We recently hosted a Tweetchat on the subject of irregular operations, with representatives from different operations groups serving as the hosts: David Hammon, Senior Manager, Crew Operations Inflight Services; Harel Magaritz, Senior Manager, System Airport Operations; Jason Doetsch, Managing Director, Inflight Crew Scheduling; Noam Alon, System Director, Network Operations Center; and Pam Pope, Senior Manager, eCommerce.
In a nutshell, irregular operations –commonly called IRROPS – refers to flights that are canceled, diverted to a location other than the intended destination, or delayed to the point that travelers miss connecting flights.
Using #UnitedPlaneChat to participate in the chat, our Twitter followers posted questions and comments for the hosts about what irregular operations are and what tools are best for tracking flight status. In turn, our hosts provided keen insights based on their many years of collective experience working in operations. They tweeted about our Network Operations Center (NOC), proactive rebooking and expanding flight capacity to accommodate passengers, among other topics.
The chat participants nailed the reasons for irregular operations – the primary ones being inclement weather, air traffic control issues and mechanical concerns. Other factors include medical emergencies, airport closures and system outages. In the case of storms like the recent Superstorm Sandy, the Tweetchat hosts explained that the decision-making process includes evaluating the timing and path of the storm, talking to in-house meteorologists and NOC experts, and then implementing a plan.
The reasons why we sometimes have to delay or cancel flights vary, but safety is always our number one priority. Members of our operations teams as well as our employees stationed at airports and offices worldwide work hard to help get our customers’ travel back on track. As we reported in an earlier article
on the Hub, as part of our safety concerns, we may decide to reposition planes before an event occurs – again taking Superstorm Sandy as an example – to ensure that aircraft are secure and can be ready when operations resume. Another safety-related concern: making sure our flight attendants don’t exceed their 14-hour maximum work day. This is why you may see crew leave an aircraft prior to departure and new crew members come onboard.
In some cases, we issue exception policies to give customers flexibility if they’d like – or need – to change their tickets because of inclement weather or other issues that affect our operations. Scroll down to the Exception policies
section of our Flight delays and cancellations page to find out if we’re waiving change fees and fare differences.