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Old 03-19-2010, 04:22 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the3Ds View Post
For a flight to leave early, people coming from their jobs or homes would have to be notified too. The only time a flight of mine has left early was when everyone with a reservation was on board, and even then, it was only about 10 minutes.
That makes sense. But I wonder if there are some flights that are for connectors only, basically for people who are already in the terminal waiting.
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Old 03-19-2010, 05:28 PM
 
Location: Aurora, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OzzyRules View Post
That makes sense. But I wonder if there are some flights that are for connectors only, basically for people who are already in the terminal waiting.
There are plenty of flights that have people making connections, but still, in the 3 years that I was a flight attendant and the numerous times I've flown before/after, I have never been told to get to an airport early because my flight was going to leave earlier than expected. Think of it this way...you get on a plane in San Francisco to go to New York. On the way, you stop in Denver. You don't have to get off because that plane is going to continue on, but after a few people get off in Denver (either they're at their destination, or they are changing planes to go somewhere else), there are other people who get on in Denver to head to New York. If your New York flight leaves early, all the people making connections from other flights that landed in Denver and those starting their trip in Denver would have to be notified.

Remember too, that planes can't just take off when they want. The Air Traffic Control System is a complex myriad of little dots in the air and takeoffs and landings are a very precise dance that gets done all over the country. Airports in constant motion...gates are available, gates are full, air traffic controllers tell a plane to circle for 15 minutes so 3 other planes can land, an emergency landing can throw everything off as can a weather system. Things run according to a schedule and an airline leaving an hour early will throw things off. Where is that plane going to land? Will they have a gate available? Will the baggage handlers be there to get the luggage off since they run on a schedule too? How about the gate agents? The gate agents have a schedule...when to announce a flight has landed, when to board a plane. Putting a plane into a gate an hour early will cause chaos.
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Old 03-19-2010, 06:07 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the3Ds View Post
...Putting a plane into a gate an hour early will cause chaos.
I don't see the logic. Air traffic controllers' complex systems can handle late flights but not early flights? It doesn't make sense.

It seems like they would have to do that to accommodate delayed flights. For example, if delay means that a gate is open then why not send a flight there that's ready to go?
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Old 03-20-2010, 02:51 PM
 
Location: Aurora, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OzzyRules View Post
I don't see the logic. Air traffic controllers' complex systems can handle late flights but not early flights? It doesn't make sense.

It seems like they would have to do that to accommodate delayed flights. For example, if delay means that a gate is open then why not send a flight there that's ready to go?
My husband works at the airport here in Denver and works a lot with the ATCs. You'd be surprised at how much of a mess it makes when a weather system comes in and causes cancellations/late flights, when a plane has to make an emergency landing, etc. It's not that they can't handle the new schedule...I'd be willing to bet that rarely is there a day when every plane lands and takes off on time. Unexpected things happen all day all across the country and heck, even a good tail wind can get you across the country 30minutes early, but airports/airlines/ATCs don't send a plane out of schedule on purpose if there isn't a need. For some little airports, maybe, but I've been on flights going into large metro areas and when we were early, we've been told to circle until our landing time. When we flew from London to LAX, we had such a good tail wind that we arrived nearly 45 minutes ahead of schedule. We landed and then had to sit at the gate because they couldn't find the gate agent to bring the jetway out to the plane!

Again...I don't know the circumstances of your flight and I am not familiar with every airport's policy about early/late flights. I just know after flying hundreds of times that if you sit long enough at an airport, you can see one plane pull out to leave and just a few minutes later, another flight pulls in. I'm sure that's not the case for all airports, but most larger cities have a very specific way of doing things and don't take kindly to planes coming in significantly before they were expected. I was in Miami when American Airlines pilots were striking and there were planes that were just left at the gate with no one to pull them out. The planes that were landing (including mine) were having to head over to a totally different concourse, sometimes even have airstairs brought out to get passengers off and then the passengers had to walk across the tarmac to get inside.
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Old 03-20-2010, 10:01 PM
 
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I think I understand what you are saying. But you are making it sound as if the destination airport has absolutely no say in the matter. The way I see it is that a schedule change could only take place after both airports agree to it. If the destination port says no, then that should be no. End of discussion. Why would they be "forced" to accept a plane too early? I'm sorry, but that reasoning is what doesn't make sense.
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Old 03-21-2010, 06:04 PM
 
Location: Frankfort, IN
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On my last flight to Vegas, we arrived 15-20 minutes early and had to wait for another plane to leave our gate. Airlines run very complex schedules and for the most part, they're very good at keeping things on schedule as much as possible. Sure changes happen, but you generally won't have a plane leaving an hour early. Lets look at it from several viewpoints.

ATC: While ATC can handle changes in schedules and do so regularly, they're objective is the safe operation of the airplanes both in the air and on the ground. Changing the time of a flight significantly means more equipment moving around on the ground at a time when it wasn't expected to. Not just planes, but baggage handlers, food trucks, and all the people that do the jobs that a lot of people don't even consider. While only planes are directed by ATC, it's them that has to take responsibility for the safe operation of the airport.

Pilots and Flight Attendants: These are people that are only considered on the clock after the doors close. While I'm sure that some of these people would love to get in the air sooner, you have to understand that most Flight Attendants go to the plane approximately an hour before a flight. To leave an hour early, it may not be possible for them to do that because some of them may be working another flight that hasn't landed yet. Not sure how often Flight Attendant's schedules are that tight, but I know if does happen ocassionally at least. For pilots, not sure how their schedule works so not even going to attempt it. However, I will say this. Pilots figure how much fuel gets loaded. Different airports have different costs of fuel, much like gas stations have different prices for our cars. If a gate isn't open at the destination airport and the plane has to sit on the tarmac waiting for a gate to open up, that will consume more fuel. Yes planes are loaded with plenty of fuel to account for a lot of things that could come up, but from a cost standpoint, you don't want to waste fuel for no reason. Since it would be uncertain how long you'd have to wait for a gate to open up, then there's no way to tell how much additional fuel you'd burn. Keep in mind, each airline only has certain gates at each airport so just because a gate is open, it doesn't mean that a plane that just arrived can go there.

Passengers: These are the toughest people to accomodate if a flight was to leave early. We'll use your case for instance. Don't know where you flew to when this situation came up, so I'll say you flew to Pittsburgh. Lets say you're flying to L.A., but connect in Pittsburgh. Obviously, you're connecting so it's possible that other people are connecting as well. I mean coming from different cities than you just came from, not the people that would have been on the same plane as you. On my last trip to Vegas, I connected in MSP and was on the flight from MSP to LAS with people from at least 3 other planes along with people from MN. That means that they'd have to reschedule multiple flights to make sure that everybody had a chance to get there on time. Since you don't have to check-in again at the connecting airport (as long as you stay on the same airline, unsure of different airlines), there's really no way to say if everybody would be at the connecting airport that was supposed to be there. Then there would be the backlash of passengers wanting the airline to rebook them if they show up on time on a flight that the airline scheduled only to find out that their next flight left while they were still in the air.

Now with all that said, hopefully you'll see that it's extremely unlikely for a plane to leave an hour early. There are just too many parts to try to get to change their schedules. I'd say more than likely, what happened in your case when your dad saw that the flight was leaving earlier was more than likely either a gate change or a time change.
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Old 03-21-2010, 06:09 PM
 
Location: Frankfort, IN
111 posts, read 399,837 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OzzyRules View Post
I don't see the logic. Air traffic controllers' complex systems can handle late flights but not early flights? It doesn't make sense.

It seems like they would have to do that to accommodate delayed flights. For example, if delay means that a gate is open then why not send a flight there that's ready to go?
Delayed flights are flights already in the system and in some cases, if I flight already isn't in the air, the ATC network can't handle delayed flights. In some cases, the delays happen in the air. Maybe a plane hits headwind or maybe they have to divert around a storm that came up unexpectedly. In these cases, ATC has no choice but handle them because they're already in the air. A flight leaving earlier than say 15-20 minutes early is adding more complexity to a system that you have admitted yourself is already very complex.
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