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United Airlines tests telling passengers why their flights are delayed

CHICAGO –– You’re sitting at the airport, about to leave on a big summer trip, when you hear the dreaded announcement: the flight’s delayed. Would knowing why you’re about to kill a couple of hours in the airport lounge leave you less frustrated? ( More...

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Rob Gartley 26
Wow... I really love this idea. What a concept. Actually engaging in upfront communication with the customer. I think that this type of communication will most definitely help the airlines as the customer will feel like they're not being talked down to with a "we're delayed again" script that was read off some form. I believe that a person generally will respond with more respect to a person when they provide open and honest up front communications to them. This just seems like a common sense thing that should've been done a while ago.
mkeflyer 13
Have been in the industry for 15 years...telling the truth always makes things easier. But never lie because people aren't stupid.
Joe Fiala 3
Yes, that is best policy. Assume people are somewhat intelligent and it will help many times. If one assumes passengers are morons, then that makes them more stupid.
Mark Hays 10
UAL has often given passengers explanations for delayed flights, for years. "Bad weather in (your destination)" was the most frequent excuse. They apparently did not realize that passengers can check the weather online, can see that a crew hasn't shown up or that mechanics arrived. So this "new" program would be great, as long as the explanations are accurate.
ken young 0
Or, the weather has stopped flights at in the city from which your aircraft is departing.
Many times people waiting for a flight in Florida are infuriated over seeing "cancelled" and the explanation is "weather"...They see the sun and clear skies. What they are not told is the equipment for their flight is grounded at La Guardia due to a blizzard.
GraemeSmith 19
As long as this doesn't turn into an excuse to blame ATC and then tell us ATC would be better off privatized. Better reasons would be - "There are not enough gates at this airport for the number of planes we are trying to fit in" and "This would be much easier if we could spread the flights throughout the 24 hours in a day instead of trying to cram you all into peak periods".
flynryan 4
Well, if the issue is ATC, and it certainly can be, they should tell the passengers. I think privatizing ATC is insane, buuuuuut....

When ATC issues a GDP for "staffing issues", how is that not ATC's fault?

When ATC issues a SWAP statement or FYI advisory instructing carriers to fuel for CDR's but file normal routes, then never assigns the CDR and send an aircraft straight into a thunderstorm causing a diversion, how is that not their fault?

When ATC can't seem to get aircraft from the runway to the gate or visa versa when they have every opportunity to move people, on a normal day when they typically have no issues, how is that not their fault?

Again, I am against privatizing ATC but I don't think major reform is out of the question and the "we are doing anything wrong" stuff coming from the ATC camp is a bunch of bull. They're just as responsible as anybody else. If ATC does something stupid causing delay or diversion, United should be frank and tell the passenger exactly what happened.
ken young 0
If government cannot do the job correctly, then why not privatization?
Why are some of you so hung up on government?
Back to live action.........Regardless of who or what is the cause of the delay/cancellation, this is a move toward better customer relations. That's a good thing
John Bruns 3
Do you really think we'd be better off with ATC run by United Airlines?
SamArnold 9
Our UA departure from SFO was spelled out for us. That was in early May.
It was a runway change due to stacked up arrivals on the 19 RWY's.
We waited, and the pilot kept telling us he was hoping ATC would clear us.
He even told us he planned to shut the engines down, but never did.
We ended up taxiing to 28L, and had to queue behind a lot of heavies.

The fact he gave us a 60 minute delay forecast was good, because the actual delay was only 35 minutes. So we were relieved. Better than being told it'll be 5 minutes, but it takes 40 mins.

Good job UA.
Peter Purves 9
When I worked in airlines (70-90's Australia)we always found that telling the truth usually placated most passengers - even If it was maintenance related,; nobody wants to knowingly ride in a broken aircraft. Correspondingly, being told nothing usually angered our passengers. It staggers me that today airline staff don't seem to care a hoot about the paying passenger at all.
Michael Lewis 17
My dad is a Capt. with UAL and he's done this on his own morals. He will go out and explain and be "the face" to them. He even earned a written praise to the company from some of the passengers for doing so and was recognized by the company for it! tldr; yes this concept should work.
bob proud 5
I like this idea, and think many of their initiatives have merit. And Oscar is seemingly the most likeable of the airline CEOs. But United is always let down by their surly,hostile front line employees.
Roger Curtiss 4
Is it not a bit sad that the concept of informing the customers of the truth is a novel idea? The airlines treat passengers with enough disdain that such a move is seen as groundbreaking!
Nick Carlson 4
Great idea. Keep the troops informed. We can take it and frequently find the info really helpful.
I am a UA 2-million miler, os have had many delayed flights. Nothing makes me madder than when I check the flight boards in the lounge, see my flight is on time, go down to the gate, and nothing happens for 1/2 hour or so. No announcements, no change in departure time posted, sometimes, not even an aircraft at the gate. Everyone hates when their flight is late but a little honesty would be refreshing . If a flight is going to be late, and you know it, tell people. They will be happier. We'll see.
Jesse Carroll 3
All flights available 24/7.....hmmmm I'm for it!
Would rather fly at 1 AM than stand in line @6 AM...
Joel Morrison 3
It paints a better picture when I have to inform those waiting for me on the other end.
Betty O 3
Why is that considered a "new" development? I consider it common courtesy.... One of the gate agents at IAD (usually in charge of UAL flights to FRA) is very open about why our flight might be delayed. Last winter he also explained to us in detail why our flight would be over an hour longer, because of very unusual headwinds from the wrong direction! UAL should ask him how to do it!
the truth always goes down better even if it is bad news
It happened to me once about 10 or 12 years ago, in MXA, with all PAX on board and the plane being pulled out the gate, when the pilot announced that we will be delayed by a weather radar failure and we need to be moved to a new position. The substitution of bad equipment take about 30 minutes, and nobody on the plane complain about it.
Mark Kentwell 4
Pretty sure Australian airlines have always done this - I mean, why wouldn't you tell people why the delay is happening? Amazed that this is a "test", its like US airlines don't realise their paying customers are human
Human? yes. Intelligent? no.
I'm in Europe and not allowed to read this "at this time" for data security reasons.
Bob Keeping 2
Sometimes it IS ATC - ground holds because of mis-management. What makes me most angry is stupid TRF's. How about HE waits for me to clear the space, or maybe travels at night!
I agree. The fly in that ointment is airport hours due noise abatement laws quite often.
Greg Zelna 3
Our Delta delays at ATL were spelled out for us. All 6 hours of them. Brief severe weather event stacked all the planes up for landing and departure. Then a gate change. Then a mechanical issue with the AC and another needed to roll out of the hanger and undergo a security sweep. Then they couldn't find the FO for the flight (no kidding) and another had to drive into the airport from home, which took about an hour. We never actually boarded until it was go-time, all of this transpired in the terminal (a good thing).
Bernie20910 1
Now I have this mental image of the missing FO circling the parking lots in his beat to hell Honda Civic, fuel getting low and that left front tire with the slow leak that he kept meaning to have fixed slowly getting softer, desperately hoping a spot opens up soon.

Some say he's still out there, circling to this day, ever searching for that one open spot that doesn't have a motorcycle or Miata parked in it between a pair of Escalades, giving that brief glimmer of hope soundly dashed by the sight of a POW flag on a Harley or a "Coexist" bumper sticker on the Miata.
belzybob 3
I could imagine a message like "scheduling have screwed up and we are running around trying to find a crew for this flight" might have less than the desired effect.
Bernie20910 1
"There will be a short delay while our heroic ground crew uses CPR and mouth-to-snout in an attempt to revive Sammy the English Bulldog who got accidentally left behind on a luggage cart out on the apron in the sun for 6 hours."
Diana Cupp 1
Knowing is better than not knowing.
dardav 1
So how do they (Airlines) figure this works when a aircraft is overdue. So the information is not readily known at the gates, but ATC or someone does. Are we going to let the troops know now. Think it all through to the end before we disclose to the public what we know. Misinformation and fake news is all around us and what is real or not is hard to decipher.
Yes defona good idea rather than get on the plane and get an Nnouncement. There is nothing worse.
I like to be informed as much as the next person and I sincerely hope this works the way it is planned. However, like Graeme, I can see backlash which otherwise wouldn't be there if just a few "details" were not disclosed. Between cell phone cameras and people who want their 15 minutes of fame, nothing escapes public scrutiny these days. And, more often than not, it is greeted with an overload of public opinion worth exactly what is paid for it....nothing. Let's hope this works right.
ken young 1
Do they mean ,,,,Tell PAX the.......TRUTH>!!!!!
Oh the humanity.
Stephen Light 1
Why should we believe what they tell us? They are already lying by overbooking flights and denying seats to passengers who have a paid ticket in hand.
Guy Cocoa 1
Back in the 80’s we boarded a United DC10 at ORD and the captain announced that we were going to be delayed because the tire pressure was too low. This was our fourth flight of the day, and we had probably had a little to drink, so we couldn’t stop laughing as we kept imagining a mechanic out there with a bicycle pump inflating the tires. In that case it may have a little bit too much specific information.
mark dorsey 1
Fine with me, lets be honest with customers. When they ask where is seat 14a we will say count to 14 and sit down. When they show up late for a flight and say can you reopen the doors we can say no everyone else showed in time maybe if you didnt stop for that starbucks coffee you would be on the plane. And yes there was a wx delay because your airplane left an airport that had weather that you didnt think to look at. No this airplane cant takeoff in a thunderstorm but we know you still dont care because you have decided to make a 30 min connection to your international destination in chicago or la. It wont matter if we tell you exactly what is the problem,you still will cry and complain like litte kids about things the airline cant control like weather and maintenance issues.
I always thought they had a pair of dice and an excuse sheet to pick from...
paul trubits 1
Magic 8 ball?
Bernie20910 1
Only because TSA confiscated the darts for the dartboard.
A good idea and i hope AA follows suit. We fly LAX-LIH on a morning flight on a plane that arrives the previous afternoon or evening, usually from one of the HI islands. The plane is always late departing. They don’t announce the reason for the delay but when I ask the gate agent he/she says the plane is still in a hanger. Do you suppose they’ll announce that they have run out of tugs to move planes or don’t have anyone to drive the tug. Not likely. Sometimes the truth is worse than not knowing.
Nah, bad idea. Better the passengers, or "Meat" as they are sometimes called, sit there with their ipones discussing the situation with some guy in Omaha, who tells the passenger that a wing just fell off of a (same airline's) plane in flight, and the delay is probably due to them putting duct tape on the wing... than to tell them the truth, because not knowing and believing in made up stories is always better.
Eula Walden 1
Surely you jest!😳


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