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Old 01-02-2010, 01:08 PM
1,433 posts, read 2,823,402 times
Reputation: 886


After my recent flight I'm trying to find out what are airline's policies
when it comes to flight protocol. I'm a fairly seasoned air traveler yet my
recent non-stop flight from Kahului, Maui to Phoenix (US Air flight 26) on
Dec 31st was the worst I've ever experienced, encountering moderate to
borderline extreme turbulence virtually the *entire* 5 hour flight. Even
the flight attendants looked concerned, at least the few times that I
actually saw them.

The turbulence took place under clear skies with a considerable amount of
convective looking cumulus below though some of the worst occured over
patches of clearing. I had a good view since the moon was full.

There were episodes when the pilot took what I consider to be evasive
meaures ... sharp turns, gunning the engines for altitude, etc. I'm sure
the pilot did what he felt was necessary, however I question why we got into this situation in the first place.

Does an airline not delay or alter course when conditions look unfavorable
ahead? When does customer comfort take a back seat to timely fulfillment of schedule?The terms 'unforseen' or 'unanticipated' seem a bit lame and even downright contrived considering the protracted duration and degree of turbulence.

I would think the flight path would of allowed some wiggle room since it's
not heavily traffic'd, yet flown sufficiently to have good data from other
pilot observations to know what's ahead.

A word about the pilot - other than the perfunctory 'welcome aboard' and
'thank you for flying' not a word from him otherwise, no 'we're leaving the
seat belts on awhile' or 'sorry about this folks'. He was busy no doubt,
but not even a brief explanation after touchdown or during the final 20
minute approach which was smooth! And if he WAS that busy maintaining
control of the aircraft what does that say about the judgement of the
airline and pilot?

I have a sneaking suspicion they knew the flight was going to suck, I just
hope public safety wasn't compromised other than keeping the seat belt light on the whole trip.
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Old 01-02-2010, 05:16 PM
Location: Miami/ Washington DC
4,836 posts, read 11,279,702 times
Reputation: 2558
Turbulance is almost never dangerous to the airplane or its passengers. Even when a plane drops 500ft in a few seconds the plane is fine the passegers might not be. Commercial airliners are made to withstand a HUGE amount of stress on its body and wings. It would take a freak of nature to make a plane break up, especially in clear air turbulance. Sometimes it is hard to predict the turbulance but I am sure you were never in danger as before your flight left I am sure the pilot took not of ride reports from other pilots flying in the same area and ATC would notify the pilots about this also. yes the pilots knew the flight was going to be bumpy but why would they cancel a flight just because of some turbulance? You probably experienced moderate turbulance as severe to heavy is very rare.

Pilots and airline and Air Traffic Control do alter course for planes flying around bad weather and reported extremem turbulance. But if it is just bumpy the flight is going to take the planned route and hopefully the pilot can fly below or above it. But there are many varibles such as best altitude for fuel comsumption, weight of the plane, route the flight has. Over the open ocean it is rare to go of course since there is no radar control. Planes need to keep certain altitudes, speeds and courses to maintain seperation. West Coast- Hawaii is pretty busy route. Not as busy as US-Europe but for open water flights there is a good amount of traffic.
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Old 01-02-2010, 11:13 PM
Location: Sherman Oaks, CA
6,567 posts, read 16,726,945 times
Reputation: 9374
To the OP, maybe an altitude change or direction change wouldn't have made a difference. There were probably other flights ahead of yours reporting the exact same thing. Sometimes turbulence is just the luck of the draw. I have a weak stomach and I'm a nervous passenger, anyway, so I wouldn't have been very happy. My solution? Play Sudoku to take my mind of what's going on around me, if it's possible. (Sometimes, it's a matter of just hanging on and taking deep breaths!)
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Old 01-03-2010, 07:13 AM
Location: Airports all over the world
7,101 posts, read 7,294,643 times
Reputation: 104279
Just remember...The pilots flying the plane are also passengers on the flight.
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Old 01-03-2010, 08:52 AM
Location: St. Croix
737 posts, read 2,474,664 times
Reputation: 762
You're alive, 'nuff said... and so are the pilots and crew.
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