aircraft types. Crews have very strict rules on the hours they can work and be extended by. So while switching a large aircraft and its crew onto a short Jersey hop may alleviate the problem in the short term, it may mean that no crews are then availble for a longer haul flight the following day, because their hours have already been used up filling a gap.

I know it sucks big time, I've been there myself - but there are good reasons why it isn't always as easy as it seems at first.
sbisson
May. 18th, 2002 03:08 am (UTC)
I think the issues which hit us were a mix of ATC, aircraft routings, and crew stand down times (the latter possibly the most likely).
sbisson
May. 18th, 2002 03:06 am (UTC)
Unfortunately not...
...as they're in the middle of rebuilding Taxiway Alpha. The biggest I've seen land is an A310 and that was pushing it. In the past when there's been significant fog, BA have flown in 757s (and once a Tristar), and the normal schduled flights are currently a mix of RJ100s and 737s. They're phasing out the RJ100s in favour of the 737s at the moment - and my gut feeling is that yesterday evening's flights were intended to be 737 flights, and the aircraft were stuck somewhere down the routing chain.

You can tell we're a geek household, I ended up explaining the whole thing to marypcb in terms of IP routing - where the aircraft were the packets and the ATC was a Cisco somewhere...

The people I feel most sorry for would have been those due to fly on the 19.55, as my Dad back home on Jersey had been told that one was cancelled, but the Gatwick boards still had it down as flying.
(Deleted comment)
sbisson
May. 18th, 2002 06:17 am (UTC)
Re: Unfortunately not...
For an airport that busy, you'd think so too...
(Anonymous)
May. 18th, 2002 02:40 am (UTC)
Feeling like an un-person
So if I am not a LiveJournal user I don't have an identity? Bah. I, David Brake (http://www.davidbrake.org/) (Moveable Type blogger (http://blog.org/)) also sympathise with your frustration. I, too, had to drop a friend's wedding at the last minute once. I had never had trouble with booking holiday time before but when I told my boss I was off the next week I was told it would be a career limiting maneuver. As it turned out I left the job a few months later in any case for unrelated reasons. Anyway, I remember how annoying it was.
sbisson
May. 18th, 2002 03:07 am (UTC)
Re: Feeling like an un-person
It's the way things go here... There's quite an emphasis on community building.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )