Alaska’s Seats Can Be Your Carry On, United’s 7 Hour Tarmac Delay, and Emirates Slaps Airbus Around – Puts Them Back in Line

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Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. How is the 7 hour delay not the airline’s fault? Sounds like VERY bad planning. They could’ve landed somewhere else, or better yet, taken a fresh pilot along for the flight.

  2. How is it United’s fault?
    They were directed to Canberra because the debris on the runway at SYD was forcing aircraft do divert for over half an hour. They didn’t choose where to fly, they were sent there.
    I don’t know of an airline that sends two extra pilots on each long haul flight so on the off chance they have to divert, they will be ready if the main crew times out. That makes absolutely no sense from a business or safety standpoint.
    The airport didn’t immediately have the ability to refuel the 777, so are you also going to blame that on United too, saying they should’ve perhaps flown a 737 on the route so just in case they diverted, they had the proper equipment to be refueled?
    And for future flights, United should probably just have several Australian immigration officers and all required equipment onboard so they can easily process all passengers just in case a similar incident happened again, right?

  3. @Joe Canberra really was probably the best option, things are really far apart in Australia, Melbourne or Brisbane may have been too far to divert. What’s more shocking is that our federal capital can’t process international arrivals.

  4. Joe, do you really want every single flight to carry an extra pilot just in case something happens? Seriously? Are you willing to pay more for every ticket you buy so that the airline can haul along an extra pilot that will only be needed on about 1 in 10,000 flights? Pilots aren’t cheap. Some very rough calculations suggest to me that carrying an extra pilot on a flight from SFO to Sydney might cost every passenger an extra $5. Obviously that would have been $5 well spent in this situation, but would be a total waste on the other thousands of flights between Sydney and the West Coast.

    And where else would you propose that they had landed during a flight over the Pacific Ocean? There aren’t a lot of other airports between San Francisco and Sydney. You know, since you’re flying over the Pacific Ocean.

    Debris on the runway at Sydney is not United’s fault.

  5. It was United’s fault because Canberra officials stated that they were happy to process the passengers. However United did not request so possibly due to the cost involved

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