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Too Heavy to Fly

Rose Pink

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DH called me yesterday--fuming--about his flight delay. The airline had seated all the passengers and taxied out to the runway for takeoff and then decided the plane was too heavy for the high altitude and the high temperature so they taxied back to the terminal and asked a dozen volunteers to get off to make the plane lighter. Neither he nor I have ever heard of such a thing.

The episode delayed the flight by two hours. DH is fuming because the altitude at this airport hasn't changed recently :rolleyes: and the temperatures are not unusual, either. One would assume that since this is a busy international airport that flies these planes to this destination on a daily basis, that flying conditions would be a known factor before loading all the passengers and taxiing out to the runway.

Any insight?

In case you are wondering, those kicked off the flight received $400, meals and accomodations for another flight. It's just that not everyone has the luxury of changing plans on such short notice--especially business travelers.
 

AwayWeGo

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Clear The Cheap Seats.

Shux, you'd think they'd just 86 all the passengers flying on PriceLine tickets.

-- Alan Cole, McLean (Fairfax County), Virginia, USA.​
 

Cathyb

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Which airline and airport? We saw it happen in Cabo San Lucas last December -- they claimed it was due to the snow in Chicago. Fortunately it wasn't our flight.
 

IreneLF

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I've never heard of such a thing either.
On one of our flights (to So America) we were told that they need to stop someplace to refuel, not because of distance but because of temps and altitude, and that they underfill the tank deliberately.
Maybe they screwed up?
 

borntotravel

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First of all, they aren't going to remove just the luggage. Since 9/11, no passenger - no luggage (unless, of course, the airline loses it and then they are happy to carry hundreds of bags without the passenger!).

They should have figured this out before they left the gate, but be thankful that they caught it before takeoff. If the plane was over weight, if it took off without reducing the load, instead of getting to your destination late, you might not have gotten there at all. Which would you prefer? Have you not heard of all the plane crashes over the past week???? Better safe than sorry!
 

charford

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I was on a flight where they decided before boarding that they needed to make the load lightweight. I think that this was because of the extreme turbulence around the airport. It was extreeemely bumpy on takeoff. So, they decided that people were to be boarded in priority of when they checked in. I was travelling with a group of middle school students and after they saw them boarding the aircraft - all under 100 pounds each - they decided that everyone else could board. BTW, it was so bumpy, some of my students were making out their wills. :D

Perhaps the air temperature made the air conditions around the airport not favorable for a loaded plane of that type? :shrug:
 

Passepartout

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As temperatures rise air becomes less dense making wings and engines less efficient. The small airplane I fly can accommodate (read:fly with) 4 people in winter and just 2 on warm days. I'm sure you've read about the bulking up of people recently. FAA used to allow airlines to use 170 lbs as an average, and if you've looked around, people and luggage are bigger.

I suppose the pilot could have had each passenger stand on a scale then seated each one to be sure the weight was distributed properly, but that isn't likely to happen either.

In the end, it's the pilot's discretion whether to fly a given mission or not. If he felt it was unsafe to fly the load/fuel/air density, so be it. Far better to lift off a 6000 foot runway at 5000 feet than to need 8000 to get it done.

Jim Ricks
 

pointsjunkie

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they also could have had heavy cargo y=that they were being paid to transport so after figuring the weight the people had to go. we had that once, a crate of lobsters came on board in cargo and they had to lighten the plane (with people).
 

Fletcher921

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I would have been happy to deplaned and received a freebie flight later...
 

DEROS

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Fuel Cost

I have read that sometimes airlines will not fuel up all the way or not at all because it would be cheaper to buy fuel at the next airport destination. I think someone did a cost analysis and figured it would be cheaper to comp passengers $400 than purchase fuel to fly the people. The voucher really does not cost the airlines all that much money, especially if the next flight you book is not full.
 

Rose Pink

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They should have figured this out before they left the gate, ....
That's the point. DH has flown this route several times this summer under the same circumstances and this is the first time someone decided it was unsafe? Of course we'd rather be safe than sorry (duh!) but it does give one cause to wonder if the other flights were unsafe but flew anyway. With another family member making this same flight later this week, I am feeling quite uneasy.

Thanks, everyone, for your responses. DH is platinum ff and with all the years and millions of miles he has flown, he has never had this happen to him nor heard of it happening to other passengers. Sign of the times?
 

Rose Pink

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I have read that sometimes airlines will not fuel up all the way or not at all because it would be cheaper to buy fuel at the next airport destination. ....
I've heard that, too. Reading the thread on gasoline prices it would make sense since gas in SLC is way higher than gas in Houston (are they still having gas wars at the stations in Houston?). Does the cost of airline fuel mirror the cost of gasoline for automobiles in any given area?
 

Rose Pink

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I would have been happy to deplaned and received a freebie flight later...
DH and many other business travelers just don't have that option. They have to be at work on time.
 

Ann-Marie

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We have had 2 scenerios. Once, they told us that our luggage was being held until the next flight because of the weight. Another time, there was 6 stand by passengers that, after sitting in the seats they were given, were told sorry, you now have to get off because of the weight. One person was tiny, and they decided she could stay. Man, I would hate for an airline to tell ME to get off because I was too big. Not surprised if that will be next.
 

Rose Pink

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We have had 2 scenerios. Once, they told us that our luggage was being held until the next flight because of the weight. Another time, there was 6 stand by passengers that, after sitting in the seats they were given, were told sorry, you now have to get off because of the weight. One person was tiny, and they decided she could stay. Man, I would hate for an airline to tell ME to get off because I was too big. Not surprised if that will be next.
How recently did these incidents happen? How do they know how heavy the plane is? I don't see them weighing the plane--do they weigh the luggage before it is loaded on board? Is all this just a guesstimate? One would think the airlines would know how heavy a full plane is and make fuel accomodations or just not sell that many seats if they can't accomodate the weight. None of this makes any sense to me. They overbook, they kick paying passengers off, what next?
 

Art

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We have had this with flights out of Las Vegas and Salt Lake City.

In both cases, it was an extremely hot day which either increased the distance required for the plane to take off or required a lighter load so the plane could take off in the available length of runway.

In the Las Vegas case, the tower changed the runway to be used after we had taxied out meaning that even if the pax load was correct initially, it no longer was in light of a different runway length and wind conditions.

In the Salt Lake City case, an extra fuel load had been because of the unexpected need to fly around storms on the way to its destination which had not been included in the original flight plan.

In other words, there are legitimate reasons for unloading passengers even after departure from the gate.

Art
 
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Rose Pink

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We have had this with flights out of Las Vegas and Salt Lake City.

In both cases, it was an extremely hot day which either increased the distance required for the plane to take off or required a lighter load so the plane could take off in the available length of runway.

In the Las Vegas case, the tower changed the runway to be used after we had taxied out meaning that even if the pax load was correct initially, it no longer was in light of a different runway length and wind conditions.

In the Salt Lake City case, an extra fuel load had been because of the unexpected need to fly around storms on the way to its destination which had not been included in the original flight plan.

In other words, there were legitimate reasons for unloading passengers even after departure from the gate.

Art
Both Vegas and SLC are hot in the summer. High temperatures are not unusual at all. It was no hotter yesterday than it has been other days this summer. As for the need to fly around storms, wouldn't the pilot know that before he taxied out? I can see that there are legitimate reasons to lighten the load but after departing the gate? That just seems like very poor planning. It is rather disconcerting to me.
 

Passepartout

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Both Vegas and SLC are hot in the summer. High temperatures are not unusual at all. It was no hotter yesterday than it has been other days this summer. As for the need to fly around storms, wouldn't the pilot know that before he taxied out? I can see that there are legitimate reasons to lighten the load but after departing the gate? That just seems like very poor planning. It is rather disconcerting to me.
Rose Pink, you haven't said what airport this occurred at, but in fact yesterday, the density altitude here in the intermountain West was higher than usual. Perhaps the pilot of the affected aircraft taxied across a scale or his aircraft is equipped with monitors that alert to an overgross situation. Customarily the 1st officer programs the flight computer as the aircraft is enroute to the active runway while the pilot is at the controls. The computer wouldn't be aware of the overgross until it was away from the gate.

Get over it! How 'disconcerting' would it be if they had attempted takeoff and the computer or the pilot's judgement had screamed ABORT! ABORT! at about 150 knots as the end of the runway gets too close to fly over. Then the flaps, reversers, brakes all get deployed, THEN they go back to the gate so the aircraft can be looked over by the mechanics.

The passengers, instead of being miffed, should have thanked the flight crew for using good judgement, and allowing them to fly again tomorrow. Aircraft, as good and safe as they are, are still subject to the condition of the air they fly through.

Jim Ricks
 

DebBrown

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A few years ago we were on a flight Christmas Day to Hawaii and about 20 passengers were not allowed to board because the plane had too much fuel. They tried to redistribute or remove the fuel with no luck so the last boarding group got booted. We each got a whole row to lay down and nap but I felt bad for those stranded.

Deb
 

grest

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This happened to us, too, on a snowy night. No passengers volunteered to get off, with or without compensation, since we knew it was likely the last flight out. As a result, they asked for volunteers to leave their luggage behind, to be delivered the next day, for a free round trip ticket. Most of the passengers volunteered:). It was a good day!
Connie
 

clsmit

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I had this happen with TWA (when it existed) on their smallest planes. They'd count noses and move people around on the plane to shift the weight around. Then if it was still too heavy by their estimation they'd ask someone to get off with compensation. This was about 10 years ago, well before the current gas and airline prices. So it's not new to the industry.
 

Ann-Marie

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Both of my situations happened before the fuel price increases. I can't imagine what happens now because of the fuel prices.
 

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Is there a specific question here? If so, perhaps I can shed some light..
 

Jan

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Yes, I was on a Northwest flight and out of Memphis they asked for volunteers because the flight was to heavy. We were going to Kansas City and it was a very hot day. I volunteered and got a bump.
Jan:whoopie:
 
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